Author Archives: Peter Adrastos Athas

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Teen-Age Mafia

The most amusing thing about this cover is the hyphen in teenage. I guess the usage changed in the Sixties when teen-age culture went mainstream.

 

Quote Of The Day: Impeachment Edition

I’d like to thank Lawrence O’Donnell for reminding us of the eloquence of a Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee who stood up for the rule of law and against a president of his own party in 1974. The father of the current Governor of Maryland, Lawrence Hogan Sr. was a FBI agent before entering politics. He was the only Republican to vote for *all* three articles of impeachment filed against Richard Nixon.

Here’s the QOTD:

Now, I`m a Republican. Party loyalty and personal affection and precedence of the past must fall, I think, before the arbiter of men`s action – the law itself. No man, not even the president of the United States, is above the law.

It isn`t easy for me to align myself against the president to whom I gave my enthusiastic support in three presidential campaigns, on whose side I`ve stood in many legislative battles, whose accomplishments in foreign and domestic affairs I`ve consistently applauded.

But it`s impossible for me to condone or ignore the long train of abuses to which he has subjected the presidency and the people of this country. The constitution and my own oath of office demand that I bear true faith and allegiance to the principles of law and justice upon which this nation was founded. And I cannot in good conscience turn away from the evidence of evil that is to me so clear and compelling.

My friend from New Jersey, Mr. Sandman, said last night he wants to see direct proof and some of my other friends on the side of the aisle said the same thing. But I submit what they`re looking for is an arrow to the heart. And we do not find any evidence an arrow to the heart. We find a virus that creeps up on you slowly and gradually until its obviousness is so overwhelming to you.

We have to step back and we have to look at the whole picture. And when you look at the whole mosaic of the evidence that`s come before us, to me, it`s overwhelming beyond a reasonable doubt.

<SNIP>

He consistently tried to cover up the evidence and obstruct justice, and as much as it pains me to say it, he should be impeached and removed from office.

It is, of course, difficult to imagine a current House or Senate Republican quoting Larry Hogan Sr. let alone matching his anguished eloquence. The rule of law *should* be more important than the Current Occupant of the White House whoever they may be. This president* is reckless and lawless and the 115th Congress needs to stand up and be counted like the 93rd Congress and members such as Larry Hogan the elder.

Impeachment is not easy. It’s not supposed to be easy.  It’s a political action that may be politically unwise. Many of the arguments against it are compelling, I find myself nodding in agreement when Josh Marshall argues against it, but then I recall my reaction to reading Volume 2 of the Mueller Road Map. We can’t let this president* get away with thumbing his nose at the constitution and the rule of law. The example that would set for the future is dire.

Not only has the MSM let the GOP off easy on impeachment, the “cult of the savvy” is calling Elizabeth Warren’s stand in favor of impeachment a gambit or a tactic. It was a sincere reaction to the disgusting details laid out in the Mueller Report. It was the same reaction I had. Sometimes you have to do the right thing regardless of whether or not it’s easy or expedient. As JFK said in his legendary 1962 Moon speech: “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

The last word goes to the late Congressman Larry Hogan. The caption is wrong, it was a statement, not testimony but the words ring just as true in 2019 as they did in 1974:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: One Size Fits All

I spend a lot of time in my formative years listening to Frank Zappa. I was attracted to his oddball sense of humor and his wry and sardonic stage patter. Wry and sardonic sums me up quite well. Above all else, I loved his tricky music and the virtuosity of the musicians who worked with FZ.

One Size Fits All is my favorite Zappa album. The songs are tight, well-constructed, and perfectly arranged. It’s one of the last albums released using the Mothers name. It’s also one of the best bands Zappa ever assembled: the vocals by George Duke and Napoleon Murphy Brock are to die for. One Size Fits All flat-out rocks.

The cover art is by Cal Schenkel who designed 16+ Zappa covers. He was FZ’s artistic alter ego and described his style as “ragged surrealism.”

Here’s the whole damn album via the YouTube:

 

The Mueller Roadmap: Volume 1 Notes

Team Trump let Rudy Giuliani off his chain to appear on the Sunday shows. Spittle, sweat, rage, and lies were involved on Rudy’s part. CNN’s Jake Tapper appeared tempted to offer the ex-mob buster a hankie to mop the flop sweat off his brow. The artist formerly known as Mayor Combover made at least one remarkable statement: “There’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians.”

Really, Rudy? Do you really believe that or are you so blinded by the spotlight that you’ll say anything to help your client? And this guy wanted to be president. It’s a good thing his 2008 campaign flopped. A reminder to political junkies: Giuliani was the GOP front runner at this time in that cycle.

I promised some readers that I’d comment on Volume 1 of the Mueller Report. Before I do, here’s one of the money quotes from that part of the report:

“In evaluating whether evidence about collective action of multiple individuals constituted a crime, we applied the framework of conspiracy law, not the concept of “collusion.” In so doing, the Office recognized that the word “collud[ e ]” was used in communications with the Acting Attorney General confirming certain aspects of the investigation’s scope and that the term has frequently been invoked in public reporting about the investigation. But collusion is not a specific offense or theory of liability found in the United States Code, nor is it a term of art in federal criminal law.”

I’ve been fighting a war of words over the word collusion so I’m pleased that Team Mueller joined the wordy war without colluding or conspiring with me.

Since I’m a bad lapsed lawyer, I took notes while reading Volume 1. They’re handwritten and hard to read but I needed them to jog my memory before running my mouth.

  • Volume 1 is seriously redacted. There are black blotches all over its pages. Most of them have to do with grand jury information as well as our old friend HOM: Harm to Ongoing Matter. That concludes this homily about redactions.
  • It’s unclear if Team Mueller were down with all the redactions but it’s certainly possible. We’ve all learned not to trust Bill Barr so I’m not taking his word on anything. It’s truly Trump’s DOJ now. You know things are bad when Jeff Beau looks good in contrast.
  • Some of the material about Russian operations during the campaign is familiar to those of us who waded through past court filings.
  • We learn that so-called free speech hero Julian Assange is an inveterate liar as well as the world’s worst house guest. WikiLeaks was in such constant cahoots with the Russian cohort that it might as well be an arm of the GRU. They should change their name to WikiLies or RuskieLeaks.
  • There’s confirmation that Trump Junior is an idiot. He seems to have avoided indictment thus far with a dumbass defense. Given the number of redactions in the sections mentioning him, his name *may* be one of those submitted for criminal referral. I can dream, can’t I?
  • One of the weirder sub-plots involves the “deleted Hillary emails hunt” engaged in by Iran-Contra spouse Barbara Ledeen, Peter Smith, and Mike Flynn. It’s a bit of comic relief amidst all the seaminess.
  • Team Mueller fills in the blanks about Paul Manafort’s contacts with the Russians as well as his reflexive mendacity. It’s something he and the Insult Comedian have in common.
  • Erik Prince is in deep shit and sinking fast.  His contacts with various Middle Eastern potentates have a potent whiff of criminality and he lied about them under oath. There are a lot of black redactions in the section about the Blackwater founder and Betsy Devos brother. We know what that means: I eagerly await this shitbird’s indictment.
  • Steve Bannon may be a fascist asshole but he’s a smart fascist asshole. He knew enough not to lie to Congress or Team Mueller.

There was some silly criticism of the Mueller Report after its release. Anyone who thought the Special Counsel was going to single-handedly change the no-indictment policy hasn’t been paying attention. That’s up to a future attorney general or Congress. Team Mueller’s job was to investigate crimes, not change the law. There was never going to be a Deus ex Mueller to rescue us.

A quick note on the way out of this mess. Athenae was right when she pointed out that the Dems Aren’t Solely Responsible For Fixing This. This shit is on the Republicans: they nominated, elected, and continue to defend a criminal. There have been hundreds of off-the-record stories of how appalled elected GOPers are by this president’s* words and deeds. I don’t see any of them stepping up and criticizing their criminal president* let alone actually doing anything about it. They’re too busy cowering at the prospect of being ousted from Congress by the red hat menace. They’re pussies, they should grab themselves.

I’ve come out for impeachment but I’m not an enthusiast. There is no easy way out of this mess. Given the no-indictment policy, Trump is going to run for re-election to avoid criminal charges. Let that sink in for a minute. One reason that the Nixon impeachment was easier for Republicans to eventually swallow is that Tricky was term-limited. The odds are that Trump will have to be defeated at the ballot box, which is, after all, the American way or what’s left of it.

I see a lot of hand wringing over the unholy mess that confronts the country. That’s how Team Trump wants its enemies to react. They won the electoral college by depressing Democratic turnout in 2016. If we get depressed, they win again. If we react with righteous indignation, they lose.  Few things in life are as simple as that.

My venture into bullet pointery has given me an earworm. Neil Young gets the last word:

Repeat after me: Donald Trump is a criminal.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Without You

Vue de Notre-Dame de Paris by Pablo Picasso

It’s been a tough week that got off to a bad start with the Notre-Dame fire. Instead of uniting people in solidarity, it led to petty bickering on social media as to which was worse, that fire or the church fires perpetrated by a racist in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana.  They’re equally terrible in their own way: there’s no need to weigh them on a scale of horror. Notre-Dame will be rebuilt and there’s an online fundraising effort afoot for the churches in Louisiana. Click here it you’d like to donate.

I nearly wrote a post about all the crazy hot takes on the tweeter tube until I realized that the last thing the world needed was my hot take on hot takes. Instead, here’s a funny story about flies. We’ve had some aggressive flies in the house this year: Paul Drake likes to chase them but rarely, if ever, catches them. His frantic efforts remind me of my father’s reaction to flies. Lou was obsessed with swatting and killing them. He was relentless. After years of observing him in action, I finally asked him why. It had to do with his service in the Pacific theatre in World War II. There were so many damn flies there that he hoped never to see them again once he was home. It made perfect sense so I stopped teasing him about his fly swatting exploits. It’s a good thing that he never lived in the Gret Stet of Louisiana.

Sorrowful times call for sad tunes. Pete Ham and Tom Evans wrote Without You for Badfinger’s 1970 No Dice album. The ultimate version of this song was recorded the next year by Harry Nillson who wrung every ounce of emotion out of the lyrics and melody. It was a monster hit: sitting atop of the US charts for 4 weeks.

It’s disambiguation time. This Without You was written by John Wetton and Steve Howe for Asia’s eponymous 1982 debut album. Holy power ballad, Batman.

Now that we’ve established our self-sufficiency, let’s jump to the break; either alone or together alone.

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The Mueller Road Map

Fog of Scandal meme

I’ve focused on Volume 2 of the Mueller Report thus far. As expected, it’s a road map for Congress and/or future prosecutors to Trump’s obstruction of justice crimes. Bill Barr has lied about pretty much everything in the report: Team Mueller’s decision NOT to charge is driven by the DOJ’s shitty policy that bars a sitting president from indictment. Barr said that it was not.

The evidence is even more overwhelming than expected but Bobby Three Sticks is a small c conservative prosecutor who was unlikely to go against the dreadful no indictment policy. Anyone else would have been indicted by now. Repeat after me: Donald Trump is a criminal.

I have a few random observations. I’ll bite the bullet and use bullet points:

  • The report is well and clearly written. You don’t have to be a lapsed lawyer like me to understand it. There *is* legalese but you can skim through it.
  • I was pleasantly surprised by the minimal redactions to Volume 2. Most of them involve our old pal Roger Stone who, absent a pardon, is royally fucked.
  • Most White House “insider” news stories have been accurate. Of course, given that Don McGahn was the source of many NYT stories as well as of the Report that’s no surprise.
  • Speaking of McGahn. It won’t be long until Trump starts calling him Traitor Don or better still McTraitor. He’s the source of many of the most damning stories about Trump’s misconduct in office. He also takes notes, which according to Trump good lawyers like Roy Cohn do not. Only mob lawyers do not take notes. That’s why they’re called mouthpieces.
  • Trump is convinced that the Attorney General is supposed to be a fixer for the president* He goes on and on about Bobby Kennedy and Eric Holder. While it’s true that RFK *was* JFK’s fixer, it’s simply not true about Holder. Obama didn’t need a fixer to get him out of tight legal scrapes: he’s an honest man. Trump cannot fathom such a person.
  • Trump’s attorney generals are reminiscent of Nixon’s first two, Mitchell and Kleindeinst; both of whom went to jail. Barr, however, is more dangerous than Sessions: he’s smart and competent whereas Jeff Beau is a dipshit and dumbass.
  • Like any good piece of narrative history, Team Mueller has woven together known facts into a compelling narrative. It’s all in one place now and the effect is devastating. Thanks. Bob.

I use the term road map quite deliberately. It’s what Team Jaworski gave Congress during Watergate. It’s the raw material to thoroughly investigate the Trump regime. It’s up to the House to decide what to do with it.

Impeachment is an unappetizing prospect. Barr’s version of the four corners basketball stall has delayed things considerably. It’s apparent that one reason Team Mueller did not try to subpoena testimony from the Insult Comedian is time. The clock is ticking as we approach election day.

There’s a defensible political argument to be made that the voters should decide Trump’s fate; impeachment is merely an invitation for the Senate to remove a president from office, which has never happened and is unlikely to occur this time around. BUT we can’t let this president* get away with his crimes, if we do we’re inviting future presidents to think that they’re above the law. The next criminal president might not be an incompetent fool. Impunity cannot be rewarded.

One more thing on the politics of impeachment. There’s a myth that Republicans suffered politically for the Clinton impeachment. They only suffered for one cycle: they elected a president in 2000 and re-took the Senate in 2002. That’s suffering?

There are no good options for House Democrats but they cannot let this evil fucker get away with the crimes he’s committed in office. Here’s my slogan for 2019: I is for Impeachment.

Friday Catblogging: Stroller Boy

Befitting a cat named after a fictional shamus, Paul Drake investigates everything that comes in the house. This stroller carried the 6 week old daughter of one of Dr. A’s favorite former students. Her father fell in love with PD who, in turn, fell in love with the stroller:

The 24 Minute Spin Cycle

The cover-up in plain sight continues. Bill Barr spun, equivocated, and explained away Trump’s conduct in a presser lasting from 9:32 to 9:56. He praised the regime’s “transparency” and threw a pity party for the president* Make that HIS president*

Rod Rosenstein stood behind Barr during the 24 minute spin cycle. He looked stiff and deadpan even for him. I’m not sure if it rose to the level of a hostage video but it was close. It’s hard to tell. Rosenstein is  one of those lawyers who looks as if he just stepped out of a coffin. I did, however, see him flinch a few times.

I’m not the only one saying this but Barr acted like Trump’s defense counsel today. He mentioned exonerating information and ducked questions as to what Mueller thought about his own report. He also parroted the Trump party line saying NO COLLUSION no fewer than 6 times. Repeat after me: collusion is a media/political word, not a legal term of art.

Nobody should be surprised that Barr has turned into Sarah Huckabee Sanders, only without the frock. Calling a press conference before the release of the redacted report is both unprecedented and sinister. I’m currently downloading a PDF, which is 139 MB. There are 20 minutes and counting until I get my hands (eyes) on it. I plan to read it before issuing my instant analysis here.

The last word goes to Scout Prime:

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Hot Rod Mania

Anyone who has ever seen Rebel Without A Cause, can attest that hot rods were a big deal in the 1950’s. Here are two more examples of hot rod mania:

John Fogerty gets the last word:

The Bayou Brief Goes To The Movies

You may have noticed that I’m a film buff. My latest piece for the Bayou Brief combines my love of movies, history, and the Gret Stet of Louisiana: Set In Louisiana: Top 40 Movies, 1938-Present.

Tweet Of The Day: Pulitzer Prize Edition

The Advocate has won its first Pulitzer Prize. It’s not the first time a New Orleans newspaper has won a Pulitzer: the Times-Picayune won for its Hurricane Katrina/Federal Flood coverage. That was, of course, before that paper was hollowed out by its masters and transformed into the Zombie-Picayune.

Many former Picayune people are now with the Advocate. One of whom is my friend Gordon Russell who is the managing editor for investigations, and one of the winners of the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting. They won for a series about Louisiana’s non-unanimous jury system. It was reporting that made a difference as the voters abolished that Jim Crow relic last fall.

The tweet in question shows the paper’s New Orleans newsroom exploding with joy upon learning the news:

Congratulations to everyone at the Advocate for proving that local newspapers still matter. Well done, y’all.

Repeat after me: Not Everything Sucks.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Waiting For Columbus

Little Feat’s 1978 double LP Waiting For Columbus is one of the greatest live albums of all-time. That shouldn’t surprise anyone who has seen any of the band’s iterations over the years. Little Feat flat-out rocks, especially when the Tower of Power horns join in on the fun as they do on this album.

The cover art is by Neon Park who began life as Martin Muller and did all but one of Little Feat’s covers until his death in 1993. Cheerful tomatoes became a recurring motif on Little Feat album covers and the band even named their record label Hot Tomato Records.

If you’re ready to rock, here’s the 2002 CD re-release complete with 10 extra tracks.

Axis Of Assholes

In his 2002 State of the Union speech George W. Bush denounced Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as an “axis of evil,” an inflammatory turn of phrase authored by David Frum. That’s right, the Frum who can be seen on your teevee as an anti-Trump conservative. He writes for the Atlantic Weekly now and still hasn’t topped the line that began life as “axis of hatred.”

In 2019, we face a corrupt, malevolent, and egomaniacal axis of assholes. They’re scattered across the globe, but the bull goose assholes are Bibi Netanyahu, Donald Trump, and Crown Prince MBS aka Mister Bone Saw seen above holding hands. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

The United States may be the most powerful country in the terrible troika, but Netanyahu is the powerhouse; both mentoring and setting a bad example for the Insult Comedian who aspires to Bibi’s level of malevolent malakatude. That makes Bibi  the Mr. Bad Example of the axis of assholes:

Netanyahu just won a scorched earth re-election campaign in which he demonized his opponents, the media, and the Israeli Arab minority. As depressing as it is for those of us who remember the Israel of Ben-Gurion, Meir, Rabin, and Peres: it’s Bibi’s country now. The Israeli left is dead as is the two-state solution. Netanyahu continues to transform Israeli democracy into a system akin to apartheid era South Africa or Jim Crow era America.

The Kaiser of Chaos aspires to Bibi’s level of strongman dominance. What’s not to love about a guy who was re-elected while under threat of indictment? Mercifully, Israel’s multi-party system makes that feat difficult to replicate elsewhere but the Trumpers are hoping to follow in Bibi’s sleazy footsteps.

New Yorker honcho David Remnick wrote a perceptive and must read post-election piece, The Trump-Netanyahu Alliance. These excerpts capture the zeitgeist of the axis of assholes. The he in question is Netanyahu but it could just as easily be Trump:

Practicing a politics of division, he targets enemies in the press, the academy, and the courts. Increasingly, he finds his global allies in the ever-growing club of the Illiberal International, from the Sunni Arab leaders in his own region to Viktor Orbán, in Hungary; Jair Bolsonaro, in Brazil; and Vladimir Putin, in Russia. He has determined that the world no longer cares very much about the Palestinians or about democratic niceties. He has marginalized the left––even the center-left. The “peace camp” that [Bibi’s father] Benzion loathed now barely exists.

<SNIP>

Just as Netanyahu provided Trump instruction on the political possibilities of right-wing populism, Trump has provided Netanyahu with instruction on the possibilities of outrageous invective, voter suppression, and disdain for the law. Netanyahu now delights in the use of such phrases as “fake news.” Investigations into his financial adventures are “witch hunts.” To suppress the Arab vote in last week’s election, his supporters mounted more than a thousand cameras at polling places where Arab citizens ordinarily vote, the better to intimidate them. And, of course, both men like a wall. As Trump put it, “Walls work. Just ask Israel.” To which his proud mentor tweeted, “President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel’s southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea.”

The axis of assholes sticks together. Neither Trump nor Netanyahu found the murder of Jamal Khashoggi objectionable and took MBS at his word that his regal hands were clean, not blood-stained. Liars tend to believe other liars.

There’s a lot of saber rattling in the direction of Iran right now. Since distraction is the only thing Trump is good at, there are well-founded fears of a “wag the dog” attack on Iran. I think the Trump regime is likely to sub-contract any such attack to the Israelis and Saudis because bombs are expensive and the president* is a cheapskate. Iran is why the leadership of those once bitter foes have converged. The Bibi-MBS nexus of the axis of assholes almost makes one nostalgic for bad old/good old days in the Middle East. The Palestinians must be.

It’s beyond ironic that the leader of the Jewish state has formed such close bonds with two anti-Semitic leaders but “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” is the rule in that region. It should matter that Saudi Arabia was rhetorically pro-Nazi, but it doesn’t. It should matter that Donald Trump’s Archie Bunker-style philo-semitism is fundamentally anti-Semitic but it doesn’t. All that matters is power.

The only good thing about the axis of assholes is that it’s likely to be ephemeral. People like Bibi, the Kaiser of Chaos, and Mister Bone Saw invariably turn on one another. Cannibalism is part of assholery at this level of malakatude.

Speaking of cannibalism, the last word goes to Paul Kantner and Grace Slick:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Stop Breaking Down

Golconda by Rene Magritte

I’ve been busy putting the finishing touches on an epic piece I’m writing for the Bayou Brief about movies set in the Gret Stet of Louisiana, which is why this week’s outing will be relatively short. Hey, stop cheering out there.

The Jazz Fest merry-go-round keeps on spinning out of control. Stevie Nicks has pneumonia and Finnwood Mac have cancelled the rest of their US tour including Jazz Fest. They’ve already been replaced. That means Jazz Fest has descended down the rock evolutionary scale from the Rolling Stones to Fleetwood Mac to Widespread Panic. The last band’s name aptly described how promoters must have felt upon hearing about Stevie.

This week’s theme song was inspired by the Jazz Fest mishigas. Robert Johnson recorded Stop Breaking Down aka Stop Breaking Down Blues in Dallas in 1937. God only knows when it was written. Johnson was not big on record keeping.

I have two versions for your listening pleasure. Robert Johnson’s original and the Exile On Main Street version by noted Jazz Fest drop-outs, the Rolling Stones:

Ordinarily, I’d call a tow truck after breaking down but let’s hop, skip, and jump to the break.

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The Bland Bespectacled Bomb Thrower

Attorney General Bill Barr is so ordinary looking that he’d never stand out in a crowd. As a witness, he speaks softly and occasionally mumbles his responses. As a public speaker, he’s as charismatic as Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State Warren Christopher who looked as if he stepped out of a coffin.  Barr is as dull as a lawyer can be until you closely examine his words: then you realize that he’s a bland bespectacled bomb thrower.

In front of House Judiciary Committee, Barr stuck to the basics of his cover-up line, which involves deflection, misdirection, and kicking the can down the road for as long as possible. In the friendly confines of Lindsey Graham’s committee, Barr sounded like a spokesman for the Freedom Caucus. I almost expected him to morph into Jim Jordan just like Bruce Banner transforms into the Hulk. Barr smash.

Given Barr’s background in intelligence, he knows how inflammatory the word spying is. He crawfished on the usage later but his work was done. The Attorney General of the United States has given the green light to wingnut conspiracy nuts everywhere. I think former Clinton-Gore-Biden-Obama aide Ron Klain put it best:

Klain is a Democratic utility infielder: he was also Chief Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee and Attorney General Janet Reno’s Chief of Staff, so he knows the DOJ and how it’s supposed to work. This isn’t it.

Not only does Barr sound like a conspiracy buff, he sounds like a spokesman for the Trump re-election campaign. Their goal is to confuse the issues surrounding the Trump scandals and to discredit the Mueller Report when Barr finally gets around to releasing even a redacted version.

Barr’s testimony was all about placating the president* and the red hat set. There was no spying, only an authorized FBI counterintelligence probe.

The bland bespectacled bomb thrower is a throwback Attorney General. Before Watergate, it was not unusual for campaign managers to become Attorney Generals. On the good side, there were Robert Kennedy and Herbert Brownell who was Ike’s top legal eagle and the leading advocate of Civil Rights in that administration. On the dark side, there were Tricky Dick’s law partner John Mitchell and Harding’s venal AG, Harry Daugherty. That’s why I don’t want to hear that Barr’s conduct is unprecedented. It doesn’t make it any better but it’s not.

I like how never Trump Republican and all-around smart ass, Rick Wilson, described Barr:

William Barr’s tone was calm, but his agenda was clear: His job is to protect Donald Trump, no matter the prerogatives of Congress or any consideration of the rule of law. Bill Barr is not the attorney general of the United States. He is the Roy Cohn whom The Donald has craved since become president; an attorney general who sees his duty as serving Trump.

<SNIP>

Barr exudes just enough of the comforting style of the Washington insider to quiet the fears of many in the House and Senate. He comes across as pedestrian and legalistic, bordering on dull, but he’s the most dangerous man in America.

That’s why I called Barr a bland bespectacled bomb thrower. He’s there to help the Kaiser of Chaos foment, uh, chaos, not to the serve the public interest. Repeat after me: this is horrible but not unprecedented.

In other scandal news, the cover-up has spread to the Treasury Department. Mnuchin the Moocher is dragging his heels on turning over Trump’s taxes. He’s not supposed to have a role in this: it’s up to the IRS commissioner. The Moocher has tried kicking the can over to the DOJ but they don’t have a role in this either. The law is clear as it uses the mandatory shall, not might or maybe. The Moocher’s inaction could even put him in legal jeopardy. He should be careful: he’d look shitty in an orange jump suit.

I keep hoping that we’ll wake up and discover that the Trump regime was just a bad dream. Unfortunately, life isn’t like the series finale of St. Elsewhere. The nightmare is real.

Friday Catblogging: Bathtub Boy

You’ve seen Paul Drake the sink walker, here he is relaxing in the bathtub:

That’s a whole lotta white, y’all. It looks like an Osmonds concert with shower curtains.

Are you ready for PD’s brand new theme song? Little Feat get the last word.

Tweet Of The Day: Scout Prime Edition

Our beloved colleague Scout Prime is on her way to YouTube comedy stardom:

I can’t wait for the second episode. I was worried that Della Street and Paul Drake might be jealous until I saw the kitty in the car in the car wash. Yikes.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Here’s Blood In Your Eye

I identify with this book title because I have allergy related bloodshot eyes. Note that the cover on the left was published under the Harlequin imprint. It’s obviously not a romance novel. Ain’t nothing romantic about bloody eyes.

Charles Blow On Political Folk Heroes

Donald Trump and Edwin Edwards in 1993. Photo via the Advocate.  

The Op-Ed page of the Failing New York Times gets a lot of abuse. While some of it is deserved, everyone should remember that Paul Krugman, Michelle Goldberg, Jamelle Bouie, and Charles Blow dispense wit and wisdom in their NYT columns. My focus today is on the man with the swell name, Charles Blow. The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind…

Mr. Blow is from the Gret Stet of Louisiana. He was born and raised in Gibsland in Bienville Parish and graduated from Grambling State University. He occasionally writes about his mother who still resides in Louisiana. He done it again in one of his most original and insightful columns thus far: Trumpism Extols Its Folk Hero.

Mr. Blow posits that, among the suckers who have fallen hardest for the con, Donald Trump has morphed from mere mortal to a legendary figure, a folk hero. For those of us who are immune to his snake oily charm, he’s an anti-hero.

Mr. Blow uses his mother’s affection for, and support of, 4 term Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards as an example of how a political folk hero can mesmerize their fans:

My mother is a devout Democrat, but also one of the most socially conservative people I know. This is typical of our home state of Louisiana among black citizens — they can be as conservative as any Republican, but are also completely convinced, by dint of history and experience, that the Republican Party not only abides racists, it courts them, and therefore they would die rather than vote red.

My mother is so austere that she never drank or partied in any way, except for the one time she told me that she went to a nightclub and tried a drink. She didn’t much like the dingy space or the bitter beverage, so she swore them both off.

She abhorred the showy, deeming it vulgar, so every single article of clothing in her closet was white, black, brown or navy blue. Red? Yellow? Green? God forbid.

And she was unshakable in her sense of moral rectitude, viewing sins like lying, gambling and philandering as absolute corruptions of character.

And yet, through my time growing up there and going to college there, she took a devilish pride in enthusiastically supporting and voting for the four-term Democratic governor, Edwin Edwards, a cocksure, gambling womanizer who would end up in federal prison in 2002 for bribery and extortion.

On the surface, it doesn’t make sense that my mother, who thought herself a moralist, would find a champion in a flaunting immoralist, but she did as did many other Louisiana voters. And I believe this was possible because Edwards achieved something that few politicians achieve: He transcended the political, and on some level even the rules of the workaday world, and entered the astral league of folk heroes.

The rules don’t apply to the folk hero. People don’t measure them by the same tape. Behavior that people would never condone in their personal lives, they relish in the folk hero.

Sorry for that epic quote but it’s too well-constructed to cut. Charles’ writing does not blow. And unlike the president* he’s not a blowhard.

Mr. Blow goes on to apply the rules of folk heroism to the Insult Comedian. I agree with his analysis as it explains the irrational, cult-like devotion to Trump among his shrinking base. I disagree, however, with his conclusion:

Anti-Trump forces must stop operating as if they are doing battle with a liar; they are doing battle with what his supporters have fashioned into a legend. How does one fight a fiction, a fantasy? That’s the question. Its answer is the path to America’s salvation.

What we have to do is to ignore hardcore Trumpers who are no more than 25-30% of likely voters. Trying to convert them is a waste of time: they’re fantasists who believe what they want to believe, which is that the Kaiser of Chaos is making America great again. They’re low information voters, trying to convert one’s crazy uncle who watches Fox News is futile. Shorter Adrastos: Fuck them.

A reminder that the GOP lost the midterms by 9 points nationally. Democrats need to keep our base as well as disaffected suburban voters mobilized and ready for action in 2020. If we do that, Trump will lose. Repeat after me: Trump’s only path to victory is to destroy his opponent. Believe me.

Pondering Charles Blow’s name has given me an earworm. The last word goes to McKinley Morganfield:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: High On The Hog

Grim times call for comic relief hence this week’s selection. What’s funnier than a bunch of Southern hippies astride a hog nursing her piglets?

After the success of the Allman Brothers Band, the record labels beat the bushes for Southern rock bands. One of the groups that fell out of the tree was Black Oak Arkansas. They were self-described rednecks who were popular for a few years with their Southern-fried boogie sound.

1973’s High On The Hog was their biggest hit. It features the song Jim Dandy, which became the theme song for their grottily charismatic front man Jim Dandy Mangrum. It’s unclear who or what he was rescuing.

Here are the front and back covers of this gatefolded LP featuring the memorable porcine illustration by Joe Petango.

The quality of the interior gatefold picture isn’t great but you get to see BOA in the backwoods. Boy howdy.

I won’t subject you to the album itself but here’s BOA to the rescue live: