Author Archives: Peter Adrastos Athas

Saturday Odds & Sods: I Should’ve Known

Dog Eat Dog by Joni Mitchell.

It was a helluva week with one of the most eventful Thursdays in recent memory. We all thought the “skinny repeal” atrocity would pass. While I’m glad that John McCain voted NO, the real stars of the vote were Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski. Team Trump has done many stupid things since coming to power but threatening Murkowski takes the cake. This is one tough woman. In 2010, she lost the Republican primary to a teabagger, ran as an independent, and won. Threatening her with an open political grave was futile, she’d already been declared politically dead and came back with a vengeance. Besides, the Murkowskis are a dynasty in Alaska with a collective 36 years in the Senate between Lisa and her father Frank. Take that Ryan Zinke. Z is for zero, zed, and Zinke.

On the local front, the big news was the surprising resignation of Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand. Normand is one of the most popular elected officials in the Gret Stet of Louisiana and a genuine maverick. I’ve both praised and blasted him over the years. You may recall that he was the guy David Vitter hired a gumshoe to spy on. Normand played an important role in defeating Vitter’s goober bid in 2015. On the down side, he was named malaka of the week for one of many bombastic press conferences he gave as Sheriff. He’s becoming the afternoon man at WWL talk radio. I suspect that the station’s money was what did the talking.

The reasons for selecting an Aimee Mann tune as the Saturday post theme song for a second time will be made clear after the break. Suffice it to say that it’s a great tune with a message that fits the post quite neatly. We like things tidy here at First Draft even if  my house is a cluttered mess. Neither Oscar nor Della will lift a paw to help clean. So it goes.

We begin with the 1993 promo video followed by a live version on the Beeb.

I’ve always loved the “dot, dot, dot” harmonies. I originally thought they were singing “bop, bop, bop” but I should’ve known…better. Ponder that as we go to the break.

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Friday Catblogging: Cheek To Cheek

Oscar and Della Street have a new spot by our vintage 1930’s bar. Yes, Oscar has a bald spot but the hair seems to be regenerating even if he’s out of the running to be the 13th Doctor.

One would never confuse Oscar and Della with Fred and Ginger. That’s why I’m posting Sinatra’s version of the Irving Berlin tune that gives this post its name.

Skinny Repeal?

I wrote the bulk of this post *before* the Senate turned into an old fashioned insane asylum lacking only the padded walls. I looked in vain for McMurphy and Chief Broom. They were too sane for this bunch. All day long, we saw a series of Senators who claim to hate the “skinny repeal” bill say that they’re voting for it only if it doesn’t become law. This is madness. I think Little Lindsey should be fitted for a strait jacket, especially after he bought Paul Ryan’s vague assurances that there would be a conference committee. Ryan is a seasoned liar and Graham is a gullible fool.

I’m going to sleep before the final vote and posting this via timer. I hope I’m wrong but I think they’ll pass the bill that *everyone* hates. I still think the rest of this post has merit so why not post the fucker? It was written yesterday afternoon when the world was *almost* sane:

It’s beginning to look like Chinless Mitch’s plan is to pass something, anything health carewise in the Senate and take the resulting mess to a conference committee with the House. I have my doubts that Ryan intends to  convene a genuine one. Something Anything is a great early Todd Rundgren album, but it’s no way to run a railroad or the United States Senate for that matter. It’s Mitch McConnell’s latest crime against an institution he claims to revere. It’s high time to restore regular order and send this abomination to the relevant committees. They won’t but they should. So it goes.

Skinny repeal was scored to eliminate coverage for 16 million people and cause premiums to rise 20%. So much for helping the “victims of Obamacare.” Btw, it’s not a “failed left-wing experiment.” The ACA is based on conservative plans and Romneycare in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  That’s why they’re having such a hard time repealing the ACA.

The latest Trumpcare (nothing skinny about him) mess reminds me of the Huey Long quote I trotted out last week. In this instance McConnell is skinning us from both “the ankle up and the ear down.” The Turtle is both High Popalorum *and* Low Popahirum. Who knew such a thing was possible?

All this talk of Skinny Repeal has given me a benign earworm, I’ll give Ray Davies and the Kinks the last word. I mean it this time.

UPDATE: It’s good to be wrong. McCain joined Murkowski and Collins in voting NO. The Turtle got skinned. So much for his wizardry.

Quote Of The Day: Mooch Moments

I’m not a fan of journalistic clichés. One that I’ve never liked is “hit the ground running.” Having said that, I find it impossible not to introduce this Anthony Scaramucci quote without saying, Mooch hit the ground talking:

There are people inside the administration that think it is their job to save America from this president. OK, that is not their job. Their job is to inject this president into America…”

Is Trump some kind of drug now? If so, the entire country needs rehab.

Speaking of drug analogies, if Trump is cocaine, Mooch is crack. He’s a crazed distillation of the Trumper ethos. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, y’all. Mooch is only in his second week on the job and he’s acting like a Donald clone. The world does not need a Donald clone. In fact, we could do quite nicely without the original.

Mooch has already declared war on beleaguered chief of staff Reince Priebus. (I don’t know about you but I was surprised that the Insult Comedian knew that word. No wonder Jeff Bo is sweating.) Mooch is trying to impress everyone with his biblical scholarship and shit:

“We have had odds we have had differences. When I said we were brothers from the podium, that’s because we’re rough on each other. Some brothers are like Cain and Abel, other brothers can fight with each other and get along. I don’t know if this is repairable or not, that will be up to the president.

And the president* is famous for smoothing things over. #sarcasm. Reince seems to be a dead Greek walking but one thing Team Trump hasn’t thought through is this: who will they scapegoat when Reince is gone? Not that they ever think things through as the transgender “ban” fiasco illustrates. If Mooch gets too much air time, he could wind up serving as the next patsy when Reince inevitably moves on.

There’s a weird picture of Mooch and Reince  floating around the internets. I like the way it was used in this tweet:

All roads lead to Queen right now except when they lead to Bruce Springsteen. The Boss gets the last word:

I wonder if Mooch has any plans to get a Trump tattoo on his back ala Roger Stone’s Nixon tat? Now that would show loyalty.

UPDATE: I posted before Ryan Lizza published Mooch’s deranged comments about Reince and Bannon. Btw, I seriously doubt that Bannon is lithe enough to suck his own cock. Methinks Mooch exaggerates.

The funniest thing on twitter about the self cocksucking thing was a sight gag from Josh Marshall:

Then there’s this tweet from Charlie Pierce:

Don’t Play Trump’s Game

The Insult Comedian was a busy boy yesterday. His tweetstorm “banning” transgender people from serving in the military led to a collective freak-out among supporters of LGBQT rights. Here’s the deal: it’s just twitter. A tweet does not have the force of law; as of this writing there has been no follow-through. Zero. Nada. Zip. Bupkis. Tipota.

A tweet without an executive order is meaningless. The military is a mammoth bureaucracy that is based on order and discipline.  It cannot change course based on a whim and a tweet. Some sort of process is required to change personnel policies. That’s why former President Obama had the Pentagon go through two separate processes to allow gay and transgender folks to serve. The brass will salute an orderly process. Only an idiot would salute a disorderly tweet. Repeat after me: nothing that happens on twitter matters.

The policy “shift” came about to pander to wingnuts vexed by Trump’s mistreatment of Jeff Bo. It also has something to do with money for the president’s* stupid wall. It’s a cynical ploy that will never occur without follow through. It may happen but this administration* isn’t known for paying attention to details. Additionally, the federal courts take a dim view of anything that takes rights away from the citizenry. If an order is issued, it will surely be challenged in court. It would be the first travel ban all over again.

I understand why people were upset but freaking out every time this moron tweets something inflammatory is playing into his hands. He’s not a dictator, he just plays one on the tweeter tube. As the risk of sounding like my fake hick Senator John Neely Kennedy: tweetin’ ain’t doin’. Besides,  chicken little-ling never helps.

This whole twitter-based kerfuffle reminds me of the end of Chinatown:

Forget it, y’all. It’s twitter.

UPDATE: It’s good to be right. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says any changes must go through the chain of command. Twitter is not in the chain of command.

I told you so.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Death At Flood Tide

Great googly moogly, I found this cover on the google.

Follow Me Boys To The Trumpers Jamboree

When I was a kid, I knew Fred MacMurray as the pipe-puffing, sweater-wearing single father on My Three Sons. He also did a string of successful Disney movies in the Sixties. That’s why I was shocked the first time I heard about Double Indemnity and The Apartment wherein he played rat bastards. When I saw the two great Billy Wilder films, I realized Fred was a helluva actor when he wasn’t playing with Flubber. Instant Old Movie Update: A friend just pointed out that I missed Fred’s rat bastard role in The Caine Mutiny. Oops.

Follow Me, Boys was one of MacMurray’s Disney flicks wherein he played a scoutmaster to a troop that included future movie star, Kurt Russell. The Boy Scouts  of America liked the theme song by the Sherman brothers so much that they considered adopting it as their anthem:

I was an enthusiastic Cub Scout but an indifferent Boy Scout. One camping trip and it was over for me as my father predicted. It wasn’t even an “I told you so” scenario. He *hated* camping because he slept on the ground for three years during World War II and vowed to never do it again. My dislike of dirt sleeping is in the genes, y’all.

I’m not sure if the preceding was a set-up, digressively Maddowesque or both. That brings me to the real subject of this post: the Insult Comedian’s appalling speech to the Boy Scout Jamboree in West By-Gosh Virginia. We’ve all gotten desensitized to the crazy that this president* brings to a big crowd but this was way over the line. Of course, erasing lines is what the Darnold is all about. He thinks that political Norms have something to do with George Wendt’s character on Cheers. Repeat after me: the president* is a moron.

The Boy Scouts are an inherently conservative organization but have traditionally stayed out of partisan politics. That brings us to this edition of:

Trump’s speech was depressingly reminiscent of another leader’s speeches to youth groups. You know, the guy who looked like Charlie Chaplin and ranted like a proto-Trump, only in the original German. Here are a few choice cuts of this rancid speech along with some spirited annotations by yours truly:

You set a record. That’s a great honor, believe me. Tonight we put aside all of the policy fights in Washington, D.C. you’ve been hearing about with the fake news and all of that. We’re going to put that…

We’re going to put that aside. And instead we’re going to talk about success, about how all of you amazing young Scouts can achieve your dreams, what to think of, what I’ve been thinking about. You want to achieve your dreams, I said, who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts? Right?

Remember when it was unseemly for a president to use even mild profanity when speaking to kids? It wasn’t that long ago.  Ideally, a president is supposed to be a role model for children. The Current Occupant is not.

You know, I go to Washington and I see all these politicians, and I see the swamp, and it’s not a good place. In fact, today, I said we ought to change it from the word “swamp” to the word “cesspool” or perhaps to the word “sewer.”

I cannot imagine why it’s become a sewer. Oh yeah, because the Trump crime family eats, sleeps, and grifts there now.

I wonder if the television cameras will follow you? They don’t doing that when they see these massive crowds. They don’t like doing that.

<SNIP>

The fake media will say, “President Trump spoke” — you know what is — “President Trump spoke before a small crowd of Boy Scouts today.” That’s some — that is some crowd. Fake media. Fake news.

Trump acts like his captive audience was there for HIM. You joined them, not vice versa, dipshit. This speech got tons of coverage. It’s only “fake news” because so much of it was unfavorable.

Secretary Tom Price is also here today. Dr. Price still lives the Scout oath, helping to keep millions of Americans strong and healthy as our secretary of Health and Human Services. And he’s doing a great job. And hopefully he’s going to gets the votes tomorrow to start our path toward killing this horrible thing known as Obamacare that’s really hurting us.

CROWD: USA! USA! USA!

TRUMP: By the way, are you going to get the votes? He better get them. He better get them. Oh, he better. Otherwise I’ll say, “Tom, you’re fired.” I’ll get somebody.

Does he think he’s still on The Apprentice?  That’s when he was mighty like an Omarosa

I decided to skip the weird sex yacht story and his bragging about the 2016 election. We’ve heard it all before. It would be more interesting if he bragged about how they stole the election with the help of his pal Vlad.

The Insult Comedian channeled defrocked teevee big mouth Bill-O in a bizarre non-sequitur:

In the Scout oath, you pledge on your honor to do your best and to do your duty to God and your country. And by the way, under the Trump administration you’ll be saying “Merry Christmas” again when you go shopping, believe me.

Merry Christmas. They’ve been downplaying that little beautiful phrase. You’re going to be saying “Merry Christmas” again, folks.

He’s ready to fight the war on Christmas now. It’s high time to bring his soul brother Bill-O into the administration*, at least he speaks in complete sentences. He could be minister of propaganda post-purge when Mooch becomes chief of staff.

In reading the transcript of the speech, it’s easy to discern the written portions. The digressions are all boiler plate Trumpspeak. Believe me.

The worst part of the speech was when he got the boys to boo former president Obama. Obama was a scout, Trump was not. He’s not into unselfishness, honesty or loyalty. He’s the kind of guy who would cheat in the soapbox derby. Actually, he’d hire somebody to cheat for him.

Every time I think Trump has hit a new low, he tops (bottoms?) himself. He thinks the world revolves around him and that everything is about him. There’s a word that describes what he is: psychopath.

Krazy author Michael Tisserand had a lot of fun with the scouting angle on the Tweeter Tube. Here’s a sampler:

I originally planned to give Michael the last word but then I remembered a Nick Lowe tune that, with a  quick title change to Trumpers Jamboree, would be a swell theme song for this post:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Walt Disney’s Musical Monkeyshines Meets Trumpcare Instant Analysis

I’ve done more than my share of strange posts over the twelve years I’ve been blogging. This mashup may well take the cake but somehow it works. The title may be awkward but these are awkward times.

There were plenty of monkeyshines on Capitol Hill yesterday. The motion to proceed to debate the mystery Trumpcare bill passed in the Senate. That’s not the whole ballgame but the bad guys have the momentum right now. If anyone from Nevada is reading this post, it’s time to go off on Senator Dean Heller who tops the list of most endangered GOPers in 2018. I’ll be calling Double Bill Cassidy’s office again but he’ll do what he’s told by the leadership.

This is not the time to give up. Keep calling your Senators. They need to understand that they will pay a price for this vote. Senators *still* do not know what they’re actually voting for. If this weren’t so deadly serious, it would be funnier than a barrel of monkeys or the Marx Brothers’ flick Monkey Business. It’s time to send a big FUCK YOU to congressional Republicans for their health care votes. And what the hell is skinny repeal? It’s got nothing to do with Blake Farenholdt, that’s for sure. If he fought a duel with Collins or Murkowski I have no doubt who would prevail. It wouldn’t be the congresscritter who was once malaka of the week.

A word about John McCain. Every time I go soft on him, he does something terrible. I felt tremendous compassion for him over the de facto death sentence that was his diagnosis. I had planned to make his 2016 primary opponent Kelli Ward malaka of the week for crudely urging McCain to step aside. I deleted that post during McCain’s ludicrous speech after he voted AYE on the motion. If he was really concerned about the institution and “proper order” he would have given that speech *before* the vote and then voted NAY. I rarely yell at the teevee but I did Tuesday afternoon.

Shorter Adrastos:

This is the first time I’ve morphed an Album Cover Art entry into an instant analysis post and it will probably be the last. Lots of things are unprecedented in 2016.

Here’s the cover art. That’s all I got for you.

Unpardonable

Team Trump continues to be all over the place on the issue of pardons. Mooch says one thing. Jeff Sekulow says something else. The president* says something entirely different. They *do* seem to agree that the pardon power is absolute just like the Insult Comedian likes his powers. I do not agree and neither do some people who know what they’re talking about.

The self-pardon issue is a non-starter according to our old friend Larry Tribe, former GW Bush ethics lawyer  Richard Painter, and former Obama ethics counsel Norman Eisen. They cite history something with which the president* is only vaguely acquainted:

The Constitution’s pardon clause has its origins in the royal pardon granted by a sovereign to one of his or her subjects. We are aware of no precedent for a sovereign pardoning himself, then abdicating or being deposed but being immune from criminal process. If that were the rule, many a deposed king would have been spared instead of going to the chopping block.

We know of not a single instance of a self-pardon having been recognized as legitimate. Even the pope does not pardon himself. On March 28, 2014, in St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis publicly kneeled before a priest and confessed his sins for about three minutes.

The only non-Trumper thus far to claim that the president*can pardon himself is Jonathan Turley. I knew him when he taught at Tulane law school, but he’s the Slate of legal experts, a constant and consistent contrarian. Read his piece anyway but he’s more likely than not wrong. I hedge my bets because this issue has never been tested in court: no previous president ever contemplated a self-pardon as I pointed out last Friday.

I’m also dubious that the pardon power is as absolute as the Trumpers or the well-meaning knuckleheads at Vox think it is. There’s a thought-provoking piece in the NYT by two University of Chicago law professors that argue that some pardons *could* be crimes:

Yet federal obstruction statutes say that a person commits a crime when he “corruptly” impedes a court or agency proceeding. If it could be shown that President Trump pardoned his family members and close aides to cover up possible crimes, then that could be seen as acting “corruptly” and he could be charged with obstruction of justice. If, as some commentators believe, a sitting president cannot be indicted, Mr. Trump could still face prosecution after he leaves the White House.

Speaking of disputed, untested areas of the law ,one often hears that a president cannot be indicted while in office. That’s based on a finding by the Nixon Justice Department and the fact that Leon Jaworski’s office made Tricky an “unindicted co-conspirator.”  It turns out that Ken Starr’s office believed a president *could* be indicted while in office. Would that be wise? Beats the hell out of me but it’s not settled law.

In addition to Trump’s crazy interview with the Failing NYT, the reason this is arising at this point is that the Insult Comedian is *implying* that he will not allow *any* investigation into his family’s sleazy financial dealings. He, of course, does not get to choose what Bob Mueller’s office investigates. They have a broad mandate and anything they stumble into in the course of their investigation is fair game. Trump does not like that, which is why he may provoke a constitutional crisis unless Congressional Republicans make it clear that removing Mueller is a bridge too far. So far, their collective heads remain lodged up Trump’s ample ass.

In my experience, people who act this guilty usually are. Team Trump seems to think that all they have is a PR problem, which will go after squirting some Mooch juice all on it. The White House has a crime problem and all the smears in the world will not alter that. Repeat after me: Bob Mueller is a Republican who was appointed FBI director by a Republican president. He did such a good and non-partisan job in that post that he was re-appointed by a Democrat. Mueller is a straight shooter and if Team Trump are not guilty of any crimes, his office will say so. If they were genuinely not guilty, they’d let him do his job. Threats against Team Mueller are a tacit acknowledgement of guilt. If the White House had a lick of sense, they would back down and let Team Mueller do its job, but they don’t so they won’t.

In the immortal words of Bette Davis as Margo Channing:

That concludes this essay on the daily constitutional crisis.

Scaramouch Meets Mooch The Minnie

There have been many punny musical references since Anthony Scaramucci’s debut behind the White House podium. His name sounds like Scaramouch, so his paisan Al Giordano tweeted this Queen reference:

Al wasn’t the only one with Bohemian Rhapsody on his mind. The Scaramucci appointment triggered a googling frenzy:

I’m always glad to see linguistic curiosity, especially when it’s pun related. Here’s the Merriam-Webster definition of Scaramouch:

  1. capitalized :  a stock character in the Italian commedia dell’arte that burlesques the Spanish don and is characterized by boastfulness and cowardliness

  2. a :  a cowardly buffoon

    b :  rascalscamp

From what we know of Mooch, this nails it. Before Trump was nominated, he spent a lot of time bashing him. Here’s an example from 2015:

“I don’t like the way he talks about women, I don’t like the way he talks about our friend Megyn Kelly, and you know what, the politicians don’t want to go at Trump because he’s got a big mouth and because [they’re] afraid he’s going to light them up on Fox News and all these other places,” he said. “But I’m not a politician. Bring it. You’re an inherited money dude from Queens County. Bring it, Donald.”

Mooch is now singing a different tune. After deleting some politically inconvenient tweets in the name of “transparency,” Scaramucci is the administration’s head cheerleader or is that leading sycophant? Typically, the communications director’s job is to get the president’s message out as opposed to relentlessly kissing his ample ass. Once again, Team Trump have defined the presidency downward. Some might call them downward facing dogs but I would never do such a thing…

Since we’re posting tweets, I think one from AM Joy regular Fernand Amandi sums up the Mooch effect quite well:

In musical terms: Scaramucci is the smooth jazz of liars, all surface sheen and no substance at all whereas Spicer unintentionally evoked memories of Spike Jones. I’ll miss Gum Spice but we should enjoy Mooch before the Insult Comedian wearies of his spotlight hogging ways and turns on him. He turns on everyone who isn’t blood. It’s the way of hereditary autocracies, which is why Trump seems to have a soft spot for Assad.

Let’s circle back to the post title. My mind turned to the Cab Calloway classic Minnie The Moocher because, well, Mooch is Minnie: he’s 5’8″ which is the same height as Gum Spice but the latter has a huge head and stocky fame, which makes him look mightier than Mooch. There’s probably a Mighty Mouse joke in there somewhere but I’ll pass for now. There’s no need to fear, I’ll get there eventually…

Scaramucci is your classic short, cocky New York Italian guy. If I were casting someone to play him, I’d bring Joe Pesci out of retirement, hand him a toupee and some hair gel.

Anyway, the last word goes to Cab Calloway:

SMV- A City On Fire: The Story Of The ’68 Detroit Tigers

It’s the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Detroit riot.  This 2002 HBO documentary takes a look at the riot and why it didn’t happen again the next summer. The main reason was the 1968 World Champion Tigers.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Down On The Riverbed

Valley Farms by Ross Dickinson.

Dr. A and I are going to the Antiques Roadshow at the Morial Convention Center today. We’re not 100% certain what we’re taking as of this writing but I’m nervous that she’ll use me as her antique. While I have some patina, I’m not sure how valuable I am. On the other hand, if puns add value I might be worth a few bucks.

A quick political note. Here’s a tweet I sent out marking the resignation of Sean Spicer, the press secretary who could lie and chew gum at the same time:

I chose this week’s featured image because our theme song is tres Californian. So is the artist. The late Ross Dickinson was our friend Bonny’s grandfather. The Bonster went to grad school with Dr. A. End of cronyistic shout-out. Is cronyistic a word? Since I’m Greek I should know; of course, we specialize in nepotism. Unfortunately, the current administration* is giving nepotism a bad name. I take that as an affront to my heritage.

Down On The Riverbed was written by David Hidalgo and Louis Perez for Los Lobos’ fabulous 1990 album, The Neighborhood. The original studio version features John Hiatt singing harmony with some grit but without the syrup. Hominy grits you want with your eggs, Mr. Hiatt? Dave Alvin’s version comes from the 2006 album West of the West whereon he recorded some of his favorite songs written by California tunesmiths.

Now that we’ve been down on the riverbed without drowning, it’s time to don a life jacket (I wish they were still called Mae Wests) and go to the break.

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Friday Catblogging: Yogurt Boxer

It’s time for Della’s Dannon box profile shot:

Still Worse Than Nixon

Another day, another blockbuster story about administration* criminality. Nothing they do or say surprises me even when it should. Now they’re talking about presidential* pardons including a self-pardon. I am not making this up, if I were nobody would believe me:

Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe, according to one of those people. A second person said Trump’s lawyers have been discussing the president’s pardoning powers among themselves.

Trump’s legal team declined to comment on the issue. But one adviser said the president has simply expressed a curiosity in understanding the reach of his pardoning authority, as well as the limits of Mueller’s investigation.

“This is not in the context of, ‘I can’t wait to pardon myself,’ ” a close adviser said.

And we’re supposed to believe this? Why? I have a firm policy of believing nothing that anyone in this administration* says. And since when was Donald Trump curious about anything? Idleness many be his thing but idle curiosity is not. As you can see, all I have are questions. Answers are increasingly elusive as the Trumpers reel like drunk monkeys from constitutional crisis to constitutional crisis.

I wrote a post during the late election entitled Tweet Of The Day: Worse Than Nixon. It was about Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns, an issue that is returning to the forefront as Team Mueller digs into the Trump crime family’s seedy business dealings. The point I made last May was that even Tricky Dick released his tax forms. Today’s point is that Nixon dismissed the notion of  a self-pardon out of hand. He thought that was beneath the dignity of the office. That was Richard Fucking Nixon who resigned in disgrace. Trump is still worse than Nixon. Now he seems hell-bent on emulating Tricky and disposing of a special prosecutor. He’ll have to find someone to do it since he doesn’t have the power to fire Bobby Three Sticks himself. If it happens, it will be a bloodier and stupider version of the Saturday Night Massacre.

The word of the day is seedy. We’ve had some shady characters work in and around the White House in our history. The Harding administration comes instantly to mind. Attorney General Harry Daugherty spent his tenure at DOJ shaking down suckers and funneling the money to his bag man, Jess Smith. The seedy Interior Secretary, Albert Fall, was involved in a sordid scheme involving oil leases at the place that gave the scandal its name, Tea Pot Dome, Wyoming. Daugherty, Smith, and Fall were choirboys compared to the thieves and blackguards surrounding the Current Occupant. This is much worse: Harding was a relatively honest dupe whereas Trump is so crooked that if he swallowed a nail he’d spit up a corkscrew. Uh oh, I sound like Gret Stet senator John Neely Kennedy…

Back to the pardon power. The constitution gives a president broad discretion in granting pardons. It’s unclear if Trump can pardon himself. Those are uncharted waters because we’ve never had a president as seedy and sleazy as Trump.  It *is* clear that he has the power to pre-emptively pardon his greasy relatives and criminal associates. The Nixon pardon serves as precedent but the scope of his crimes are beginning to pale before the unfolding Trump scandals.

I discarded my crystal ball last fall after Trump’s shocking electoral college win. I’m out of the prediction business but one thing I’m certain of is that this won’t end well for anyone involved including the citizenry. It’s what happens when a criminal is elected president*

And he’s still worse than Nixon.

Malaka Of The Week: Paul Congemi

It’s been quite some time since I wrote a “never heard of them and hope to never hear of them again” malaka of the week post. The time is nigh. And that is why Paul Congemi is malaka of the week.

Congemi is best described as a minor league Insult Comedian. He’s running for Mayor of St. Petersburg-Florida, not Russia-and lost his shit at a candidates forum the other night and attacked one of his opponents thusly:

After the assertion was made he was a “non-factor” in the race, Mayoral Candidate Paul Congemi snapped back at members of the Uhuru movement and their candidate, Jesse Nevel during a mayoral debate July 18 in St. Pete.

Congemi’s response was one many may not have expected.

“Mr. Nevel you and your people talk about reparations. The reparations that you talk about, Mr. Nevel, your people already got your reparations. Your reparations came in the form of a man named Barack Obama,” Congemi said, pointing a finger at the audience as he spoke.

He continued, “My advice to you, if you don’t like it here in America, planes leave every hour from Tampa airport. Go back to Africa. Go back to Africa. Go back!”

He seems nice.

This is what Trump has wrought. People feel free to say things in public that shouldn’t even be uttered privately. Malaka Congemi’s diatribe is not an isolated incident: hate crimes are on the rise. Do you want to see video? We have embedded video:

Perhaps the best thing about this story is the punworthy name of the reporter, Evan Axelbank. I could pun on that name until the cows come home but I won’t. Why? I don’t want a broken axel, you can take that to the bank. I guess that promise was evanescent…

I support the right of minor candidates to run for municipal office. Here in New Orleans, perennial candidate Manny Chevrolet Bruno is making his umpteenth run for Mayor with the recurring slogan, “a troubled man for troubled times.” Congemi is just plain trouble since this is his idea of an apology:

On Wednesday, Congemi clarified his remarks, saying that his advice was meant only for Nevel’s group of supporters. “Not all African Americans. Just those that Nevel represents,” Congemi wrote in a statement sent to the Tampa Bay Times.

The Uhuru Solidarity Movement organizes white people to join Africans in their struggle to “reclaim their land, labor, resources, and self-determination,” according to its website.

It fights for reparations to redress systemic discrimination against black people.

Oh, it’s only the uppity ones, not the good ones. Now where have we heard that before?

I wonder if David Dukkke has any plans to campaign for Congemi. The latter might as well go all the way in his campaign since he has no chance of winning. And that is why Paul Congemi is malaka of the week.

The last word goes to  my homeys, the Meters:

Oh yeah, hat tip to Lamar White Jr. of the Bayou Brief.

Your President* Speaks: The Daily Constitutional Crisis

It’s no secret that Donald Trump thrives on conflict, chaos, and crisis. It’s also no secret that normal people find the constant chaos exhausting. I’m only marginally normal but find myself waking up and wondering what shit has hit the fan over night. Some days it’s a crazy tweet, other days it’s an interview. Whenever the Insult Comedian is interviewed by the NYT’s Maggie Haberman, the bats in his belfry come flying out.

Haberman wasn’t the only Timesperson involved in the interview but she’s the one with the knack of summoning the demons. Timing is, of course, everything. Even by the standards of the Trump presidency* it’s been a crazy few weeks: things are not going well in Trump World and when that happens, shit meet fan.

This time around there is *some* method in the president’s* madness. Events in the Trump-Russia scandal are moving at warp speed while the attempt to destroy the ACA is creeping along like a slug that’s been stepped on. The White House is issuing empty threats to Senators who are less and less afraid of the Orange Menace every day. It’s not unusual for a real president to want to change the subject but they rarely move on to an even more damaging topic. Ain’t nothing real about the pouty POTUS* on display today. Pouty POTUS*? I feel a new nickname coming on: POUTUS. I’m not sure if it requires an asterisk. The dumb fucker pouts constantly.

We begin with a comment inspired by his Parisian sojourn:

Well, Napoleon finished a little bit bad. But I asked that. So I asked the president, so what about Napoleon? He said: “No, no, no. What he did was incredible. He designed Paris.” [garbled] The street grid, the way they work, you know, the spokes. He did so many things even beyond. And his one problem is he didn’t go to Russia that night because he had extracurricular activities, and they froze to death. How many times has Russia been saved by the weather?

Uh, POUTUS, it was Louis Bonaparte aka Napoleon III whose government laid out the street grid of which you speak. One would think Trump would like him since he was elected and then became Emperor/Dictator. Of course, he finished “a little bit bad” too. I bet the Insult Comedian has never heard of Napoleon’s nephew Louis. It would involve reading a book.

Next up is a comment about his unsupervised visit with Putin:

We talked about Russian adoption. Yeah. I always found that interesting. Because, you know, he ended that years ago. And I actually talked about Russian adoption with him, which is interesting because it was a part of the conversation that Don [Jr., Mr. Trump’s son] had in that meeting. As I’ve said — most other people, you know, when they call up and say, “By the way, we have information on your opponent,” I think most politicians — I was just with a lot of people, they said [inaudible], “Who wouldn’t have taken a meeting like that?” They just said——

Adoption is Putinspeak for sanctions. They talked about something substantive with only Putin’s translator present. Btw, Karl Rove said he wouldn’t have taken that meeting. That’s right, Team Trump is worse than Karl Fucking Rove.

Constitutional crisis, come on down:

TRUMP: So Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself. I then have — which, frankly, I think is very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, “Thanks, Jeff, but I can’t, you know, I’m not going to take you.” It’s extremely unfair, and that’s a mild word, to the president. So he recuses himself. I then end up with a second man, who’s a deputy.

HABERMAN: Rosenstein.

TRUMP: Who is he? And Jeff hardly knew. He’s from Baltimore.

TRUMP: Yeah, what Jeff Sessions did was he recused himself right after, right after he became attorney general. And I said, “Why didn’t you tell me this before?” I would have — then I said, “Who’s your deputy?” So his deputy he hardly knew, and that’s Rosenstein, Rod Rosenstein, who is from Baltimore. There are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any. So, he’s from Baltimore.

There’s a lot to unpack here. First, Sessions screwed up and did the right thing by recusing himself. He was following DOJ rules. Imagine that. Second, Trump refers to himself in the third person as the president* The only recent Oval One I can recall doing that was Tricky Dick. You know, the only president to resign in disgrace.

The bit about Rosenstein is classic Trumpian projection. Trump is a New York Republican who lost his home state 59-37 and did even worse in NYC. One would have thought Rosenstein would be his political soul brother. I guess not.

Next up is the part of Your President* Speaks in which American history is misinterpreted.

And nothing was changed other than Richard Nixon came along. And when Nixon came along [inaudible] was pretty brutal, and out of courtesy, the F.B.I. started reporting to the Department of Justice. But there was nothing official, there was nothing from Congress. There was nothing — anything. But the F.B.I. person really reports directly to the president of the United States, which is interesting.

The FBI has always been part of the DOJ and its director has always reported to the Attorney General. The president has always had the appointment power. One reason Mark (Deep Throat) Felt insisted on anonymity is that he was bypassed by Nixon to replace Hoover and didn’t want to come off as a disgruntled office seeker.

It’s time for Trump to threaten the Special Counsel:

SCHMIDT: Last thing, if Mueller was looking at your finances and your family finances, unrelated to Russia — is that a red line?

HABERMAN: Would that be a breach of what his actual charge is?

TRUMP: I would say yeah. I would say yes. By the way, I would say, I don’t — I don’t — I mean, it’s possible there’s a condo or something, so, you know, I sell a lot of condo units, and somebody from Russia buys a condo, who knows? I don’t make money from Russia. In fact, I put out a letter saying that I don’t make — from one of the most highly respected law firms, accounting firms. I don’t have buildings in Russia. They said I own buildings in Russia. I don’t. They said I made money from Russia. I don’t. It’s not my thing. I don’t, I don’t do that.

He didn’t definitely say he’d fire Bobby Three Sticks but the implication is clear.  Trump wants Mueller to keep his hands off the Trump crime family. We’ve had some phony Saturday Night Massacres in the past 180 days. Firing Mueller would be the real deal.

In a normal administration, we would have awakened to the news that Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein had resigned. To say that this is not a normal administration is a grotesque understatement. Normal presidents care about the appearance of impropriety and would never meet with a Russian president without a sidekick of some kind. Even the Lone Ranger would have brought Tonto along, but not Johnny Depp’s Tonto with the dead bird on his head. Hmm, maybe Trump should try that. Imagine a dead bird atop the dead nutria he has atop his head. It would be a fashion sensation, y’all.

That concludes this epic edition of Your President* Speaks. I haven’t even included Trump’s recent tweet storms. Twitter is ephemeral. The New York Times is the newspaper of record. Maggie Haberman is the Trump whisperer. The poor dear.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Graham Greene

Graham Greene blurred the lines between literary and genre fiction. He was fascinated with the criminal element and spies but had an elegant prose style. He was quite simply one of the best writers of the mid-20th Century.

Here’s  a selection of some of Greene’s pulpier book covers:

Greene’s fertile brain also came up with the story and screenplay of The Third Man, which is one of the greatest films ever made.

The Finger Of Blame

I don’t know about you but I’m enjoying all the finger pointing over the failure to repeal the ACA. The Turtle is violating every principle of Congressional leadership and making his caucus vote on a bill that cannot pass. Wait a minute, it’s what they’ve been doing since 2009. Of course, they’re in the majority and control the executive branch now. The finger of blame points at them.

POTUS* is pouting and pretending he had nothing to do with it. He claims that he doesn’t “own” this failure. Guess what, Donald, you don’t get to choose what you own when you’re the Oval One. That’s up to the voters. Democrats took the fall for the economy in the 2010 mid-terms even if the finger of blame pointed at the Bush administration and Wall Street greedheads. You don’t get to choose.

It must be great to be Donald Trump. Imagine never having made a mistake in your life. #sarcasm. It’s always someone else’s fault. Now he wants to burn down the health care house because he’s mad. Arson seems to be big in 2017. In politics it usually involves self-immolation. It’s a fiery finger of blame and it’s pointed directly at the Republican party. They own this president*.

It’s time to revisit my Russell Long paraphrase from Monday evening. His mantra was about taxes but all one needs to do is substitute blame for tax and Bob’s your uncle. I still don’t know who Bob is; perhaps he’s a white rural Trump voter or one of their explainers.

Since it’s 2017, let’s meme the Long paraphrase:

The original picture was taken on the 50th Anniversary of Huey Long’s assassination. It’s why he’s peeking out from behind Russell Long. If the Kingfish were around today, he’d probably wonder which part of this story fits the 21st Century GOP:

“The Democratic Party and the Republican Party were just like the old patent medicine drummer that used to come around our country. He had two bottles of medicine. He’d play a banjo and he’d sell two bottles of medicine.

One of those bottles of medicine was called High Popalorum and another one of those bottles of medicine was called Low Popahirum.

Finally somebody around there said is there any difference in these bottles of medicines? ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘considerable. They’re both good but they’re different,’ he said.

‘That High Popalorum is made from the bark off the tree that we take from the top down. And that Low Popahirum is made from the bark that we take from the root up.’

And the only difference that I have found between the Democratic leadership and the Republican leadership was that one of ’em was skinning you from the ankle up and the other from the ear down — when I got to Congress.”

As a seasoned Long paraphraser, I’d substitute McConnell and Trump for the parties, but I’m uncertain which is High Popalorum and which is Low Popahirum. Btw, this was a question posed to me on twitter by my friend Sam Jasper. I wish I had a better answer. All I have for her is a shout-out.

Back to the blame game. It’s more fun than a barrel of monkeys and more disconcerting than a ferret down your trousers. As of this writing, Corey Lewandowski  is claiming that the president* is going to close a deal on Obamacare repeal today. I can count both votes and lies. The votes for ACA repeal are limited and lies from Team Trump are innumerable. You’d think that they’d screw up and tell the truth at some point.

The finger of blame is a venerable phrase but it was used memorably by Neil Finn in the Crowded House song, Fall At Your Feet. I guess you know who has the last word:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: The King Tito Puente

In 1968, everyone had psychedelic album covers even the King of Salsa, Tito Puente. In Spanish-speaking countries, of course, the tile was El Rey. Whatever you call it, it’s a swell record with a groovy cover, baby or is that  bebé ?

The good news is that the music isn’t a psychedelic knock-off but Tito’s classic mix of Cuban-Jazz and Salsa. It will make you wiggle in your chair. The entire album is not online but here are a few choice selections.

Quote Of The Day: Stay Up Late

Joshua Green’s new book, Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency, is the gift that keeps on giving. This is the third time I’ve quoted from it. I guess that means I should pick up a copy at some point unless someone wants to send me a freebie, that is.

It’s obvious that Bannon was one of Green’s main sources, especially of a story like this one about Paul Manafort and the Insult Comedian:

 After Trump decided to demote his campaign chair Paul Manafort, who drew negative attention to the campaign as reporters scrutinized his previous work for Ukrainian politicians with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump blew up at Manafort over a New York Times report that portrayed the candidate as intractable and inarticulate.

“How can anybody allow an article that says your campaign is all fucked up?” Trump shouted at Manafort, according to Green.

Trump demanded to know whether aides thought they had to make television appearances to communicate with him.

“You think you’ve gotta go on TV to talk to me?” Trump shouted. “You treat me like a baby! Am I like a baby to you? I sit there like a little baby and watch TV and you talk to me? Am I a fucking baby, Paul?”

I’m sure Manafort was tempted to say yes but opted not to. There was still money to be grifted as a result of his ties to the candidate and Manafort is all about the money. Plus, he had his very own Trump toddler tantrum. Lucky him.

There’s another swell quote from Green’s book. I never thought I’d agree with Bannon on anything but this is the exception to that rule:

According to Green, Bannon also waged his assault-by-epithet aloud in Breitbart’s Washington, D.C. headquarters: He described the House speaker as “a limp-dick motherfucker who was born in a petri dish at the Heritage Foundation,” a conservative think tank Bannon said was too close to the “globalist donor class.”

Nice imagery, Steve. We already knew that you and Ryan weren’t close.

Back to Trump’s “do you think I’m a fucking baby” rant. It gave me a benign earworm as well as a post title: