Here’s the great soul singer-songwriter Curtis Mayfield live in 1988:
Here’s the great soul singer-songwriter Curtis Mayfield live in 1988:
The cold weather is back but it’s not as bad as last month’s hard freeze. As I watch things unfold in Jackson, MS, I realize how lucky New Orleans was. Our water infrastructure is just as ancient and with a more prolonged freeze it could have been us. We dodged a bullet this time. Our luck is bound to run out at some point. Our pipes are old, old, old.
I posted a version of Mean To Me when I wrote about Neera Tanden before her nomination was pulled. I stand by what I wrote then, but I should have added that, in some ways, she was a surrogate for those on the far left and right who hate Hillary Clinton.
As far as Joe Manchin is concerned, I’m beginning to think he likes being the key vote in the Senate and was flexing his muscles on the Tanden nomination. I guess Tanden had a blind date with the Man of La Manchin, not destiny. So it goes.
Neil Finn wrote this week’s theme song in 1986 for Crowded House’s eponymous debut album. It’s the first track on the record and is a frequent set opener when the band plays live.
We have two versions of Mean To Me for your listening pleasure: the original promo video and a 1988 live version.
It’s time for a visit to disambiguation city with a 1929 song of the same title. We have a double dose of Ella Fitzgerald. First with the Nelson Riddle orchestra followed by a more intimate recording with Oscar Peterson:
Have I mentioned lately how much I love Oscar Peterson? That goes for Ella Fitzgerald as well.
On that upbeat note, let’s jump to the break. And I mean it this time.
I Thought About You was written in 1939 by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Mercer. I’m not sure whether to call it a train tune or a wistful love song. It’s a bit of both and since we specialize in wistful tunes on Fridays it’s a good fit.
I’ve said before that all Friday Cocktail Hour roads lead to Sinatra. Let’s amend that and say that all trains lead to Francis Albert as well. I guess that makes Nelson Riddle the conductor in both meanings of the word.
This 1956 recording features some swell trumpet tooting by Harry “Sweets” Edison.
Lady Day’s voice was nearly shot by the time she recorded this Van Heusen-Mercer classic, but her phrasing was intact. And with Billie Holiday it was all about the phrasing.
I somehow doubt that Nancy Wilson wore that frilly yellow dress when she cut this record. It does, however, bring a bit of sunshine to the proceedings.
Here’s the lyricist with an interpretation of his own song:
Finally, a 21st Century version from Loudon Wainwright III with Vince Giordano & the Nighthawks:
What would a Friday Cocktail Hour be without some jazz instrumentals? This week, Miles Davis followed by Branford Marsalis.
That’s it for now. Pour yourself a double and toast the end of another week. It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would want. Never argue with them.
Some days I want to make like Paul Douglas’ cop character in Panic In The Streets and shake some sense into people. In reality, I’m more like Richard Widmark’s doctor character, looking on before we nail Zero Mostel and Jack Palance in the last act of the movie. That only makes sense in the context of a post featuring random thoughts and ramblings. Some call it madness, I call it First Draft Potpourri.
I hate the culture wars. I’m sick of the right seizing on every momentary story, blowing it up, and giving it more significance than it deserves. This time, it’s the announcement by the Geisel estate that they’re pulling some of the Dr. Seuss books because of “hurtful stereotypes.” That’s not cancel culture, it’s keeping up with the times. Dr. Seuss would get it. He was a liberal, but he was a man of his time and place. Context is everything. For more on this inane dust-up, check out this interview with Dr. Seuss scholar Philip Nel at Slate.
Senate Republicans are getting dumber by the day. The dimmest bulb in the GOP caucus is Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson. He wants to delay the COVID relief bill by any means possible. He insisted that Senate clerks read the entire bill to slow things down. It took 10 hours and 44 minutes but it’s over.
Johnson is as dumb as Hey Abbott and Tater Tot. It’s scary that he beat Russ Feingold not once but twice. This was the biggest senatorial downgrade since J. Danforth Quayle beat Birch Bayh. Bayh was a distinguished senator and Quayle was the guy who couldn’t spell the plural of potato.
Speaking of potatoes, the right is trying to turn the Mr. Potato Head thing into a culture war issue. Really? Are they that intellectually bankrupt? That was a rhetorical question: the answer is a big YES.
I’m sorry that Don Rickles, who voiced Mr. Potato Head in the Toy Story movies, isn’t around to mock the whole mishigas. Oy just oy.
And now for a musical interlude from the Kinks:
“Boiled, French fried, any old way that you want to decide.” That Ray Davies knows from taters.
I commend your attention to an op-ed piece in the WaPo by the great Norm Ornstein who has forgotten more about Congress that most of us will ever know. He has some productive thoughts about how to reform the filibuster in a way that will get the Man of La Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema’s votes.
The senior senator from Arizona is an odd case. She’s bisexual and used to be a leftist. She morphed into a Blue Dog Democrat in order to win elections in the land of Goldwater and McCain. I’d call her an opportunist, but we need her vote. Read Norm’s piece to learn how that may be possible. That’s Norm Ornstein, not this guy:
Finally, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is a charter member of the Freedom, Man club. In his case, it comes with a dose of corruption. He’s taking care of his donors by making sure that they get vaccinated earlier than the cheapskates who didn’t pony up. That’ll show them who’s boss. For more on this Florida Man moron, check out this piece at TPM by Matt Shuham.
The news cycle is relentless. I had hoped that it would ease up when the Kaiser of Chaos “retired” to Mar-a-Doorn, but it hasn’t. It reminds me of the opening lyrics to the Johnny Mercer song that gives this post its title:
Day in, day out
The same old hoodoo follows me about
The last word goes to the Chairman of the Board:
We’ll hear more from Sinatra and Mercer later today. Cheers.
I wish I could say this was a Life Imitates The Sopranos moment but it’s just Claire Trevor in a walnut box. Besides, Paulie Walnuts hated cats. There’s no accounting for taste.
The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.
It’s probably unfair to ask the question posed in the post title. But since we’re dealing with the QAnon creeps, to hell with fairness. When were they ever fair to any of us Satan worshippers? The mere thought makes me feel like my countryman John Cassavetes in Rosemary’s Baby.
March 4th was inauguration day until 1936. It was established by custom, not law. It was the day George Washington was supposed to take the oath of office and it was thought to be good enough until it wasn’t. It was huge problem for Lincoln in 1860 with the country falling apart and James Buchanan doing what he did best: nothing, bupkis, nada, rien, zilch.
It was especially problematical in 1933 as the nation suffered through the Great Depression. Loser/President Herbert Hoover tried to trick FDR into supporting austerity measures that would have made matters worse. FDR had no intention of falling for Hoover’s tricks and sharing the blame for the Depression. Democrats were less earnest in those days hence the title of my favorite FDR biography:
One of FDR’s leading supporters, George Norris a liberal Republican from Nebraska decided there had to be a better way and became one of the main sponsors of the 20th Amendment. Yes, Virginia, along with Santa Claus, there used to be liberal Republicans. One of them New York’s Jacob Javits was among the most liberal senators of his era. He’s better known to our younger readers as the Convention Center Guy.
I thought a bit of history was in order on a day that online domestic terrorist chatter indicates that there could be another assault on the Capitol. The QAnon creeps posit that the Kaiser of Chaos will be returned to power on the original inauguration day. Federal law enforcement is ready for them this time, so it hasn’t happened as of this writing. Empty promises and gestures are Q’s specialties, after all.
According to QAnon lore, all presidents since Ulysses S. Grant have been illegitimate, so it follows that the day Trump returns to power to set things right would be the original Inauguration Day.There are a couple of problems with this theory.
First, it’s unclear if the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote, is still valid in the Q universe, since that also came after Grant.
Second, March 4 didn’t actually end up being the first Inauguration Day anyhow. That’s when it was scheduled for in 1789, but bad weather — an actual storm! — kept so many members of Congress from getting to the temporary capital of New York City that they failed to have the quorum needed for Washington to take the oath. The first inauguration didn’t take place until April 30, 1789.
Also, this is not the first day QAnon followers have predicted Trump will reveal himself as an American savior. Other dates include but are not limited to: Dec. 8, 2020; Dec. 14, 2020; Jan. 6, 2021 (attempt by followers to make this prophecy come true notwithstanding); Jan. 20, 2021.So once Thursday passes without a Trump resurrection, what will the new, actual, real, final day be?
Who knows, but Easter — April 4 this year — is TAKEN.
Jeez, they can’t even get their fractured history right.
My favorite part is the bit about the 19th Amendment. One would think it’s valid since there are two Q congresswomen but expecting consistency or coherence from the Q creeps is asking too much. But what do I know? I’m a slave to Beelzebub as far as this lot is concerned.
Our old pal Gym Jordan has weighed in on the chatter:
“Maybe in a way it’s good, because in the next two weeks think about what the Democrats are going to do,” Jordan told Fox News on Wednesday night, ticking off a doomsday list of ways Democrats will “radically change” election and policing laws.
“Maybe it’s a good idea that we’re not here,” the Ohio Republican repeated.
Jordan also cast doubt on the seriousness of the threat.
“I don’t know that the threat is that critical,” he said, adding that he had not received a briefing on the matter.
“But my guess is this is probably not that serious,” Jordan asserted. “But I just don’t know for sure.”
The Jacketless One is at a loss for words? There’s a first time for everything.
If I’m wrong and there’s a second Dipshit Insurrection leading to a Trump resurrection, I yield the floor to Emily Litella:
All this blasphemous babble about resurrection has given me an earworm. The last word goes to Robbie Robertson:
Another day, another lunar title this time from the outstanding Philly crime fiction writer, David Goodis. He was really, really Goodis at what he did.
The Party of Trump specializes in diversionary tactics. The Governors of Texas and Mississippi announced yesterday that their states are wide open for business. Not only that but all mask requirements have been lifted. Why? Freedom, man.
It’s not just freedom, man. Both states are still suffering mightily from winter freeze related issues. You’ve all heard about the mess that messed with Texas and its Governor Greg (Hey) Abbott. Wintry shit hit the fan in Mississippi as well. Parts of Jackson, MS have been without potable water for two weeks. Jackson is the state capitol where Governor Tater Tot plays at governing. Both Hey Abbott and Tater Tot needed to distract attention from their failures so why not declare victory over COVID? Freedom, man.
That makes the Gret Stet of Louisiana the meat in a stupid sandwich. John Bel Edwards is the only Democratic governor in the Deep South and he too loosened some restrictions but we still gotta mask up.
Repeat after me:
It’s all so stupid and short-sighted. Now that we have a competent national administration, there’s good news on the COVID front. President Biden announced that there should be sufficient vaccines for the entire adult population by the end of May. We just have to hunker down and be patient.
I, for one, don’t confuse recklessness and impatience with freedom, man. The majority of us have made sacrifices to limit the spread of the virus. Selfish dipshits like Hey Abbott and Tater Tot are exasperating and irksome. Hey Abbott is also guilty of the Republican sin of hypocrisy: he’s been vaccinated. Freedom, man.
I’m trying out a new nickname for the dumbass Texas Governor. “Hey Abbott” was something that Lou Costello said to Bud Abbott in all their movies. It was often a sign that Costello was in trouble and needed help. Sounds like Texas in 2021. Freedom, man.
Here’s an image from one of Bud and Lou’s weirder movies, Abbott and Costello Go To Mars:
The rocket misfired and the boys landed in New Orleans during Carnival. By analogy, that’s why New Orleanians are so alarmed about Hey Abbott and Tater Tot’s actions. We’re concerned that unmasked morons from their states will visit and leave a new COVID spike in their wake. That’s a price of freedom, man that we’re unwilling to pay.
For the featured image, I memed a picture of the Governors of Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi with lyrics from the venerable song, Stuck In The Middle With You, which was revived by Quentin Tarantino for Reservoir Dogs. It sums up how I feel today: “Clowns to the left of me. Jokers to the right. Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.”
The last word goes to Stealers Wheel:
I’m rewatching The Americans featuring Spy Family Jennings. That’s what I called them while recapping seasons 5 and 6 when the show was airing; or is that cabling since it was on FX? That’s neither here nor there but an unused joke, like a mind, is a terrible thing to waste.
I’ve gotten to the final season where the Soviet Union is divided between hardliners and reformers. It didn’t matter: the Communist party was doomed regardless of who was in charge. The edifice of the state was rotten to the core and came toppling down with shoves from home and abroad.
That brings me to a fascinating article in the Atlantic by Tom Nichols who is a Russia expert and national security conservative. He’s a lapsed Republican who casts a jaundiced eye on his former party: The Republican Party Is Now In Its End Stages. If anything the tagline is even more revealing: “The GOP has become, in form if not in content, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union of the late 1970s.”
Nichols’ opening paragraphs set the stage beautifully for his comparison of two decadent political parties:
We are living in a time of bad metaphors. Everything is fascism, or socialism; Hitler’s Germany, or Stalin’s Soviet Union. Republicans, especially, want their followers to believe that America is on the verge of a dramatic time, a moment of great conflict such as 1968—or perhaps, even worse, 1860. (The drama is the point, of course. No one ever says, “We’re living through 1955.”)
Ironically, the GOP is indeed replicating another political party in another time, but not as the heroes they imagine themselves to be. The Republican Party has become, in form if not in content, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union of the late 1970s.
I can already hear the howls about invidious comparisons. I do not mean that modern American Republicans are communists. Rather, I mean that the Republicans have entered their own kind of end-stage Bolshevism, as members of a party that is now exhausted by its failures, cynical about its own ideology, authoritarian by reflex, controlled as a personality cult by a failing old man, and looking for new adventures to rejuvenate its fortunes.
For those of you too young to remember the Cold War, the Brezhnev era was one of stagnation and confusion. The Soviet regime’s policy vacillations made one’s head spin. The went from detente to a resumed arms race, to collapse within nine years of Brezhnev’s death.
In addition to sucking up to the dear leader, the only things the Brezhnev regime was good at were spying and oppression. They believed in nothing except for the perpetuation of rule by Communist party elites. Their economy collapsed under the weight of the Afghanistan War and an arms race renewed by the Reagan administration.
Back to Nichols’ point. He bores in on the notion that the GOP is an empty vessel that has been filled by the empty ideology of Trumpism:
The Republican Party has, for years, ignored the ideas and principles it once espoused, to the point where the 2020 GOP convention simply dispensed with the fiction of a platform and instead declared the party to be whatever Comrade—excuse me, President—Donald Trump said it was.
Falling in line, just as in the old Communist Party, is rewarded, and independence is punished. The anger directed at Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger makes the stilted ideological criticisms of last century’s Soviet propagandists seem almost genteel by comparison. (At least Soviet families under Brezhnev didn’t add three-page handwritten denouncements to official party reprimands.)
This comparison is more than a metaphor; it is a warning. A dying party can still be a dangerous party. The Communist leaders in those last years of political sclerosis arrayed a new generation of nuclear missiles against NATO, invaded Afghanistan, tightened the screws on Jews and other dissidents, lied about why they shot down a civilian 747 airliner, and, near the end, came close to starting World War III out of sheer paranoia.
Nichols is convinced the GOP is doomed. I’m less certain of that. The Soviet system was highly centralized whereas Republicans remain in control of a majority of state legislatures and governorships. Additionally, our system makes it difficult for third parties to get on the ballot, which ties into the point about GOP control in the several states.
The most likely prospect for the GOP is a struggle for its “soul” between its crazy and sane factions. I put the word soul in quotes because the current party is soulless. They sold it to Donald Trump in 2016.
The last word goes to Tears For Fears with a song that some believe is about the Cold War. I’m less sure of that but it sure is catchy:
My Saturday piece about CPAC idolatry was widely circulated on social media and generated considerable buzz. I knocked that one out in a hurry and was surprised but grateful for the eyeballs. It must have been the golden statue picture.
Before taking a look at Pennywise’s first post White House speech, a few things I missed on Saturday.
One would hope that evangelicals would be appalled by the statue. I’ll let PJ Grisar of the Jewish publication Forward explain why:
It doesn’t take a doctorate of divinity to see the parallel to this ludicrous idol worship and the episode of the golden calf, in which a faction of the Israelites, left alone by Moses for roughly the period Trump’s been out of office, melted down their rings into a “molten calf” and made offerings to it.
This made God (a Jealous God) angry, and Moses, too. I mean, our guy shattered the Ten Commandments when he saw what was going down. It’s pretty clear to see why.
On those tablets, notarized by divine fire, one finds the line item, “Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any manner of likeness, of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”
Oy just oy.
Unfortunately, the bible thumpers think Trump (Netanyahu too) will bring on the rapture and they’ll be lifted to heaven because they’re so piously awesome or some such shit. Shorter Adrastos: They’ll stand by their man.
Repeat after me: Oy just oy.
I also missed a joke in my haste to post graven images and Nazi Symbols:
The root of the word Odal is Odin the head Norse God known to Wagner fans as Wotan. We all know who one of Wagner’s biggest fans was.
Like Trump, Wagner’s Wotan is a notorious windbag. That’s why the Ring Cycle lasts 17 hours. Most of the Impeached Insult Comedian’s speeches only feel as if they’re that long. Does this make Donny Junior Siegfried or Ivanka Brunhilde? Beats the hell outta me, I don’t even like opera, and know precious little about the characters. I do, however, know that Wotan is a windbag. It’s extra-funny vhen you use a Hogan’s Heroes style German accent and say it like zis: Votan is a vindbag.
Speaking of windbaggery, here’s how TPM headlined their live coverage of Trump’s CPAC screed:
I didn’t watch the speech; I didn’t feel like having my head explode. But reports had me thinking in musical terms as in what kind of album it would be. It’s unclear if it qualifies as Pennywise’s greatest hits, best of, box set, or anthology, but he covered all the usual bases, told the usual lies, and threw raw meat at the crowd. The CPAC gourmands are always hungry for raw meat, which is ironic given Pennywise’s preference for well-done steaks as opposed to steak tartare. Let them eat freedom fries. man.
The most revealing part of the speech was when the Kaiser of Chaos vowed vengeance against those Republicans who have crossed him:
The Democrats don’t have grandstanders like Mitt Romney, little Ben Sasse, Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Pat Toomey, and in the house, Tom Rice, South Carolina, Adam Kinzinger, Dan Newhouse, Anthony Gonzalez. That’s another beauty. Fred Upton, Jaime Herrera Beutler, Peter Meyer, John Katko, David Valadao. And of course the warmonger, a person that loves seeing our troops fighting, Liz Cheney. How about that?
The good news is in her state, she’s been censured, and in her state, her poll numbers have dropped faster than any human being I’ve ever seen. So hopefully they’ll get rid of her with the next election. Get rid of them all.
Thus spake Pennywise, the wrathful god of Trumpism. It’s unclear how much time he’ll have to personally meddle in Republican politics since he’s going to spend much of the next four years as a professional defendant in both criminal and civil cases.
Directly after attacking the courageous GOPers who took a stand against sedition, Trump delivered a bizarre soliloquy about Democrats:
Democrats are vicious. Remember this, it’s true. Democrats are vicious.
He said evil, well, there is evil there, but they’re vicious, they’re smart, and they do one thing. You got to hand it to them. They always stick together. You don’t have Mitt Romney’s in the group. They always stick together.
Talk about alternative facts. I guess he’s never read any “Democrats in disarray” disarray stories. He should at least be aware of them since he used to be a Democrat himself. Oy just oy.
Trump is the great unifier of the Democratic party. We all agree that this racist and sexist criminal should never darken the White House door again. If that makes us vicious so be it.
Let’s revel in our viciousness by repeating my vicious mantra: Donald Trump is a pussy. He should grab himself.
The last word goes to Lou Reed who may have been Vicious, but never hit Pennywise with a flower:
This is a 1981 love-fest originally broadcast by CBS. It’s a tribute to Count Basie featuring Sarah Vaughan, Tony Bennett, George Benson, and Joe Williams who Basie called “number one son” because Joe was his discovery.
Is there anything more ironic than a golden statute of the Impeached Insult Comedian in front of a sign that says, Look Ahead America?
Repeat after me: Donald Trump is the past, not the future.
He’s a super loser, not a super-hero.
CPAC organizers have an even more pernicious form of nostalgia involving Nazi iconography as you can see from this tweet:
— BevMarie (@evenbev) February 27, 2021
This is nothing new. The American far right has long been fascinated with Nazi symbols. Along with genocide, oppression, warmongering, and lying the Nazis were good at iconography. They tended to steal from past cultures: the Odal Rune is rooted in Nordic-Aryan mythology and was stolen and modified by the SS in 1934. The root of the word Odal is Odin the head Norse God known to Wagner fans as Wotan. We all know who one of Wagner’s biggest fans was.
Let that sink in: The SS used the modified Odal Rune on their uniforms. The SS was declared a criminal organization by the first Nuremberg Tribunal. Now an organ of the “conservative movement” is using one of its symbols.
Another overview of the CPAC stage confirms this notion:
As our longtime readers know, I am leery of seeing Nazis, neo and otherwise, everywhere but this is no coincidence.
CPAC has gone from Reagan worship to Trump idolatry. Their use of Nazi symbolism proves that CPAC and its ilk are radicals, not conservatives. There’s nothing conservative about the SS’s Odal Rune variation.
I’ve seen some people on the Twitter left say that Trump is just like Ronald Reagan. It’s a canard and I say that as someone who disagreed with Reagan and voted against him twice.
Reagan may have fought World War II in Hollywood, but he was a member of Brokaw’s greatest generation. You know, the ones who actually fought and defeated the Nazis. It’s safe to say that he would not approve of the use of Nazi iconography by a group purporting to support him.
Back to the golden statue. It reflects what Ben Sasse, who voted to convict in the late impeachment trial, decried as “the weird worship of one dude.” There’s a difference between idolatry and support. A golden statue of the Kaiser of Chaos is idolatry pure and simple.
I rarely post anything other than Odds & Sods on Saturdays. I put a lot of work into those posts and this week’s entry is a particular favorite of mine. I decided that CPAC’s Nazi stage couldn’t wait until Monday. It’s that disturbing.
I wish I could say that the Odal Rune will be CPAC’s ruination but that’s unlikely. Neo-Nazism has infiltrated mainstream politics. Gret Stet Fuhrer wannabe David Dukkke is celebrating this turn of events. Stay tuned.
The cold weather is gone for now. We haven’t run the heater for a few days. Yay. I shudder to think what our next utility bill will be, but it won’t be like the budget-busters in unregulated Texas; at least I hope not. Freedom, man.
I’m feeling cautiously optimistic on the COVID front. But some people are already getting carried away. That’s been the pattern and it’s a lethal one. I’m keeping my guard up even after I get vaccinated, which should be in the next few weeks. Let’s be careful out there.
The featured image is by Archibald Motley who was a Jazz Age modernist active during the Harlem Renaissance. The image is of well-dressed Black ladies having cocktails. I’d call them flappers but that could cause a flap, Jack…
This week’s theme song was written by Peter Frampton for his 1973 semi-solo, semi-band album Frampton’s Camel. It’s the ultimate rock hangover song.
An edited version of a live version from the monster hit album, Frampton Comes Alive later became a hit single. How’s that for a version diversion? I hope it was diverting.
We have two versions (there’s that word again) of Do You Feel Like We Do for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a 2000 live performance.
We’ll have more about Peter Frampton after the break. We might as well go now.
In Other Words was written in 1953 by Bart Howard as a ballad. In 1963, Peggy Lee suggested that it be retitled Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words) to keep up with the space age times. Who in their right mind wouldn’t listen to Miss Peggy Lee?
Kaye Ballard was best-known as a comic actress with a notably large mouth. She was the first to record the song under its original title.
Peggy Lee changed the title, not the tempo:
Easily the best-known version came from the Frank Sinatra-Count Basie-Quincy Jones team. Quincy is the one who turned it into an up-tempo song. The album title summed it up best, It Might As Well Be Swing:
Sinatra re-recorded Fly Me To The Moon in 1994 with his Brazilian buddy, Antonio Carlos Jobim:
Bobby Womack souled up Bart Howard’s tune in 1968:
Finally, a 21st Century recording by one of the greatest artists of the 20th Century, Smokey Robinson:
What would a Friday Cocktail Hour be without an instrumental rendition of the week’s song? This time around we have two: Ray Brown with Benny Carter followed by the Oscar Peterson Trio with Ray Brown on bass.
That was bassically a Ray Brown fest. I should apologize for that base pun, but I won’t. It could have been worse: I nearly made a Count Basie pun as well.
Stock line time: Have I mentioned lately how much I love Oscar Peterson?
That’s it for this week. I hope everyone recognizes both cool cats in the featured image meme thing: Bill Basie and Frank Sinatra. If not, major demerits to you.
I will, however, still let you pour a shot and toast the end of the week. It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would want. Never argue with them.
Claire Trevor is a typical cat: she likes cold weather. She loves this red blanket almost as much as the space heater.
The last word goes to Split Enz:
I’ve been on Twitter since its infancy, March 2008. I came to it via an OG NOLA blogger acquaintance who we nicknamed Trotsky because he had Leon Trotsky hair and fancied himself something of an internet revolutionary. I lost touch with Trotsky but as far as I know, he’s never been attacked by a Stalinist with an ice pick.
For many years, I engaged in some pitched online battles with people on political Twitter; some from the far left, others from the far right. Not long after the 2016 election catastrophe, I realized that fighting with strangers on the Tweeter Tube was a waste of time and energy. I stopped arguing with them because it was futile.
Twitter became meaner and uglier after its Trumpification and the battles became nastier. Many continued to fight with trolls and other pains in the ass; Neera Tanden is among those Twitter warriors.
I’ve been following Tanden for many years. Her feed is often amusing and informative. It’s also extremely combative. Neera Tanden is one tough broad and I say that as a compliment. She doesn’t take shit from anyone. I often wondered if she’d given up her ambition to serve in appointed or elective office since she tweeted with a blow torch.
We’ve heard much from the right and center-right about her mean tweets. We’ve heard less from the left: many of Tanden’s fiercest Twitter battles were with some of Bernie Sanders’ less salubrious supporters. Neera and Bernie have buried the hatchet and thus far there seems to be no *meaningful* real world opposition from the left to her nomination as budget director. The Twitter left is a different story but who the hell cares about them?
Unlike the girly men of the right, Bernie Sanders can take a punch and respects the toughness of Tanden. His opinion matters because he’s the chairman of the budget committee. He’s voting to confirm.
The mean tweets war accelerated when West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin announced his opposition based on Tanden’s mean tweets. In the past, Manchin has voted for the likes of Rick Grennel whose tweets made Tanden’s look mild-mannered in contrast. This is quite simply the dumbest reason ever for opposing a nomination. Say it ain’t so, Joe. Sorry, Cassandra, your guy got this one wrong.
There’s a clear double standard at work here. The Biden nominees who are having the most trouble are women and people of color. Imagine that. Additionally, the notion that Republicans object to mean tweets is preposterous. Before his exile, the Impeached Insult Comedian was the meanest tweeter of all as well as the biggest liar. Neera Tanden has a sharp tongue but speaks the truth.
It’s time for a brief musical interlude:
Tough-talking women are viewed with suspicion in our society. I not only embrace the tough broad ethos, I celebrate it. In this case, Neera Tanden is eminently qualified to be OMB honcho. Lapsed Republican/former Bush aide David Frum neatly summed it up:
The idea that a Democratic senator willing to confirm Trump ambassadors draws the line at the brilliant @neeratanden – it's unfathomable. She ran a leading, arguably the leading, Democratic think. It would be like a Republican senator rejecting the head of @AEI for OMB 7/x
— David Frum (@davidfrum) February 20, 2021
Slowly but surely Neera Tanden’s tweets are turning into the 2021 edition of Hillary Clinton’s emails. It’s even more ridiculous than that ridiculous episode as the issue is her opinions, not any question of law or propriety however specious. Neera Tanden gets it: she was one of Hillary’s top aides in 2016.
This episode shows how low our body politic has sunk. Tweets, mean or nice, should have no bearing on anyone’s ability to serve in government. Twitter is supposed to be a lark, not all important. Note the motto on my own Twitter profile:
I guess I should amend my motto to: Nothing that happens on Twitter *should* matter.
The last word goes to Crowded House in the fog:
As of now it’s unclear where Neera Tanden’s “blind date with destiny” will take her. I hope she’s confirmed but the White House has made it clear that there’s a place in the administration for her regardless of how The Curious Case Of The Mean Tweets War concludes.
This tome has a tagline to die for: Head Over Heels In Homicide.
We all hoped that Merrick Garland’s time was in 2016 when President Obama appointed him to the Supreme Court. It was not to be. I still hold a grudge over the way the Turtle killed his nomination. He snuck into the judicial nursery and smothered the nomination with a pillow, then claimed it was an act of principle. The hollowness of that claim was confirmed last fall with the Barrett nomination. It’s always about power with Mitch McConnell.
At the time of the nomination, people were fixated on the labels applied to Judge Garland. People on the left fretted because he was dubbed a moderate by the punditocracy. A reminder: Ruth Bader Ginsburg was called a moderate upon her nomination. Labels have a way of peeling off when a nominee becomes a Supreme. That’s neither here nor there in the case of Merrick Garland as we’ll never know if he would have morphed from a moderate to liberal Justice a la Bill Brennan. It’s why I hate labels. They’re almost as invidious as stereotypes.
Merrick Garland’s time is now. The job is different but it’s one for which he’s perfectly suited: Attorney General. Word of Biden’s choice came the day after the Georgia runoff handed control of the senate to Democrats. It was also the date of the Dipshit Insurrection.
After serving as a line prosecutor, Garland became a deputy assistant attorney general in the criminal division during the Clinton administration. He found himself supervising two of DOJ’s most important criminal cases ever: the Oklahoma City bombing and the Unabomber. That’s right, Merrick Garland’s remit was the battle against domestic terrorism. That’s why his time is now.
There’s a must-read piece in the WaPo about the impact the McVeigh-Nichols OKC bombing case had on the next Attorney General:
“Do not bury the crime in the clutter,” he said.
Garland, then a top Justice Department official, was encouraging prosecutors to speed the trial along and jettison superfluous findings in their case against Timothy McVeigh, who was convicted of carrying out the 1995 attack and executed in 2001, said Joe Hartzler, the team’s lead attorney. Hartzler said he found the advice so compelling that he wrote the words on a sheet of paper and hung it on an office wall as a rallying cry for his team.
More than two decades later, Garland, 68, is preparing to lead the Justice Department as attorney general and facing a domestic terrorism threat that has metastasized, with white supremacists and conspiracy-minded anti-government types emboldened by their acknowledgment from former president Donald Trump.
I commend the entire article to your attention, but I posted the first four paragraphs to not bury the article in clutter.
Judge Garland has pledged to make the fight against domestic terrorism his top priority. He’s a man of his word so I eagerly await the end of decades of ignoring right-wing extremists.
Judge Garland has another important task: rebuilding the morale of the Justice Department after four years of political hackery during the Trump regime. It wasn’t just Bill Barr, it was Jeff Bo Sessions and the acting AGs, which sounds like the name of a jug band.
Judge Garland has promised to be “the people’s lawyer, not the president’s lawyer” and I take him at his word. White House meddling was an endemic epidemic in the bad old Barr days. It ends now.
The Garland confirmation hearing was characterized by much bad faith tut-tutting by Republican senators. Tailgunner Ted and Senator Cornhole were particularly sanctimonious in discussing political influence at DOJ. It’s why I could only watch snippets of it. They’re afraid that Trump will be prosecuted by the incoming administration. That’s the politicization they fear. Charges against the Impeached Insult Comedian are a distinct possibility but that will be up to Merrick Garland, not Joe Biden. The president has quite rightly vowed to stay out of it.
There’s been much hand wringing about how hard it will be to restore the apolitical culture at DOJ. Rachel Maddow devoted an entire show to the issue. I love Rachel but she’s the quintessential liberal worry wort, especially on this issue.
Will it be easy? No, nothing worthwhile ever is.
Is it doable? Absolutely.
Why? It’s been done before in 1975 in the wake of Watergate and two Attorneys General going to the hoosegow.
The best appointments made by Gerald Ford during his brief presidency were these two bow-tied Chicagoans:
You probably recognize the guy on the left: Justice John Paul Stevens. The man on the right is the one who turned DOJ around and urged President Ford to appoint Stevens to SCOTUS. His name was Edward Levi.
Like Edward Levi and John Paul Stevens, Merrick Garland hails from the Chicago area.
Like Merrick Garland, Edward Levi was a modest unassuming man.
Like Merrick Garland, Edward Levi faced a difficult task. He did the job, then returned to the University of Chicago where he had previously served as dean of the law school and president of the university.
Like Merrick Garland, Edward Levi was Jewish. He was the first Jewish AG; Garland will be the third. Garland has always been reticent about his background, but Cory Booker worked his magic on the judge:
Sen. Cory Booker elicits this emotional response from Merrick Garland, who talks about his grandparents coming to America to flee anti-semitism.
"I feel an obligation to the country to pay back and this is the highest best use of my own set of skills to pay back." pic.twitter.com/CrRr9xcr8O
— Natasha Korecki (@natashakorecki) February 22, 2021
Senator Booker also elicited this strong statement on racial injustice from the next AG:
.@SenBooker: "Does our justice system treat people equally in this country at this point."
Attorney General Nominee Merrick Garland: "Sadly, and it's plain to me, that it does not."
— CSPAN (@cspan) February 22, 2021
Back to Jerry Ford’s attorney general.
Edward Levi is one of the most underrated figures in American history. He not only had to clean up the DOJ, but he also had to reform the FBI, which J. Edgar Hoover had turned into his private police force. He accomplished both in two years. It can be done again.
1975 was Edward Levi’s time.
2021 is Merrick Garland’s time.
The last word goes to Bill Withers:
I took a break from my other home on the internet, Bayou Brief. The hiatus is over: the 13th Ward Rambler is ready to rumble.
In my return column, I ponder Carnivals past and present and take aim at New Orleans tourism honcho, Stephen Perry. It’s called 14th Month Of 2020 because it feels like it. Make it stop.
I’m not sure if I’m on fire but the Neville Brothers certainly were at this 1987 show:
Have I mentioned lately how much I miss Art Neville?