Category Archives: British Politics

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

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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

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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:

did-you-eat-a-bowl-of-stupid-for-breakfast-funny-poster

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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Tory Khan Job Fails

I haven’t written about one of my quirkier hobbies-British politics-for quite some time. But history was made in last week’s local election when Labour MP Sadiq Khan, a Muslim of Pakistani heritage, was elected Mayor of London. The world media haven’t quite known what to do with Khan’s triumph but it *is* genuinely significant both because of who he is and the election’s impact on the future of the Labour Party.

Mayor Khan survived a loathsome racist and Islamophobic campaign to crush Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith who was trying to replace Upper Class Tory Twit Boris Johnson in the job. Here’s how Homa Khaleeli described Goldsmith’s campaign in the Guardian:

First came the dog whistle, with leaflets describing Sadiq Khan as a “radical”; easily read as a coded slur on Khan’s Muslim faith. Then came the guilt by association – with newspaper headlines that an ex-brother-in-law of Khan’s had attended extremist rallies; that Khan shared platforms with extremists; that the imam of a mosque in Tooting, Khan’s constituency, supported Islamic State. Even Khan’s career as a human rights lawyer was twisted into service, with the accusation that he had defended terrorists – as though ensuring the right to a fair trial was itself suspicious.

Did it matter that equally ludicrous claims could be made of Goldsmith? His own ex-brother-in-law, now a Pakistani politician, has been dubbed “Taliban Khan”, while the imam David Cameron accused of supporting Isis – and whom he linked to Sadiq Khan – was actually a Conservative voter, who had been pictured with Goldsmith, and asked to help recruit Muslims by Conservative politicians. But Goldsmith’s team calculated that such smears stick much more easily to brown skin.

They were wrong. Khan’s triumph makes him one of the most influential members of the Labour Party. Labour had a tough day: holding their own in England, but losing ground in Wales, and most importantly, Scotland. The Tories pushed Labour into third place in Scotland. An ominous sign since the Tories had been on life support there since the 1997 General Election.

Khan won by keeping his distance from rumpled crunchy granola Lefty Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who tried taking credit for Khan’s win anyway. Corbyn is like a more genial Bernie Sanders in personal style, but is just as intent on ideological purity. It looks as if Khan and Corbyn will eventually collide on *how* Labour should try to bounce back from two straight general election defeats:

Sadiq Khan, the new Labour mayor of London, has refused to endorse the party’s local election posters, signed off by Jeremy Corbyn, that urged voters to “take sides”.

In a clear signal that he will use his position to set out an alternative direction for Labour, Britain’s most powerful directly elected politician said the party could only win elections by uniting people from all backgrounds – including former Conservative voters – rather than aiming to win over “just enough of the population … to get over the line”.

In an article for the Observer, Khan had appeared to directly contradict Corbyn’s electoral strategy, writing: “It should never be about ‘picking sides’, [or] a ‘them-or-us’ attitude,” Khan wrote. “Our aim should be to unite people from all backgrounds as a broad and welcoming tent – not to divide and rule.”

I’ve always been a big-tenter myself. You cannot change anything if you don’t win elections. I wish Mayor Khan the best in his new job and hope he can influence his party to be less exclusionary. Whatever happens, it will be interesting to watch.

In the end, I am delighted that the voters of one of my favorite cities in the world did not fall for the Tories blatantly bigotry. I hope it sets a precedent but, even if doesn’t, I’m glad that the Tory Khan job failed.

Rawnsley’s New Rule Of Politics

The first thing I read online every Sunday is Andrew Rawnsley’s column for the Observer, which is the Guardian’s Sunday paper. Rawnsley is one of the most insightful political pundits in the English-speaking world and his prose style is clear and elegant; a rare combination. As y’all know, British politics is one of my odder hobbies and Rawnsley is DA MAN. He wrote the definitive accounts of the last Labour government and coined the phrase the TBGBs to describe the agita between the ultimate frenemies, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Holy heebie jeebies, Batman.

This post, however, is not about my hobby. It’s about a new rule of politics propounded by Rawnsley in a column about the UK’s EU referendum:

So I propose a new rule for assessing which side is struggling in a political contest. If you’re whingeing, you’re losing. Let’s apply the rule to the early engagements of the referendum campaign. Who is on the front foot? Who is in a defensive crouch? Which team sounds confident about its case? Which gang is expending most of its breath whining about how the other side is campaigning? On this test, the first fortnight has belonged to the In team. They have laid out their large themes about the risks that Brexit would pose to jobs, trade, investment, influence and security. This is exactly what you would expect them to do for both sides know that these are the arguments most likely to shift the uncertain voter towards the In column. How has the Out campaign responded? With some big themes of its own? No, the frontmen of the Out team have devoted most of their time to whimpering about the other’s side campaign.

Whingeing is, of course, a Britism for whining, and I know some folks who are whingeing about the end of Downton Abbey but that’s neither here nor there.  I personally prefer the word whinge to whine but if y’all want to Americanize it, that’s fine with me.

Rawnsley’s rule is just as applicable to American politics, and rumor has it there’s a Presidential election going on. So, the next time someone complains about “the establishment,” whatever the hell that means in either party, just remember this: If you’re whingeing, you’re losing.

Posh Boy Squeezed

Posh Boy Squeezed

When I used Squeeze’s From The Cradle To The Grave as the theme song for a Squeeze-centric Saturday Odds & Sods, I had no idea that they’d hit the headlines the very next day:

The band Squeeze have staged a protest against David Cameron live on BBC television by changing the lyrics of their new song to rail against the destruction of the welfare state.

Glenn Tilbrook, one of the founding members of the band that once featured Jools Holland, sang a different version of the final verse in the presence of the prime minister to criticise those “hellbent” on destroying the UK’s social safety net.

Squeeze were invited to appear on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, which featured the traditional new year interview with the prime minister; they played out the programme with a live version of a song from their new album, From the Cradle to the Grave.

As the prime minister sat on the sofa watching the band, who were at the height of their fame in the early 1980s, when Cameron was a teenager, Tilbrook amended the last verse to sing:

I grew up in council housing,
Part of what made Britain great,
There are some here who are hellbent,
On the destruction of the welfare state.

In the original version Tilbrook sings:

They say time will wait for no man,
They say time is on my side,
I could never make my mind up,
As it all goes whizzing by.

At the end of the song the prime minister applauded the band, whose other founding member, Chris Difford, also appeared on the show. A BBC source said: “We were unaware that they were planning to change the lyrics.”

Before continuing with the commentary, here’s the clip:

I had no idea that they ever had musical guests on the Andrew Marr Show since it’s the Beeb’s equivalent of Meet The Press or Face The Nation. I am, however, pleased that Glenn seized on the opportunity to denounce the Tory government, which is doing things in the areas of health care and education that not even Mrs. Thatcher dared to do. It helps when you have a smiling , ostensibly moderate front man like Cameron.

Glenn wrote a piece for the Guardian explaining why he changed the lyrics:

Cameron was talking about knocking down sink estates and rebuilding “affordable housing”. I have four children, and I despair at what has happened to the economy and to UK house prices. It has got to the point where people are no longer able to live in the areas where they grew up unless they have some sort of financial help. I think that’s a result of a system of values that have been encouraged by this government, which is completely wrong – and it wasn’t helped by the previous government either.

The community that I grew up in felt strong; we lived in good council flats where people had security of tenancy. My mum lived in the same flat from 1954 until the day she died in 1997. The people who make the decisions now don’t see the need for that sort of housing, and the need for it is not being catered for by the private sector either. I don’t see the same sort of ambition that there once was in the housing programme – the private sector will not stump up for that sort of housing, and the government must know it. They need to be strong and insist that this sort of lasting, reliable council housing is built. But I don’t see them doing that. Knocking down the so-called sink estates is basically just a land grab.

Good on ya, Glenn. I’m proud to be a Squeeze fan. I’ll give them the last word with a song that applies to the Posh Boy. The truth is decidedly not his middle name:

War Criminals For The Donald & Other Trumpian Tales

This may be my favorite political story of the week so far:

Serbian nationalist leader Vojislav Seselj, who is wanted for war crimes by an international tribunal in the Hague, called on Serbs in the U.S. to support business magnate Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

 Seselj, once an ally of the late Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic during the wars that split apart the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, was temporarily released from detention in the Netherlands in 2014 after an inconclusive 11-year trial. He has ignored an order by the tribunal in March for him to return to custody. He appealed to the hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens who claim Serb ethnicity via Twitter to support the Republican frontrunner.

“I invite brothers who live in the U.S. to strongly support Republican candidate Donald Trump in forthcoming presidential election,” Seselj said in a Jan. 3 tweet. He didn’t elaborate.

Holy ethnic cleansing, Batman.

In other Insult Comedian news, 560,000 people have signed a petition urging parliament to bar Trump from bloviating in Britain:

MPs are to debate calls for the US presidential candidate Donald Trump to be banned from the UK following his controversial comments about Muslims, after more than half a million people signed a petition.

The government signalled last month that it would not refuse Trump entry after he was widely criticised for saying that Muslims should be banned from entering the US.

However, the call for the sanction to be imposed on the businessman will now at least have a hearing in parliament after the House of Commons petitions committee announced on Tuesday that it was scheduling a session in Westminster Hall on 18 January.

In the manner of all thwarted bullies and spoiled brats, the Donald is threatening to:

…withdraw investment worth more than £200m in a South Ayrshire resort and £500m in his golf course in Aberdeen after it emerged that MPs will debate banning him from entering the UK over his pledge to ban Muslims from entering the US.

Suzanne Evans, whose online petition triggered the Commons debate on 18 January, dismissed Trump’s move as “sheer hypocrisy”. She said: “Here in Aberdeen, we have seen these wildly inflated figures bandied about for years, and he never invests as much as he claims.

That’s the Insult Comedian in a nutshell. He’s the exact opposite of his fellow New York rich kid Teddy Roosevelt: he speaks loudly and carries an eenie weenie stick.

Finally, the National Memo’s Joe Conason describes Trump’s crawfishing away from the Clintons after decades of sucking up:

Like so much of Trump’s loud talk, his disparaging remarks about Bill and Hillary Clinton have scant credibility, at least to anyone who knows anything about him. Whatever he claims to think of them now, he has spent years sucking up to the Clintons in the most abject way. His one-sided courtship of the former First Family goes well beyond Trump’s ridiculous insistence that they attend his wedding to his third wife in Florida.

Although he now claims to deplore Bill Clinton’s misbehavior, Trump awarded the former president a free membership at his Trump National Golf Club, just a few miles from the Clinton home in Westchester County. Still a member to this day, Clinton has long enjoyed all kinds of special privileges at the club, where he maintains a locker in a special VIP section near those of former Yankees manager Joe Torre and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani.

That’s right, ladies and germs, your favorite populist rabble-rouser is just another starfucker. Anyone who has ever watched the dread Celebrity Apprentice knows that. Do we really want to elect a President who sucked up to the likes of Gary Busey and Meatloaf?

I haven’t suggested a theme song for the Trump campaign yet. I think Starfucker would be a good one for a misogynistic Insult Comedian. Plus, Mick Jagger had a thing for Mrs. Thatcher so he might not veto it:

Louisiana Politics: Gret Stet Goober Race Gobsmackery

Vitter and Jindal in 2010

Bitter Vitter and PBJ in 2010. Photograph via Getty Images.

I didn’t plan to write so extensively about the 2015 Gret Stet Goober race. I didn’t expect it to be so bloody interesting. Louisiana became more like other Southern states in the post-K/PBJ era, which was a pity for me as both a Democrat and a pundit. This year’s Goober race has changed that: the weirdo factor is back. Big time. If gobsmackery isn’t a word, it oughta be. It certainly fits the mood here with 3 more shopping days until our political Christmas. I’m hoping it won’t morph into Thanksgiving and produce a turkey: a narrow win by Diaper Dave.

I’m going to break this down Saturday Odds & Sods style. It may reflect some wishful thinking, I wish the election were today:

The PBJ Factor: Let’s begin with the seemingly unrelated story of Bobby Jindal’s exit stage far right from the GOP nomination scrum. I was a bit surprised; not because I thought he had a chance but because I assumed Team Jindal was as delusional as always. I expected PBJ to stay in the race until after the Iowa caucus and bible camp. There were times where he appeared to be gaining some traction among the crazed biblethumpers who do the wintery caucus thing in the Corncob state. In the end, the lane he hoped to occupy among homophobes and 1950’s nostalgists was occupied by Dr. Sleepy and Tailgunner Ted. PBJ tried staying alive by saying outrageous shit but nobody does that better than the Insult Comedian. Buh bye, Bobby.

PBJ’s exit is less interesting than its timing. It came 4 days before the Goober runoff and became the top Gret Stet political story thereby overshadowing Bitter Vitter’s attempt to save his ass by running against Syrian refugees.

Here’s the back story: PBJ and Diaper Dave loathe one another. Vitter held his infamous serious sin/hooker press conference on the same day in 2007 that PBJ announced his second, and ultimately successful, Goober campaign. Guess which story got all the headlines? Jindal then declined to support Vitter’s successful attempt to hold on to his Senate seat or his re-election bid in 2010. Now that’s bad blood.

I’m not the only one who thinks that PBJ’s suspension (I’d give him permanent detention instead) was timed to fuck with Vitter’s Goober campaign. The Louisiana Lizard King aka James Carville thinks so too:

“It smothers the news cycle,” said Carville, who has hosted two fundraisers for Edwards. The timing “will help John Bel. When you’re behind, you need to win the news cycle. If you’re Vitter, the last thing you want is to see Bobby Jindal in the news.”

<snip>

“I wonder if he didn’t do it now to mess with Vitter,” Carville said.

Even if that wasn’t PBJ’s intention, it has the effect of freezing the news cycle and reminding everyone that the widely despised PBJ is still Governor. It hasn’t been easy to tell since he’s been the Dauphin of Iowa for the last 6 months.

I think it’s payback pure and simple. It fits the hoary Sicilian aphorism: “Revenge is a dish best served cold.”

Vitter’s Refugee Hypocrisy: Vitter has spent most of the campaign running against President Obama. That hasn’t stopped. He’s now attempting to use ISIL and Syrian refugees as wedge issues. I realize it makes no sense to run against both ISIL and the refugees, but logic has nothing to do with it. It’s a raw appeal to emotion, hatred, and xenophobia. It’s what Diaper Dave does.

I’ve been on pins and needles that it might work, which is one reason I’m giving John Bel Edwards a mulligan on his support for Jindal’s “ban” on Syrian refugees. I put air quotes around the word ban because the Governor has no authority whatsoever to bar immigrants from entering the state. It’s a purely symbolic issue and I don’t want Edwards to die defending that hill in the last week of the campaign. I hope he’ll reconsider when the dust settles and he’s elected Governor.

Essentially, I am an anti-Vitter voter. The only people who think JBE is a liberal are teanuts or on Vitter’s payroll. I believe the top priority is to defeat Diaper Dave and end his political career. He’ll still be a Senator but he’ll be a de facto lame duck if he loses Saturday. That will make him a decoy duck for challengers next fall. The decoy image has me reconsidering my home decor:

It’s time to circle back to Vitter’s rank hypocrisy on the refugee issue. He flew to Washington to preen and posture about it on the Senate floor yesterday. But his frenetic activity has obscured an important fact, Vitter’s wife, Wendy, is Chief Counsel for Catholic Charities in New Orleans. That’s right, the group that has helped to resettle 14 Syrian refugees in Louisiana.

For more on Vitter’s egregious refugee hypocrisy, read Bob Mann’s piece for Salon, David Vitter’s desperate last stand: He throws his wife under the bus-again. For once, the feverish Salonatic headline is accurate.

The Shy Vitter Voter Factor: In addition to my concerns that Vitter’s racist and xenophobic slurs might work, I’m convinced that Vitter is underpolling. Most recent surveys have him 15+ points behind Edwards. I’m convinced that there are a substantial number of Vitter voters who are too embarrassed to admit that they’re voting for the sleazy Senator. I’m not the only one. Gret Stet Democratic campaign consultant Andrew Tuozzolo is also concerned:

The mention of the Bradley effect sent shivers down my spine. It’s a reference to the 1982 California Goober race where longtime Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley led in all the polls and wound up losing on election day. Bradley was moderate and very experienced. His only “liability” in the eyes of many voters was that he was African-American. That’s why people lied to the pollsters, they didn’t want to admit to bigotry at the ballot box. Hmm, Bigotry at the Ballot Box  sounds like a pulp fiction paperback waiting to be written…

In the UK, this is called the shy Tory factor. It came into play at this year’s general election when the Tories surprised even David Cameron by winning a majority. I wonder if the Posh Boy scheduled a date with a pig to celebrate? What is it with politicians named David anyway? At least Cameron isn’t a po-faced, psalm singing son of a bitch like David Vitter.

Here in the Gret Stet of Louisiana, David Duke underpolled in both the 1990 Senate and 1991 Goober races. That’s why I’m as nervous as that proverbial long tailed cat in a roomful of rocking chairs. Holy shit, another corpone image. First purt near and now this. What’s next? Reveenooer references or a guest shot on Duck Dynasty? I don’t think I have to worry about the latter after this or this.

I was so disconcerted by the possibility of a shy Vitter voter factor that I texted Deep Blog last night during my krewe meeting. He/she/it was reassuring about the state of the Goober race in between ranting about Diaper Dave. Here’s a transcript of our non-Socratic dialogue:

Adrastos: Getting nervous about the refugee thing. Vitter is acting more like his old self. The fucker.

Deep Blog: Yep. Vitter is ISIS’ best friend in Louisiana because he’s spreading fear and panic, which is exactly what terrorists want. Vitter and ISIS: a match made in hell.

Adrastos: Do you think it will work?

Deep Blog: Not sure. Latest 2 tracking polls have JBE up by 15. Still, we’re talking about David Viitter, the Grigori Rasputin of Louisiana. No matter how many poisons and bullets you put in him, he refuses to die…

The only difference between Diaper Dave and Rasputin is that Vitter would probably remove a dirty diaper whereas Rasputin would revel in the filth of it all. That’s the difference between a rogue and a hypocrite. I’ll take a rogue any day even if they’re stinky…

Now that I’ve grossed you out, I’ll end this seemingly interminable post by asking my fellow Louisianians to vote on Saturday. If you’re a Lefty, vote for the Blue Dog, it’s important. It’s time to throw Diaper Dave on the ash heap of history alongside PBJ.