Author Archives: Peter Adrastos Athas

Jared Kushner: Renaissance Man?

See Jared Ski. Ski, Jared, Ski.

Trump’s son-in-law is everywhere. Jared Kushner missed the Trumpcare meltdown because he was skiing at that well-known populist resort town, Aspen. He’s being called before the Senate Intelligence Committee to testify about his meetings with the Russians. He still has a greasy finger in the foreign policy/national security pie. And today we’ve learned he’ll be in charge of deforming the Federal bureaucracy even though he never worked in government before 2017:

Kushner will report directly to Trump and will staff the office with former business leaders, according to the Washington Post. The office will work with business executives like Apple’s Tim Cook and Micrsoft’s Bill Gates, per the Post.

“We should have excellence in government,” Kushner told the Post on Sunday. “The government should be run like a great American company. Our hope is that we can achieve successes and efficiencies for our customers, who are the citizens.”

So much for the president* as a different kind of Republican. This is GOP boilerplate. The problem is that government is nothing like business and cannot be run as such. The purpose of business is to make money and show a profit. That’s particularly true for privately held outfits like the Trump and Kushner family businesses. They have no accountability to shareholders or anyone else. Now that I think of it, Trump’s White House is run like his company only they’re LOSING, not winning as promised.

The whole “run guvmint like a bidness” meme reminds me of a certain former New Orleans Mayor who is currently serving a 10-year stretch in Club Fed. Like Trump, C Ray Nagin promised to run City Hall like a business. The result was comic ineptitude in his first term and a series of second term scandals that led to what Meshach Taylor’s character on Designing Women called his “unfortunate incarceration.”

Nagin’s downfall was caused by his propensity to shake down people  to use his son’s business, the hilariously named Stone Age Quarry. Nepotism has always been a thing in New Orleans. It certainly is with the Trumps and Kushners as well. Nagin at least had the sense-I cannot believe I used that word in a sentence with C Ray’s name-to hide his filial malefactions. The Trumps do it in broad daylight as the president’s* frequent forays to Trump branded golf courses and hotels indicates. They’re not only above the law, they think they *are* the law. Hubris is not only an unattractive quality, it usually ends up biting one in the ass.

Back to young Jared’s new role as the White House’s point man on guvmint innovation and “reform.” It’s usually wise to appoint someone who has worked in the Federal bureaucracy to change it. Jerry Brown’s 1992 Presidential effort was based on the idea that only a reformed fund-raising sinner could change the way campaigns were financed. It didn’t turn out that way but it was a pretty good argument.

More famously, when FDR appointed Joe Kennedy head of the newly formed SEC, he was accused of putting a fox in charge of the hen-house. FDR’s reply was that only a fox knew where the bodies were buried. He didn’t exactly say that but it’s the whole “it takes a thief to catch a thief” thing writ large. Just ask Cary Grant or Robert Wagner

The Trumpers have already planted hundreds of political spies/commissars at departments and agencies. In some cases, the appointees have been even less qualified than Jared including a recent high school graduate. I am not making this up. It’s another example of the almost breathtaking ineptitude of these bozos. They remind me of the title of a book by the late, great Jimmy Breslin: The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.

I used the word commissars because those were the loyal communists the Soviets appointed to supervise all arms of government including the military. As far as we know, the Trumpers haven’t tried that trick. Yet. That brings me to a fascinating NYT article by Anne O’Donnell about a strike by Russian civil servants against the Bolsheviks in 1917. The employees resisted the new government and even though they lost, it’s still a fascinating chapter in history. I don’t think of Jared as the next Trotsky or Bannon as the next Lenin but they can dream.

I wonder if the Insult Comedian is inspired by the second Red Scare attack on government employees by Senator Joe McCarthy and Trump’s mentor Roy Cohn. There’s that name again. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Oy, such a mentor.

I suspect that this attempt to run guvmint like a bidness will end up on the ash-heap of history alongside other failed Trump ventures. I hope that Bill Gates and Tim Cook will reconsider co-operating with the Kushner initiative. The Apple honcho should know by now that working with the Trump White House is bad for business. Of course, it wouldn’t surprise me if that part of the story turned out to be another snow job.

I have a suggestion for Team Trump. The Insult Comedian could pardon C Ray and put him to work on this misbegotten effort to run guvmint like a bidness. Nagin may not have been a Trump-level asshole but he has one thing in common with the Trumpers: INCOMPETENCE.

Tweet Of The Day: The Case Of The Punning Pundit

I considered stealing this pun outright. I decided not to out of fear of expulsion from the pun community. I take my status as a horrid punster quite seriously.

The punning pundit is Molly Ball of the Atlantic. It was posted when the Trumpcare Bill hopped out of the hopper:

That was a helluva sweet pun and I’m not Mollycoddling Ms. Ball by saying that. In fact, I relish the chance to praise a punning pundit.

That is all.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Promised Land

Marbotikin Dulda by Frank Stella.

We seem to have hit peak pollen this week in New Orleans. Achoo. As a result, I awaken each day with watery eyes and a runny nose. Achoo. It’s most unpleasant as is my daily sinus headache. The good news is that we’re supposed to have some rain to wash away the sticky yellow stuff. The bad news is that it won’t happen until later today when we have plans to attend a festival not far from Adrastos World HQ. Oh well, that’s what umbrellas are for.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or watching teevee with the Insult Comedian, you know that Chuck Berry died at the age of 90.  This week’s theme song, Promised Land, is my favorite Chuck Berry tune. I was introduced to it at the first Grateful Dead show I ever attended. It was a helluva opening number.

I have three versions for your entertainment: Berry’s original, the Band’s rollicking piano driven take from Moondog Matinee, and the Dead live in the Nutmeg State. It’s time to jet to the promised land, y’all.

I remain mystified as to why Chuck wanted to get out of Louisiana and go to Houston town. There’s no accounting for taste. Let’s ponder that as I insert the break, but not where the moon don’t shine.

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Heck, Yeah

Uh oh, I seem to have a galloping case of Gorsuchitis. That’s why I couldn’t type Fuck Yeah when the news came down that Ryan had pulled the abominable GOP health care bill. I was not surprised. They were bleeding votes all day as every concession made to the denizens of Wingnutlandia cost them with sane conservatives. I think the nail in the coffin was when the House leadership promised to abolish the “health care essentials,” which were all the popular bits in the ACA. Thanks, Ryan.

The Brown House will pretend that Trump lobbied hard for the bill. He did not. He only met with large groups of GOPers instead of holding small meetings in the Oval Office. Nothing moves votes like personal attention from a President. I guess Trump didn’t want to interrupt his teevee watching. Also, never forget this photo-op from yesterday:

The Insult Comedian on a road to nowhere.

I never want to hear about Dukakis in the tank after Trump in the truck. Trump should have been working the phone instead of playing in a truck. Schmuck.

There are already signs that Steve Bannon’s allies in the media are sharpening their knives for Paul Ryan. Bannon has long had it out for Ryan and anyone who thinks he won’t go for the throat after this fiasco is kidding themselves. It may not be today but it’s coming. Believe me.

Republicans will attempt to minimize this disaster but I would like to remind them that the Clinton administration had a hard time passing significant first-term legislation after their health care plan died. We’ve learned how few GOPers are afraid of a mendacious, unpopular president* Thanks, Donald.

Finally, kudos to everyone who attended town halls and called their congresscritters to urge a vote against this atrocious bill. The pressure worked. Thanks, y’all.

Vive les Maquis.

 

Friday Catblogging: Jeepers Creepers

Writing about Neil Gorsuch’s propensity to say gosh and golly yesterday made me think of Johnny Mercer’s slangy lyrics as applied to Della Street’s devil eyes:

Jeepers creepers, where’d ya get those peepers?
Jeepers creepers, where’d ya get those eyes?
Gosh all, git up, how’d they get so lit up?
Gosh all, git up, how’d they get that size?
Golly gee, when you turn those heaters on
Woe is me, got to put my cheaters on
Jeepers creepers, where’d ya get those peepers?
Oh, those weepers, how they hypnotize.
Where’d ya get those eyes?

Heere’s Della:

Here’s the man himself singing Jeepers Creepers by golly:

Speaking Of Aggie Jokes…

… Rick Perry is back in the news. Apparently, he has time on his hands now that he’s Trump’s Energy Secretary. He recently “wrote” an op-ed piece on a matter of supreme importance to his fellow Aggies: the Texas A&M student election. I am not making this up. I owe a debt of gratitude to Slate’s Elliot Hannon for writing about Perry’s op-ed in the Houston Chronicle.

It turns out that the Aggies elected-not a sheep-the school’s first gay student body President, Bobby Brooks who won due to a glow stick related disqualification of his main opponent whose father is a major GOP donor. Hand to God, I am not making this up.

Brooks’ win, however, came after another candidate, top vote-getter Robert McIntosh, faced accusations of voter intimidation—for which he was later cleared—and was ultimately disqualified for failing to expense glow sticks used in a campaign video of some sort. The expense violation was then appealed and adjudicated in the appropriate college forum and it was determined Brooks was the winner.

I wonder if Bobby is aware of this chestnut with lyrics by the great Johnny Mercer:

Now that we’ve dealt with glow-worms, it’s time for an excerpt from Perry’s magisterially stupid article. I wonder if he had one of DOE’s nuclear scientists write it for him. Those eggheads are bound to be disturbed by GLOW STICK GATE. There could be nuclear radiation involved:

As Texas’ first Aggie governor and as someone who was twice elected Yell Leader of Texas A&M University, I am deeply troubled by the recent conduct of A&M’s administration and Student Government Association (SGA) during the Aggie student-body president elections for 2017-2018

<SNIP>

Every Aggie ought to ask themselves: How would they act and feel if the victim was different? … Would the administration and the student body have allowed the first gay student body president to be voided for using charity glow sticks? … We all know that the administration, the SGA and student body would not have permitted such a thing to happen. The outcome would have been different if the victim was different… Election Commissioner Rachel Keathley must explain why she chose to overturn a fairly won election and disqualify thousands of votes on the basis of anonymous complaints and flimsy technicalities. Chief Justice Shelby James must explain why she treated these cases as annoyances rather than with respect… Robert McIntosh was not treated the same as his competitors.

That’s right, y’all. Rick Perry still fears gay cooties, which have now infected his alma mater. Methinks, like many other right-wing homophobes, Ricky baby doth protest too much. I particularly enjoyed the detail about his being elected twice as Aggie Yell Leader. Rah fucking rah. Sis-boom fucking bah.

I wasn’t able to find a decent picture of Perry armed with his megaphone but here’s one of former Governor Oops with school mascot Reveille:

I think we all know who was the brains of that outfit…

In addition to his time as Aggie Yell Leader, Perry did a stint on Dancing With The Stars. I didn’t see it but this animated GIF looks rather Yell Leaderish to me:

I, for one, am glad that the Insult Comedian has brought school spirit back to the Federal government. Dubya was a cheerleader at Yale and now we have the dancin’ Energy Secretary. Nobody’s going to accuse this bozo of being low energy…

There *is* one good thig I can say about Perry’s nutty op-ed. I don’t think he lies in it. That’s a major accomplishment for a member of the lyingest administration ever.

Your President* Speaks: The Truth Is Not His Middle Name

The Insult Comedian gave an interview to Time Magazine’s Michael Scherer about truth and falsehood” wherein he lied like an antique Persian rug. He even recycled some old lies. It’s good to know that he espouses at least one green cause. Of course, both he and Jill Stein are Putin fans, which means I should recycle my old nickname for her: the Crunchy Granola Machiavelli. That one never gets old.

I’m only going to publish a few Trumpian whoppers since the WaPo does such a good job debunking his bunk. Make sure you read that article. The president* really outdid himself on the alternative fact front this time.

“NATO, obsolete, because it doesn’t cover terrorism. They fixed that, and I said that the allies must pay. Nobody knew that they weren’t paying. I did. I figured it. … What I said about NATO was true, people aren’t paying their bills.”

As if the Beavis-Duce administration would let that happen. Repeat after me: it’s an alliance that’s kept the peace, not a protection racket.

“Now remember this. When I said wiretapping, it was in quotes. Because a wiretapping is, you know today it is different than wire tapping. It is just a good description. But wiretapping was in quotes. What I’m talking about is surveillance.”

He thinks he can get away with his bullshit by using air quotes? What is he now, a sorority girl? How stupid does he think we are? Yeah, I know: tremendously, bigly stupid.

He also denied his big lie about Cruz the Elder’s involvement in the Kennedy assassination:

“Well that was in a newspaper. No, no, I like Ted Cruz, he’s a friend of mine. But that was in the newspaper. I wasn’t, I didn’t say that. I was referring to a newspaper. A Ted Cruz article referred to a newspaper story with, had a picture of Ted Cruz, his father, and Lee Harvey Oswald, having breakfast.”

The National Enquirer is a newspaper? Who knew? I thought it was terlet paper.

It’s time to circle back to the post title. It’s a paraphrase of a line from a Squeeze tune, The Truth. This video includes Chris Difford’s lyrics and that’s the truth. Believe me.

 

 

Quote Of The Day: Goodness Gracious, Golly Gee, Gosh Gorsuch

I’m on the record as a Dahlia Lithwick fan. She outdid herself the other day in a piece about the Gorsuch confirmation hearings, by golly:

There is no good way out of this tangle for Judge Gorsuch. For at least some of us in the room, the two straight days of performative big-hearted Westernness is beginning to chafe. No amount of references to midcentury paddle-wielding nuns and boyish mutton-busting extravaganzas can cover for refusing to answer even the most basic questions about doctrine or precedent. And even though Gorsuch is extremely affable and warm, one can’t escape the growing sense that the nominee we are watching today was hatched in an underground Federalist Society lab, with spare body parts stolen from Atticus Finch, Richie Cunningham, and Snoopy. And at some point you want to gently remind him that 1950s television called and it wants its vocabulary back.

I can’t find the quote but Gore Vidal once lamented that right-wingers spoke like maiden aunts in 1930’s B-movies. I guess we should be relieved that they’ve moved forward in time to 1950’s teevee by golly.

I’ve only watched bits and pieces of the Gorsuch hearings. He’s following the 2005 Roberts script by being affable and saying absolutely nothing. It was annoying in 2005 but infuriating in 2017. The Garland nomination changed everything. Gorsuch’s protestations that he’s an non-political judge ring hollow as the GOP’s humbug threatens to smother the Capital in noxious fumes of hypocrisy.

As Gorsuch himself would surely say, this whole thing is a gosh darn shame.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Here’s Blood In Your Eye

I know nothing about Manning Long’s work but I know a good title when I see one.

The Americans Thread: Bugging Out

Hunger was the main theme of the third episode of The Americans. We heard Tuan the Vietnamese commie kid’s story about eating “garbage off the streets” back home and saw a flashback to Philip’s time as a hungry Russian lad. I was half-way worried that this bloke would knock on my door:

It could be worse. Simon Le Bon Bon might be there with Duran Duran:

That’s the last wolf song for now. I promise, promise.

I almost needed a snack after watching the episode, but resisted because I was afraid that Aussie Midges had invaded my fridge. Oh yeah, The Midges is the buggy title of this pestiferous episode.  As far as I know, they have nothing to do with Patricia Hitchcock’s character in Strangers On A Train

I’m still trying to avoid spoilers so I’ll send you to the break with the song they played as Philip and Elizabeth packed a corpse into a rental car. (It’s not the first time they’ve done that, so how can it be a spoiler?) I’d hate to be the guy who rented that ride after them. It Hertz just thinking about it.

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Tea About The Tillerson

I had a lot of fun with my first post about Trump’s Secretary of State: Tea for the Tillerson. It’s time for a variation on that theme and meme. The above meme reflects the fact that Rex Tillerson is an empty suit with neither power nor influence. It’s fascinating that a man who wielded *real* power at Exxon/Mobil is under the thumb of a 35-year-old real estate developer and his sloppy neo-Fascist pal. This is no way to run a railroad, let alone a country.

It has become painfully obvious that Tillerson is out of the loop on major decisions: 

 At times, the president seems to be actively undermining the secretary. While Tillerson was in China over the weekend, taking an approach so conciliatory that he was even dropping Beijing’s favorite diplomatic buzzwords into his remarks, Trump was on Twitter complaining that China had “done little to help!” deter North Korea’s bad behavior—an accusation the Chinese have bristled at.

This is the second time Trump has said disparaging things about a country while Tillerson was visiting it. When Tillerson visited Mexico in February, trying to smooth over Trump-era differences as the natural disagreements of “two strong, sovereign countries,” the president was proudly telling a crowd in Washington about his administration’s work to get “bad dudes” out of the United States and predicting that Tillerson would have a tough trip. Those inclined to give this administration points for strategic acumen might see this as a kind of good cop, bad cop scenario, but it looks more like incoherence to me.

Tillerson is the most disrespected and undercut Secretary of State since William Rogers way back in the Nixon administration. Nixon ran foreign policy out of the White House and Henry Kissinger was a skilled bureaucratic knife-fighter. They at least had a coherent foreign policy even if much of it was appalling. Trump hasn’t a clue and neither do his key advisers. Jared and Steve know as much about foreign policy as Oscar the cat.

The administration’s recent saber-rattling on North Korea was not only shitty policy, it was poorly timed. Tillerson was in the Republic of Korea and issued a threat while the Korean government was in crisis after the impeachment and removal from office of President Park Geun-hye. Note to the Trumpers: the ROK does not like being referred to as South Korea. What’s next? Calling the PRC, Red China?

I remain mystified as to why the head of a massive multi-national corporation traded real power for playing second-string to Kushner and Bannon. I’m not sure where the new National Security adviser fits into this equation, but at least he’s not crazy or a Russian pawn like Flynn. It’s unclear, however, if he’ll prove to be McMasterful…

Team Trump’s next foreign policy trick is for Tillerson to skip the upcoming NATO summit, then travel to Putinville shortly thereafter. Way to send a signal to our friends where they rate, y’all. Whatever its flaws, NATO has helped keep the peace in Europe for the last 68 years. The Russians want to undermine and divide NATO in favor of chaos and right-wing nationalism. The Trumpers are playing along because the president* thinks foreign policy is a protection racket, and Bannon wants to provoke some kind of Armageddon that will bring on his new world order. I have no idea what Tillerson thinks about any of this. Repeat after me: he’s an empty suit.

There was a swell opinion piece in the Guardian that posed this question: Is Rex Tillerson the Weakest Secretary of State of All-Time? In a word: Yes. It’s an office that’s been filled by a long line of distinguished Americans: Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, William Henry Seward, John Hay, Charles Evans Hughes, Henry Stimson, George Marshall, Dean Acheson, George Schultz, Madeline Albright, Colin Powell, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry to name a few. It’s a long list and Rex Tillerson’s name doesn’t fit. He’s starting to make JFK and LBJ’s mild-mannered, long-suffering Secretary of State Dean Rusk look masterful.

Presidents have long tried to run foreign policy out of the White House. But it’s particularly unnerving with these bozos in charge. They don’t have a clue as to what they’re doing and their main talent seems to be fighting with our closest friends in the world: Australia, Mexico, Germany, and Great Britain. How is it possible for a Republican administration to fight with center-right governments in Australia and the UK? It’s a rare talent and the Trumpers have it.

Some GOPers insist that Tillerson is lying low and will emerge as a force to be reckoned with. I believe that’s called whistling past the graveyard. Hopefully, the Trumpers won’t provoke a war somewhere in the world to distract attention from their ineptitude and corruption. That’s where I see this heading, especially with a weak Secretary of State whose main qualification for the job is that he looks like a diplomat. And that’s the weak tea about the Tillerson.

Finally, I have a theme song suggestion for Tillerson’s State Department:

UPDATE: REX SPEAKS- The ineffectual Secretary of State has this to say:

“I didn’t want this job. I didn’t seek this job,” he said. “My wife told me I’m supposed to do this.”

After a conversation with President Donald Trump that Tillerson described as “about the world,” the President offered him the position.

“I was supposed to retire in March, this month. I was going to go to the ranch to be with my grandkids,” he said, adding later: “My wife convinced me. She was right. I’m supposed to do this.”

Sounds like a Fifties sitcom to me: My wife made me do it. Take this job, please.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Satan Is Real

The first time I saw the cover of Satan Is Real, I was convinced it was a parody cover. It is not. It’s the real thing. For good or ill, the cover was actually the idea of the Louvin Brothers:

The fiery setting pictured on the cover of this album was conceived and built by the Louvin Brothers themselves, using chiefly rocks, scrap rubber, and lots of imagination. The scene became a little too realistic, though, when Ira and Charlie were very nearly burned while actually directing the photography for this dramatic cover photo.

That gives a whole new meaning to the old song, There’ll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight.

I mentioned parody covers, here are a couple of pretty good ones:

Despite the corny/creepy cover Satan Is Real is widely regarded as one of the Louvin Brothers best records. The whole album itself is not on YouTube, but here are two tracks:

Your President* Speaks: Trump Potpourri For $100, Alex

After a brief period of relative silence after his “Obama was mean to me” tweet, the Insult Comedian has been shooting his mouth off again.  We begin with this morning’s tweet storm via Parker Malloy:

It’s always good when someone else does the heavy-lifting by bringing Trump’s digital diarrhea together. We all know what he means by fake news: items he doesn’t like. If he doesn’t like them, they cannot be true. It’s the way his mind, such as it is, works when concocting a new word salad for the tweeter tube: add a few verys, too many exclamation points, and garnish with a dash of fake news.

A funnier recent tweet was his attack on Snoop Lion or is he Snoop Dogg again? I cannot keep up with Calvin Broadus’ stage names. I’m kind of surprised Trump doesn’t go on about Snoop’s fake names. There must be something sinister about not using the name Calvin. I bet British Intelligence is behind it or maybe the North Koreans. There’s bound to be a conspiracy. Bannon should get Roger Stone and Alex Jones on the Calvin conspiracy ASAP.

I, for one, wouldn’t have bothered to look at Snoop’s latest video prior to seeing this rant. It just makes Trump look small and petty, which is what he is. The news may be fake but Trump’s vindictiveness is not and I’m not lion about that…

Let’s turn away from the Tweeter Tube and move on to a quote from an interview the president* did with Tucker Carlson on Fox News. Carlson seems to have forsaken bow ties, which is a pity since I enjoyed calling him a bow-tie mothertucker.

“Well, you know, I love to read. Actually, I’m looking at a book, I’m reading a book, I’m trying to get started. Every time I do about a half a page, I get a phone call that there’s some emergency, this or that. But we’re going to see the home of Andrew Jackson today in Tennessee and I’m reading a book on Andrew Jackson. I love to read. I don’t get to read very much, Tucker, because I’m working very hard on lots of different things, including getting costs down. The costs of our country are out of control. But we have a lot of great things happening, we have a lot of tremendous things happening.” 

It’s nice that he interrupted his teevee watching to read about one of our craziest previous Presidents. Anyone think he’ll finish the book? I wonder which tome it is: Arthur Schlesinger? Jon Meacham? He said we was “looking” at it so maybe it’s this one:

It’s ironic that nice is one of the Insult Comedian’s favorite words. I guess it’s because it’s short and simple enough to be in what Philip Roth called Trump’s 77-word vocabulary. Roth not only reads books, he writes them without a ghost writer. Imagine that. See Donald read. Read, Donald, read.

Speaking of niceness, Trump continues to go back-and-forth on the subject of his predecessor. He’s gone from calling former President Obama “a bad and sick guy” to vouching for his niceness. Of course, that’s like calling Charlie Manson as a character witness. Here’s what the Insult Comedian said on Fox yesterday:

“He’s been very nice to me personally, but his people haven’t been nice,” Trump told Fox News’ Jesse Watters. “While he’s nice personally, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of nice things happening behind the scenes, and that’s unfortunate.”

This is a classic Trump formulation. He begins with a mild compliment and concludes with an insult. That’s why I call him the Insult Comedian.

Before the president* said that Obama was “very nice” he made a lame joke about him at his joint presser with German Chancellor Angela Merkel:

“As far as wiretapping, I guess, by this past administration, at least we have something in common perhaps.”

That’s a harmless jab by Trumpian standards, but it led to the dirtiest look ever given an Oval One by a visiting dignitary:

See Angela glare. Glare, Angela, glare.

That’s the opposite of a poker face. I cannot wait until Tracey Ullman give us her take on the Merkel-Trump confab. If you haven’t seen her Merkel, it’s to die for:

That concludes this edition of Your president* Speaks. I’d give you a reading assignment but I’m trying to keep costs down. Class dismissed.

Sunday Morning Video: The Smithereens Live At Infinity Hall

Here’s a 2011 show courtesy of Connecticut Public Broadcasting:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Disturbance At The Heron House

Elijah and the Ravens by Ralph Chessé, 1945.

Winter played a fleeting return engagement in New Orleans this week. Unlike the Mid-March blizzard in the Northeast, it wasn’t anything to write home about but we ran the heater and shivered a bit. I’m not a fan of the new practice of naming winter storms even if the first one is named after a famous theatrical character, STELLA. Unless, that is, it’s named for the Hunter-Garcia ballad Stella Blue. The mere thought of a blizzard makes me blue so that could be it.

It may have been chilly of late but Spring allergy season is upon us with a vengeance. I have a mild case of red-eye but I’m used to that. A worse pestilence is this year’s flea crop. We haven’t had a hard freeze for several years so the nasty little buggers are dining on Oscar and Della Street. All we can do is treat the house, medicate the cats, and hope for the best. The idea of putting a flea collar on Della is particularly unappealing. She’s been known to draw blood so I’ll pass. Chomp.

This week’s theme song comes from R.E.M.’s classic 1987 Document album; more on the album anon. It’s my favorite record in their catalog and Disturbance At The Heron House is the kat’s meow. The lyrics were inspired by George Orwell’s Animal Farm, which is another reason I like it so much.

Here are two versions. The original studio track and one from R.E.M.’s appearance on MTV Unplugged. The second video has Radio Song as lagniappe.

The “followers of chaos out of control” indeed. In fact, they can follow me to the other side after the break. I hope it’s sufficiently chaotic.

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Friday Guest Catblogging: Can’t Let Go

This week Carnival withdrawal and catblogging collide in a repeat appearance by my friends Holly and Paul’s feline Boris. Holly is a member of the Krewe of Nyx who are known for their decorated purses. Quite naturally, Holly made a purse honoring Boris:

I’m not sure if Boris approves. At least she didn’t cough up a hairball on it:

Since I used a Roxy Music tune for the title, I am obligated to post it regardless of whether Boris approves:

UPDATE: Boris celebrates her return to First Draft. I’m glad she doesn’t drink vodka.

Quotes Of The Day: Muslim Ban Edition

Things are not going well for the revised Trump Muslim travel ban. Two federal judges have ruled against it thus far. The opinion by Judge Derrick K. Watson in Hawaii was particularly scathing:

The illogic of the Government’s contentions is palpable. The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed. … It is undisputed, using the primary source upon which the Government itself relies, that these six countries have overwhelmingly Muslim populations that range from 90.7% to 99.8%. It would therefore be no paradigmatic leap to conclude that targeting these countries likewise targets Islam. Certainly, it would be inappropriate to conclude, as the Government does, that it does not.

It’s no surprise that Trumper bragging is one reason that the ban has lost in court. Ignoring Kellyanne Conway’s admonitions,  Judge Watson took the president’s* words literally in his ruling. Here are a few more choice excerpts:

The Government appropriately cautions that, in determining purpose, courts should not look into the ‘veiled psyche’ and ‘secret motives’ of government decision-makers and may not undertake a ‘judicial psychoanalysis of a drafter’s heart of hearts’.

The Government need not fear. The remarkable facts at issue here require no such impermissible inquiry.

For instance, there is nothing ‘veiled’ about this press release: ‘Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.’

Nor is there anything ‘secret’ about the Executive’s motive specific to the issuance of the Executive Order:

Rudolph Giuliani explained on television how the Executive Order came to be. He said: “When [Mr. Trump] first announced it, he said, ‘Muslim ban.’ He called me up. He said, ‘Put a commission together. Show me the right way to do it legally.’”

<SNIP>

In an interview on January 25, 2017, Mr. Trump discussed his plans to implement ‘extreme vetting’ of people seeking entry into the United States. He remarked: ‘[N]o, it’s not the Muslim ban. But it’s countries that have tremendous terror. . . . [I]t’s countries that people are going to come in and cause us tremendous problems.’ …

When signing the first Executive Order [No. 13,769], President Trump read the title, looked up, and said: ‘We all know what that means.’ President Trump said he was ‘establishing a new vetting measure to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America’, and that: ‘We don’t want them here.’

Words matter to thinking people like Judge Watson. In Philip Roth’s memorable phrase, the Insult Comedian may speak “jerkish” but his gibberish translated into English has gotten him into trouble. The Muslim ban word salad was overdressed and too vinegary even if the Brown House describes it as “watered down.”

I begin to wonder if they even care if the ban goes into effect: they’ve made their propaganda points and placated their feral, unneutered base. If they want it to happen, the Trump-Bannon regime would be well-advised to heed this message from our country’s past:

This is a preliminary victory but I, for one, am thrilled that Trumpian braggadocio sank this particular ship. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Trumper incompetence may yet save the Republic. Keep up the bad work, y’all.

UPDATE: Trump continues to shoot off his mouth:

“Remember this, I wasn’t thrilled that the lawyers all said, ‘Oh, let’s tailor it.’ This is a watered-down version of the first one,” he told the crowd. “This is a watered down version, and let me tell you something. I think we ought to go back to the first one and go all the way, which is what I wanted to do in the first place.”

Trump vowed to defend his order.

“This ruling makes us look weak. Which by the way, we no longer are, believe me. Just look at our borders. We are going to fight this terrible rule,” he said at the rally.

Thanks, Donald.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Terror Tales

It’s pulp magazine time here at First Draft. Terror Tales specialized in damsels in pulp distress covers. Here are two good examples:

The Americans Thread: Trouble In Paigeland

Americans Pests

You know things are bad when the man whose best friend is a KGB illegal notices there’s something wrong with a teenage girl. Of course, Stan Beeman is alternately clueless and perceptive about life in general. He’s right: there *is* trouble in Paigeland. I have an alternative theory as to why: I blame that dreadful brown geometric wallpaper in her bedroom. It looks as if Piet Mondrian  projectile vomited on the wall. No wonder Paige is sleeping in the closet at the beginning of this aptly titled episode. Pests abound this week but we’ll get to that after my feeble attempt to make this thread spoiler proof.

Before the break, let’s get in a 1984 mood by paying a brief visit to Heartbeat City:

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1040 Blues: From Sizzle To Fizzle

I’m uncertain how to best characterize the Rachel Maddow-David Cay Johnston 2005 tax form story. It was hyped as a bombshell but was greeted as if it were a dud or damp squib. I missed the build-up on social media so I’m sort of in the middle: we learned a few things but it didn’t live up to the advance hype about tax forms plural. The most interesting thing was Johnston’s speculation that Donald may have leaked the form itself. Otherwise it was all sizzle and no steak; not even a overcooked Trumpian steak with ketchup slathered all over it.

The main reason people are so disappointed is that they’re hoping for a magic, nay a silver bullet to slay the monster. This is real life, not fantasy fiction. The Insult Comedian’s downfall won’t be caused by an hour-long cable news program. It’s not “fake news” but it’s not a major breakthrough either. If Trump is brought down by his cartoon villain corruption, it will be by the accumulated weight of his criminality, not by one year’s 1040. As Slate’s Willa Paskin put it, Rachel “had the goods but oversold them.” Believe me.

Since we all have the 1040 Blues, I’ll give Robert Cray the last word: