Category Archives: Congress

Heck, Yeah

Uh oh, I seem to have a galloping case of Gorsuchitis. That’s why I couldn’t type Fuck Yeah when the news came down that Ryan had pulled the abominable GOP health care bill. I was not surprised. They were bleeding votes all day as every concession made to the denizens of Wingnutlandia cost them with sane conservatives. I think the nail in the coffin was when the House leadership promised to abolish the “health care essentials,” which were all the popular bits in the ACA. Thanks, Ryan.

The Brown House will pretend that Trump lobbied hard for the bill. He did not. He only met with large groups of GOPers instead of holding small meetings in the Oval Office. Nothing moves votes like personal attention from a President. I guess Trump didn’t want to interrupt his teevee watching. Also, never forget this photo-op from yesterday:

The Insult Comedian on a road to nowhere.

I never want to hear about Dukakis in the tank after Trump in the truck. Trump should have been working the phone instead of playing in a truck. Schmuck.

There are already signs that Steve Bannon’s allies in the media are sharpening their knives for Paul Ryan. Bannon has long had it out for Ryan and anyone who thinks he won’t go for the throat after this fiasco is kidding themselves. It may not be today but it’s coming. Believe me.

Republicans will attempt to minimize this disaster but I would like to remind them that the Clinton administration had a hard time passing significant first-term legislation after their health care plan died. We’ve learned how few GOPers are afraid of a mendacious, unpopular president* Thanks, Donald.

Finally, kudos to everyone who attended town halls and called their congresscritters to urge a vote against this atrocious bill. The pressure worked. Thanks, y’all.

Vive les Maquis.


Trump and the unfortunate addiction to spectacle

If you want to look for a “life imitating art” moment for today’s healthcare vote, it has to be this one from the movie “Black Mass.”

James “Whitey” Bulger tells his associate exactly what Trump told Republicans by calling for this vote: “You wanna take your shot? Take your shot. But make it your fuckin’ best because if I get up, I’ll eat you.”

This whole thing is horrifying: The potential repeal of the healthcare law, the CBO’s estimate of 24 million people losing coverage, the way in which our government can’t seem to run for three hours without falling all over itself… Say what you want to about the eight years of W., but compared to this, well… at least his stupid was just stupid. It wasn’t vindictive, blind-sighted and angry.

The one thing that makes it just so fascinating is the same thing that makes people slow down at a massive freeway wreck, despite pissing and moaning about the gaper’s block: It’s the rarity of spectacle.

This is how Donald Trump has made his money and gained his fame: He kept people guessing and he always delivered a cliffhanger.

He sued the NFL. Who does that?

He bragged to Billy Bush about sexual assault. Who does that?

He kept Omarosa on Season 1, week after week. Who does that?

The answer is Trump, because he knows what few people are willing to admit: Humans don’t like the safe play and we want to see if there’s going to be a car wreck.

Name the last time a president went to congress without knowing if he had the votes to get something done, especially something this big and this early in his term.

Name the last time regular citizens (or people like me who are abnormal but still don’t pay attention to politics) were aware that a big vote was coming and waiting to see it like “must-see TV.”

This is Gary Cooper in “High Noon” or John Wayne in “Rio Bravo” or Brett Favre throwing another fucking rocketball into triple coverage.

The spectacle works on TV because it has no real impact. You knew Cooper and The Duke would be fine. As for Favre, well, at least if you weren’t in Vegas, his errors wouldn’t cost you anything.

The same couldn’t be said for Trump to this point, given his actions cost this world the USFL and Billy Bush his job. The Omarosa thing still remains baffling, but minor issue. And perhaps that’s the best way to look at his jackassery to this point: It hurt people but not a lot of people most of us know or give a shit about. Meanwhile, the spectacle jacked a lot of people up through the roof.

But now, he’s playing with live ammo. He’s the paintballer with some serious weekend warrior skills joining the Marines. Lives are actually at risk here and yet he seems to think we’re still playing paintball.

In that case, he’s taking his best shot.

Let’s see if someone gets up and eats him.

Size Matters?

The almost comic ineptitude of Team Trump continues to play out. I say almost because taking health care away from people isn’t funny, but show-and-tell time at the Brown House is:

It certainly should be as DOA as Edmond O’Brien at the end of that low budget noir classic. And the mindless argument advanced by the Gum Chewer and Dr. Dingbat isn’t helping matters. OMG, the Ryan/Trumpcare stack is so much smaller. And that means it’s better? How? This is complicated shit as even the Insult Comedian has kinda sorta admitted. Frankly, the only time Trump thinks about health care is when he gets his hard-on pill scrip re-filled. Viagra or Cialis, mr. president*? I hear the latter can give you wood for up to 8 hours. I suspect Trumpy considers that a plus. For all we know, he may have the Log Lady stashed away in the Catskills for some arboreal nookie. Has anyone seen the Log Lady lately? I thought not. Perhaps she’s become a log toting Maquisard:

Seriously, the roll out of this hastily assembled plan is the worst I’ve seen since the first Muslim ban. There are incoming brickbats from all sides and the Trumpers primary response is comparative paper piles. The failure of Team Trump and the Zombie-eyed Granny Starver to fully brief their own members as well as stakeholders in the health care system is rank amateurism at its worst. Trump doesn’t know better, Ryan should: the ironically named House Freedom Caucus is against everything. Why would health care be any different?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Team Trump’s incompetence may yet save the Republic.

Let the Word Ring Forth

Now senators, congressman, please heed the call:

Week one.



There are all these things it’s important to remember, like how standing up is always better than sitting still and speaking is always better than staying quiet, like how there are more of us than there are of them, like how no despot or tyrant has ever held a whole people by force of arms against their will forever, like how surviving isn’t the goal but saving very definitely is.

But this is perhaps the most important thing to remember now, when things are so crazy that between my beginning to write this and ending it four more insane stories have come out about our federal government:

This isn’t all on us.

There are people we have elected, we have hired, we have chosen, to do a job here, and they are NOT DOING IT. They are sitting by while an unhinged neofascist and the man-baby figurehead he controls are attempting to destroy every strength this country has.

Republicans are sitting by, and it’s hard not to shrug and say of course they are. They’ve put party before country for more than a decade now. But they are sitting by while this happens and it’s important to remember that. They have a choice here. We shouldn’t let them off the hook just because they made the bullshit craven one we thought they’d make.

Democrats are sitting by, the club of the most of them, and for the life of me I can’t tell if it’s because they’re stunned by the pace of the insanity (PAY ATTENTION) or if they’re trying to figure out where to fire first but listen, if thousands of protesters can show up in airports and find places to park and figure it out, then surely our congressmen and women can huddle up and come up with an opposition plan that goes beyond deploring the tone in the room.

It’s important to remember that this is their job not in order to let ourselves off the hook but to put them on it. They have to be reminded. They have to be held to account for what they’ve done and not done. They have to present a united, coherent, effective opposition to every single thing Donald Trump and his ten-a-penny fascisti come up with, every time.

It’s important to remember that this is their job, one way or another, because if we remember that now, we stand a better chance of remembering it in the next election. In the next election, there are going to be a lot of excuses made for why Trump was unstoppable, why the chaos just occurred, why the horrific DC custom of behaving oneself at the cocktail party was more important than American values or American lives. And it’s important to remember that those excuses are bullshit.

Know that they are. Know that this could be stopped by the people in power. March in the streets knowing that they could make those marches unnecessary and choose not to do so. Remember the ones who march with you. Remember the ones who stayed home. Support the former.



Tell Me About The Rabbits, Duncan

Killer Rabbit

The most amusing fall-out from House GOPer’s failed attempt to dial the ethics wayback machine to the Bug Man era comes from San Diego:

Rep. Duncan Hunter used campaign funds to pay for $600 of airline fees to fly a family rabbit, one of the more colorful expenses to surface in an ongoing review of his practices.

Hunter’s staff told the Press-Enterprise newspaper that the House Office of Congressional Ethics questioned the pet expenses — offered as an example of over-reach by the agency.


In the Press-Enterprise, Kasper criticized the as-yet-unreleased ethics office report on Hunter, saying “findings or implications are significantly misrepresented or even exaggerated.”

As an example, Kasper mentioned the family rabbit transportation fees — which were apparently charged to the campaign credit card by mistake, instead of using airline miles racked up on the campaign dime.

“(The office) has in their report $600 in campaign expenditures for in cabin rabbit transport fees,” Kasper said. “Since travel is often done on (airline) miles – which is entirely permissible – the credit card connected to the account was charged several times even when his children were flying.

Holy pitiful spin, Batman. That’s the best Hunter’s minion can come up with? Rabbit travel miles? Sounds like white rabbit privilege to me, y’all. Hunter inherited his seat from his great white bread father, after all.

I would like to thank Congresscritter Hunter for giving me an excuse to post a medieval killer rabbit image as well as this Sixties classic:

The psychedelic lyrics of White Rabbit could explain the inept way Hunter’s office handled the rabbit travel incident. They’re tripping, man.

Feed your head, feed your head but don’t lose it to a killer rabbit:


It Hurts to Take the Story Apart. Do It Anyway.

There’s a story we’ve been telling ourselves for a long time now, about how democracy works, about how it has to work in order for us all to get up in the morning. It involves how campaigns operate, how elections take place, how power is handed from one person to another and what is done with that power and to whom.

The story’s called America. It’s a few years old now. Maybe you’ve heard it: We are free, and we choose who leads us, and we have chance after chance to make things better. We’re in charge, you and me, for good and ill and sometimes both together.

It’s always been partly fiction. In our finest hours it’s always been a little frayed. But we’ve been able to tell ourselves the story while it’s still more knit than mend.

Can we do that right now?

The Russian state took an interest in our elections and tried to influence them. To what extent, with what effect, and for what purpose, those in power know and aren’t saying.

And over the past couple of days during discussion of that, and discussion of the popular vote imbalance, and discussion of voter suppression in formerly swing states, I’ve been hearing lots of variations on IT’S TOO HARD AND OMG MEEN. That political blowback would be intense for anyone who said hey, hold on, let’s figure this shit out. That we don’t have time between now and the inauguration (I guess there are too many Christmas parties?) and can’t we just put our heads down and power through this?

The vast majority of the GOP, of course, is hedging its bets as they have been since the primaries ended. Maybe this will all die down and they can get back to gutting the social safety net which is what they’re really here for. Maybe Donald Trump will just fuck up normally, like Dan Quayle or something, accidentally hit on a few prime ministers’ wives, do some blow in the Oval, and leave the hard work to them. That was their overarching rationale for endorsing his skeezy ass and they are desperately clinging to it.

It’s gross, of course, like a 15-year-old who still wants to bring his blankie to school, but we always underestimate how attached people are to their security objects.

But Obama and the Democrats? The purported grownups in the GOP in Congress and statehouses who either actively avoided mentioning Trump or flat-out said he was garbage? Those people? I don’t want to hear from THEM how difficult it is to take the story of America apart and put it back together again.

I don’t want to hear about concerns that they’d be perceived as helping Hillary, or that TV commentators would say things in that deep concerned voice they affect, or that frogs would yell shit online. THOSE AREN’T REAL CONSEQUENCES for people who are elected to do a job.

They aren’t elected to serve just to rename official state animals and pass continuing resolutions to hold up how much everything sucks right now. They are elected to fix what is broken even if that something is EVERYTHING.

Things have been breaking down for a while now. Redistricting to weight state legislatures overwhelmingly against Democrats and third parties, ballot initiatives designed to turn out opponents of one candidate or another, tax caps and institutional neglect and voting restrictions, and all of it leading to a campaign in which one candidate won the popular vote by 2.6 million and the other candidate — a racist sex predator — is president.

Things have been breaking down and politicians have been desperately pretending they are okay because, frankly, taking all this apart is hard. It takes time. It takes study and most of all it takes attention we don’t have because the decent public servants are trying to keep their constituents out of hock to the mob.

Which is a deliberate thing also, in case we didn’t have enough to deal with. I get ragey when modern American voters are described as being distracted by TV and video games; the club of the most of us is distracted by the trivial need to EAT, and I can’t imagine the calls district offices get asking for help with the few social programs we have left.

Still. Still and all. There have to be things big enough that we make room for them. The question of foreign interference in an election has got to be one of those things.

Winter breaks can be cancelled. Everybody can work late. We can stop talking about Twitter and we can take out a yellow legal pad and a box of black pens and a box of red pens and we can figure out how to investigate this and, if necessary, prosecute it. It’s not false and it’s not trivial and it’s certainly not too much for us.

We’ve built bigger than this. We can tear this down. We can take this story apart and figure out which parts are true and which are false.

Sack up, hos. Get to work.


The Most Dangerous Game


This is not a second edition of Pulp Fiction Thursday, it’s the political post I originally planned before writing about Korematsu. The Most Dangerous Game referred to in the movie is: MAN and/or WOMAN. The deranged hunter in that story, Count Zoroff, enjoys hunting human beings for sport. People are the game. Poor Joel McCrea. It was easier being on the chain gang in Sullivan’s Travels.

Senate Democrats, including such progressive stars as Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, and a certain Independent from Vermont, are making noises about working with the Insult Comedian. They seem to think they can find common ground with him on the “populist ideas” he spouted during the late campaign. Unless this is a tactic designed to expose Trump as a fraud, they’re out of their minds.

First, we have no idea what, other than himself, Trump believes in. I have a hard time believing that a sexual predator who lives in a Manhattan penthouse favors populist solutions to economic problems. The sole “populist” on his team is the millionaire anti-Semite and white nationalist, Steve Bannon of B3 Brownshirt fame. The potential Vichy progressives want him removed for laudable reasons and I agree with them. Who’s going to have their back on economic issues if he goes? Nobody, that’s who. The crazed cannibal capitalists will have their run of the asylum AKA the Trump White House.

Second, Trump lied his way through the campaign. Moreover, he’s an habitual liar who screws everyone who deals with him. His word is not his bond. Trying to deal with him is an act of extreme naiveté. He will look you straight in the eye, shake your hand, lie to you, and later deny that a deal was made. If we’ve learned nothing else from the campaign, we’ve learned that Trump is a con man who tells his marks what they want to hear. I’m not buying what he’s selling. Repeat after me: the Insult Comedian is the  lyingest liar who ever lied.

I understand *why* they want to make a deal. They know Trump is a blank slate when it comes to policy and they want to get shit done. Yes, our infrastructure needs work but is it worth selling out to Trump? Presidents get credit for things like this and, knowing Trump, he will put his name on every construction project. I’d like to point out that public works spending is a tried and true way for dictators to build support. Why do you think the original German autobahn was built? The Nazis built it as a popularity boosting measure. They were “populists” appealing to the “forgotten man” too.

Some Democrats and Dudebro progressives are drawing the wrong lesson from Trump’s narrow victory in some Rust Belt states. Slate’s Jamelle Bouie has written the best refutation. Here are the money paragraphs from his piece:

Warren and Sanders are wrong, and in a way that signals a significant misreading of the landscape on the part of the most influential Democrats. The simple truth is that Trump’s use of explicit racism—his deliberate attempt to incite Americans against different groups of nonwhites—was integral to his campaign. It was part and parcel of his “populism” and told a larger story: that either at home or abroad, foreigners and their “globalist” allies were cheating the American worker, defined as a white working-class man with a factory job. To claw back the dominion he once enjoyed—to “make America great again”—Trump promised protectionism and “law and order.” He promised to deport immigrants, register Muslims, and build new infrastructure. This wasn’t “populism”; it was white populism. Writes historian Nell Irvin Painter for the New York Times: “This time the white men in charge will not simply happen to be white; they will be governing as white, as taking America back, back to before multiculturalism.”

It seems reasonable for Warren and Sanders to make a distinction between Trump as blue-collar populist and Trump as racist demagogue. But that distinction doesn’t exist. Supporting a Trump-branded infrastructure initiative as a discrete piece of policy where two sides can find common ground only bolsters a white-nationalist politics, even if you oppose the rest of Trump’s agenda. It legitimizes and gives fuel to white tribalism as a political strategy. It shows that there are tangible gains for embracing Trump-style demagoguery. Likewise, it seems reasonable to want to recast support for Trump as an expression of populism. But Trump’s is a racial populism—backed almost entirely by white Americans, across class lines—that revolves around demands to reinforce existing racial and status hierarchies. That’s what it means to “make America great again.” It has nothing to offer to working-class blacks who need safety from unfair police violence just as much as they need higher wages, or working-class Latinos who need to protect their families from draconian immigration laws as much as they need a chance to unionize.

As Jamelle points out, the real “forgotten” people in Trump’s working-class appeal are minorities. Are we going to turn our back on people who supported our nominee to chase the chimera of collaboration on Trump’s terms?

Why do Sanders, Warren, and others think appeasing Trump will work any better than GOP efforts to do likewise? He will lie to them, stab them in the back, and brag about it on Twitter. I already miss outgoing Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid. Harry is a white Mormon from Nevada but he understands who we’re dealing with better than many ostensibly more progressive politicians.

If you’re a regular First Draft reader, you know that I consider myself a member of the “get shit done” party. These are not normal times. Appeasement, collaboration, and normalization of this menace will not work. The Trump administration has a chance to surpass the corruption of the Gilded Age administrations and that of Warren Gamaliel Harding. And that’s the best case scenario: the worst case is a continuing attack on minority communities and the steady erosion of our freedoms.

The most dangerous game in the 21st Century is collaborating with Trump. That is why I stand with the Resistance. Vive les Maquis.

Adrastos’ Fearless 2016 Election Picks

I’ve done a lot of hand-holding here and on social mediaso I decided to do this early in 2016. Anybody freaking out should read Athenae’s Sunday post again.

I’d like to thank the good people at for making this exercise much easier this year. They even have a map that contemplates an independent candidate carrying a state so I have availed myself of it since I predict an upset in the Beehive State.

First, my Electoral College map followed by some explanations.


That’s right, I think Evan McMullin will win the state of Utah by a narrow margin. LDS disgust with Trump is genuine for reasons that I will restate: his anti-immigrant views and threats against a religious minority. Today it’s the Muslims, tomorrow it could be the Mormons. We know who B3 want to move against. You can see it in their closing teevee commercial; more on that later.

LDS disgust with Trump is another reason I think HRC will pull an upset and take Arizona. When the vote totals come in, I expect John McCain to run ahead of Trump; some of those votes will be Hispanics but others will be Mormons. There’s a substantial LDS population  in Arizona and they don’t like Trump. They might not vote for HRC but many of them will never vote for the Insult Comedian. I’m going with my gut on this one even if it makes me a sinner in the church of the Nerd Oracle.

Arizona is my long shot pick. I won’t be surprised if Trump squeaks out a win there but it will be a more important swing state than Iowa in 2020. Why? The Hispanic vote, which is why I think we will win in Florida, Nevada, and North Carolina.

Ohio is the other state I’m not solid about BUT Team Clinton is pouring so much effort and money in there that I think she’ll color the Buckeye state blue. The star power of Jay-Z, Beyonce, and Lebron should help. It couldn’t hurt.

Iowa is lost but it has been replaced by Nevada, which will be solidly Democratic in future Presidential years. I think there will be some new battlegrounds in 2020: in addition to Arizona, Texas and Georgia will be hotly contested. I had dreams they might fall this year but they won’t. They’ll be in play along with Ohio and Florida the next time around.

I’ll have more about the Hispanic/Latino wave of 2016 later today.

I haven’t followed these as closely but here are my somewhat fearful Senate picks:

Click the map to create your own at


I think Missouri or Indiana could go the other way but Jason Kander is such a good candidate that I think he’ll win in Missouri. I’m pulling for him but I’m meh on past malaka of the week, Evan Bayh who’s trying to reclaim his old seat.

I think Rubio survives in Florida because of ticket-splitting Hispanics.  But Joe Heck loses  in Nevada because of the Hispanic Wave voting for one of their own, Catherine Cortez Masto, and because of Harry Reid’s phenomenal organization. I will always be wild about Harry. And to Heck with Joe.

I’m not sure how the Gret Stet of Louisiana will break down but there *will* be a December run-off and we will elect a Republican Senator to the Hooker Seat. There’s a small chance that the 2 Democrats could both make the run-off but either will lose to the Republicans if it’s a D-R primary. David Duke will finish sixth or lower and return to obscurity.

I am not nutty enough to forecast House races but my gut instinct is that the Democrats will gain seats but Paul Ryan will remain Speaker. Unless, that is, his caucus mounts another coup. House GOPers love them some coup plotting.

I may get some of the details wrong but I am confident about three things:

  1. The President of the Senate in 2016 will be Tim Kaine.
  2. We will elect our first woman President, Hillary Rodham Clinton,
  3. Donald Trump will not be the first Insult Comedian elected President.

Believe me.

Quote Of The Day: Eddie Munster Blues

Paul Ryan has painted himself into a corner during this campaign. His undeserved reputation for decency and wonkery has been shattered, shattered, shattered. She-doo-be. To support the Insult Comedian, you must be tough, tough, tough…

The best thing I’ve read about Ryan’s problems is by BuzzFeed’s McKay Coppins. Here’s the money quote:

In the four months since he formally endorsed his party’s nominee for president, Ryan — the esteemed speaker of the House, the sterling guardian of conservatism, the intellectual leader of the Republican Party — has been reduced to a miserable Trump flunky sheepishly counting down the hours until the election is over. Each day he spends tethered to the Donald seems to bring some fresh humiliation; each role he inhabits in the entourage proves more undignified than the last. Adviser, apologist, hype man, scold — none brings redemption, or even reprieve. And so he trudges on toward November, a stench of sadness clinging to him as he goes.

Poor baby. I don’t feel sorry for the Zombie Eyed Granny Starver but I’m Coppin to the fact that McKay sure can write. A certain Warren Zevon song comes to mind right now:

Enjoy every sandwich.

Zero Fucks Harry Reid Is The Best Harry Reid

Welcome to another episode of lazy stealing of other writer’s work theatre. I’ve appropriated Athenae’s Zero Fucks post title but substituted Harry Reid for Howard Dean. I hope that’s not inappropriate. I doubt if Howard, Harry, or A will mind. Here’s why I remain wild about Harry:

“President Obama is the first President to be denied a hearing on his budget. He’s the first President to be denied a hearing on a Supreme Court nominee. President Obama is the first President asked to show his birth certificate,” Reid said on the floor. “President Obama is the first President to face over 500 filibusters here in the Senate. In this Republican Senate, President Obama will receive fewer nominees confirmed than any President in many many decades. Republicans have not done their basic work of government.”


“They would have us believe that Trump just fell out of the sky and somehow mysteriously became the nominee of the party, but that’s not the way it is,” Reid said. “Everything that he’s said, stood for, done in this bizarre campaign that he’s run has come, filtered up, from what’s going on in the Republican Senate.”

Trump, Reid said, “is the monster Republicans built.”

“He is their Frankenstein monster. They own him,” he said.

I can’t say it better than that so I won’t try. I’ll let Eubie Blake play us out:

Gret Stet Flood Notes

Baton Rouge debris photograph by Carolyn Scofield.

Baton Rouge debris. Photograph by Carolyn Scofield.

First, I’d like to thank everyone who has donated to Gret Stet flood relief causes, either via this First Draft link or elsewhere. Dr. A and I gave money to the Denham Springs Animal Shelter. They exceeded their target and received matching funds from the Petco Foundation. I checked out them rather carefully since it was a gofundme appeal. Two friends who are active in animal rescue causes vouched for them. I mention this because the scamsters are using online flim-flammery to rip people off. Please be careful who you give to, especially if it’s a gofundme thing. At some point, we’ll be posting more links but I want to be sure that they’re reputable first. Besides, recovery is a marathon, not a sprint.

President Obama visited the Red Stick area yesterday. He shrugged off the critics and gave a nuts and bolts speech about how FEMA is not the same organization that it was in 2005. The people who hate him continue to carp and complain but that’s not helping anyone. Anybody who confuses Craig Fugate with Heckuva Job Brownie is an ignoramus.

POTUS stressed the importance of Congressional action to supplement FEMA’s emergency assistance. Unfortunately, three members of the Louisiana House delegation voted against Sandy Relief: Steve Scalise, John Fleming, and Baton Rouge’s very own Bill Cassidy who is now an empty suit in the Senate. And Fleming is running for Bitter Vitter’s seat. The good news is that New Jersey and New York Democrats believe in guvmint and will vote for Gret Stet flood relief according to Rep. Bill Pascrell:

“They don’t get it until they get hit on the side of the head themselves by a two-by-four and everything’s supposed to stop. All of a sudden it’s, ‘This is different; this is oranges and apples,’ ” said U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, a Democrat from Paterson, New Jersey.


Pascrell, who said he’s going to do “everything as a congressman I can to help the people of Louisiana,” said he wished that state’s delegation had taken a similar approach when it was his state that needed assistance.

“Not one dime is going to be delayed to the Baton Rouge area or to Louisiana. I can’t say the same thing about 2013. Money was delayed,” he said. “We had to fight from the beginning for the dollars. While that’s not going to color my response, I’m not going to forget it. I don’t forget. There’s always a day of reckoning. That’s Jersey style.”

Messsage received loud and clear. In 2013, conservative ideology trumped disaster relief. The errant Louisiana pols deserve to be reminded of their hypocrisy before we move on.

In other Gret Stet flood related news, it remains unclear if or what Donald Trump donated to flood relief. He seems to have lied about the 18-wheeler he claimed to have brought with him to the flood zone. He *may* have donated money to a right-wing church favored by “family values” creep, Tony Perkins. As is so often the case with the Insult Comedian, the truth is elusive. But we all know that the truth is not his middle name:

There’s been much talk of the exploits of the ‘Cajun Navy.’ I put the term in quotes because it’s an informal group of people with boats who help during disasters. As my friend and post-K blogger comrade in arms Troy Gilbert put it on the Tweeter Tube:

Troy ought to know: he’s one of this informal group, which is most impressive to this landlubber. There have been several scams involving the ‘Cajun Navy,’ so beware, take care.

There’s a legislator who wants to regulate the activities of these public-spirited citizens:

Republican State Senator Jonathan “J.P.” Perry of the Vermilion-Lafayette area said he is working on legislation that could require training, certificates and a permit to allow these Good Samaritans to get past law enforcement into devastated areas.

In a radio interview on News Talk 96.5 KPEL in Lafayette, Sen. Perry said it comes down to two main points for law enforcement officials.

“At the end of the day, there are going to be two things that are going to be the hurdle when you approach it from the state’s standpoint,” Sen. Perry said. “Liability is going to be number one for them. They don’t want the liability of going out to rescue them and then not being able to find them, and secondly, there’s a cost.”

Perry continues by saying the liability issue could be solved by something like a waiver that boaters sign prior to a natural disaster.

Clouarte and other members of the ‘Cajun Navy’ said they do not understand the regulations.

“How can you regulate people helping people? That doesn’t make sense to me,” Clouarte said.

I’m not quite sure what I think of this very lawyerly idea. Regulating the ‘Cajun Navy’ is like to trying to regulate the wind. It’s amorphous and spontaneous. I don’t think people should be discouraged from helping one another but a waiver of some sort *might* be a good idea. One person’s Good Samaritan is another person’s officious intermeddler. That’s one of my favorite Tort law terms: it’s legalese for buttinski.

Finally, I’m having horrible allergy problems so I’m unable to do much in the way of hands-on volunteer work; all I can do right now is donate money and write about the Gret Stet flood of 2016. But many of my friends have pitched in and helped people in the flood zone. I’d like to give a brief shout out to Brett, David, Jonathan, Julia, Troy, and Desier. I know I’m forgetting someone; inflamed sinuses impair my little gray cells.

Below is a picture of my friends Carolyn and Kyle who have been house gutting with the United Saints Recovery Project who *are* a reputable group.

Photograph by Kyle Melancon.

Masked house gutters. Photograph by Kyle Melancon.

New Orleanians are used to masking, after all. Since volunteering in the Gret Stet heat can be funky, I’ll give the last word to Sylvester Stewart and his combo:

What Donald Trump Really Exposes

Has there ever been a performance more contemptuous of the source material? Like where you could tell more readily that the actor was just there for the check?

All the think pieces are about Trump exposing the Republican party’s “secret” racist underbelly, which has only been secret from willfully blind rich white people. It’s ridiculous. Every damn election, there are these stories about why Republicans can’t get the minority vote, and every election some Republican incumbent or challenger says something containing the word “plantation” or otherwise implies black and Hispanic people are just too stupid to know what is good for them.

Yet somehow nobody noticed until now that the Republican vote and the racist vote, the Republican vote and the teabagger vote, the Republican vote and the “America first” vote, have been the same damn vote since the Civil Rights Act and GOSH I WONDER WHAT THE TURNING POINT COULD HAVE BEEN.

The real untold story of this election is that Trump didn’t expose the GOP’s secret affinity for racism. He exposed, held up and roundly mocked their fetish for power.

Donald Trump said Barack Obama wasn’t really a citizen, and Republican politicians lined up to cash his checks and tout his endorsements.

Donald Trump said women were fat pigs and sluts, and Republican politicians laughed it off as just Donald being Donald.

Donald Trump said, in order, BEFORE SUPER TUESDAY:

  1. Mexican undocumented immigrants were rapists and criminals
  2. We should build a giant wall across the Mexican border
  3. John McCain wasn’t really a war hero because he got captured
  4. Megyn Kelly was only mad at Trump because she was on her period
  5. Mass shootings are just the way the world works
  6. We need to register Muslims in a national database and ban new Muslim immigrants
  7. A disabled reporter was ridiculous
  8. Hillary got “schlonged” by Obama
  9. Ted Cruz is a pussy*
  10. The pope is “disgraceful”
  11. Trump’s penis is huge
  12. Protesters at his rallies should be beaten up

And Republican politicians all hemmed and hawed and said they didn’t condone it all exactly but they would support him as the nominee. After all that. Every “Dump Trump” effort and movement that tried to get off the ground got shanked by Republicans saying no no, we can manage him. He can pivot. We can handle this.

Until he refused to endorse McCain, Paul Ryan and Kelly Ayotte in their primaries.

Then, oh, then it was fucking ON. Twitter lit UP all of a sudden. Serious people started asking serious questions around about Wednesday.

What would happen if Trump just quit?

Could the party force him out? What were the rules? Could they … un-nominate him somehow?

Can’t we just get rid of him and run Mike Pence, Mitt Romney, Bob Dole, hell anybody else?

We were waking up parliamentarians and getting them dressed in the dark, this week. We were trying to find Robert to ask him about his Rules. Donald, you in TROUBLE NOW.

All future GOP presidential nominees, take note. Say what you like about a Gold Star family. Let your convention speakers yell “lock her up” about a former Secretary of State and First Lady. Imply you want to use nuclear weapons on anybody that bugs you. Our Republican leading lights won’t support you, exactly, but they won’t start rumors you’re about to be concrete-booted and tossed into the East River.

They’ll save that for when you won’t endorse them. They’ll save that for when you won’t help them stay exactly where they are, doing exactly what they’re doing.

That’s what matters to them. Not economics (hah), not the military, not small government, not even racism or meanness. Power is all that matters, and treason to the status quo is treason to the only principle that politics understands.

(And yes, Bernie and the DNC. With the NOT AT ALL IRRELEVANT CAVEAT of that fight being about who is best equipped to manage income inequality and world instability, and not who hates immigrants more.)

So enough with the idea that Trump has laid bare the secret heart of the Republican party by having white nationalists yell unhinged shit at his rallies. If I see that NYT video one more time I’m gonna Elvis my laptop. They’ve been saying THAT shit for years. The misogynistic Hillary shit started during Bill’s first term. That KFC joke is almost as old as I am. This is what they have always been like under their skins.

The only news out of this week is that no matter who you hate and how much you hate them, when Paul Ryan comes for your endorsement you’d best give it to him.


*This is actually the nicest thing anyone said about Ted Cruz during the primaries.

Republicans Don’t Get To Go Back to Normal After This

So after Trump, we’re all just gonna go back to pretending the Republicans get to be a party again, right?

We’re gonna pretend this didn’t happen?

We’re gonna pretend they didn’t build this?

We’re gonna pretend Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and about a hundred other people didn’t sit silently by while this happened? 

Donald J. Trump belittled the parents of a slain Muslim soldier who had strongly denounced Mr. Trump during the Democratic National Convention, saying that the soldier’s father had delivered the entire speech because his mother was not “allowed” to speak.

We’re gonna pretend that every past president, every past presidential candidate, of the Republican party just sat out that convention, like maybe that was gonna give them plausible deniability, like they don’t have to be responsible for it if they’re not physically there?

We’re gonna let them be a party again after this? You have GOT to be fucking kidding me.

They don’t get to do that.

They don’t get a do-over.

Not again.

They’ve gotten hundreds of do-overs in the past 15 years alone. Nominate an ignoramus who’ll ignore intelligence briefings about terrorism and later use terrorism to declare war on a country that had nothing to do with 9/11? BYGONES! Trash a genuine war hero and mock his service with Purple Heart Band-Aids through a whole convention and in the press day after day after day? ANCIENT HISTORY! Imply that an opposing party’s candidate isn’t a citizen of this country, “pals around with terrorists,” and is whatever the fuck a secret Muslim is? LET’S LOOK FORWARD, NOT BACK! Run a vicious campaign against the coded racism of “government dependence” by the “47 percent” and willfully pretend one of our most pro-corporate presidents hates small business? LET’S GEAR UP FOR THE NEXT ONE, BOYS!

And NOW we’re talking about how Trump is some kind of special case, and letting Republicans differentiate themselves from him and “disavow” his xenophobic, anti-American horseshit by saying man, why does he have to say it OUT LOUD, and writing sympathetic crap about how it puts these noble Abraham Lincoln cosplayers in “such a difficult position.” No. No. No. Just … no. I was not angry before I came to the DNC, motherfuckers.

We can laugh all day long about how Trump makes Republicans squirm, about how he’s the manifestation of their disgusting little id, about how Paul Ryan is up there tugging on his collar trying not to drown in his own flop sweat and Reince “Reindeer Penis” Priebus is America’s whoopee cushion but fuck them all forever, for profaning the names of the Khans, and everyone just like them in this country.

You don’t get to do that and get let back in the door in 2018 or 2020 like it didn’t happen, Paul Ryan. Mitch McConnell. Scott Walker. Chris Christie. Ben Carson. Even Ted Cruz, no matter how gloriously assholic your convention antics were. The Bushes and the McCains and the Romneys don’t get to take the party back after this. You don’t get to run again as a Republican, Marco Rubio, and not get chased out of the room. This should be the end of them.

Every debate in every contest between anything and a Republican should just be the Anything Candidate saying, “Trump” and leaning back, because that’s all you need to say. Any Republican running for office anywhere should be put to the Trump test. Where were you, sir or madam, when Trump was running?

Were you in the crowd, cheering? Were you at the podium, yelling lock her up? Were you cowering in the corner hoping nobody would ask you a HARD KWESTIN about your own fucking nominee? Where were you? What did you do? What did you say? WHERE WERE YOU, dammit? Why won’t you answer us?

There is no After Trump, and you know what?  I think most of them know that, and it’s why they’re still on his side, or quiet enough that it’s a distinction without a difference. They’re hedging their bets and hoping for power because once this is over, this is OVER.

So before you read one more Politico/newsmag wankfest piece about #notallRepublicans, or asking Where Do They Go From Here … GAH, it doesn’t fucking matter where they go from here. They shouldn’t be allowed to go anywhere. Even to the nearest landfill, because the seagulls and the rats deserve better than that.


Elizabeth Warren for Queen of Everything



Republicans: We’ll Subpoena You, John Kerry!

They want to call him before Congress to explain how he does his job-type things!

The committee in February asked the State Department to turn over documents and communications related to the “key determination” that the oil pipeline would have an impact on climate change and the decision to cite “U.S. climate leadership” in the denial of the project.

In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), the chairwoman of the committee’s Interior subpanel, said they have yet to receive the documents and would “consider the use of the compulsory process” if State doesn’t turn them over by next week.

That’s cute.



Don’t Let Them Get Away With It

If you’re not reading my smart friend Emma you’re not really experiencing this election: 

Now, with Mr. Trump having clinched the Republican nomination, down-ballot candidates are finding the task of distancing themselves from their presidential nominee much easier said than done. On what seems to be an hourly basis, Mr. Trump churns out politically incorrect invective that has the dual effect of firing up his supporters and offending women, Latinos, Muslims and, as Mr. Trump has called them in the past, “the blacks.”

So Republicans in moderate states will be forced, over the next five months, to show that they are not the same as their party’s presidential nominee, while at the same time latching on to the anti-Washington sentiment that Mr. Trump has built his political success on. They may be incumbents, their argument goes, but they are the real outsiders in their races. They’re outsiders that use their place in Congress to get things done within the parameters of power. You know, an outsider’s type of insider.

This is the dance that happens every year, the “insider” who pretends to Fight The Man, and very few people ever say hey, buddy, if you’re so anti-Man why are you scarfing The Man’s cocktail weenies all year long? It’s a cliché, that Republicans are running for the chance to govern on an anti-government ticket, but until fairly recently only filthy hippies actually called them on it.

Maybe the only nice thing about Trump’s candidacy is that he’s exposing the frauds in the party he now leads. He makes all kinds of sense shit-talking his own kind, pointing out that he’s bought and sold them all ten times over, laughing at them as they squirm. That exposure, natch, is not worth even one of the people who’ll be deported if Trump becomes president, so holding these senators’ and congressmen’s feet to the fire on the topic of their nominee is essential if we don’t want the country to go the way of the GOP.


Too Good for Their Voters

George H.W. Bush is too good for the Republican National Convention.

Let me repeat that. George H.W. Bush, whose pardons ended any chance of anyone being punished for the Iran-Contra cover-up and whose government denied for years that any veterans suffered as a result of the first Gulf War, is too good for a Republican National Convention at which Donald Trump will be nominated.

(Donald Trump’s policies, at this point, have killed exactly nobody.

Can’t say the same for Bush the First.)

You know who else is too good for the Republican National Convention? George W. Bush. You might remember him from such productions as, What Weapons of Mass Destruction? and Oh, Were You Using New Orleans, America? Sorry My Bad. His minor hits include Dude Where’s Bin Laden and My War Killing Your Kid is No Excuse to Be Rude.

That man is too good for a Republican National Convention at which Donald Trump will be nominated.

John McCain is too good for a Republican National Convention at which Donald Trump will be nominated. John McCain has had many sympathetic articles written about the terrible position in which Donald Trump’s existence puts him, as if John McCain is a powerless creature, like say an undocumented immigrant who might be deported if Donald Trump becomes president.

Nobody is in a more terrible position than John McCain, who has to worry about his image and other stuff that is not real, so John McCain has decided he’s too good for a Republican National Convention at which Donald Trump will be nominated.

(Donald Trump is not half as dumb as Sarah Palin, who sat back and let the McCain campaign blame her for their miserable, nasty, racist loss in 2008. Donald Trump’s Tweets generally make sense, especially when he’s shit-talking Republicans. Palin still can’t find a coherent thought with a searchlight and a posse.)

And Mitt Romney is too good for a Republican National Convention at which Donald Trump will be nominated. Mitt Romney is too good for the voters who genuflected when he rolled out Donald Trump’s endorsement four years ago, too good for the voters who tried to put him into office despite a nasty, racist, small-minded campaign based on the idea that America needed to be meaner to poor people. Mitt Romney, who no one liked but everyone supported because party loyalty and who else would line up to lose to Obama, has basically told all 58 million people who voted for him to fuck themselves.

(He said that during the campaign, too, but like, nicer.)

I swear, it becomes less of a mystery every day, the alienation and anger of the GOP base. If you did this to me, decided to skip the party I planned AFTER I printed your name on all the balloons, I’d set your gift table on fire. Upend the cake into the pool. The petting zoo would be profoundly unsafe.

I’d release some snakes. See how much fun the pony rides are THEN.

In the five days since Donald Trump’s last remaining rivals quit, it’s been amazing, watching the GOP turn its back on its own voters. They are publicly, loudly, emphatically declaring they are too good for their own voters, and it’s amazing to watch.

Look, Donald Trump should not be president and come November I’mma quit my job and follow Hillary’s campaign around in a panel van if it seems like that’s what’s necessary to keep this racist prick out of the White House. But Trump didn’t win the Republican nomination by cheating and he didn’t win by stuffing the ballot box and he didn’t sneak in the side entrance after paying off the parking attendants. He got where he is completely fairly, by getting the most votes out of anyone else during the Republican primaries the Republican party planned.

So for former presidents and former nominees for president of this party to come out and basically say they’re too good to associate with the person their voters picked, well, I’ve never seen such institutional loathing for the people who pay the institution’s bills, and I’m a Democrat.

Donald Trump has done nothing to these former presidents and nominees (other than call John McCain a pussy, which is what McCain let his party do to John Kerry for a year NO I’M NOT OVER IT) to excuse them throwing a temper tantrum like this.

Lots of other Republican senators and congressmen — are trying to get some political capital out of pretending to be above Trump. There’s some hay to be made there, given the gullibility of our political press, the willingness to give Republicans politicians the benefit of the doubt when it comes to motives and meaning.

But presidents? Nominees? People for whom other people worked and voted and fought? They don’t get to turn their backs and pretend they have nothing to do with where the party is and who it’s with. They don’t get to be above it all. They benefitted for years from the votes of the people who voted for Trump and from their hard work and their loyalty.

They’re too good for their own people? What are they thinking? That the voters they trained to hold grudges close will forgive the Bushes, McCains and Romneys in an instant if Trump loses? HAHAHAHAHAHA. Those voters already hate McCain and Romney for being miserable losers, and the Bushes are making themselves more irrelevant by the hour. Those voters will not forget that their leaders abandoned them.

It’s why Trump got as far as he did in the first place.


ps. Good for Bob Dole. A free lunch is a free lunch, especially when you’re NINETY FREAKING TWO. Don’t turn down food at that point. Get at the buffet table.

The Boston Globe is Infuriating or, Are Republicans Necessary?

Because on the one hand, RIGHTEOUS:


And on the other, hopelessly naive: 

Republicans ought to focus on doing the right thing: putting up every legitimate roadblock to Trump that they can. Unexpectedly, a key moment in American democracy has snuck up on the GOP. When he denounced Trump, Romney said he wanted to be able to say he’d fought the good fight against a demagogue. That’s the test other Republicans may want to consider.

Action doesn’t mean political chicanery or subterfuge. It doesn’t mean settling for an equally extreme — and perhaps more dangerous — nominee in Ted Cruz. If the party can muster the courage to reject its first-place finisher, rejecting the runner-up should be even easier.


Why do they have to reject Trump?

Why does this party have to save itself?

I mean it. Nobody has yet been able to answer that question.

AMERICA has to save itself from Trump, but I see no reason why Republicans are under the same obligation. I see no reason why he can’t be the face of the party if that’s what the majority of the party’s voters want now. I see no reason why Cruz can’t be the nominee if he can win the required amount of delegates.

I see no reason why Romney or Ryan (who are just Cruz and Trump in nicer clothes with bigger vocabularies) NEED to be the Republican party’s standard-bearers.

What is the benefit to the rest of America by having Romney or Ryan as the nominee instead of Trump? Or Cruz? What does America get out of it?

Why do we need a polite, not-quite-openly racist, anti-government party in government? What do we get out of having Republicans in charge? At the national level we’ve gotten economic crisis, neverending war, illegal spying, torture, weakening of every kind of business regulation lawmakers get their hands on, steadfast opposition to immigration and reproductive health and clean water and clean air, and as a superfun bonus an empty chair on the Supreme Court for the forseeable future. You’ll pardon me if I don’t implore somebody to dress that up in Hugo Boss and mouth platitudes about God in order to make it palatable.

I see why political commentators and strategists want to maintain the fiction that we need two equally valid and opposing schools of thought in precisely equal measure. If anyone hates learning new lines, it’s these understudies in the play of democracy. So long as there are two parties who both appear to go through the same motions, no one has to take sides and nobody has to be upset.

But I don’t see what bearing that has on people who need jobs and kids who need food and women who need health care and soldiers and sailors and airmen who need to come home from war. America doesn’t need two parties to function as a country (in case you’ve forgotten, one of those parties expressly made sure American WOULDN’T function by shutting down the government twice). America needs duly elected representatives who serve her people’s interests. That’s it. That’s all America needs.

If the Republican party burns itself down in Cleveland, nominates Trump, and we are left with the only viable option as a country to vote against that talking trash heap, we can do that and America will be just fine.

The GOP doesn’t need to save itself from Trump if that’s not what it wants to do. The rest of us need to save America from Trump (and Cruz, and Romney, and Ryan, and all of the chittering insects in R-covered skin suits running for Senate) by defeating him in an election in November.

And if there’s no GOP at the end of it, you tell me one single reason I should give a shit.


The Troll In Chief

Gore Vidal once called Merica the land of the dull and the home of the literal. The master’s opinion has been confirmed by the reaction of some earnest folks to the President’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. I beg to differ. It’s a political masterstroke that has put the GOP majority in the Senate on the spot. Charlie Pierce, as usual, gets it:

So it’s a masterpiece of trolling from a guy who’s become very, very good at that. I understand the frustration of the president’s progressive supporters at the idea of a 60-ish white guy replacing a 70-ish dead white guy on the Supreme Court. (I would’ve preferred Jane Kelly from the Eighth Circuit, who already had heads exploding.) I’m sure there were several dozen more diverse, and clearly no-more-fcks-to-give, choices he could’ve made. But Garland’s work as a supervising DOJ attorney in the Oklahoma City bombing case intrigues me, and it is likely to light up the far distant precincts of wingnuttia as well. At the very least, he’s aware of the wildness loose in the country. He seems moderate and judicious and very unlikely to stray too far out of bounds from what this president and his supporters think a Supreme Court justice should be. His opinions on the appellate rights of criminal defendants could use some work, but he’s not likely to join with the likes of Samuel Alito to take an ax to things like the Miranda decision. He’s not a law’n’order guy. Tom Goldstein of the invaluable SCOTUSBlog put together a solid compendium of Garland’s record the last time his name arose to fill a vacancy on the Court, when Garland was passed over in favor of Justice Elena Kagan.

All of which is, for the moment, anyway, moot. This is a purely tactical move, and it’s an awfully good one. Right now, Republican senators are saying that they won’t even take one-on-one meetings with the guy, let alone give him a committee vote, let alone give him a confirmation vote in the Senate. This was precisely the reaction the president was hoping for, although he didn’t exactly have to be Nostradamus to make this play.

Judge Garland’s views seem quite similar to those of Justice Breyer, which is not a bad thing at all. He’s an eminent and distinguished lawyer who was on the shortlist when Elena Kagan was nominated. In normal times, his confirmation would be a slam dunk. As you may have noticed, these are not normal times. That’s why this ostensibly safe nomination is like throwing a hand grenade into Mitch McConnell’s lap. Kaboom.

After taking one to the chin, Chinless Mitch is whining about a fellow politician playing politics with the Supremes. Remember Rawnsley’s new rule of politics:  if you’re whingeing, you’re losing, and that’s what’s happening here. This nomination *is* about politics and the blue/swing state Senators who were elected in the Teabagger wave election of 2010. Come on down: Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Richard Burr of North Carolina, and the seat Little Marco vacated in Florida. The 2016 Senate map for GOPers is just as daunting as the 2014 map was for Democrats. Democratic candidates are likely to win 5 of these seats, and could even run the board if the GOP Presidential nominee is a drag on the ticket as either the Insult Comedian or Tailgunner Ted may turn out to be.

President Obama has done something that is both responsible and deliciously devious. It’s a gambit that two of the most Machiavellian Democratic Presidents, FDR and LBJ would have admired. Well played, sir. Who’da thunk that Barack Obama would turn out to be a master troll? I used to think he was strictly an “eat your vegetables” kind of guy. I was wrong.

It’s uncertain how this will play out, but Senate Republicans have stumbled into a trap of their own making. For some reason, they didn’t expect the President would dare to make an appointment. That’s par for the course, they’re so consumed with their image of the fake Obama that they haven’t noticed that he’s out of fucks to give.

Hail to the Troll In Chief.

The Fog Of History: Paul Ryan Meets James G. Blaine

For better or worse, Paul Ryan is the Speaker of the House. I have my doubts that he’ll have better luck uniting the flying monkeys of the GOP caucus than Speaker Boner. The drooling teahadist loons who the voters have elected since 2010 were convinced that Boner,  a Gingrich protegé, was a RINO instead of a down-the-line conservative. The hilariously named House Freedom caucus is convinced that Ayn Rand quoting, entitlements attacking Paul Ryan is a squish instead of a hardcore right-wing ideologue. This is what the quest for purity brings you: the Zombie eyed Granny starver isn’t conservative enough for the likes of John Fleming and Louis Gohmert Piles. I guess they think Eddie Munster is a squish too:


One thing that was often noted last week was a connection between Lyin’ Ryan and a legendary 19th Century pol also noted for his mendacity:

Earlier this week, the House of Representatives elected Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, as the next speaker of the House. Ryan, 45, became youngest Speaker since James G. Blaine, who was 39 years old when he was elected speaker in 1869,according to the House historian.

When James G. Blaine was the Republican nominee in 1884, many goo-goo GOPers refused to endorse him; supporting instead the overstuffed sofa who was the Democratic nominee, Grover Cleveland. During the 1884 campaign, his foes jeered,”James G. Blaine. James G. Blaine. James G. Blaine, continental liar from the state of Maine.” And Paul LePage thinks he’s got it bad…

Blaine lost the 1884 election, which was his third and last attempt to be Oval One. As a person. Blaine has little in common with Paul Ryan. He was a charming rascal who talked his way out of many a tight spot. Paul Ryan is known for his earnestness and ideological zeal whereas Blaine was ideologically flexible to say the least. One thing they have in common is hypocrisy, but I think Ryan’s insistence on “family time” while opposing it for others trumps Blaine who was always entertaining.

James G. Blaine is another historical figure that I first encountered in one of Gore Vidal’s books, 1876. In many ways, Blaine was the Houdini of 19th century politics because of his uncanny ability to escape trouble. One of Vidal’s characters describes Blaine as the most, “beguiling monster since the Serpent in the Garden of Eden.” It beats the hell out of being compared to a werewolf or a zombie like Paul Ryan.

One final, marginally relevant observation. I’m not quite sure when the practice vanished, but we rarely us a politician’s middle initial as a central part of their public identity any more. It used to be a common practice with pols such as John F. Kennedy, Thomas E. Dewey, Lyndon B. Johnson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, or the man Archie Bunker always referred to as Richard E. Nixon. Harry Truman did not have a middle name but felt compelled to adopt the letter S in order to be HST.

That concludes this edition of the Fog of History. I’m not sure if it was terribly illuminating but it gave me a chance to say this, “James G. Blaine. James G. Blaine. James G. Blaine, continental liar from the state of Maine,” and to post this:


Class dismissed.