I’ve long thought hootenanny was one of the funniest words in the English language. This week’s entry has done nothing to disabuse me of that notion.
I’ve long thought hootenanny was one of the funniest words in the English language. This week’s entry has done nothing to disabuse me of that notion.
Not that P-Word; get your minds out of the Russian gutter, y’all. P in this instance is for pardons. I hate to agree with the Insult Comedian about anything but the question about pardoning Michael Cohen was indeed stupid. Unless you’re Tricky Dick, one has to be charged with a crime before being pardoned. There are no charges against Trump’s fixer thus far so there’s nothing to pardon. Additionally, if Cohen committed crimes in the Empire State, Trump cannot pardon him for those, which means the state Attorney General or local District Attorneys can go after him. I somehow doubt that Andrew Cuomo has any plans to pardon Cohen.
There’s an army of ill-informed amateur lawyers out there. They’re the people who think Michael Avenatti is Clarence Darrow reincarnated because he’s good on teevee. One of the most dangerous things in the country is to get between Avenatti and a microphone. I think the guy lives in CNN and MSNBC’s studios. I’m worried about his health: one cannot survive for long on a diet of green room muffins and donuts.
Back to the plague of amateur lawyers. It’s the curse of our time that every loud mouth with a social media feed considers themselves an expert on everything. Hell, I used to practice criminal law but I don’t fancy myself a legal expert. I still know a helluva lot more than the average cable teevee host or “twitter personality.” Btw, if anyone ever calls me a “twitter personality,” just shoot me before I make like Fred Fucking Sanford:
We appear to have gone from fake news to fake lawyers to fake heart attacks. So it goes.
Repeat after me: it’s easier to talk about pardons than it is to issue one, the whole Scooter Libby thing notwithstanding. The amateur lawyers would have you believe it was the legal equivalent of a Cohen pardon test drive. It was not: Libby was convicted of crimes for which W refused to pardon him much to Cheney’s disgust. Cohen is merely under pressure from federal prosecutors to flip on the Trump crime family. Yo, Donald, talking about your underlings flipping makes you look guilty. Hey, that means he’s fucked up and been truthful. Anything can happen.
A quick note about Rudy Giuliani joining Trump’s defense team. I laughed for 5 minutes solid when I heard this news. He hasn’t been involved in criminal law in 30 years and his claim that he can end the Mueller probe is bluster and bullshit worthy of the Insult Comedian. I wonder if Trump is aware that James Comey used to work for Rudy. It could change everything. Anything can happen.
Since people like it when I post a side-by-side picture of Michael Cohen and a fake wise guy, here’s one with real wise guy Sammy The Bull Gravano when he was a witness for Comey who then worked for Giuliani. It’s a fucking small world after all.
I have no idea what will happen between Cohen and Trump and neither does anyone else. My money is on Cohen ratting out Trumpy. That would be the smart move. Of course, Cohen is deeply stupid. So, anything can happen.
The last word goes to Tim and Neil Finn:
I heard from Deep Blog yesterday. Adding to the Deep Blog mystique is that he/she/it is a composite of people who prefer to stay off-stage. It’s not Mark Felt, y’all. Dead men leak no tales.
Anyway, Deep Blog got an email from the R.E. Lee Monumental Association offering what amounts to a Robert E. Lee lawn jockey for 300 smackers. Of course, they call it a replica statue:
This concrete statue stands at 3’6″, weighs 150 pounds, and has a circular 16″ diameter base. It comes in two painted finishes: bronze or multi colored.
The one on the right is why I called it a lawn jockey. It’s a Bobby Lee toon, y’all.
The R.E. Lee lawn jockey is a perfect gift for the descendants of:
Thousands of New Orleanians [who] volunteered to defend their homeland and fought under General Lee as the “Louisiana Tigers” in the Civil War.
Who cares about the fact that the war was waged to preserve the peculiar institution of slavery or that Lee himself was opposed to Confederate monuments?
I haven’t had any hate mail from local Lost Causers for a while but I may hear from Forever Lee Circle Dude after this post. Unlike Deep Blog, he’s not shy.
Iron Butterfly had an odd career. They were sui generis: one-hit FM radio wonders. Their droning, very long song In-A-Gadda-Da Vida was an underground sensation. They broke up in 1971 and reformed to make Scorching Beauty with only one original member.
The 1975 Iron Butterfly reunion went nowhere but the cover by Drew Struzan is epic. The artist is much more interesting than Scorching Beauty. In addition to album cover artistry, he had a long career as a movie poster artist. It’s time to quote his Wikipedia entry:
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s Struzan produced poster work for such films as Blade Runner, The Thing, The Cannonball Run, the Police Academy series, Back to the Future, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, The Muppet Movie, Coming to America, First Blood, Risky Business, D.C. Cab, Stroker Ace, *batteries not included, An American Tail, and The Goonies.
This was an interesting rabbit hole to go down. At some point I’ll have to do a post dedicated to Struzan’s other album cover art but let’s start small with Scorching Beauty:
Note that the butterfly’s face is inspired by the robot in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: everyone who gets involved with Donald Trump gets slimed. The latest example is Admiral/Doctor Ronny Jackson who had a reputation as a competent doctor and a nice guy during the Bush and Obama administrations. That began to change when he gave a preposterous briefing about Trump’s health. Then came his nomination to run the Veterans Administration, which is a nearly impossible job given the competing interest groups and the size of the agency.
The ranking Democrat on the Senate Veterans Affairs committee is reviewing allegations he’s hearing about Ronny Jackson, the White House physician and President Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. It was unclear late Monday whether the Senate panel would postpone Jackson’s confirmation hearing, which was scheduled for Wednesday, in light of stories about the nominee told by current or former White House medical staff.
Sources familiar with the tales say that Tester’s staff is reviewing multiple allegations of a “hostile work environment.” The accusations include “excessive drinking on the job, improperly dispensing meds,” said one of the people familiar, who was granted anonymity to speak frankly about the situation. The other people familiar with the stories also confirmed those details.
If proven true, “it’ll sink his nomination,” said one of the sources.
This is what happens when you nominate someone without any vetting. There was no interview, no nothing, just a presidential* gut instinct that he liked Admiral/Doctor Jackson and that somehow made him qualified to run a massive bureaucracy. Trump’s gut may be large but his instincts are terrible. The incompetence, it burns.
I considered stealing a line from a tweet by Steven Beschloss, brother of historian Michael, but decided that was too Trumpian:
Excessive drinking can definitely make one hostile. The irony is that none of the post-Nixon presidents have been known as heavy drinkers. The last presidents to drink with their White House physician were FDR and Harry Truman and they were only occasionally hostile. Hostility is Trump’s speciality.
It looks as if Admiral/Doctor Jackson is the latest Trump dignity wraith. Stay tuned.
Remember when entertainers didn’t feel the need to pontificate about politics? It wasn’t that long ago when show biz political activists were outnumbered by those who were apolitical or simply didn’t want to stick their necks out and lose fans.
Times have changed. Sometimes even those with a legitimate excuse not to make political comments do it anyway. In Shania Twain’s case, she’s Canadian but she inserted a cowgirl boot shod foot in her mouth by commenting favorably on a certain Insult Comedian with a dead nutria atop his head:
It is not the only way in which she expresses her conservatism. If she had been able to vote in the US election, she would have plumped for Donald Trump, she says. “I would have voted for him because, even though he was offensive, he seemed honest. Do you want straight or polite? Not that you shouldn’t be able to have both. If I were voting, I just don’t want bullshit. I would have voted for a feeling that it was transparent. And politics has a reputation of not being that, right?”
The date on this otherwise sympathetic Guardian profile was April 22, 2018. Yesterday. Trump’s status as the liar’s liar and the bullshitter’s bullshitter is well established enough that Twain has already apologized after the inevitable social media shitstorm:
I would like to apologise to anybody I have offended.
The question caught me off guard. As a Canadian, I regret answering this unexpected question without giving my response more context.
My answer was awkward, but certainly should not be taken as representative of my values nor does it mean I endorse him.
I guess that makes this post an instant analysis of an instant apology.
What should we make of this tempest in a Canadian teacup? Not much. Shania Twain is not the only person who confuses bluster with candor and transparency. She’s also not the only person to make uninformed and ignorant comments on the political scene. In her case, it was an unforced error because all she had to say was “I’m Canadian, eh.”
The good news is that writing this post has *not* given me a Shania Twain earworm. Instead, the last word goes to Talking Heads with a song from their final album, Naked:
The weather rollercoaster continues unabated in New Orleans. We’ve gone from air dish weather to heater weather and back again. One day of the French Quarter Fest was rained out, which resulted in wet tourists whining about the wash-out. It was a day I was glad to no longer be a shopkeeper. Dealing with drowned Quarter rats was never any fun.
One of Grace’s colleagues gave us fancy club seats to the Saenger Theatre’s Broadway series complete with free food and valet parking. Thanks, Ritu. We saw Rent, which I liked a lot. The best part of the evening was a bossy African-American woman usher who combined sternness and politeness. One patron was confused about how they ordered the rows and the usher said, “You’re in row H. It’s the alphabet, m’am. It’s the alphabet.” Fuckin’ A.
You’re probably wondering why an agnostic is posting a gospel tune as this week’s theme song. It’s because Sister Rosetta Tharpe was an amazing singer, songwriter, and character. Up Above My Head is also a real toe-tapper. What’s not to love about a church lady with an electric guitar? We have three versions: Sister Rosetta, Rhiannon Giddens, and the Jayhawks.
Now that we’re imbued with the spirit, let’s jump to the break.
I’ve always had a sneaking fondness for Barbara Bush. I come from a family full of tough outspoken battleaxe type old ladies. She always reminded me of one of my aunts who had a barbed tongue much like Bar.
Unlike many New Orleanians, I’ve even forgiven Mrs. Bush for this insensitive post-Katrina remark:
“What I’m hearing, which is sort of scary, is that they all want to stay in Texas. Everybody is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway so this … this is working very well for them.”
At the time, I was furious but since then I’ve spent a lot of time with old people and they tend not to have a filter. Bush was 80 when she made those awful remarks so I’m inclined to cut her some slack. Some older women of my acquaintance have said worse and many of them are hard core liberals. And if we’re judging her on politics, she voted for her fellow former First Lady at the last election.
In other Barbara Bush news, there was a silly controversy among the humor-impaired and literal minded on twitter about this remark from a story about her final days:
Even in the final days of her life, Barbara Bush retained the sharp tongue that belied her grandmotherly image. When her eldest son, former President George W. Bush, visited about 10 days before her death, the two playfully needled each other in the way they always did.
At one point, Mrs. Bush turned to her doctor. “You want to know why George W. is the way he is?” she asked.
The doctor looked a little surprised. “Because I drank and smoked when I was pregnant with him,” she said.
It’s called sarcasm, folks. There were actually twitter lefties whose hearts were bleeding for George W Bush because his mama was mean. It’s a joke: it’s well-known that, for good or ill, W was her favorite child and he told the joke on himself to boot.
I realize that these are polarized times but that doesn’t mean we have to be ugly about everyone we disagree with. It’s why I call Trump the Insult Comedian because that’s what he does. In a time when the president* is a criminal, going after Barbara Bush strikes me as petty and small-minded. This is one case that calls for the high road.
While I’m not weeping copious tears, I’m not inclined to dance on Barbara Bush’s grave either. The last word goes to Squeeze with a song that reflected her conversational style:
My pal Lisa found a kitten and raised her from a puppy. She’d never had a cat before but took Rocky everywhere the first few months of her life. I met her at the Spank function.
Rocky is now 6 months old and recently had a close encounter with Mr. P, the neighborhood peacock. As you can see it went well.
Nothing is going right for our characters in Mr. and Mrs. Teacup. We see everything from failed missions to projectile vomiting to looming financial failure. It’s not a pretty sight. The only good news is that arms control guy Glenn Haskard’s underdog Twins will win the 1987 World Series.
The Americans is a unique show in several ways. First, as Soviet spies, Philip and Elizabeth are the ultimate anti-heroes. They make Walter White and Tony Soprano look like small fry. Second, the Soviets lose the Cold War while winning the espionage battle, so the Jennings’ efforts are ultimately for naught. This built-in futility is one reason so many of us find the show so perversely fascinating.
Nothing Is Everything is the parenthetical part of the title of a Pete Townshend song: (Nothing Is Everything ) Let’s See Action. It’s an ode to Pete’s guru, Meher Baba, but it somehow captures the spirit of this episode for me. I’m weird that way. Let’s play it before the spoiler break:
The African-American writer Chester Himes is best known for his noirish crime fiction and books set in Harlem. If He Hollers Let Him Go was his first novel. It’s a racially charged story set in post-World War II Los Angeles.
I read it after reading an interview with Walter Mosley wherein he recommended the book. I kept waiting for Easy Rawlins to show up. He did not but it’s a good book even without Easy and Mouse.
If He Hollers Let Him Go was made into a movie in 1968.
Here’s the trailer:
The whole damn movie is available on the YouTube for now.
It’s time to revisit the Texas senate race. Beto O’Rourke remains the underdog but I’m glad people are taking a flyer on his candidacy. If there was ever a year to try to win a statewide race in Texas, 2018 is the year. Besides, what would be sweeter than bloodying Tailgunner Ted’s nose even if he survives? It’s win-win.
I have a suggestion for the Beto Bunch. It’s in the nature of a stunt. Those of us who are old enough to have voted in 1992 should recall Chicken George. He was the dude in the chicken suit who followed Poppy Bush around. The chicken came out of the coop when Poppy initially refused to debate. It was a Democratic stunt to bug Bush and benefit the Clinton campaign. It worked.
I think the gag could be updated but with a retro twist. Not only a retro twist but another pun on the Congressman’s nickname. Puns are important, y’all.
Let me clarify something: I may be old but I’m not old enough to have seen You Bet Your Life when it first aired. I saw the re-runs. Ya got that? I don’t want to have to make like the late R Lee Ermey and go Full Metal Jacket on your asses.
Back to Grouco Marx. Anyone who has ever seen his venerable quiz show knows that there was a secret word, when a contestant said it, a duck puppet dropped down and the contestant won some cold, hard cash. The duck puppet/muppet/marionette, whatever it was, looked like Groucho and evoked Duck Soup as opposed to Daffy Duck or Duck Dunn.
I suspect you’re wondering where the 2018 tie-in is. Here it is: the Beto Bunch should station a dude in a duck suit at every Cruz event. He could carry a pole with a You Bet Your Life style duck marionette that looks, not like Groucho, but like Rafael Edward Cruz. Every time Ted lies or mentions the name Donald Trump, the Duck Dude can quack and wave the marionette.
As a reminder of Cruzian spinelessness, there could also be a sidekick waving a placard with these National Enquirer front pages:
On second thought, the placard is probably a bad idea. Some of Cruz’s supporters may be packing heat and if it’s duck season, the Duck Dude and sidekick could be in deep doo doo like Daffy.
This proposed stunt is a bit complicated and I realize not everyone will get the joke, but I like to be helpful. Maybe the Duck Dude could duck and cover when Cruz advocates bombing a country. The possibilities are endless as well as endlessly silly.
The last word goes to the Kinks:
Rough Mix is a 1977 collaboration between Pete Townshend and Ronnie Lane of the Faces. Pete was originally supposed to produce a solo Ronnie record but it ended being a joint project. There were guest stars aplenty including Eric Clapton and Charlie Watts.
The album cover was designed by Peter Joyce and features all sorts of British pop culture images from cricket to cars to show biz. It’s busy but still amazing.
It’s gatefold time.
The back cover is a trading card bonanza.
Finally, the album itself. The first track My Baby Gives It Away rocks to a Charlie Watts beat.
In a letter Sunday night, Cohen’s attorneys claimed that Cohen had been engaged in “traditional legal tasks” with at least three clients in 2017 through 2018. The letter named President Donald Trump, who has already sought to get involved in the current dispute over the seized documents, and Elliot Broidy, a GOP fundraiser for whom Cohen arranged a hush payment for a Playboy model he impregnated, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Cohen resisted naming the third client, citing his client’s preference that his identity not be made public.
And Client Number 3 is Sean Hannity.
I wonder if hush money was involved? Hannity has always had a devoted family man facade so it if it is, this is getting juicier by the day. From now on, I shall call Hannity Client Number 3. I’d like to thank Michael Cohen for helping me out. That’s much funnier than Fox News Meathead even if the latter is true.
Pass the popcorn and cue the Hannity GIF:
Comeypalooza 2018 rolled on with his interview with my diminutive countryman, George Stephanopoulos, last night. My evil side wished they’d done it standing up since Comey is 6’8″ and George is 5’7′. Of course, such interviews are filmed with the participants seated but I can dream. This day after kinda sorta instant analysis is *not* a dream.
Watching Comey reminded me of how complex life is. I was every bit as mad at Comey as most Clinton supporters in October 2016. I excoriated him in a post entitled Easy Comey Easy Go. I even unfavorably compared his FBI to one of America’s most distinguished prosecutors, Robert Jackson. I still think he fucked up with his ham-fisted intervention in the election BUT unlike many powerful people he’s willing to admit the possibility that he made a mistake. Comey is not the “untruthful slimeball” of Trumpian tweets but a flawed human being capable of doing fine things but also capable of screwing up. Bigly.
Even if he doesn’t explicitly say that he’s trying to make up for that epic mistake in 2016, it’s obvious that he regrets any role he played in electing Donald Trump. Some of the language he used in the interview with my diminutive countryman was eye-popping. This is the money quote on Trump’s fitness to be Oval One:
A person who sees moral equivalence in Charlottesville, who talks about and treats women like they’re pieces of meat, who lies constantly about matters big and small and insists the American people believe it, that person’s not fit to be president of the United States, on moral grounds. And that’s not a policy statement. Again, I don’t care what your views are on guns or immigration or taxes.
There’s something more important than that that should unite all of us, and that is our president must embody respect and adhere to the values that are at the core of this country. The most important being truth. This president is not able to do that. He is morally unfit to be president.
On balance, Comey’s role in the rolling dialogue as to whether Trump is fit to be president* is a useful one. He can be on the annoying side when he’s tending the Comey Myth but his insights into Trump’s personality are fascinating. These two men were destined to clash. They’re not just from different worlds but from different solar systems.
Watching Comey I kept thinking this guy must have been a great trial lawyer. He’s a stellar wordsmith and story-teller. Plus juries love a lawyer with a sense of humor, especially a prosecutor. Nobody expects a prosecutor to be funny. The same qualities will make him an outstanding witness for the prosecution.
The George & Jim show only ran for an hour Sunday night but the conversation went on for 5 hours. The full transcript is fascinating reading and can be found HERE.
I’ve spent a fair amount of time the last few years chastising people for comparing the Trump crime family to The Godfather. The correct comparison is The Sopranos who had a portly hot head as boss as opposed to the dignified Vito and Michael Corleone. I’m glad to see that whoever made this video Josh Marshall posted gets it.
The backdrop may be swankier than the Pork Store in Newark but the feel is the same. I wonder if Cohen ever tans himself Paulie Walnuts style?
Repeat after me: Michael Cohen is a fixer. Fixers don’t get attorney-client privilege. Just having a law degree doesn’t confer privilege on a conversation. If that were the case, my conversations with Della Street and Paul Drake would be privileged. Then the world would learn that they’re both butt-heads. Uh oh, I just pierced the human-cat privilege…
Since we have new Michael Cohen pictures it’s time for a side-by-side picture with a different Sopranos character. It could be called when Paulie met Michael:
Maybe Cohen can help Paulie find the Russian guy they lost in the Pine Barrens. Nah, that would take a modicum of competence.
Watching the video of Cohen walking the streets of New York gave me an earworm, which could be the alternate soundtrack to the Fixer stroll. That’s why the Bee Gees have the last word:
We resume our regularly scheduled programming after my Wag The Dog Incoherently post. Somebody’s gotta be normal in these abnormal times.
It’s been an interesting week in New Orleans. A 4,200 gallon oil spill isn’t huge by oil industry standards but it’s stinky enough that residents are raising a stink about it. A good thing: minor oil spills are way of life on the Big Muddy, which could be re-nicknamed the Big Oily or Big Greasy. Either way it’s not good. It’s actually diesel fuel. Vin Diesel was unavailable for comment…
The big local story this week was the sale of Gambit Weekly to the Advocate. Because of savvy management by owners Margot and Clancy DuBos, Gambit is one of the few alt-weeklies that has thrived in the internet era. The deal includes retention of Gambit’s crack editorial team including my friend Kevin Allman as editor. (In the interests of full disclosure, Clancy is also a friend.) Kevin helped bring the publication into online era, which made it an attractive proposition to the Advocate. One reason for the staff retention is that Advocate publisher Dan Shea was purged by the Picayune and has some empathy for other journalists. Imagine that. Besides, the Gambit staff is as talented as all get out. As far as I’m concerned, this is good news as it will allow Gambit to survive in a tough environment for alt-weeklies. Here’s hoping that the Advocate people will keep their word about letting Gambit be Gambit. So far, the signs are good.
This week’s theme song is the title track of one of the greatest break-up albums of all-time. It’s eerie to hear Linda Thompson sing sad songs written by her soon-to-be ex-husband. Shoot Out The Lights has developed into one of the signature songs of Richard Thompson’s live set. We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the original and a swell cover by Los Lobos.
Now we’ve shot out the lights, let’s take a shot at jumping to the break.
11 days ago Donald Trump said he wanted to be out of Syria within a matter of months. Tonight American, British, and French forces bombed Syria. I guess that earlier statement is, to quote Nixon flack Ron Ziegler, inoperative.
All week long the fog of scandal has enveloped the White House. The Michael Cohen investigation in New York may prove to be more devastating to Trump than anything Team Mueller can come up with. And now the president* is bombing Syria after a chemical weapons attack that his inability to keep his mouth shut may have caused.
It’s bad enough that we’ve entered the wag the dog phase of the Trump regime, it’s even worse that it’s being done in an ad hoc, incoherent, and chaotic manner. Of course, that’s how they do everything. An alternate title for this post could have been Winging It With The Kaiser of Chaos.
With John Bolton and his mustache on board at the NSC, we can expect more late night bombing raids. Perhaps they’ll even come up with a coherent strategy next time. Who am I kidding?
There are some in the MSM who believe that bellicose rhetoric aimed at the Russians means that Putin doesn’t own Trump. Wrong. The gap between the Syrian attack, Trump’s bloodthirsty tweets, and the bombing raid gave the Russians plenty of time to move their military assets and personnel around to minimize their losses. The same thing happened with the delay in imposing sanctions: Putin and his cronies had time to hide their money. It’s all for show. It’s what happens when a scandal plagued administration has its wag the dog moment.
Just think, earlier today everyone was speculating about Rod Rosenstein getting shitcanned. Holy Instant Nostalgia, Batman. Instead I’m writing an instant analysis of Trump wagging the dog. As Jim Comey would surely say at this moment,LORDY.
I only hope this post is more coherent than president* Trump’s national security policies. Repeat after me: LORDY.
It’s presidential* projection time. I never thought I’d see this word in a headline at the Failing New York Times:
I thought slimeball was one word. Since Trump *is* one, I guess he knows how to spell it.