Category Archives: British Politics

Saturday Odds & Sods: Tenderness On The Block

Surrealism and Painting by Max Ernst.

It’s still too darn hot in New Orleans and the municipal election drones on like annoying background music. I should be more engaged but (with the exception of Frank Scurlock’s malakatude)  it’s duller than tarnished silver. Hopefully, the run-off will be more interesting.

There is an interesting political story happening next door in Jefferson Parish. I wrote about Parish President Mike Yenni’s perv issues in this space last year. Yenni survived a recall attempt and is clinging to office. One sign that he doesn’t expect to be re-elected is that he’s spent over $200K  to redo his office to make it look like George W. Bush’s Oval Office. I am not making this up.

I hope Mike doesn’t get a Yenni to invade Arabi in nearby St. Bernard Parish. There’s enough weird shit happening in Da Parish already y’all.

This week’s theme song is Warren Zevon’s Tenderness On The Block. I have a confession: I like Shawn Colvin’s 1992 cover even more since it features my homeys, the Subdudes:

Speaking of subdued, I’m feeling that way this week because of Oscar’s illness so I’m going to keep this snappy. So snappy, in fact, that I’m skipping the break and jumping in with both feet or something like that.

My Anglophilia is in bloom this week so we begin with a hilarious piece by the Guardian’s Marina Hyde about the recent Labour Party conference in Brighton. I dig the headline; here it is in its exuberant entirety:

Oh Jeremy Corbyn. I Bet You Think This Song Is About You: The reason I love the Guardian so much is the quality of the writing. They let their funny people be funny. Ain’t nobody funnier than  Marina Hyde:

If you are a political archivist, there are two seriously covetable gigs in the world right now. The first is conceptualising the unprecedented annals facility that will one day be the Donald Trump Presidential Library. The second is collating the many different euphemisms for the Labour party having not won the recent general election.

At party conference in Brighton, you gotta catch ’em all. “We didn’t lose,” Emily Thornberry declared. “The real losers were the Tories.” At Momentum’s parallel event, the official literature noted that Labour had “witnessed possibility being snatched from the jaws of disaster”. In the conference hall proper, shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey elicited a huge cheer for “the biggest narrowing of the polls in British electoral history”.

My favorite bit was about the folks from Momentum, which is a hard left pressure group made up of British dudebros:

Momentum gets a lot of stick for a certain strain of its needling – branding people “centrist dads” and so on. But it rather reminds me of that episode of The Simpsons where Bart inquires of a man: “I’m Bart Simpson – who the hell are you?” “I’m Dave Shutton,” comes the stuffy reply, “an investigative reporter who’s on the road a lot, and I must say that in our day we didn’t talk like that to our elders.” “Well, this is my day,” shrugs Bart, “and we do.” And so with many of Momentum’s in-jokes – there is something Bartishly irreverent and invigorating about them, and pants ought not to be wet in response. All the grownuppery was far more off-putting, anyway. Emily Thornberry kept insisting Labour were “the grownups”, while Keir Starmer echoed that the party was “the grownups in the room”.

It’s unclear as to whether Labour’s performance in the late election was a real political shift or a massive anti-Tory protest vote. I lean in the second direction: many of the new, younger Labour voters are passionate “remainers” whereas Corbyn’s inner circle are soft-Brexiteers. It will be interesting to see what happens when UK voters go to the polls believing that it’s possible for Corbyn to be their next Prime Minister. I threw away my crystal ball on 11/9/2016 so I make no predictions. Stay tuned.

We remain in England (not the EU) for our next segment, which is about one of the more sympathetic royals, the Queen’s late kid sister Princess Margaret.

Princess Margaret’s Misadventures In Bohemia: I’ve long had sympathy for Margaret because she’s one of the few people my main man Gore Vidal never said anything catty about. Hell, Gore even mocked people he liked and admired but not Princess Margaret. He felt sorry for her and admired her snooty wit. Gore was always big on snooty wit.

The Guardian has published a fascinating excerpt from a book by Craig Brown about Margaret, Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret. I knew that she hung out with the Rolling Stones when they were at their most hedonistic but I did not know that Pablo Picasso was madly in love with the Princess and hoped to marry her. I am not letting the catty cat out of the bag by telling you this never happened. Picasso may have not been a surrealist artist but he was a surrealist in everyday life.

I’ve had Puerto Rico on mind since Hurricane Maria. I posted a series of pictures of great Puerto Rican baseball players on Twitter, which led to this list, which is strictly for baseball history buffs but what can I say? It’s made up of players who were born on the island.

Adrastos’ Puerto Rico All-Star Team

1B: Orlando Cepeda.

2B: Roberto Alomar.

SS: Jose Valentin.

3B: Mike Lowell.

OF: Roberto Clemente, Carlos Beltran, Bernie Williams.

DH: Carlos Delgado.

C: Ivan (Pudge) Rodriguez.

Starting Pitchers:  RH:Javier Vasquez. LH: Juan Pizarro.

Relievers:  RH:Roberto Hernandez.  LH: Willie Hernandez. No relation.

The outfielders, catchers, and first basemen were the toughest position to winnow down. Pitching, however, is not a strength. So it goes.

That concludes this tribute to Puerto Rican baseball. Let’s go back to woody old England.

Saturday Classic: Steeleye Span were one of the bands who helped create British folk rock. Parcel of Rogues was one of the albums that emphasized the rock part of the equation. As always, Maddy Prior’s vocals are sublime.

That’s it for this week. I wrote about Ripper Street last week. This time around I’ll give the last word to the cast in their Victorian finery:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Spirit In The Dark

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.

It’s full-bore summer in New Orleans. We’ve had our share of heat advisories this week. All one can do is drink buckets of water, keep out of the sun, and stay in an air conditioned space. It’s a good thing that I’m essentially an indoorsman. It’s too bloody hot to be all outdoorsy and shit.

I usually write about matters personal and local in the Saturday post intro, prologue or whatever the hell this is. But I cannot resist taking a swipe at the idiot president* over his recycling the “Black Jack Pershing pig’s blood on bullets to ward off Muslims” story. First, unlike the Insult Comedian, Black Jack Pershing was an intelligent man who never said or did such a thing. Second, who the hell, with the possible exception of Frank Gaffney, believes this crapola in 2017? Only a very superstitious moron, that’s who. Third, there *is* a New Orleans connection. There’s a General Pershing Street not far from Adrastos World HQ. Some of the streets in my neighborhood were named after Napoleon I’s battles: Cadiz, Bordeaux, Milan, and Marengo to name a few. General Pershing was originally Berlin Street but was renamed while the country was in throes of anti-German hysteria during the Great War. We go through times like that periodically. We’re in one of them now thanks to the Kaiser of Chaos. So it goes.

As to the featured image, I usually steer clear of using an artist’s best known work but how could I resist Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks for this nocturnally named post? Like Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops, I Can’t Help Myself.

This week’s theme song was written by Aretha Franklin for her 1970 album of the same name. It’s perhaps the best song the Queen of Soul ever wrote. We have two versions for your listening pleasure: Aretha’s original and a duet with Ray Charles from her fabulous 1971 album, Aretha Live at Fillmore West.

It’s hard to top the Genius and the Queen of Soul, y’all. I won’t even try. Well, maybe after the break.

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First Draft Potpourri For $500, Alex

The mind reels over how much is going on in the world. The breaking news is flying so thick and fast that it’s hard to keep up without going mad. Hence this experiment with some quick segments, one-liners, and tweets.

Blighty Blighted? We begin with the British election in which the Tories screwed up and Labour did better than expected. The former are not dead yet and Labour should stop acting like they won. The current leadership has proven they’re good campaigners, now they need to prove they’re an effective parliamentary opposition and government-in-waiting.

My favorite image about the late UK campaign came from a tweet from a German cartoonist. I saw it in the Guardian, which is where all good things come from:

There were a whole lotta froms in that segment. Of course, Fromm *is* a German surname…

Tweet Of The Day: Our old “pal” Roger Stone is hawking tee-shirts to fund his next Nixon tattoo:

Takes one to know one, Rog.

Speaking of Twitter oddities. Twitter offered to translate my Comeypalooza post tweet from the original Lithuanian. Hell, I don’t even speak Latvian let alone Lithuanian…

Poor Ivanka: The First Daughter was on Fox & Fucking Friends this morning and got all whiny. She claimed to be gobsmacked by the “viciousness” of Washington. This from a woman whose horrid father was birther-in-chief and whose criminal father-in-law hired a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law and mailed the tape to his sister. Now that’s vicious, as is this Lou Reed song:

Qatar Reminder: My NOLA blogger buddy and Spank krewe mate, Noladishu tweeted a reminder of Qatari post-K support for New Orleans.

He would indeed. I don’t want the Ashley-geist vexed with me so I thought I should share this Noladishu dish. It also allows me to make the following Qatari puns:

My Qatar Wants To Kill Your Mama.

Perfectly Good Qatar.

On behalf of the pun community, I’d like to thank Noladishu for the straight line. It’s what friends are for; my friends at least. My late friend Perfesser Morris would have approved too, he liked puns as much as he hated ennui:

Watergate Junkie Fix Time: The great Ron Rosenbaum shared a NYT article wondering how Tricky’s takedown would be covered in 2017:

When will they ask the eternal question: what did the Insult Comedian know and when did he lie about it? What is everything and constantly, Alex. Believe me.

The Obituary Cafe: You’ve all heard of the passing of Adam West at the age of 88. His campy but deadpan “Bright Knight” take on Batman was an important part of my childhood. I realize that people take comic book movies seriously now but they involve grown-ups in tights fighting cackling villains. What’s campier than that?

George Segal as Pops in The Goldbergs is on Team Bright Knight:

Finally, did anyone know that the guy who first put pineapple on pizza was Greek-Canadian? I did not until the other day. The Greek in question, Sam Panopoulos died recently at 83. I’ve always been opposed to pineapple on pizza and I don’t recall my father’s position on it. But he was always proud of Greeks who made it and an obituary in the Guardian is making it.

As far as I’m concerned pineapple on pizza is only a misdemeanor and Sam sounded like a great guy otherwise. But I’m not claiming cousinage even if Lou might have. I’m almost as prickly about pineapple on pizza as the Icelandic President.

That concludes this edition of First Draft Potpourri. Pass the pizza, skip the pineapple.

Saturday Odds & Sods: One Way Out

Part of the Migration Series by Jacob Lawrence.

It was politics Thursday here at Adrastos World HQ. In addition to Comeypalooza,  Oscar and I watched the British election returns. It’s always great fun to see the BBC’s venerable David Dimbleby at work in what are the wee hours in the UK. He gets a bit punchy whereas the young uns are falling out. I dig their graphics, especially the virtual House of Commons. It’s uncommonly cool.

The Tories ran a dreadful campaign and fell short of a majority in the House of Commons. The Maybot has vowed to soldier on with help from the Ulster Unionists but Tory knives are sharpening after her big gamble flopped. I’m not a huge Jeremy Corbyn fan BUT the man is a good campaigner and Labour made impressive gains. If the Maybot attempts to stay indefinitely there may be another election sooner than the British people would like. Stay tuned.

We return to our regularly scheduled Saturday programming.

The topic of who wrote this week’s theme song is the subject of considerable debate. One Way Out has been credited to both Elmore James and Sonny Boy Williamson. I haven’t the foggiest idea who the real songwriter is but it’s a helluva tune. There was even a 1965 variation by GL Crockett called It’s A Man Down There.

I’m not getting involved in the authorship fracas other than posting multiple versions of this blues classic. In fact, I’m staying out of the Sonny Boy/Elmore thicket altogether by posting the Allman Brothers Band, Crockett, and a rendition by John Hiatt from a Gregg Allman tribute. We begin with the version that I first heard on the radio longer ago than I care to admit. There ain’t nothing better than live Allman Brothers:

There’s only way out here at First Draft as well. I’ll show you the exit after the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Roll With It

Composition VIII by Vasily Kandinsky.

It’s April Fool’s Day. I’m not planning to prank y’all but if I were I wouldn’t tell you. I like to keep my readers off-balance with this offbeat and off-kilter feature. I hope the previous sentence wasn’t off-putting.

We’re going to a kid’s birthday party/crawfish berl today. That’s boil to you auslanders. It’s young Harper’s second birthday and she’s already out of fucks to give. She actually reminds me of Della the cat. That’s how she is. Of course, the toddler will stop being a cat whereas Della Street is defiantly feline for life. It’s a good thing that she’ll never learn how to speak: she’d never shut up.

We’re back in same title, different song country with this week’s theme songs. I hope y’all can Roll With It, baby. We begin with Steve Winwood’s tribute to Stax-Volt soul music followed by Oasis and *their* song Roll With It.

I’m keeping it relatively light this time around. It’s going to be heavy on the magic and light on the Nazis and such. Of course, *that* could be the April Fool’s joke. You’ll find out after the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Promised Land

Marbotikin Dulda by Frank Stella.

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

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

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

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

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Liar

It’s been another weird week in New Orleans. The weather has been yo-yo-ing to and fro. We reluctantly ran the AC on a particularly steamy day and we’re back to the heater right now. The kitties, of course, prefer the latter. So it goes.

There was a lethal shooting last weekend on Bourbon Street. It doesn’t happen that often but when it does the media, city government, and tourism establishment lose their collective minds. This time there are suggestions of metal detectors and limited access. That’s typical NOLA think: propose something that would be simultaneously costly and unenforceable. We live in a country and a state with an armed population and when you add booze and crowds to the mix, violence is not surprising. It’s difficult to prevent an asshole with a concealed weapon from discharging it. That may sound cold and harsh but “to live in this town, you must be tough, tough, tough, tough.” Thus spake Jagger and Richards. She-doo-be.

The mendacity theme here at First Draft continues with this week’s theme songs. That’s right, my obsession with different songs with the same title continues. We begin with Todd Rundgren’s 2004 tune Liar. It’s followed in quick succession by Queen, the Sex Pistols, Argent, and, of all people, Three Dog Night who covered the Argent tune.

I had no idea there were so many songs with liar in the title and that’s the truth. There will be more prevarication after the break, but first I need to find that lying sack of shit that we’ve heard so much about over the years.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: God’s Comic

man-ray-glass-tears

Glass Tears by Man Ray, 1932.

Facebook killed me off earlier this week. I even got a death notice from them but neglected to take a screen shot. I was not alone in receiving a premature memorial page notice from the Zuckerdudes. Facebook even whacked blog pun consultant James Karst:

Karst is dead.

I’m pleased to report that, unlike the late Johnny Winter, Karst is still alive and well:

I’ve heard several explanations as to what went wrong but there’s one I like. And I’m sticking to it even if it’s debunked as de bunk. Consider it my Ford factory relocation moment. Here it is: It may have been concocted by trolls who wanted to metaphorically liquidate people whose content they dislike. I wear their scorn as a badge of honor even if I have long believed that “we don’t need no stinking badges.” That’s my story and I’m sticking to it, y’all. Facebook and fake news go together like Lennon and McCartney before Yoko and Linda or Rodgers and Hart before Hammerstein. Oscar, Oscar, Oscar.

This week’s theme song is an obvious choice: God’s Comic by Elvis Costello. It’s written from the perspective of a dead guy. This may make EC the Nostraelvis of rock and roll since it was written for the Spike album in 1989 long before Facebook existed. Or is that Nostradeclan? I cannot for the life or death of me keep that straight. First the song followed by a few  lyrics:

EC is a notoriously wordy songwriter so there are a lot of lyrics.  Here’s the first verse followed by the chorus :

I wish you’d known me when I was alive, I was a funny feller
The crowd would hoot and holler for more
I wore a drunk’s red nose for applause
Oh yes I was a comical priest
“With a joke for the flock and a hand up your fleece”
Drooling the drink and the lipstick and greasepaint
Down the cardboard front of my dirty dog-collar

Now I’m dead, now I’m dead, now I’m dead,
Now I’m dead, now I’m dead
And I’m going on to meet my reward
I was scared, I was scared, I was scared, I was scared
He might of never heard God’s Comic

On that mordantly morbid note, it’s time for the break. We should move expeditiously before Facebook kills me off again and I go on to meet my reward.

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The Full English Brexit Goes To Jackson

The Trump campaign visited the “swing state” of Mississippi yesterday. Say what? That’s right, as his path to electoral college victory narrows, the Insult Comedian visited the ruby red Magnolia State. It makes no sense whatsoever but neither does the Trump campaign. Apparently, Trump wanted to bathe in the adulation of a friendly audience, which is not how you win a general election. It’s another sign that he knows he’s losing. He should be defending Georgia and South Carolina both of which seem to be in play. I’m skeptical about the latter but the Peach state is possible.

Another oddity was the appearance of former UKIP leader Nigel Farage at Trump’s side. The Insult Comedian is obsessed with Brexit; even calling himself Mr. Brexit at one point. Why? It beats the hell out of me. Farage fed the crowd a barrage of bullshit including this howler: “I wouldn’t vote for Clinton if you  paid me.” That’s a given since Farage isn’t a citizen.

It’s been a bizarre week for Team Trump so serving up a full English brexit in a red state isn’t even the weirdest thing to go down. I wonder, however, if this is part and parcel of Trump’s doomed effort to woo African-Americans: a nice black pudding is usually served with the full English brexit. It’s a ludicrous explanation but Trump is a ludicrous candidate. It does, however, give me a chance to mock Farage and make a brexit pun so it’s win-win for me.

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I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t close by posting a certain famous song about Jackson. It may be about Jackson, Tennessee but why should I worry about verisimilitude in a post about Trump and Farage?

 

 

The Insult Comedian’s Not For Turning

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I came up with this Margaret Thatcher inspired title *before*  I found the image above and the Trump campaign went alt-right white nationalist. The hiring of Breitbart malaka-in-chief Steve Bannon perfects Trump’s mancrush on guys named Steve. Who knows, David Duke may change his first name to Steve: he’s changed his appearance with bad plastic surgery over the last 30 years, after all. Since he’s a political freak, it’s fitting.

Back to Trump. The other day he channeled the spirit of Popeye:

“I am who I am,” Trump told WKBT-TV in Wisconsin during a one on one interview. “It’s me. I don’t want to change. Everyone talks about ‘oh are you gonna pivot?’ I don’t want to pivot. I mean you have to be you.I f you start pivoting, you are not being honest with people.”

A recent poll showed Trump behind by double digits in Wisconsin, but Trump said that he is still not planning on changing his ways.

“I am who I am. I’ve gotten here in a landslide, and we’ll see what happens,” Trump said.

Trump is actually more like Bluto than anyone else although the thought of the dread Omarosa as Olive Oyl makes me giggle. I think Trump sycophant and Celebrity Apprentice winner Piers Morgan would make an excellent Wimpy. That concludes the toon analogy portion of the post.

The whole “I am who I am” thing made me think of one of Mrs. Thatcher’s most quotable lines, “The lady’s not for turning.” It was delivered to the 1980 Tory party conference amidst calls for a “U-Turn” on some of her more retrograde policies. I guess the Insult Comedian is hoping for similar results: Thatcher won two more general elections before being ousted like a Manafort hiring dictator in 1990. Never gonna happen, my friend. Read my lips: Donald Trump will not be the first Insult Comedian elected President.

Speaking of Team Trump tumult and turmoil, Manafort’s effective demotion was inevitable when all the “this campaign is sinking” stories began leaking out. It’s a pity that it’s not because of his sleazy ties to ousted Ukrainian strongman, Victor Yanukovych. The Trump campaign now has a CEO, Campaign Director, and Campaign Manager. That means nobody is in charge and the Insult Comedian can play them off against one another. It sounds like the Vatican during the papacy of the Borgia Pope, which gives me an excuse to post this again:

Turds?

That is exactly what the latest Steve will bring to Team Trump. Breitbart is a racist, white nationalist web site that out Freepers the Freepers. Steve Bannon has *never* run a campaign of any kind, which makes him an amateur who’s rank in both meanings of the word. He’s an expert, however, at throwing shit against the wall and seeing how much of it sticks. I guess Trump was looking for a new Roy Cohn. If so, he’s found him. They also think that Roger is the cure for what Ailes the campaign. I hope Ivanka stays out of groping range…

The Trump campaign is like a sinking ship but in this instance the captain and crew are drilling holes to make it sink faster. Worst. National. Campaign. Ever.

It would be wise for the Republican rats to jump ship sooner than planned. Trump has turned the GOP into a white nationalist party and the likes of Reince Priebus enabled it. There’s a special place in hell for the man who Charlie Pierce calls Obvious Anagram Reince Priebus. He’s an obvious asshole with a deeply silly name. The only ones who are laughing are the Democrats, myself included.

Trump’s disastrous plunge in the polls has led to renewed speculation that he’s dropping out. I’ll give the last word to some Twitter smart ass:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Crazy Man Michael

9908CJLaughlinNeverland

Finding Neverland by Clarence John Laughlin.

I’ve spent much of the week contemplating July Madness aka the Trumpvention. It’s one of the strangest spectacles I’ve ever witnessed. In an odd way, it provided comic relief for all the shit that’s going down until Trump’s despicable acceptance diatribe. First Draft alumna Southern Beale hit on something I neglected to mention: acceptance speeches are typically optimistic and forward-looking as opposed to angry and bitter harangues. In 2004, Athenae’s boy friend, John Kerry, was criticized for being too negative, leading to this ad:

That’s called a pivot, which Trump, apparently, has no plans to do. I’m waiting for an ad entitled Mourning in America.

I’m going to keep it relatively short since I’ve written so many epic posts this week. The transformation of the home of the Cleveland Cavaliers into the world’s largest loony bin got me contemplating songs about insanity. Crazy Man Michael by Richard Thompson and Dave Swarbrick is as good as it gets; even if there are no Michael mentionings in this week’s post. The song first appeared on Fairport Convention’s 1969 album, Liege & Lief and was sung by the sublime Sandy Denny:

Here’s a solo acoustic version by RT:

I like messing with my readers, in that spirit, we’ll skip the customary break. Nothing for y’all to become accustomed to. I just felt like taking a break break…

We begin with an article that set the internets ablaze. A friend of mine ranted about the ghostwriter, but he never thought Trump would be a major party nominee for President. Who the hell did until 2016?  We both think he’s a giant toddler in a septuagenarian’s body.

The Art Of The Sell-Out: Trump ghostwriter Tony Schwartz has a guilty conscience for making Trump look 100,0000 times better than he actually is in the best-selling book, The Art of Deal.(Actually he was Trump’s co-writer who wrote the whole damn thing. Ghostwriter sounds way cooler.)  He recently sat down with the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer. Here are some worthy excerpts:

“I put lipstick on a pig,” he said. “I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.” He went on, “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.”

If he were writing “The Art of the Deal” today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, “The Sociopath.”

<SNIP>

“Trump didn’t fit any model of human being I’d ever met. He was obsessed with publicity, and he didn’t care what you wrote.” He went on, “Trump only takes two positions. Either you’re a scummy loser, liar, whatever, or you’re the greatest.

<SNIP>

“Trump has been written about a thousand ways from Sunday, but this fundamental aspect of who he is doesn’t seem to be fully understood,” Schwartz told me. “It’s implicit in a lot of what people write, but it’s never explicit—or, at least, I haven’t seen it. And that is that it’s impossible to keep him focussed on any topic, other than his own self-aggrandizement, for more than a few minutes, and even then . . . ” Schwartz trailed off, shaking his head in amazement. He regards Trump’s inability to concentrate as alarming in a Presidential candidate. “If he had to be briefed on a crisis in the Situation Room, it’s impossible to imagine him paying attention over a long period of time,” he said.

<SNIP>

When challenged about the facts, Schwartz says, Trump would often double down, repeat himself, and grow belligerent. This quality was recently on display after Trump posted on Twitter a derogatory image of Hillary Clinton that contained a six-pointed star lifted from a white-supremacist Web site. Campaign staffers took the image down, but two days later Trump angrily defended it, insisting that there was no anti-Semitic implication. Whenever “the thin veneer of Trump’s vanity is challenged,” Schwartz says, he overreacts—not an ideal quality in a head of state.

There’s more of the same in Mayer’s article. I *already* thought Trump was unfit to be President but Schwartz fills in many details that confirm the obvious. I don’t think a marginally literate, hyperactive, mendacious Insult Comedian should ever be elected President.

I, for one, am glad Schwartz came forward, which has led to Trump’s lawyers sending him a cease and desist letter demanding that he return 28-year-old royalties. Yeah, right. It’s typical of Trump’s need to dominate, abase, and silence everyone he knows. I wonder if his shysters will devise a non-disclosure agreement for the entire country.

Tony Schwartz is on Twitter. Thursday night’s Tweets are quite interesting. Check them out.

Trump’s Razor: Josh Marshall has been digging deep into Trump’s shallow psyche and has come up with a theorum of sorts, Trump’s Razor

ascertain the stupidest possible scenario that can be reconciled with the available facts” and that answer is likely correct.

Trump’s Razor has been slicing its way through the Trumpvention as well as the entire campaign. I’m glad Josh gave it a name. Thanks, man.

Speaking of political clusterfucks, the Labour Leadership battle rages on. The war between the Corbyinite hard left and center left  MPs looks more likely to cause a split with each passing day.

Labour Daze & The Gang Of Four: For people of a certain age, it’s been like deja vu all over again. The hard left of Labour took control of the party after the 1979 skunking by the Tories. The Callaghan government wasn’t insufficiently left-wing. It was weak and tired. Labour’s left flank turned to open warfare against party moderates. Sound familiar? This time it happened after back-to-back defeats.

The mad dash to the hard left led four former cabinet members, led by Roy Jenkins the former Chancellor of the Exchequer and, more importantly the radical reforming Home Secretary of the 1960’s, to leave Labour and form the Social Democratic Party (SDP.) For a brief shining moment it looked as if the SDP might take off, but things didn’t go as hoped for.

The Guardian’s Andy Beckett compares what happened in 1981 to the current Labour imbroglio. It’s something of a cautionary tale: the SDP no longer exists, it merged with the Liberals in 1988. They’re now known as the Liberal Democrats who did quite well until they went into government with the Tories. They got slaughtered in the 2015 election and only have 8 MPs. Yet another cautionary tale. Here’s the SDP Gang of Four:

SDP Gang of Four

The SDP Gang of Four: Bill Rodgers, David Owen, Roy Jenkins, and Shirley Williams.

These center-left rebels are not to be confused with the band Gang of Four who were hardcore lefties. Life abounds with ironies. I might as well play some punk rock at this point:

You know it was a tough week when an R.I.P. segment amounts to lightening things up:

Garry Marshall, R.I.P.: One of the nicest people in show biz, Garry Marshall, died this week at the age of 80. Marshall dominated the small screen in the 1970’s and made stars of Michael McKean, Robin Williams, and Julia Roberts among others. My favorite Marshall endeavor was The Odd Couple with Tony Randall and Jack Klugman who *became* Oscar and Felix.

Marshall was also hilarious as network suit, Stan Lansing, on Murphy Brown:

The best Garry Marshall tribute I’ve read was by comedy writer/blogger Ken Levine:

Garry Marshall was an extraordinary man. In the world of comedy where anger is a primary tool for getting laughs, Garry Marshall built an empire by showing that comedy could be humane, comedy could have heart, and comedy could be funny without being mean-spirited, spiteful, and crass. He was a rebel.

Saturday Standards: I’ve never been quite sure why Bryan Ferry didn’t become the go-to “rock star standards singing guy.” He fits the part much better than Rod Stewart; plus Ferry started recording standards in the 1970’s. Ferry’s fine 1999 album, As Time Goes By, should provide some balm after a blistery week; at least I hope so. I’m particularly fond of his take on The Way You Look Tonight:

That’s it for this post-GOP apocalyptic edition of Saturday Odds & Sods. Since I actually praised Ted Cruz for the first, and likely only, time, I thought he should resume his status as a Republican Super Villain:

Cruz meme

 

Basil Fawlty Diplomacy with Boris Johnson

I had no idea that the rather stern and dour new British Prime Minister had a sense of humor. Theresa May shows her antic side with the appointment of Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary, which is his first frontbench post in a Tory cabinet. I toyed with calling him the Insult Comedian, UK, but that nickname belongs to another bad haired public figure. Besides, Boris is actually funny in an Oxbridge undergraduate way whereas Trump is merely insulting.

I realized this morning that the perfect analogy for his undiplomatic diplomatic style is the cranky, xenophobic, fictional British innkeeper, Basil Fawlty. I’m of the opinion that Fawlty Towers is one of the funniest teevee shows of all-time and Basil is one of John Cleese’s finest comic creations. Basil is the quintessential Little England boor/bigot much like Boris. Who among us could forget this bit?

Now that I think of it, Boris’ antics are a cross between that sketch and The Upper Class Twit of the Year. He’s a most undiplomatic diplomat who’s perhaps more suited to head up the Ministry of Silly Walks.

The reactions to Ms. May’s appointment of Boris to a senior and sensitive post have been as hilarious as appointment itself. Since it’s Bastille Day, I’ll give the French Foreign Minister the first crack at Britain’s new Basil Fawlty Diplomacy:

France’s foreign minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, who met Johnson when the two men were both mayors, was asked on French radio if he was surprised by Johnson’s appointment. “I don’t know if it surprised me,” he said. “It’s a sign of the British political crisis that has come out of the referendum vote.”

He said France needed a partner it could negotiate with who was “clear, credible and who could be trusted”. The Europe 1 radio interviewer told Ayrault: “I’ve got the impression you’re scared of being faced with the fanciful Boris Johnson?”

Ayrault replied: “No, I’ve got no worries at all about Boris Johnson. But you know very well what his style and method are. During the campaign, you know he told a lot of lies to the British people and now it is him who has his back against the wall. He is up against it to defend his country and also so that the relationship with Europe is clear.”

I eagerly await Boris’ comments about President Hollande’s coiffeurgate scandal. If you haven’t heard about his bad hair day, here’s the lede of the Guardian’s story about it:

Wispy, thinning and suspiciously free of grey, François Hollande’s boring hairstyle has never been held to much scrutiny, unlike his wonky ties, which have their own website.

But now the balding pate of the French president is at the centre of an embarrassing scandal dubbed coiffeurgate after the weekly paper Le Canard Enchaîné revealed that his personal hairdresser is on contract for almost €10,000 a month, paid from the public purse.

You cannot make this shit up. I want to die and come back as the French President’s barber. And 10,000 euros to manage a combover? This was a problem that robustly bald former Presidents Giscard and Mitterand never had.

Back to Boris’ Basil Fawlty shtick. Both the Guardian and Slate have compiled some of BoJo’s best/worst xenophobic slurs. Slate has more details so Imma quote them. The first one sounds like a description of Labour’s leadership scrum:

In a 2006 column, also for the Telegraph, Johnson wrote “For 10 years we in the Tory Party have become used to Papua New Guinea-style orgies of cannibalism and chief-killing.” After backtracking furiously, he said he would “add Papua New Guinea to my global itinerary of apology.”

The next one involves our current President and shows more of BoJo’s racist side:

In an op-ed published in April, he claimed President Obama removed a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office upon assuming the presidency in 2009 because “it was a symbol of the part-Kenyan president’s ancestral dislike of the British empire—of which Churchill had been such a fervent defender,” comments several leading British members of Parliament (rightly) condemned as racist.

This quote involves the next President and makes Hillary sound like Nurse Ratched:

During Hillary Clinton’s first run for the White House, in 2007, Johnson referred to her as “a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital,” criticizing her for embodying “purse-lipped political correctness,” and reviving a long-discredited conspiracy theory that claims she and then-President Bill Clinton conspired to murder Vince Foster, a close friend and White House aide who committed suicide in 1993.

Boris has also slammed Donald Trump and pretty much everyone else he’s ever dealt with. Just think, absent his Brexit wingman, Michael Gove’s betrayal, he might be in a leadership contest with the new Prime Minister. Don’t mention the Kenyan mau-maus.

My favorite Boris slur is this “prize-winning” limerick about Turkish President Erdogan:

There was a young fellow from Ankara

Who was a terrific wankerer

Till he sowed his wild oats

With the help of a goat

But he didn’t even stop to thankera.

That’s funny but diplomats don’t usually call the head-of-state of a friendly country a goatfucker; not even the posh pigfucker did such a thing. (Boris belonged to the same boozy club at university as his frenemy Cameron.) The limerick is Basil Fawlty diplomacy at its finest. Don’t mention the goats.

The Independent has thoughtfully come up with a map to illustrate the countries that Boris has insulted in the past:

That graphic isn’t as, uh, graphic as the goatfucker pun but I’m glad to see that Boris hasn’t offended many people in Latin America. Perhaps a tutorial from the Insult Comedian is in order. Don’t mention the wall.

In case you’re wondering why Boris isn’t malaka of the week, it’s because he wore the crown of malakatude back in 2010. And I try my utmost to avoid repeat offenders. Besides, this post title rocks if I do say so myself and I do.

You’re probably wondering what possessed Prime Minister May to appoint this straw-haired buffoon to a senior post in the new government. For one thing, he’s a straw-haired buffoon with a constituency. For another, it’s a way for the UK RINO (Remain in name only) Prime Minister to make Boris eat his veg and clean up the colossal mess he’s made since his chum Cameron opted not to do likewise. Don’t mention the pig. It also sets BoJo up as a patsy to take the fall if Brexit negotiations go as badly as expected. Finally, Guardian pundit Jonathan Freedland nails the real reason for this appointment and the quick governmental transition:

There is a reason why the Conservative party is the most electorally successful political organisation in the western world. They have an iron will to power their rivals lack – and they have just shown it once again.

True but who knew that the neo-Iron Lady Theresa May had a sense of humor? Everyone knows now.

That concludes the inaugural edition of Basil Fawlty Diplomacy with Boris Johnson. I cannot wait for his first tour of European capitols. I only hope that Boris doesn’t mention the war in his first meeting with Chancellor Merkel.

Repeat after me: don’t mention Kenyan mau-maus, the goats, Nurse Ratched, or the war.

Jill Stein: Crunchy Granola Machiavelli

You may have noticed that I’m not a fan of third parties. The goal of politics is to win elections and then do your damnedest to get shit done once you’re in office. One reason I’m so critical of the Jeremy Corbyn wing of the UK Labour Party is that they see Labour as a protest movement and not as a party of government. You cannot help people if you do not win elections.

I’ve known many people who are members of the Green Party. They tend to be nice, sincere, and overly earnest, which is why I think of the Greens as the Crunchy Granola Party. I may have to reconsider that label in the wake of Green Party Leader Jill Stein’s devious Bernie gambit:

But in a potentially destabilising move for the Democratic party, and an exciting one for Sanders’ supporters, the Green party candidate said she was willing to stand aside for Sanders.

Stein said she had made her offer directly to Sanders in an email at the end of the primary season, although she had not received a response. Her surprise intervention comes amid speculation that Sanders will finally draw a line under a bruising Democratic contest by endorsing Clinton’s presidential bid next week.

“If he continues to declare his full faith in the Democratic party, it will leave many of his supporters very disappointed,” she said. “That political movement is going to go on – it isn’t going to bury itself in the graveyard alongside Hillary Clinton.”

Stein said the Democratic establishment had conducted “psychological warfare” against Sanders and “sabotaged” his attempts to gain the party’s presidential nomination. Many of his young, progressive supporters are now moving over to the Green party rather than fall in behind Clinton, Stein added.

This is a non-starter, but it’s a brilliantly cynical ploy aimed at hardcore Dudebro Nation dead-enders. Most of the  reactions to Stein’s gambit have been of two varieties. First, excitement on the part of dimmer, factually-challenged Sanders supporters that such a thing could be possible. Second,  others have called the idea stupid since Sanders has long said he’d support the Democratic nominee and is finally doing so tomorrow.

Stein’s move is neither: it’s a way to divide the Berners by making him look like a sell-out for doing what he always said he planned to do.  It’s the ultimate empty gesture as she’s making an offer that can and will be refused because the smart play is for the Berners to *try* to take over the Democratic Party ala the Corbynistas and Labour. Of course, some Sanders supporters are too naive to understand that’s the path they should stay on, and that means supporting HRC. In short, Stein looks magnanimous and self-sacrificing without giving up a damn thing. Brilliant and devious.

The reaction to the Stein gambit has amused me. The punditocracy has completely missed the boat on this one. It’s a calculated appeal to Dudebro dead-enders; some of whom will vote for the Greens simply because that’s the pure thing to do. Much of the reaction shows what I recently called a fatal lack of cunning and guile; qualities that Dr. Stein appears to have in abundance. That’s why I dubbed her a Crunchy Granola Machiavelli. Coming from me that’s a compliment.

I’ll give Kermit the Frog and Ray Charles the last word:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Winding Stream

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The Hailstorm by Thomas Hart Benton, 1940.

It’s been a scorching hot and depressing week in New Orleans. The Alton Sterling case is too close to home for comfort. The reaction from some white Gret Steters has been dispiriting while not altogether surprising. Apparently, it’s okay for a white dude to pack heat but not a black dude. The distinction eludes me. Additionally, the events in St. Paul and Dallas have cast a bloody pall over the week. I don’t usually let the news affect my mood but these events have. If you missed it, please read Doc’s post No Lives Matter. It sums my mood up quite well.

The good news is that I wrote most of this post before the appalling police shootings in Dallas. The combination of that city’s name and the word sniper has some bad juju for many of us. The post was already rather somber, so let’s get back to what passes for normality at First Draft.

The heat has been oppressive even by NOLA standards. When you step outside, it hits you in the face like a damp washcloth. It’s August level heat and humidity, and my body hasn’t even adjusted to the high 80’s let alone the mid-to-upper 90’s. There’s a huge difference between the two. When it’s 95 here the “feels like temperature” goes as high as 105-110, which is like Phoenix, AZ only wet, wet, wet. Dare I make a Wet Willie joke? Nah, I’ll skip it since it could get obscene and I’m not in the mood.

We spent some time outside last Saturday at a one-year-old’s birthday party. I found a shady, comparatively breezy spot, and in the feline manner staked it out as my own. My friends pointed out that cats seek out sunbeams but I hissed and declined to move.  The birthday girl is named Luna and one of the Spanksters made a piñata that looked like the image from Georges Melies’ landmark 1902 flick A Trip To The Moon:

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Piñata by Lara Desmond.

It was decided that it was too beautiful to be smashed to smithereens, so it’s now hanging on a wall at Luna’s folks crib. As Mad Men’s Weird Glenn would put it, Nice digs. Have I mentioned lately how much I miss Mad Men?

This week’s theme song is something of a bucolic antidote to my urban angst. It was written by AP Carter and has been recorded by oodles of artists. It’s also the title of a recent documentary about the Carter Family but more about that anon. The first version is by the original Carter Family: AP, Sara, and Maybelle. The second version features Carlene Carter, June Carter Cash, and a grand total of four generations of Carters:

Old-time Country music can be so comforting, in between tales of drunken depravity; of course, the Carters weren’t in to that sort of thing. They were traditionalists in the best sense of the word. On that note, it’s traditional for us to go to the break at this point.

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Sunday Morning Video: The Outsider

This Vice documentary about Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn didn’t spark the challenge against him but it added several logs to the fire:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Better Things

Japser Johns flag

Flag by Jasper Johns.

It’s been a steamy and sweaty week in New Orleans. It’s what we expect in late June; expect but dislike. Yuck. I’ve been consumed with British politics all week and have tried my damnedest *not* to write about it too much at First Draft; to paraphrase an old song, we’re an American Blog. The intrigue and backstabbing is irresistible to a political junkie like me. The whole Boris Johnson-Michael Gove story is like something out of the original, and superior, British version of House of Cards. I wonder if the knife is still in BoJo’s back as a reminder not to trust your “wingman” but I guess that’s a Goven now. I’ll give the Guardian’s Marina Hyde the last word on Gove who turns out to be a Tyrion fanboy:

“In the notorious words of Michael Gove, “people in this country have had enough of experts” But have they had enough of expert shits?”

The column title is just as scathing: In the Tory laundry basket, Michael Gove is the dirtiest item. Marina should really stop mincing words.

The Labour leadership struggle has gotten rather Pythonesque. If they don’t work things out, Labour risks being branded as the neo-Silly Party. The Corbynites are as mathematically challenged as their American brethren and even more vitriolic. They’re adamant that 250k leadership votes for their Jeremy trumps the 9.3 million votes Labour received at the last general election. Holy Fuzzy Maths, Batman.

I hate to quote the lame duck Prime Minister as he limps out the door but he summed Corbyn up quite well at the last Prime Minister’s Questions:

“We all have to reflect on our role in the referendum campaign. I know the honourable gentleman says he put his back into it. All I’d say, I’d hate to see him when he’s not trying.”

<snip>

“It might be in my party’s interest for him to sit there. It’s not in the national interest. I would say – for heaven’s sake, man, go.”

Snap. Even a posh pigfucker is right some of the time. I guess that makes him sooey generis. I suspect that y’all only laughed at that one if you’re in a generis mood…

Enough talk of what the French used to call Perfidious Albion. Let’s move onto this week’s theme song, Better Things. It’s the closing track on the Kinks brilliant 1981 LP Give The People What They Want. The album starts off on a dark note, and gets progressively bleaker until the opening chords of Better Things signal that it’s safe to come out of hiding. It’s a signal we could all use in the wake of the Istanbul attack and the rest of this week’s news in bleak.

We begin our betterment with the original recording. It’s followed by a version Ray cut with Bruce Springsteen in 2012. Last and probably least is a rendition by Fountains Of Wayne. Actually, it’s a cracking version but I was possessed by the spirit of snark.

How Dar I forget this lovely 1997 cover by Ms. Williams:

Now that I’ve given the people what they want, it’s time for the break. See you on the other side.

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A Fatal Lack Of Cunning & Guile

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Cunning and guile are essential components of political leadership. The two Presidents that top my list FDR and Lincoln had both attributes in spades. My number three, George Washington, has been painted by history as a stuffed shirt, but he allowed Alexander Hamilton to do the heavy lifting and take all the heat. GW denounced political factionalism while being an arch-Federalist. It *is* true that it’s possible to have an overabundance of cunning: Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, and Tony Blair come to mind. Most of their problems were down to slyness turning into slipperiness. Overall, cunning is a good quality in a leader: if only second-term Woodrow Wilson had shown the cunning of first-term Wilson the post-Great War scene might have been less of a shit show.

As Tricky would say: let me make one thing perfectly clear. I am not opposed to principled stands in the face of majority opinion. I just believe one should first try to finagle one’s way around them in order to get something accomplished. As always, I am a member of the center-left wing of the Get Shit Done Party.

One of my main concerns about Barack Obama in 2008 was that he lacked cunning and guile. I was wrong about that. It took some time but few Presidents have been as politically adept and cunning in dealing with both friends and adversaries. The ability to project idealism while backing it up with cunning is a gift given only to the greatest leaders such as FDR and Lincoln.

The reason my mind turned to cunning and its use in politics is because of two politicians who lack it: Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders. Both men are true believers who make fine speeches but seem to lack the ability to convince other politicians to follow them. One cannot be a leader without followers. A talent possessed by both FDR and Lincoln was an uncanny ability to convert adversaries into supporters. The best example of all was Lincoln’s relationship with his 1860 nomination opponent and Secretary of State William Henry Seward. Seward famously tried to get the President to sign a document that would have made Seward de facto Prime Minister. Lincoln stopped the effort and commenced wooing Seward. It worked. The two men became close colleagues and even closer friends. It takes a subtle and flexible nature to do this; a more recent example involves Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

There’s an outstanding piece today by Slate’s Jamelle Bouie  about how Senator Sanders squandered his influence with a combination of recalcitrance and excessive purism:

Sanders wasn’t going to be the Democratic nominee, but he still held a good amount of leverage in the form of his voters. After a tough primary, they were hesitant to back Clinton, a fact apparent in the polls. Clinton stood ahead of Donald Trump, but not by much: Her lead was weakened by the party’s unbridged divisions. By holding off on a concession and an endorsement, the Vermont senator was keeping this leverage in reserve ahead of the Democratic National Convention. It made sense.

Still, it was a risky move. Whatever influence or leverage Sanders had was tied to his voters. As long as they stuck with him—and didn’t move to Clinton—he could make demands and win concessions on items like the Democratic Party’s platform, a key object of his rhetoric over the past month. But if his voters moved without his endorsement, either pushed by fear of Trump or support from other Democrats, then the value of his support would fall accordingly.

Which is what happened. In his nonconcession speech, Sanders told supporters their “major political task” was to “make certain that Donald Trump is defeated and defeated badly.” It turns out that was the message that landed.

Another example of Sanders’ tone-deafness involved the Democrats recent anti-gun efforts in the Senate and House. Sanders did not attend the Senate filibuster and showed up for a few minutes during the House sit-in with camera crews in tow. His apologists have yammered on about his need to placate rural gum owners in Vermont, but if he were the uber-principled pol they paint him as, he would have done more. He was undermined by his lack of cunning and guile. Symbols matter and he could afford to lose some votes in Vermont in exchange for supporting his colleagues. It’s one reason that only Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley supported him during the primary season. Merkley is now supporting the presumptive nominee.

Jeremy Corbyn is afflicted with a similar lack of cunning and guile. He’s had a year to woo his parliamentary colleagues to his side but was too busy making speeches to the converted. When his lacklustre performance in the EU Referendum campaign was called out, he fell back on rhetoric and ideological platitudes. He lost a vote of no-confidence yesterday 172-40, which means he either needs to resign as leader or face another leadership contest. Btw, despite claims by British and American dudebros alike this isn’t a Blairite plot but a genuine revolt of members who do not want to face the electorate with Corbyn as their leader.  A bit of cunning and guile applied in the last year might have prevented it. Once again: you cannot be a leader without followers.

It continually amazes me that people don’t understand that everyday people skills are applicable to politics. Earnest speeches aren’t enough, personal relationships matter. If you’re clueless or abrupt with your colleagues they’re unlikely to want to help you. We all compromise every day of our lives but some are gobsmacked when politicians do the same thing. Politics is about helping people and the only way to help people is to win elections. You cannot extend Social Security benefits from the sidelines. You need to be in the game.

Principles and ideals are important, but without cunning and guile one cannot put those ideals to work. A refusal to compromise is every bit as bad as over-compromising or caving. Leaders without cunning and guile are mere disaster purists who won’t accomplish anything and will find themselves without followers soon enough.

Malaka Of The Week: Nigel Farage

There are three things I think everyone should do if they want to become a well-rounded adult: work retail, wait tables, and play team sports. One reason for the latter is that I hate poor sports be they winners or losers. The only thing worse than a sore loser is a sore winner and that is why Nigel Farage is malaka of the week.

Nigel Farage has been the leader of the UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party) off and on for the last decade. UKIP is a right-wing anti-EU anti-immigrant party, which has been making gains in recent years. Farage is one of the reasons. He has cultivated a jovial “cheeky chappy that you’d love to have a pint with” persona. He’s another in a long line of fake men of the people having made his fortune as a commodity broker. Oddly enough for a Europhobe, Farage has been a MEP (member of European Parliament) since 1999.

Farage has let his cheeky chappy mask slip since the Brexit vote. Yesterday at the European Parliament he ripped it off and went full metal malaka. I’ll leave it to the Guardian’s Marina Hyde to describe his triumphalist dick waving:

Farage has been building up to this moment his entire political life, as he tells everyone at every single opportunity. In which case, how is it humanly possible that his speech to the European parliament today could be so artless, so crass, a scarcely refined version of some England fans’ infamous recent chant: “Fuck off Europe, we voted out”? To couch it in the sort of imbecilic historical inaccuracy which is the only language Farage understands: this speech was so bad that they’re now quits with us for saving them in the second world war.

You may disagree with this reading of the war; Nigel would regard it as hugely overcomplicated. This, he repeated once more, was a victory against “big politics”. “Virtually none of you”, he bellowed at the MEPs, “have ever done a job in your lives.”

Watching him was like watching the live abortion of Churchill’s oratorial legacy. As the latter’s grandson Nicholas Soames observed: “Appalling ghastly performance by that dreadful cad Farage in the European parliament. #hownottoinfluence.” Agreed. There is soft power, and then there is politics as erectile dysfunction.

Indeed, it is becoming increasingly difficult not to speculate as to the psychological underpinnings of the Farage condition. “When I came here 17 years ago,” he shouted, failing to hide his nervous elation, “you all laughed at me. Well I have to say: you’re not laughing now, are you?” He made it, you losers! He got out. He’s in the big leagues now. He’s the guy who just turned up to his school reunion in a white limo with two dead-eyed escorts on his arm.

Above all, the performance offered a reminder that Farage makes everything in which he is involved a race to the bottom. The opposite of a Midas, he may as well be nicknamed Brownfinger. His excruciatingly aggressive display eventually drew boos from the chamber. “Ladies and gentlemen, I understand you’re emotional,” urged the assembly president. “But you’re acting like Ukip.”

Small, petty, bitter, and vindictive are among the words that come to mind. The man has realized his “dream” and still feels the need to bully, browbeat, and insult those who dare disagree with him. Farage not only spiked the ball, he stuck it up his opponent’s collective asses. Nigel Farage is the ultimate sore winner and that’s why he’s malaka of the week.

Did You Eat A Bowl Of Stupid For Brexit?

I’m sure you’ve all seen this venerable meme:

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It occurred to me that the whole UK EU Referendum mishigas gave me a pretext to make a  brexit/breakfast pun and you know me, I cannot resist a good pun. Or a bad one for that matter. I need to meme two of the four horsemen of the British political apocalypse before moving on. I decided to be kind to Cameron and Corbyn but they deserve it too:

Farage-Bozza meme

Now that I’ve loaded up the Eurosceptic clown car with two bozos named Nigel and Boris (the Bozo-like Bozza is Johnson’s nickname) it’s time for some substance. I’m going to use sub-headers Odds & Sods style.

Calling America: American pundits have been exposing their utter lack of knowledge on the subject of British history and politics ever since the vote took place. One usually sagacious broadcaster actually led a Brexit segment with this: Will Nigel Farage or Boris Johnson be the next Prime Minister? It literally cannot be UKIP leader Nigel Farage. He’s not an MP and UKIP’s lone seat in the Commons is held by a right-wing Tory defector. Repeat after me: One must be a member of Parliament to be Prime Minister. Period. Case closed. It’s even been over 50 years since a member of the House of Lords was PM. Farage is out but as a Tory MP Boris is the frontrunner to succeed the hapless gambler, David Cameron. Home Secretary Theresa May seems poised to run as a stop-Bozza candidate but Johnson is the favorite.

Back to us Yanks. This is about the UK, not about the US. Any analogies between the two political systems are strained to say the least. Yes. Donald Trump is a loudmouth xenophobic bigot BUT our electorate is only 63% white whereas the British electorate is 87% pale and pasty. The numbers don’t add up, so people should knock it off. Besides, Bill Kristol thinks it’s applicable, which means it’s not.

The only direct effect on the US is economically. The uncertainty caused by Brexit could trigger a global recession. That’s why the Insult Comedian’s support for Brexit shows that he’s an economic imbecile. Despite what Trump thinks, the Scots voted 62% to remain in the EU. Now they’re more likely than not to be an independent country within a decade.

Repeat after me: not everything that happens in the world is about us.

It’s time for a musical interlude. I guess it qualifies as the segment theme song:

The Fog Of EU History: It’s a pity that one of the original reasons for the EU has been forgotten in the Brexit debate. At the end of World War II, Winston Churchill supported some sort of European entity as a means of keeping the peace between the major powers. The EU is a great success in that regard. There’s been no Europe-wide conflict since 1945 and Germany has become fully integrated, not a pariah state like the Weimar Republic.

The British applied to join the European Common Market in 1958 but French General/President DeGaulle wasn’t having it. Originally, the Conservatives were the pro-European “big party” and Labour were predominantly Eurosceptic. After DeGaulle kicked the bucket, Tory PM Ted Heath led the UK into what was then called the EEC. After Labour’s return to power, PM Harold Wilson held a referendum on Europe to shut up his hard left-wing and won with 67% of the vote.

The Tories did not become the party of Euroscepticism until Mrs. Thatcher pushed them in that direction. She was the first of three Conservative Prime Ministers to be ousted because of EU-related issues. In her case it was by pro-European colleagues. John Major and David Cameron spent much of their governments fending off the Eurosceptic Right and were both eventually undone by the issue that *seems* to have been decided by the electorate last Thursday. I say seems because the devil is always in the details and the leave side is noticeably short on them.

Time for a foggy, Gershwiny musical interlude:

The Biggest Losers: There are almost too many to name but both the Prime Minister and leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, are at the head (or is that back?) of the line when it comes to losers. I changed my mind about being kind to the Posh Boy and Jez:

Jez-Posh Boy meme

The whole mess is primarily David Cameron’s own damn fault. He has spent 6 years as Prime Minister treating Europe as a party management issue. He kept kicking the can down the road. When in coalition with the pro-EU Liberal Democrats, he could blame everything on their leader, Nick Clegg. Cameron’s greatest triumph as Tory leader-the surprise winning of a majority in 2015-ultimately led to his undoing. He promised to hold an EU referendum after the election to keep his party united. Unfortunately, it was a promise kept; one that swept him out of power.

Like many Britons, Cameron *assumed* the remain side would win. Surely people wouldn’t be so reckless as to throw the European baby out with the bathwater? He was wrong. It was part down to what the Guardian’s Martin Kettle has described as the PM’s own “soft-Euroscepticism,” which is something he shares with his counterpart, the comically inept Leader of the Labour Party.

Jeremy Corbyn could be dubbed His Accidency, and nobody wants to be compared to John Tyler. Like Bernie Sanders, his support comes from old lefties and independents, not his parliamentary caucus. Like David Cameron, Corbyn is a soft-Eurosceptic. He only supported the remain side because of a threatened rebellion by Labour MPs. Note the similarity: it was a party management issue for Corbyn as well as the Prime Minister. Corbyn’s campaigning left something to be desired. I’ll let the Guardian’s Polly Toynbee handle it in a column entitled, Dismal, lifeless, spineless-Jeremy Corbyn let us down again:

Blame is everywhere in the air, as we thrash about in the agony of this moment. Jeremy Corbyn faces an immediate leadership challenge after a performance that was dismally inadequate, lifeless and spineless, displaying an inability to lead anyone anywhere. What absence of mind to emphasise support for free migration on the eve of a poll where Labour was haemorrhaging support for precisely those metropolitan views. Here was Labour’s golden chance to make this referendum campaign its own. Voters who blocked their ears to Labour on the doorstep this time may head for Ukip, never to return.

Labour has thrown away a golden opportunity to capitalize on Tory disarray because it has a dense pillock as its leader. This has nothing to do with ideology: Corbyn is simply too passive and clueless to pounce on this situation. Unfortunately, Labour’s huge losses in Scotland at the last election means that even a better party leader may be unable to win a snap general election. The good news is that Labour MPs are rebelling at the prospect of Corbyn leading them into *any* election. Speaking of future elections, Scotland is likely to hold another independence referendum and this time the YES side will surely win. 2014’s No-Slide was for naught. Repeat after me: Scots voted 62% to remain in the EU. All of the SNP’s post-Brexit maneuvering is about an independence vote. Nicola Sturgeon is a wily lass.

By my lights, David Cameron has been a terrible Prime Minister from day-one. His government’s austerity policies have screwed poor and working class Brits to the wall. He’s now made his defining mistake in holding and losing the EU referendum. He’ll also, more likely than not, be remembered as the Prime Minister who destroyed a 309 year-old union. Wales and Northern Ireland may well decide to leave the UK, which could result in a return to violence in Ulster. Cameron’s referendum mistake could prove to be even costlier than Tony Blair taking a reluctant nation and party to war in Iraq. One should really dub it Camoron’s referendumb.

I think the “winners” of the referendumb are losers as well. Euroscepticism has defined the British Right since 1988. What have they got left to bang on about? That’s why Boris Johnson laid low until yesterday. The mess that he helped to make may well be on his plate come October. It would be a fitting punishment for his egregious malakatude. Let me make one thing perfectly clear: the only thing Boris has in common with the Insult Comedian is bad hair. On paper, Johnson is qualified to be Prime Minister but who knows if he or anyone else will be able to clean up this mess.

British Stupidity, American Lessons: I know I said this isn’t about us BUT there are a few things we can learn from this looming disaster. First, party politics should never be placed above the national interest. That’s why the UK is facing this disaster. Second, vote in every election and do not cast protest votes that you’ll regret. There are millions of Brits whose vote amounted to a cosmic FUCK YOU to the so-called elites of the establishment who are now sorry they voted that way. Here’s how a certain internet smart ass put it on the Tweeter Tube:

I hope the Dudebros of the American Left are listening but I suspect they’re busy whinging because the so-called Bernie of Britain is in trouble. I have a new term for this: disaster purism.

Like all human institutions, the EU is flawed. Much of the discussion has been about economics and abstract notions of sovereignty, but the EU’s human rights and labor charters are documents that protect citizens and workers from the excesses of both government and the private sector. The EU is not perfect but it’s kept the peace; something Europe was desperately in need of after two World Wars in 30 years. Repeat after me: Never let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

I’ll let a British cultural icon have the last word:

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Day I Get Home

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Economy of Grace by Kehinde Wiley.

It was a long ass road trip, y’all. Our first destination was Richmond, VA to attend our nephew Zachary’s high school graduation. He goes to a small public school for super smart-n-independent kids. There were 42 graduates, which meant that each of them got to say something. They even introduced the entire staff including the custodian. It’s a racially mixed class so, naturally, the black parents were loud and raucous whereas most of the white folks were polite and quiet. Boring. I tried to make up for that by whooping it up but I could not come close to the African-American mother who shouted out “Don’t you cry, baby girl” when her daughter approached the podium. It did not work. Profuse tears were shed.

Another highlight of the trip was seeing the Kehinde Wiley exhibit at the Virginia Museum of the Fine Arts. It’s entitled A New Republic and offers a fresh take on the masters by a talented black artist. If it comes to or near your town, check it out. Don’t tell them I sent you, they won’t give a shit.

We attended the Wiley exhibit the day after a horrible storm front blew through Richmond causing 150K power outages and general havoc. I’m not sure if General Havoc sided with the Union or the Confederacy. We had to drive through it but, much like the Rain Man, Dr. A is an excellent driver. Things were so hinky in Richmond that the museum alarm went off as I was looking at the VMFA’s fine collection of George Bellows’ work. It started bellowing so we exited, it had nothing to do with brexit. I’ll probably write something about that for Monday. I’m too pooped to mock Cameron, Corbyn, Farage, and Bozza right now. Note: the Johnson blond straw ‘do is real as you can see from this picture with his father:

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Photo via the Guardian.

Let’s move on to this week’s theme song. Thursday was actually the day I got home but what’s a bit of artistic license among friends? Artistic licentiousness is an altogether different matter. A musical highlight of the road trip was blasting a bootleg of a 1993 Squeeze show as we barreled through Birmingham, which according to Randy Newman is the greatest city in Alabam. Me, I prefer Mobile or the town in Alabama where the tusks are looser. The rim shot belong to Groucho Marx, not me, y’all.

Where the hell was I? Oh yeah, this week’s theme song. It’s The Day I Get Home by Difford and Tilbrook from the Play album. We have two versions for your listening pleasure; including one from the phenomenal 1993 Some Fantastic Place tour with Pete Thomas on drums and Paul Carrack on keys and vox:

After the break, I’ll post a few more trip tales as well as another homey/homely tune. Gotta stretch my legs, it was a long road trip.

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