Author Archives: Peter Adrastos Athas

Instant Analysis: Cattle Call Debate Act One

Nothing that happened on that glitzy stage in Miami mattered all that much. Some candidates performed well and others bombed but in the end, a good ground game in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina will matter infinitely more.

Hell, I don’t even think general election debates matter all that much: Hillary and Kerry destroyed their opponents, which is the political equivalent of winning the battle and losing the war.

One jarring thing about the debate was the performative Spanish speaking by several candidates. It started to feel as if it were a Canadian debate where they break into French from time-to-time. You say gracias, I say merci. Let’s call the whole thing off.

I have a few random thoughts about this random group of candidates:

Warren: My candidate performed well as always. There were stretches where she was quiet but she’s the frontrunner in this group so she didn’t need to mix it up with the likes of DeBlasio, Ryan, Delaney, and Gabbard.

Her closing argument was superb. It’s a good example of why I believe she’ll win the nomination and go on to be our first woman president.

Booker: He helped himself. He was strong, forceful, and passionate. He seems to have good chemistry with both Warren and Castro. A good thing since they’re her most likely running mates if she picks within the field of candidates.

Castro: The strongest performance of the night. He’s an impressive guy with a great back story. He’s making a real contribution to the race with his focus on immigration. It’s easy to imagine him cleaning up the Homeland Security Department in the next Democratic administration.

Beto: He’s an outstanding stump speaker but a poor debater. He came off as a nervous windbag who was trying too hard to be a 21st Century Bobby Kennedy.

It finally occurred to me who Beto reminds me of:

Like Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder, Beto never uses one word when ten are available. And they both have big, scary teeth.

He should reconsider running against Senator Cornhole in Texas. Running for president was a bad Beto…

Klobuchar: I like the Senator from Minnesota, but this was not her best performance. Her closing argument was a dud: I’m electable yadda, yadda, yadda. Why? At this point in time, Trump looks like a stone cold loser unless his pals in the Kremlin bail him out again.

Inslee: In a word, inconsistent. Gave some good answers on climate change but rambled at other times. His makeup was a disaster. It made him look 20 years older than he is.

DeBlasio: Tall, annoying, and loud.

Delaney: Why was this bozo even onstage? He looks like a wrestling coach.  I halfway expected him to apply a Half-Nelson to one of his opponents.

Ryan: He gave a decent answer early on about guns then became increasingly incoherent. He spent much of the second half giving forgettable answers about the forgotten people. I forget exactly what he said.

Gabbard: Ryan was so inept that he gave Gabbard a chance to shine. I hate to say that because she’s awful and should exit the race, stage left.

The Fog Of Scandal: Perpetual Crisis Care

The 24-7 news cycle has been frantic for quite some time but in the Trump era it’s like a hyperactive child in need of medication. The child in question is, of course, the Insult Comedian.

After losing to Jack Kennedy, Richard Nixon wrote a pretty good, albeit self-serving, book called Six Crises. The Current Occupant has more like Sixty Crises some of which are so repetitive that the people and the media are becoming numb to them. It’s the presidency, in E’s memorable phrase, as Novocaine For The Soul.

This political numbness must be resisted at all costs: it’s okay not to be SURPRISED by presidential* antics but we should be SHOCKED by all the crazy the Trump regime throws our way. We conclude this opening sermonette with a musical interlude: a Fall Out Boy song whose protagonist sounds eerily like Trumpberius.

This is a black, black ski mask song
So put all of your anger on
In the truly gruesome do we trust
I will always land on you like a sucker punch
Singing I am your worst, I am your worst nightmare
I am your worst, I am your worst nightmare

Indeed you are, Donald, indeed you are.

Two of the major crises du jour are the internment camps on the border, especially the one at Clint, Texas, and the slagging match with Iran that could result in another stupid war in the Middle East. Trump relies on his gut when it comes to foreign policy, and *my* gut tells me that he’s bluffing in his face-off with Iran. BUT the chance for miscalculation is great when his senior advisers, Bolton and Pompeo, are salivating over the prospect of regime change in Iran. We’ve seen that movie before. It didn’t play well in Iraq and the Islamic Republic of Iran is a more formidable foe than the decadent dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. Stay tuned.

As to the migrant concentration camps, only a hardcore, heartless racist could fail to be moved by accounts of children living in their own filth without soap or toothbrushes. Since my eyesight and hearing are crappy, I have an acute sense of smell and the stench coming from children who have no soap with which to bathe is a notion that haunts me.  It’s slow motion torture, which is a stain on our national honor. It’s a rotten lead up to Independence Day.

There’s been a lively discussion in the corners of social media that I frequent about what issue we should focus on. We need to multi-task because the Trump regime will always trump up something to distract us. Diversion is the only thing they do well. Remember the Maddow Doctrine:

There’s one Trump crisis that the MSM is particularly numb to: We have a president* who is a serial sexual assaulter who sees women as prey, not people. The Gray Lady primly did not publish a story about E. Jean Carroll’s credible rape allegations for days after they broke. The depressing consensus among the Cult of the Savvy and GOP bigwigs seems to be that the voters knew about Trump’s rapey ways and elected him anyway. The NYT has admitted error and Trump has, predictably, said she was not hot enough for him to lust after. In a word: gross. Donald Trump is a pussy, he should grab himself.

If you haven’t read Dahlia Lithwick’s brilliant piece about the Carroll allegations, make sure you do. Dahlia points out that Carroll did it on her own terms in a way that none of Trump’s manifold manhandled accusers have done:

I understand why so many people think the media’s failure here is the result of boredom. One reality of the Trump era is how profoundly boring it is—we watch the same dramas unfold, again and again; we debunk the same lies, again and again; and we issue the same warnings, again and again. But I don’t think that what happened here is the result of boredom so much as an almost perfect journalistic incapacity for telling any story it hasn’t told a thousand times before. Maybe we’re not bored. Maybe we’re just boring.

Because E. Jean Carroll flipped the script. Having watched, and watched, and watched the #MeToo stories play out over the past several years, she decided she wasn’t going to do it as it had been done. She was going to tell her own story on her own terms, publishing it in her own book. Because, as she wrote in the excerpt published in New York magazine last Friday:

“Why haven’t I “come forward” before now?

Receiving death threats, being driven from my home, being dismissed, being dragged through the mud, and joining the 15 women who’ve come forward with credible stories about how the man grabbed, badgered, belittled, mauled, molested, and assaulted them, only to see the man turn it around, deny, threaten, and attack them, never sounded like much fun. Also, I am a coward.”

She’s the opposite of a coward. E. Jean Carroll is my new hero. It takes guts to deal with a traumatic episode with wit and humor; two qualities her rapist notably lacks. All he knows how to do is attack, belittle, degrade, and divert attention from his crimes.

The last word goes to Eels:

Repeat after me: Donald Trump is a criminal.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Best Of Brahms

I have no idea why this 1972 compilation album has bacon and eggs in a skillet on the cover. Did they think it resembles Johannes Brahms or conductor William Steinberg? Beats the hell outta me.

All I know is that grim times call for comic relief as well as a good breakfast.

Best of Brahms does not eggist on the YouTube. One of the compositions excerpted was Brahms’ 4th Symphony so here’s the whole damn thing:

Not Everything Sucks: Crowded Shotgun House

I never miss a chance to mention that the great New Orleans musician, Deacon John Moore, lives not far from Adrastos World HQ. John is a helluva nice guy as well as a helluva singer and so is Crowded House’s Neil Finn.

Deacon John has left his musical comfort zone and recorded two songs from Crowded House’s eponymous debut album. This an experiment that works. I hope he records more of Neil’s songs in addition to the two tracks on Crowded Shotgun House.

It’s always cool when my worlds collide:

Watch What They Do, Not What They Say

I’ve stopped reading the president’s* twitter feed on a regular basis. It’s full of bluster, bigotry, braggadocio, and bullshit. Every once in a while the Insult Comedian changes “policy” by tweet. He enjoys seeing the country jump when he says something outrageous. It’s how this sick fuck gets his kicks. I wish he’d stick to Route 66.

Trump also uses his twitter feed to try and blackmail his opponents into submission but there’s usually a tell. That was the case with the so-called “ICE round-up of millions.” It was all about the announcement, not the round-up. When any law enforcement agency conducts a raid, it’s a tightly kept secret so as not to give the subjects time to flee or destroy evidence. Trump’s tweet was the tell that he was lying. He also gets a sadistic kick out of upsetting his enemies. Repeat after me: cruelty is the Trump regime’s only immigration policy. The rest is a sick charade.

I’m gobsmacked that anyone takes anything this president* says at face value but they still do. Another recent example is the lie told after he “called off” a bomb strike against Iran. He claimed that he hadn’t gotten a casualty count before the planes were in the air. In fact, it’s SOP for the military to include that information upon briefing any president including those without an asterisk. It’s all about the drama, it has nothing to with the real world.

I realize it’s frustrating to deal with this sort of fantasist but it’s our current reality. That’s why I’d demand verification even if the Insult Comedian were to say: “I’m a fat guy with bad hair and a fake tan.” Of course, he’d say none of those things but it’s a sign of his extreme mendacity that I wouldn’t believe him if he did.

I am a firm believer in what I call the Maddow Doctrine: Watch what they do, not what they say.  Words are cheap and in this case there’s usually some sort of bluff involved; if we pretend otherwise, he’ll steal everything that isn’t nailed down including our souls. There are no silver bullets to slay this particular monster except for one: the 2020 general election.

The last word goes to Michael F with this image from an April post, He’s Bluffing:

Image by Michael F.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Every Picture Tells A Story

The Sorrows Of The King by Henri Matisse.

It’s a solemn day in New Orleans: Dr. John’s memorial service and second line are later today. There was already an informal, impromptu second line but this is the real deal. Rest in peace, Mac. We’ll miss you.

The news has been relentlessly bleak of late, which is why I’ve turned my attention to the New Orleans Pelicans success in the recent NBA draft. Zion Williamson seems to be a real game changer. While I’m uncertain if he’ll be the next LeBron James, he may be the next Charles Barkley. We needed some good news after the way Anthony Davis pouted his way out of town. New Pels honcho, David Griffin, took the Lakers to the cleaners in trading away AD and seems to have drafted and traded wisely. This pre-draft tweet sums things up quite well:

Here’s hoping the Zion era doesn’t end like the Baron Davis, Chris Paul or Anthony Davis eras. That concludes the inside New Orleans basketball portion of the Saturday post.

I’m “I remember when Rod Stewart was a respected artist and critics darling” years old. This week’s theme song was the title track of Stewart’s 1971 commercial breakthrough album. Every Picture Tells A Story was written by Rod Stewart and Ron Wood. It’s the opening track of one of the best albums of the 1970’s. Unfortunately, Rod the Mod threw it all way artistically when he moved to Los Angeles and released the shitty “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” and other horrendous hits. I hope I didn’t give anyone an earworm.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the original and a live medley of Too Bad and Every Picture Tells A Story. The Faces are the backing band in both instances and, as always, they rock hard.

Now that you’ve got the picture, let’s hop into one of those prop planes and fly to the break. I’m reluctant to say jump because I don’t want to bail out on y’all.

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Not Everything Sucks: David Gilmour’s Guitars

One of my musical heroes, David Gilmour, is a generous man. He auctioned off many of the guitars that he played during Pink Floyd’s heyday raising over $21 million, which he promptly gave away:

A day before the auction, Gilmour revealed that the money from the auction would benefit ClientEarth, which funds environmental lawyers and experts in the fight against climate change. “The global climate crisis is the greatest challenge that humanity will ever face, and we are within a few years of the effects of global warming being irreversible,” he said in a statement. “We need a civilized world that goes on for all our grandchildren and beyond in which these guitars can be played and songs can be sung.”

I try to avoid the obvious, but sometimes it cannot be helped. Gilmour’s donation proves that he’s nothing like the jerk in this song:

Friday Catblogging: Peek-A-Boo PD

Many people have asked how Paul Drake is doing, so here’s an update. In addition to searching for his missing big sister, he’s been somewhat depressed and withdrawn. Last Monday, Dr. A and I were angry at our vet’s support staff and he picked up on it. Empathy thy name is PD.

He was so upset that he sought comfort in his litter box. Cats find the scent of their own urine comforting when they’re stressed. Go figure. We’ve tried harder to mask our feelings since then and he’s bouncing back. We’re spending as much time as possible with him and it’s starting to help. Poor dear.

He’s also sought comfort in boxes. Anyone surprised?

The last word goes to Robert Cray:

The Fog Of History: Semantic Antics

Choosing sides between Liz Cheney and Alexandria Ocascio-Cortez isn’t difficult. The latter called Trump’s migrant detention centers, concentration camps, and the former denounced this characterization. It’s a bit rich coming from a woman whose father is a torture fan but that’s life in the Trump era. It’s a theatre of the absurd more confusing than the crazy house/hall of mirrors scene in The Lady From Shanghai:

There’s a nightmare of the Trump regime’s creation at our Southern border. I’m glad it’s back in the spotlight but the semantic antics on the right are diverting attention onto their current bete noire: AOC. The implication is that calling a concentration camp what it actually is makes AOC some sort of Holocaust denier/minimizer; a David Irving with better dance moves. This is, of course, toxic nonsense.

Many scholars of the period have pointed out the difference between Nazi concentration camps and death camps. One could justly call the camps in which Japanese American citizens were unjustly detained concentration camps. This circular discussion reminds me of an absurd scene in another classic 1940’s film, To Be Or Not To Be:

The bottom line is that the United States government is holding migrants in camps wherein conditions are so appalling that they’ve resulted in 24 deaths. Adding horrifying insult to egregious injury is that children are being separated from their parents; in many instances permanently. That’s what matters, not what you call the camps. Words are important but people’s lives are infinitely more so.

Adding to the crazy house aspect of this debate is that babies are being locked in cages in the name of the rule of law. It’s beyond hypocritical coming from an administration that’s engaged in obstruction of justice on myriad fronts. It’s a small leap from myriad to the hall of mirrors in the crazy house.

Crazy House Mirror Maze

Image by Greg Biermann.

There are three articles about the Cheney-AOC debate that I highly recommend:

Dahlia Lithwick & Susan Mathews: The AOC-Liz Cheney “Concentration Camp” Fight Might Just Be A Distraction.

Andrea Pitzer:  How The Trump Administration’s Border Camps Fit Into The History Of Concentration Camps.

Eric Levtiz: With Trump’s Migrant Camps, The History We Should Fear Repeating Is Our Own.

Levitz issues a reminder about America’s inglorious history at our Southern border:

…progressives shouldn’t need to invoke the Holocaust to place migrant-detention centers in their proper context. The border separating the United States from lands dominated by nonwhite peoples has been a site of white-nationalist violence since the founding of our republic. America’s southern border is itself an artifact of a war of conquest that our government launched against Mexico — an invasion that Ulysses S. Grant called “one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation.” According to General Winfield Scott, commander of U.S. forces during that war, American troops committed atrocities against Mexican civilians so egregious they would “make Heaven weep, & every American, of Christian morals blush for his country. Murder, robbery, & rape on mothers & daughters, in the presence of the tied up males of the families, have been common along the Rio Grande.” In the decades that followed, Klansmen, citizen’s militias, and the uniformed officers of the Texas Rangers regularly lynched Latinos whom they regarded as invaders or threats to America’s racial order and purity. This is the history that Trumpism emerged from; these are the atrocities it threatens to repeat. Before Americans likened the violence at our borders to the Nazis, the Nazis likened their conquest of Eastern Europe to the violence at our frontiers.

History has a funny way of repeating itself although the results themselves are rarely funny ha-ha. We’re currently trapped in a crazy house hall of mirrors and blinded by the fog of history. All the semantic antics in the world will not change that; only the voters can. Make it so.

Pondering the wingnutty reaction to AOC has given me an earworm. The last word goes to Bryan Ferry:

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Gypsy Rose Lee

Gypsy Rose Lee was the exotic dancer as proto-rock star. I recall seeing her on teevee chat, variety, and game shows when I was a tadpole. And her memoirs were adapted into the great 1959 musical, Gypsy.

Lee “wrote” two successful crime fiction books. New Yorker staff writer Janet Flanner aka Genet was her ghostwriter. Flanner was best known for writing the Letter From Paris feature, and her attempt to referee Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer during their legendary verbal brawl on The Dick Cavett Show.

Let’s get bookish:

The last word goes to the Divine Miss M with a showstopper from a 1993 version of Gypsy:

On Joe Biden’s Civility Fetish

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: one thing Joe Biden has in common with Donald Trump is a fatal inability to STFU. The former Veep has a tendency to trip over his tongue every time he talks about civility. One might even call him a Lost Civility Causer.

This time Biden took it way too far:

As evidence of his ability to forge personal bonds, the former vice president pointed to his 36-year career in the Senate, which stretched back to 1973 and overlapped with the service of leading Southern Democrats. Biden cited the late senators James O. Eastland (Miss.) and Herman E. Talmadge (Ga.), who were steadfastly opposed to civil rights and racial integration.

“I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland,” Biden said at the fundraiser, where he was introduced by Eric Mindich, an investment manager and former Goldman Sachs partner.

The Democratic presidential candidate, who has led his competitors in early polls of the crowded nominating contest, briefly impersonated the southern drawl of the Mississippi cotton planter, lawyer and lawmaker. “He never called me ‘boy,’ ” Biden said. “He always called me ‘son.’ ”

Biden’s campaign didn’t immediately return a request for comment about why it would be notable that the Dixiecrat — who thought black Americans belonged to an “inferior race” and warned that integration would cause “mongrelization” — didn’t call Biden “boy,” a racial epithet deployed against black men.

The garrulous gaffe machine also invoked the name of former Georgia Senator and Governor Herman Talmadge who was a second generation race baiting segregationist.

Even with Talmadge — “one of the meanest guys I ever knew” — Biden noted, “at least there was some civility. We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done.”

Biden cited two of the worst Dixiecrats who remained in the Senate during his early years. There were other segregationists such as John Stennis and Russell Long who changed with the times and were never as overtly racist or hateful as Eastland and Talmadge. Biden might as well have cited Strom Thurmond.

I’ll never forget a story that went around the Hill about Eastland. The Senate threw a reception for Egyptian President Anwar Sadat during one of his visits when Carter was president. Eastland took one look at Sadat and said in a loud stage whisper: “Why, I believe the president is a nigra.” He stepped out of the reception line so he wouldn’t have to shake Sadat’s hand. I guess Biden would say of that story, “at least he called him a nigra, not the other n word.” Civility, try it, you’ll like it.

Do I think Joe Biden is a racist? Absolutely not. Do I think he needs to think before he speaks? Absolutely. He seems bound and determined to talk his way out of the Democratic nomination. Another reason I support Elizabeth Warren.

Repeat after me, Joe:

Tweet Of The Day: Limerick Edition

I thought some Album Cover Art Wednesday lagniappe was in order since the tweeted limerick in question comes from the Divine Miss M:

The president* seems to have belatedly discovered that First Ladies can be political assets, so he’s been trotting the future ex-Mrs. Trump out with some regularity of late. He even said that Melania was his “Jackie O.” Of course, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy was not Jackie O until she married Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis five years after JFK’s murder. Talk about Beauty and the Beast.

The Insult Comedian ignited his fair-to-midlering feud with Bette during his stay in London by calling her “a washed up psycho.” She’s taken ownership of the phrase with quite amusing results.

The last word goes to Bette with the big hit from her debut album, The Divine Miss M. It’s obviously not about Cadet Bone Spurs:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Bayou Cadillac

This 1989 album by Cajun music gods Beausoleil features some swell pictures by New Orleans based photographer Rick Olivier. He specializes in photographing artists from the Gret Stet of Louisiana and has done many album covers. This is one of the coolest.

Here’s the Bayou Cadillac Medley:

Thank You

I’m not sure if I’m going to be up to writing today. We’re going to the vet and making arrangements for Della’s remains this morning as well as dealing with a few loose ends.

I’d like to thank everyone for the kind wishes about Della Street here, on Facebook, and Twitter. I’m a bit overwhelmed but Della would consider it her due. She’d be right.

I’ll be back on Wednesday but until then a few pictures of the late, great Della Street:

Finally, a picture of Della with her beloved big brother, Oscar.

The last word goes to Sly and the Family Stone:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Right Place, Wrong Time

Swing Landscape by Stuart Davis.

I finished this post before hearing the terrible news about Our Della Street. I usually apply another layer of polish before publishing but I wasn’t feeling it. If it’s disjointed, so be it. Apologies to our late night Odds & Sods readers, I wanted my Della tribute to be at the top until 8-ish. She would have insisted.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming:

A wee cool front hit New Orleans this week. It’s still hot but not as muggy. It’s nice to step outside without breaking into an insta-sweat. It’s a minor triumph but we’ll take what we can get. It will be gone just in time for the weekend. So it goes.

The big local story comes from St. Tammany Parish. It used to be country but morphed into white flight suburbia in the late 20th Century. It’s the most Republican parish in the Gret Stet and its residents are wont to lecture us depraved city folk about morals and crime. They should knock it off. Former St. Tammany Sheriff Jack Strain was arrested this week on rape and incest charges. He spent several nights in the jail he ran for 20 years. Schadenfreude thy name is Adrastos.

I still have the late Dr. John on my mind so this week’s theme song is his biggest hit: Right Place, Wrong Time. He wrote it for his 1973 album In The Right Place, which was something of a New Orleans musical summit meeting. It was produced by Allen Toussaint and The Meters were Mac’s backing band on the album.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the original studio recording and a 1996 teevee performance with Eric Clapton.

I’m desitively confused by this song. I actually called it Right Time, Wrong Place when discussing Our Mac with my barber the other day. Mac’s penchant for malaprops seems to be contagious even for a man of my edumaction. Let’s jump to the break before I get even more tongue twisted.

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Della Street, R.I.P.

Our mouthy, smirking, cranky, and gorgeous internet rock star, Della Street, died today. It was a shocker. She had a chronic thyroid problem that we were dealing with. She took ill at the beginning of the week, then rallied on Thursday night when we watched the NBA finals together. She even went to the door and stared down the pit bull next door.

This morning she took a dramatic turn for the worse. Dr. A is out of town so our good friend Brett went with me to the vet. We dropped her off at around 10 and she was gone a mere 6 hours later. Della was 12. We’ve seen other elder kitties go downhill but not this fast.

I am genuinely shocked and, as you know, I neither shock nor scare easily. Della was Dr. A’s cat so I thought she’d hang on until her human returned home, but she was ready to go out on her own terms, that was our Della.

I know some might find it odd that I’d sit down and write a tribute to Della so soon. I knew that our readers would want to know as soon as possible. That’s what I love about First Draft, we’re a community. And Della has been entertaining you with her antics since she was 2 years old. Ain’t it funny how time slips away?

I don’t cry easily or often but I did upon hearing this stunning news. I rallied because I knew the last thing Della Street would want is for me to be maudlin over her passing. She was a tough and feisty cat who was best known for her smirk and glare. She was the queen of dirty looks and I was the happy recipient of many of those looks as was her pesky kid brother, Paul Drake, who is even more confused than usual by her absence.

She will be missed but never forgotten.

The last word goes to Crowded House:

 

New Orleans Culture: Lost In The 21st Century?

As you can see above, my latest column at the Bayou Brief has a click baity title that I’m oddly proud of. I hope everyone falls for it.

Since I quote my First Draft tributes to Dr. John and Chef Leah Chase at the Bayou Brief, it’s only fitting that I quote my Bayou Brief piece here. Damn, my head is spinning:

A word about language: I hate the term “culture-bearer” as it sounds pompous, pretentious. and a passel of other P words. I also dislike “icon” or “iconic.” Perhaps it comes from growing up Greek Orthodox, a faith in which icons are religious artifacts to be worshipped. As a writer, I’m a satirist, which makes me an iconoclast. If I see an icon, I want to smash it.

Yet that’s not my reaction to our local heroes. Dr. John and Chef Leah should be loved, respected, and admired, not worshipped. They were unpretentious people; let’s keep them that way after they’ve departed this mortal coil.

The last word goes to Dr. John and Danny Barker with a tribute to Buddy Bolden:

The song was written by Jelly Roll Morton. Now that’s New Orleans culture, y’all.

Friday Guest Catblogging: Porch Cats

Since we’ve lived in New Orleans, our cats have always been indoor models. We’ve lived too close to major streets to let them roam. My friend Stephanie’s cats love the great outdoors. Here are Milo and Whiskers doing what they do best: porch sitting.

Donald Trump Says The Darndest Things

There’s a theme to this week’s posts: mouthy septuagenarian tricks. Joe Biden seems determined to talk his way out of the Democratic nomination. And the Insult Comedian seems to determined to talk his way out of the White House and into federal prison. He has friends in jail, maybe he could bunk with Paul Manafort.

After reviving the your president* speaks feature, I eventually decided it was best to adhere to the informal Maddow Doctrine: Watch what they do, not what they say. There are exceptions to any rule and this one is no exception. I don’t want to be doctrinaire, after all.

The Kaiser of Chaos has been shooting off his big fat bazoo in a way that could come back to bite him in the ass. Twice this week, the president* has shot himself in the foot, then inserted said wounded foot in his mouth. (He did it more than twice but I don’t feel like writing a 1,500 word post. That’s what I do on Saturdays.)

We’ll take it in reverse order. Yesterday, ABC News released a Trump interview with my diminutive countryman, George Stephanopolous. The president* revived one of his greatest hits: “Russia, if you’re listening.”

I’ll let the good people at TPM do the heavy lifting:

In a new interview released this afternoon by ABC News, President Trump tells George Stephanopoulos that he’d take information from a foreign government if one offered dirt on his 2020 opponent. “I think you might want to listen, there isn’t anything wrong with listening.”

President Trump rejected the idea that such foreign government interventions amounted to election interference. “It’s not an interference, they have information — I think I’d take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI — if I thought there was something wrong. But when somebody comes up with oppo research, right, they come up with oppo research, ‘oh let’s call the FBI.’ The FBI doesn’t have enough agents to take care of it. When you go and talk, honestly, to congressman, they all do it, they always have, and that’s the way it is. It’s called oppo research.”

When Stephanopoulos told Trump his own FBI Director, Christopher Wray, said he should contact the FBI if a foreign government approached him with information about a political opponent, Trump said Wray was wrong. “I’ll tell you what, I’ve seen a lot of things over my life. I don’t think in my whole life I’ve ever called the FBI. In my whole life. You don’t call the FBI. You throw somebody out of your office, you do whatever you do,” Trump continued. “Oh, give me a break – life doesn’t work that way.”

This is Trump’s world view in a nut shell. If it’s good for Trump, it’s good; if it’s bad for Trump, it’s bad. I have a feeling that Rudy Giuliani would have torn his hair out if he still had that epic combover. He’s probably pulling Jay Sekulow’s hair out instead. He can always borrow one of the Insult Comedian’s extra weaves to cover up Rudy’s giant teeth marks. Did I say tear? I meant bite.

Not only is Donald Trump too dishonest to be president*, he’s too stupid; hence the Magritte dumbbell caveman featured image. After years of screaming “no collusion, no collusion,” he admits that he’d do it in a heartbeat. Make that do it again. It’s time for a musical interlude:

Word Of Mouth would also work as a post title but I wanted to connect Trump and Joey the Dinosaur. They have one important thing in common: a fatal inability to STFU.

The weirdest bit in the Stephanopoulos interview is when the Insult Comedian used Norway as an example of a country that might peddle dirt on one of his opponents. Give me a break: the Norwegians may be taller and whiter than the Russians, but they’re not known for their espionage exploits. I can feel my late mother rolling in her grave at the thought that her countrymen would collude with this president*. He should be sentenced to a steady diet of lutefisk as punishment.

The other Trumpian comment that obliged me to violate the Maddow Doctine was about his BFF, Kim Jong Un. The Insult Comedian received another “beautiful letter” from that bloodthirsty Communist dictator, then commented on reports that the diminutive dictator had his uncle murdered for spying. I’ll let Vanity Fair’s Tina Nguyen do the heavy lifting this time around:

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Kim Jong Un, the North Korean dictator once described by Donald Trump as “short and fat,”had a suspected traitor in his midst: Kim Jong Nam, Un’s half brother. Nam was considered by U.S. intelligence to have little insight into the inner workings of the Kim regime, according to former U.S. officials, but nonetheless was suspected by the Malaysian government to be a CIA source. In February 2017 he was killed in Kuala Lumpur when two women smeared a nerve agent on his face, causing his sudden death within an hour. Both later claimed that they had been recruited into participating in what they believed was a hidden-camera prank show.

Did Trump care, reporters asked the next day on the South Lawn? “I saw the information about the CIA,” he acknowledged, and “I would tell [Un] that that would not happen under my auspices.” In essence, Trump told a dictator that the agency would stop spying on him.

The typical “what if Obama had said this” trope is inadequate for this moment. Here’s my historical variation: what if JFK had banned spying on Cuba before, during, and after the Missile Crisis to make nice with Fidel? He would have faced withering criticism from both sides of the aisle and possible impeachment. Jack Kennedy, of course, could have charmed his way out of it but he would have been in a world of hurt.

I have an assignment for the MSM as well as constituents of Congressional Republicans. Every time you see a GOP senator or congresscritter, ask them if they would accept opposition research from a foreign power. There will be a chorus of noes. The follow-up question is obvious: if that’s  the case, why is it okay for president* Trump?

The last word goes to Joni Mitchell with a song in which she confesses that she talks too much.  I thought I should bring some class to this post.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Go West, Young Writer

Elmore Leonard is best known for urbane urban crime stories set in Detroit or South Florida. In his early days, he wrote a string of successful westerns. Boy howdy.