Category Archives: Elections

NOLA Politics: I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead, You Rascal You

The rascal in question is the New Orleans mayoral run-off election, which will be held this Saturday. It’s been a nasty, dispiriting race with both sides flinging shit like zoo chimps. Primary  frontrunner LaToya Cantrell has held and expanded her lead despite the city credit card misuse allegation that I went into in detail at the Bayou Brief.  The issue was subsequently diffused by the release of credit card records of other councilmembers showing that Cantrell’s use was on the high-end but not an outlier.

One reason for Cantrell’s expanding lead is the abysmal campaign run by her opponent, Desiree Charbonnet. Team Charbonnet has flooded the city with flop sweat this week. They keep throwing shit up against the wall and very little has stuck. They even falsely claimed that re-elected Councilmembers Jason Williams and Jared Brossett endorsed their effort. I know lying is in fashion but this was a clumsy and easily refutable lie.  It’s the internet age, y’all. These things spread faster than they did 20 years ago.

Another endorsement (real this time) reflects Chabonnet’s futile attempt to win over white conservative voters:

It’s a shitty picture but it makes the point. Here’s how I described Charbonnet’s honky quest in a Bayou Brief column that focuses on her political relationship with the white, conservative District Attorney Leon Canizarro aka Canny: 

Canny’s heavy-handed intervention has confirmed Cantrell supporters’ opinion that Charbonnet is a terrible person who is guilty, if of nothing else, of being a machine politician. I think that Charbonnet’s attempt to woo white conservative voters is doomed to fail. The Charbonnet brand means “corruption” to people in Lakeview and the Garden District. They didn’t support her in the primary and they’re unlikely to do so in the run-off.

And Steve Scalise represents suburban Metry and parts of the Northshore. His support means even less than Canny’s. Canny is at least a New Orleanian.

What Team Charbonnet refuses to understand is that there are fewer white conservative voters than before Katrina. It’s a top-heavy campaign as described by Deep Blog who blames the mess on one of Charbonnet’s campaign consultants:

It’s all on Bill Schultz. He always uses a cannon when the situation calls for a cap gun. Can’t help himself. And Bunny & Ike. Her campaign literally had more money than they knew how to spend intelligently. So they proceeded to spend it very unintelligently on consultants. All chiefs, yet no one really in charge.

They’ve been running a pre-Katrina campaign in a digital world. It’s one of the main reasons they’re about to lose. Bigly. I originally thought there would be a 10 point spread but it looks as if it will be Cantrell by 15 to 20 points. It’s the worst run New Orleans mayoral campaign since the one Dollar Bill Jefferson ran in 2002 for Richard Pennington. I go into more detail in another Bayou Brief column.

One thing that I hope will never change are the scurrilous flyers that are mailed out in the last two weeks of every citywide election campaign. This year PACs have done the candidates dirty work. For more details on that point and much more, check out this week’s Gambit cover story by Clancy DuBos.

I’d like to thank my friend Alex McKenzie for the flyer photos that follow. I may owe him some pho for the photos.

First off is a downright vicious anti-Charbonnet flyer. I didn’t get this one and I’m annoyed by the omission, y’all. It seems like bias against my racially mixed 13th Ward neighborhood or some such shit.

Team Charbonnet has its own PAC attack dogs. I got the next flyer. I guess they realized that I’m “just another white boy with the disco blues.” As far as I know, Fee Waybill isn’t on the ballot Saturday. End of Tubes references. Here’s an edited version of the anti-Cantrell flyer:

Straight Out Of Compton? There you have it, ladies and germs: supporters of an African-American candidate have sent out a blatantly racist attack flyer.

This flyer could only appeal to a racist white Trump voter whose family has been here for generations and hates all transplants. That’s a shrinking part of electorate. Trump only got 15% of the vote in Orleans Parish and those people all hate the Charbonnets. This was money wasted but at least I got a blog post out of it.

I remain a clothes pin Cantrell voter. I’m hoping she will modify her position on short term rentals but she’s likely to win big and feel she has a mandate. Humility has not been a strong suit of her candidacy.

I am thrilled the election will be over soon. We can all wash the mud off our clothes and celebrate Thanksgiving without any political ads polluting the air waves.

Let’s circle back to the post title. I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead, You Rascal You aka You Rascal You was written by Sam Thread in 1929. It’s associated with the greatest person ever born in New Orleans: Louis Armstrong. I’ll give Satchmo the last word as we dance on the grave of the 2017 mayoral election:

Judge Pervert’s Ten Commandments Of Love

Athenae wrote a brilliant piece yesterday about the moral, ethical, and personal aspects of the latest Roy Moore scandal. She nailed it completely so I’m going to focus on the political, legal, and semantic aspects of this shitstorm.

I’m going to try something different and do it in a way the defrocked (derobed?) judge might appreciate if it weren’t aimed at him. Moore came to national attention by placing the Ten Commandments monument seen above at the Alabama Supreme Court. He’s obsessed with the Ten Commandments even if he violates many of them, so I came up with Judge Pervert’s Ten Commandments of Love. I know I should put quotes around the word love but I don’t want to come off all air quotey like an Alabama sorority girl: they’re too old for Ole Roy, after all. Besides, love has nothing to do with Roy Moore aka Judge Pervert.

FIRST COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt vote for Doug Jones.

The easiest way to keep Judge Pervert out of the Senate is for Alabamians to vote for his Democratic opponent. Jones is a distinguished lawyer and seems to be squeaky clean. Judge Pervert is neither. Unfortunately, many white Alabamians think voting for a Democrat is akin to supporting a member of the Satanic-Communist party.

Suburban voters should think twice before sending this embarrassment on two legs to represent them in the Senate. It’s a special election: the seat is up again in 2020.

Moore is still the favorite as of now but Doug Jones has a fighting chance,

The next commandment is directed at Senate Republicans if the pervert wins.

SECOND COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt not let Judge Pervert keep his seat.

Seating a Senator is a pro forma act and a past supreme court case involving Adam Clayton Powell established that Congress must seat even corrupt members. BUT there is no provision or precedent barring the Senate from expelling an odious solon. I direct you to an excellent op-ed in the failing NYT by a law professor at the University of Alabama.

Senate Democrats should do whatever they can to force a vote on expelling Judge Pervert. It would likely lose BUT it puts GOPers on the record on the Moore issue. Imagine the attack ads: “They voted to seat a pervert. Whatever happened to the party of family values?” Politically, it’s a win-win situation.

THIRD COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt remember that Roy Moore was unfit for office *before* the WaPo sexpose.

Roy Moore is a judge who was defrocked for defying SCOTUS. He led an effort to preserve a pro-school segregation clause in the Alabama state constitution. Moore’s rap sheet on important issues is so extensive that I’m not going into details. Suffice it to say that he’s to the right of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions. He’s an extremist, not a conservative.

FOURTH COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt remember that Alabama is a corrupt, one party state.

Alabama Republicans are divided on Roy Moore who is financially, as well as morally, corrupt. The peckerwoods and wool hats are supporting their fellow asshole extremist. Business GOPers are queasy over his candidacy but they supported Luther Strange who was up to his eyeballs in the weird sex scandal involving former Governor Bob Bentley. One party states breed corruption and produce unfit politicians.

FIFTH COMMANDMENT:  Thou shalt honor and believe the victims of perverts, rapists, and sexual harassers.

Our society is programmed to look away from allegations of gross sexual misconduct, especially when the accused is an authority figure. Clarence Thomas is a Supreme despite Anita Hill’s compelling testimony against him. BUT the timing for Roy Moore couldn’t be worse. It comes on the heels of the exposure of so many powerful men as pervy assholes. It will be interesting to see if Moore survives it like Trump or is somehow recast like Kevin Spacey. I doubt if Christopher Plummer would be willing to play Judge Pervert.

I originally planned to go all Slate contrarian on the use of the term pedophile to describe Roy Moore. The word’s clinical definition involves an attraction to pre-pubescent children, which is not Roy Moore’s thing. BUT the correct clinical term for an attraction to mid to late adolescents is ephebophilia. It’s a mouthful and on the unpronounceable side, so I’m not going to be a semantic pedant in this instance. The word pedophile is clear and pronounceable so have at it. Judge Pervert deserves no mercy, semantic or otherwise.

SIXTH COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt be prepared for more shoes to drop.

A former colleague of Judge Pervert had this to say yesterday on CNN:

“It was common knowledge that Roy dated high school girls, everyone we knew thought it was weird,” former deputy district attorney Teresa Jones told CNN in comments aired Saturday. “We wondered why someone his age would hang out at high school football games and the mall … but you really wouldn’t say anything to someone like that.”

Holy Ephebophilia, Batman.

SEVENTH COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt remember that the publicly pious tend to be hypocrites.

Judge Pervert is the biblebanger’s biblebanger. He’s forever moralizing and sermonizing. Never trust a sanctimonious evangelical. They all have dark secrets and plans for their public redemption. Biblethumpers are big on forgiving those who agree with them. They love repentant sinners as long as they’re against abortion and gay marriage.

EIGHTH COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt heed the words of Doctor/Governor Dean:

Praise be unto the former party chairman who tweeteth the truth. Moore is already running against the Bezos/Amazon/Washington Post.

Hell, they’d think people from New Orleans were carpetbaggers let alone people from the North. They need scalawags who speak their own language, y’all.

NINTH COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt separate Sean Hannity from his advertisers.

Judge Pervert turned to the Fox News meathead in his time of woe. Hannity seems to have coached him to say the expedient thing and deny that he was interested in  teenyboppers. This has increased the pressure on Hannity’s advertisers. It’s fun to watch the Fox News meathead squirm. Squirm, Sean, squirm.

TENTH COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt give the last word to the pop song that inspired the post title.

There are some swell versions out there. Here are three of them. I suspect Roy Moore thinks this song is blasphemous. Fuck you, Roy.

 

 

The Roy Moore Scandal: Just “unusual” love in Darwin’s Waiting Room

I often joke about my “First Rule of Holes” which is simply this: When you find yourself in one, stop digging. Apparently, no one ever told people in the Alabama state hierarchy that rule, given that Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler came to Roy Moore’s defense with an inspirational tale from the Bible:

“Take the Bible. Zachariah and Elizabeth for instance. Zachariah was extremely old to marry Elizabeth and they became the parents of John the Baptist,” Ziegler said choosing his words carefully before invoking Christ. “Also take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.”

“There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here,” Ziegler concluded. “Maybe just a little bit unusual.”

Keep in mind, this is a guy who slammed the U.N. after a three-person panel visited his state a few years back and found it to be, to borrow Dennis Miller’s line, “Darwin’s Waiting Room” when it came to sexual issues and gender equity:

Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler earlier this week issued a statement saying that the U.N. was launching “a major assault on Alabama laws protecting children” and warning that its investigation in Alabama and two other states is “the next step of an agenda to impose U.N. standards in every sate that does not resist this intrusion.”

“The U.N. is preparing to try to dictate to Alabama what we must do on abortion, contraceptives given to youth, sex education in schools, tolerance of alternative sexual orientation and other ‘progressive’ issues,” Zeigler warned in a the statement released on Monday.

So, when a 32-year-old man tries to fuck a 14-year-old girl he just met, that’s “unusual” but not illegal? What kinds of “laws protecting children” does this state actually HAVE in Zeigler’s mind? Also, what’s the difference between “unusual” and “alternative?”

So let’s review the three “cases” we have in front of us at this point to determine Zeigler’s line of thinking:

  1. Two adults of the same gender fall in love and want to be married = Major Assault
  2. A 32-year-old man tries to fuck a 14-year-old girl (or three) at a cabin in the woods = Maybe just a bit unusual
  3. A 14-year-old girl is visited by an angel, impregnated by a deity, married to a 30-something man, sent packing on a donkey to a faraway land to give birth in a cave to the savior of the world = Totally normal thing we celebrate every December.

Glad we got all that cleared up.

 

 

Fuck Yeah, Virginia

It’s been quite some time since we’ve had a fuck yeah headline here at First Draft. The last one was way back in June 29, 2015. I think you know why: there hasn’t been much to celebrate since the emergence of the Insult Comedian as a serious candidate then tragicomic president*.

This morning there’s much to celebrate, especially in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Longtime and/or careful readers know that, along with Louisiana and California, Virginia is one of my home states. Dr. A grew up in Staunton and has family and close friends in Richmond and elsewhere in the Old Dominion. That is why Virginia is my fuck yeah focus even though the news from elsewhere was equally good.

As you can see, the Virginia state flag is particularly vivid. I like this description from 50states.com:

A deep blue field contains the seal of Virginia with the Latin motto ” Sic Semper Tyrannis” – “Thus Always to Tyrants”. Adopted in 1776. The two figures are acting out the meaning of the motto. Both are dressed as warriors. The woman, Virtue, represents Virginia. The man holding a scourge and chain shows that he is a tyrant. His fallen crown is nearby.

The flag is not only vivid, it’s appropriate. Donald Trump is a scourge and wannabe tyrant. The vote in Virginia was a referendum on Trumpism, which was roundly repudiated in the three statewide offices as well as in the House of Delegates. I thought Northam would win but the landslide was unexpected. This is how I summed it on twitter:

It could have said: Son of Virginia beats Carpetbagger from Jersey.

Speaking of twitter, Trump delayed his sales pitch speech to the Korean National Assembly to tweet out this lame excuse:

In fact, phony populist Ed Gillespie embraced Trumpy’s racism and xenophobia. It may have worked in isolated hollers but it killed him in the cities and suburbs. Dr/Lt. Gov Northam was a center-left candidate from the Eastern Shore of Virginia very much in the tradition of past winning Goober candidates Chuck Robb, Doug Wilder, Mark Warner, Tim  Kaine, and Terry McAuliffe. Those Democratic governors helped turn the Commonwealth blue. It’s a pity that they have a stupid one-term rule when they’ve had so many fine Governors. It’s helped in Senate races: 3 of those guys became solons.

There were many things to cheer about last night in the Old Dominion:

  • The hard work of  progressive former Congressman Tom Perriello who lost to Northam in the primary. He not only endorsed Northam but helped him win. Well done, sir.
  • The victory of former journalist Danica Roem in her race. She’s the first openly transgendered person to win a state legislative race. She defeated the author of a bigoted bathroom bill by focusing on important local issues. Well done, madam.
  • The victory of another former journalist Chris Hurst who ran on a forthright gun control platform. You may recall that Hurst’s reporter  girlfriend, Alison Parker, was murdered on live teevee. Well done, sir.

I wish I could say that I thought yesterday’s successes would carry over into the Doug Jones-Roy Moore Senate race in Alabama but I’m dubious. It’s a rabidly red state but Democrats *should* take a flyer on the race. It’s a contest between a civil rights champion and a man who would love to see The Handmaid’s Tale become reality.

Yesterday’s victories, however, will carry over to races small and large in swing states. Republicans in suburban Congressional districts should be shitting their pants. Those with any sense will start putting some distance between themselves and the Insult Comedian. Trump is POISON and Trumpism is a LOSER.

Now that we’ve danced in the end zone, it’s time to go back to work and elect Democrats up and down the ballot. It’s not over until the Fat President whines.

The last word goes to Ray Charles singing the Virginia state song emeritus:

That’s right: state song emeritus since 1997. The Commonwealth has “popular” and “traditional” state songs as well. Who knew? Ya learn something new every day.

Food Pantries and State Legislatures

That’s what I’ve come to believe is the answer, no kidding: 

Let’s say Trump disappeared tomorrow, and all his creatures with him. (We’d be short one pussygrabbing racist warmonger, and I’d never say that’s nothing, but let’s keep our eyes on the ball here.) A president Mike Pence or a President Paul Ryan would still have a GOP Congress set on making life worse for anyone who isn’t the owner of a corporation. Gerrymandered congressional districts mean their power is relatively assured; Trump lost the popular vote by 3 million and still carried 25 more congressional districts than Clinton.

How do we fix that? The same way it got broke—in statehouses across the country.

A.

Don’t Watch Mueller

Mueller’s not here to save us.

He’s not here to overturn the election. He’s not here to hand back the spine the GOP willingly ripped out of its party and tossed into the landfill of history.

He’s not gonna fix this, for the very simple reason that this isn’t how it got broke.

America didn’t get broke because Donald Trump is up to his eyeballs in Russian mob money.

America got broke because Republicans decided to take over the country 20 years ago and Democrats, with the exception of Howard Dean First of His Name, mostly said okay as long as we can keep our committee chairmanships. America got broke because keeping our powder dry and not looking like filthy hippies was more important than standing up for Americans and American values.

“We’ll give you the blanket ability to wage war across the globe however you see fit, grant retroactive immunity to anyone who spies on anyone,” Congress said, “and by the way here is a tax cut or two because we, also, love ‘business,’ but for God’s sake stop calling us commie traitor pedophiles on Fox News.”

That’s worked out well.

America got broke because we decided to fetishize “taxpayer money” over “American lives.” Mueller isn’t here to fix that.

I’d never tell anyone not to pop popcorn and champagne right now. I’m not saying we shouldn’t celebrate criminals and traitors — especially ones this dumb — turning on each other and going to jail. The members of this administration that aren’t going to die in federal prison will die in WitSec under the names of Pete and Martha, a nice couple in southeastern Utah who have four beagles and always bring salad to the church picnic. That’s something to cheer for. One less scumbag on the street always is.

But the GOP can turn around and do this to us again tomorrow if they keep the statehouses and Congress and the way I know that is that they’ve done it before. Richard Nixon should have been the end of this party but here we are again, with a bunch of dumb bagmen fighting over who is the biggest butthole. Roger Stone’s even here.

We keep letting them back up because we think law enforcement, the goddamn FBI, is here to save us. I’ll give you a minute to stop laughing but then you’d better get back to figuring out who represents you in your state legislature and if it’s a Republican figuring out how you can change that.

Don’t watch.

Don’t sit.

Don’t wait.

Keep going.

A.

Love Is (Luther) Strange But Roy Moore Is Even Stranger

Yeah, I know, the Senator who was appointed to replace Jeff Sessions by disgraced former Alabama Governor Robert Bentley lost to a lunatic. I’d been meaning to use the first part of the title forever but ain’t it funny how time slips away.

Republicans are rallying around the erratic former Alabama Supreme Court Justice. I’m not sure if it’s because of the hat he wore at a recent rally, the gun he waved around, his homophobia, or Islamophobia:

 Those bearhugs come in spite of Moore’s decades-long bigotry and radicalism.

He has suggested the 9/11 attacks happened because America turned its back on God, called Islam a “false religion,” claimed parts of the Midwest were already living under Islamic Sharia lawwarned that “immorality, abortion, sodomy, sexual perversion sweep our land,” and continued to claim that President Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. — and that’s just in the course of this current campaign.

In past years, Moore has argued Muslims should be barred from serving in Congress and that “homosexual conduct should be illegal.”

Crazy is in right now thanks to Donald Trump and the morons who voted for him. I guess Ken Kesey would have called him the Bull Goose Loony In Chief. Of course, Trump is a sinner and Roy Moore is a religious zealot who’s out to baptize the world. In a sane world, the religious right would hate the twice divorced Trump but, at the risk of being repetitive, crazy is in right now. Bigly.

There are two good things about Moore’s victory. First, Strange’s loss caused a presidential* hissy fit with the tiny finger of blame pointed at Chinless Mitch. Second, Moore is so barking mad that he’ll automatically be the most entertaining member of the Senate. And the most appalling.

The chances of Moore losing the general election to Democrat Doug Jones are slim and slim is  unlikely to turn out to vote in December. The reasons are obvious: it’s Alabama where Trump’s brand of crazy is still popular and Moore’s hardcore supporters will vote even if it’s raining hellfire.

A brief word about Luther Strange. Trump dubbed him Big Luther in the closing days of his doomed campaign. Strange is 6’9″ and played college hoops at Tulane from 1972 to 1975.

He wasn’t much of a player. His stats are those of a graceless white goon, which apparently carried over into his career in Alabama politics. Btw, I still don’t know what the hell a Green Wave is.

I never heard whether or not Moore attacked Strange for having lived in Sin City whilst in college and law school. I guess the big fella (God, not Luther Strange) didn’t tell him to do it.

The lessons of Roy Moore’s success are that bigotry works and that Trump cannot control Trumpism. I doubt if he even wants to: he thrives on chaos and disorder. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos. I predict he’ll have an uneasy relationship with Roy Moore who fancies himself a contemporary old testament prophet. Trump is into profits, not prophets.

That last word goes to the song that inspired the post title. I’m not sure what Mickey and Sylvia ever did to deserve this:

 

Malaka Of The Week: Frank Scurlock

Photo via WDSU.

I try to avoid writing about literal malakatude, especially when it’s the public variety. It’s sticky and gross. Sometimes you’ve got to deal with ugly reality and ain’t nobody uglier than the NOLA mayoral pretender and bouncy house mogul who was allegedly caught with his pants down in Southern California. And that is why Frank (Top Hat Guy) Scurlock is malaka of the week.

The story popped (bopped?) like a one-eyed weasel last Friday afternoon:

New Orleans mayoral candidate Frank Scurlock is facing a misdemeanor count of lewd conduct in Santa Monica, California, where he is accused of masturbating in an Uber vehicle in February.

Scurlock, whose splashy campaign ads have pledged to “Uberize” the New Orleans Police Department, was allegedly caught masturbating by a driver taking him to a hotel in West Hollywood on Feb. 10, Santa Monica Chief Deputy City Attorney Terry White said.

<SNIP>

The Uber driver told police and prosecutors she was driving on a freeway near Santa Monica when she heard sounds coming from the back seat, White said Friday, reading from the driver’s statement. Concluding that Scurlock was masturbating, the driver pulled over and opened the door, White said.

When she did, she said, she found Scurlock with his pants around his ankles, his shirt pulled up and his erect penis in his hand.

The driver ordered Scurlock to get out and went into a gas station to call police, according to her statement. While she was inside, Scurlock left the scene. Police ended up going to Scurlock’s hotel, and the driver identified him from a photo lineup, White said.

Lewd conduct is a misdemeanor in California, but if found guilty, Scurlock would be required to register as a sex offender in the state, White said. It was not immediately clear whether he would also have to sign up for Louisiana’s sex offender registry.

This episode may explain Scurlock’s Uber fixation. Uberize me, baby.

Frank Scurlock entered the Mayors race hoping to be the Donald Trump of the field: an outrageous, mouthy rich guy who would sweep to victory. It was always a forlorn hope in deep blue New Orleans. Instead, he’s a punchline and was a joke even before he pulled this stunt. Here’s what I said in a column last month at the Bayou Brief:

One of my tasks at the Bayou Brief will be to analyze, and occasionally mock, the candidates as the process unfolds. Did I just say occasionally? Who am I kidding? They deserve mockery, especially minor candidate Frank Scurlock, who promises a crime blimp and anti-crime patrols of the French Quarter by the National Park Service. The rangers give tours, dude.

Scurlock inspired several derisive nicknames even before the exposure of his alleged masturbatory exploits. One friend calls him Top Hat Guy and another dubbed him Skank Furlock. That evokes tugging at the forelock. We all know that he’s good at tugging at something. Additionally, Frank rhymes with wank. I got a million of them but you already knew that.

This was Scurlock’s second brush with law enforcement this year. He joined the Lost Causers in their shiva sitting at the former Jefferson Davis monument and ended up in handcuffs:

The citation for the incident states that Scurlock “rattled the fence where he wasn’t allowed to cross,” something he acknowledged he did to get officers’ attention. The citation goes on to accuse Scurlock of bumping the officer, something he denied and which he is not seen doing on the video.

Scurlock, who said he opposes the monuments’ removal because it could ignite a “Civil War II,” said he only just started learning about the city’s two-year-old effort to remove the monuments.

He said he had hoped to question the police about the timeline for the planned removals and to ask whether they were working on the city’s dime or if they were there as a private detail.

I wonder if he would have disrespected a park ranger in an anti-crime blimp in the same way? It’s a funny way for a law and order candidate to behave, innit?

In the wake of the current charges, I bet the cops were relieved they cuffed Malaka Scurlock’s hands during Lost Cause Fest:

Photo via The New Orleans Advocate.

Those charges were dropped but it accelerated Scurlock’s rise as the clown prince of the 2017 mayoral field. I have to give him credit, he’s the only one who’s trying to refute the premise of my second Bayou Brief column: that a weak field of candidates has led to a dull campaign, hence the title The B-List:

Unfortunately, Cantrell, Charbonnet, and Bagneris are B-Listers and the campaign is defined by those who did not run: Stacy Head, Walt Leger, Karen Carter Peterson, and Sidney (Trashanova) Torres among others. The first three belong on the A-list of local politics whereas the current field ranges from the B-to the Z-list. Z is for zany and includes perennial candidate Manny (A Troubled Man for Troubled Times) Chevrolet as well as political newcomer Frank Scurlock. The latter at least has a pulse, even if his ideas are flakier than a dried-out Zulu coconut.

Notice the semi-clever self-promotion. That’s something Malaka Scurlock is good at as well. He’s been known to hire sky-writers to buzz the Fairgrounds during Jazz Fest. It’s a pity that he’s never promoted this local business in his role as the Alt-Skywriter:

Not even Frank the Wank can beat their meat but he allegedly tried in Santa Monica. In fact, he put the pubic into public in that Uber. And some local wag put the cock into Scurlock. My friend Roberta LeGrand spotted the dick and photographed it:

Photo by Roberta LeGrand.

I suppose I should cease and desist the jokes about literal malakatude. I don’t want to rub anyone the wrong way or get into any trouble I can’t, uh, handle. Scurlock’s latest legal problem gives an entirely new meaning to a headline suggested by a friend for a Scurlock piece that will never be written: Scurlocked and Loaded. I somehow don’t think Top Hat Guy will grant me an interview if he hears about this post.

I suppose I should thank Frank the Wank for livening up a dull campaign. We all need a good laugh in the Age of Trump, especially when the rubber hits the road in the backseat of an Uber. And that is why Frank Scurlock is malaka of the week.

Finally, in the spirit of helpfulness for which I’m known, I’d like to suggest a theme song for the Scurlock campaign. It’s Pete Townshend’s ode to wankery, Pictures of Lily:

While we’re at it, Bowie covered it on his Pin Ups album:

I learned that one YouTuber doesn’t understand Pete Townshend’s lyrics. They used Pictures of Lily for a video about their dog and there was no leg-humping involved. Oy, just oy.

Awkward Dinner Conversations

Two things. The first is this thread, which will teach you more about what’s really at the heart of Trump’s support than a thousand New York anthropological examinations of Midwestern noble savages ever could:

The second is St. John McCain, pretending once again to be above the process he is in up to his neck, scolding his colleagues as if he could do nothing that would influence their actions:

McCain bemoaned the tone of modern politics, suggesting that wild partisanship was paralyzing the country’s political institutions and tearing the country apart.
“Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio and the television and the Internet. To hell with them. They don’t want anything done for the public good — our incapacity is their livelihood. Let’s trust each other. Let’s return to regular order.”

And that’s really the heart of it all. Shit had gotten awkward at dinner, for John McCain and for a lot of the wealthier supporters of Trump and his merry band of blithering GOP dicksmacks. It had gotten awkward talking around racism and sexism and general misanthropy and it was harder and harder to find cover for one’s overall contempt for the poor. People had grown less willing to believe in the inherent good will of a party that would start an illegal war, spy on Americans, burn a black president in effigy and grab women by the pussy. The invitations must have stopped coming, or at least slowed down.

How about this, though? NOBODY IN WASHINGTON IS ELECTED TO LIKE EACH OTHER THEY ARE ELECTED TO HELP PEOPLE.

I think it’s nice that there are friendships and bromances (until today, Kerry/McCain 4 EVA). Generally I think it is good that we have a society. I think it’s good to get along with your coworkers. But not when you’re people and they’re skin sacks filled with bees. And not when it requires you to balance your need to keep your buds with your need to serve your constituents, ie do your fucking job when you’re on the clock and bump fuzzies on your own time.

The most heartbreaking thing about all of this, though? Democrats would forgive it tomorrow.

I mean the elected ones, mostly, but also a lot of the rank and file.

If it meant we could help people some more, we would forgive all the horrific things that were said and all the horrific things that were done. For two years of a campaign and the first year of his presidency Barack Obama was subjected to the most vile racist attacks in modern political history.

His response? To try to give the very people who voted against him for vile racist reasons health insurance.

For her entire life Hillary Clinton was subjected to the most vile sexist attacks it’s possible to subject a white woman to, while she served her country with distinction.

Her response? To fight to protect that health insurance.

So I have very little doubt the Democratic Party would forgive it all tomorrow and go back to trying to help people. Some of us wouldn’t forget, but we’d go right back to work. Hell, some of us are still working, dark though our prospects are, to stop this while we still can.

The civility that the GOP is disingenuously begging for? After all this, we’d give it to them. If modern dinner conversation requires that liberals hold themselves in contempt for the very things that the contemptuous public says it wants politicians to do to help them, liberals would sign up for that shit tomorrow because taking one for the team is kind of our entire THING. Our fate is your fate, bitches.

I keep hearing that the past 6 months are the fault of dumb libtard feminazi bitches like myself who impose their political correctness by banning the words “Merry Christmas” and not valuing traditional American values. If my 12-years-of-religious-ed ass agrees that you can say whatever politically incorrect shit to me that you want, can we let people keep their baby’s chemo?

I’d consider that a fair bargain. I think a lot of my fellow libtards would as well, so babies can keep their cancer treatments. So that nobody has to face a bill they can’t pay after their baby dies. I think we would let people lecture us about traditional values. I think we would let them do it and we would fucking smile.

Just let us help people, that’s all we’re asking.

After all this time.

A.

Deep Blog’s Separated At Birth Theory Of The Georgia 6 Race

You may recall my friend Deep Blog from the 2015 Gret Stet Goober race. He only comes out during Southern elections, apparently. He has a unique theory as to what really happened in the Handel-Ossoff race:

I’m sorry that Ossoff didn’t handle Handel but it was *always* going to be an uphill climb in such a Republican district. I was among those who thought Ossoff’s best chance was winning the primary. He still ran a good race against the odds with a double-digit swing in the vote. It wasn’t enough but this is Newt’s old district for chrissake.

Ossoff’s defeat is disappointing. A win in the Georgia 6 would have been of great symbolic importance but symbolism isn’t everything. I live in the even Deeper South and his loss has nothing to do with his alleged ideological impurity. If Democrats are to mount a comeback in the 2018 cycle, we have to get over imposing purity tests and focus on coalition building. It’s how John Bel Edwards defeated David Vitter in the 2015 Gret Stet Goober race. Edwards is a blue dog but he’s governed as a center-left Democrat. If he had run as a proto-Berner, he’d be out of politics and Diaper Dave would be governor.

 As always, Josh Marshall nails how we should respond to last night’s loss:

What Democrats need to resist at all costs is the temperamental inclination to fall into spasms of self-loathing over this defeat – specifically, the idea that there’s something fundamentally wrong with the party because of this loss. I saw one Democrat on Twitter tonight ask if Ossoff’s loss didn’t mean “the Democratic party apparatus needs a total overhaul on every single level?”

Maybe the Democrats do need a fundamental overhaul. But doing 10 to 15 points better than a House candidate has done in this district since the 1970s simply isn’t evidence for that. There’s also a toxic desire on the part of many to use this painful defeat as an opening to relitigate intra-party grievances. Losing is hard. Taking a loss and getting up the next day to keep fighting to get to the next level takes endurance and guts. Many cannot resist the temptation to trade that sting for a toxic self-validation. All I can say to that is that parties build majorities by finding ways to unite competing factions over common interests and goals – something Donald Trump should help with a lot. They almost never get there when they are locked in internecine struggle or when either faction thinks it can or does destroy the other. That’s just not how it works.

This is a big disappointment. But remember, by any objective measure these races show a Democratic party resurgent and a GOP on the ropes. These seats came open because they were vacated by people Trump picked for cabinet appointments. They got those picks because they came from safe seats. They are by no means a cross section of House seats. The thing to do is learn what we can from coming up just short and move on to the next fight. No one should expect any of this to be easy. If you do, bow out of civic questions and just watch movies and TV. We need people with more endurance.

Speaking of teevee, I’ll give Margo Martindale as Mags Bennett the last word. Literally.

Someone Told People to Resent Others

This thread is worth reading, referencing as it does the ongoing “resentment politics” that have devastated Scott Walker’s Wisconsin:

As I keep saying, people do not independently come to the conclusion that all minorities are T-bone buying welfare cheats dragging on the system and burning down the ‘hood. Someone TELLS them that. We can’t just accept that outlook as the reality and address it with policy without squarely facing who is pushing the message and how they are doing it.

Because until we counter the voices yelling at them through their speakers, it won’t matter if Democrats DO come out strongly in favor of Medicare for All, if they remind people they were the only ones who gave even half a fuck about reining in rapacious health care companies, if they run ads every other second touting free community college and support for organized labor. It won’t matter if they all turn into St. Bernie Sanders, or for that matter St. Hillary Clinton as she was instead of as she was portrayed. It won’t matter if we run Obama 12 more times.

So long as there is a chorus of wingnut dickbags on Fox and talk radio (and talk radio, in Wisconsin especially, is a mental cancer) telling them Democrats want to give all your hard-earned money to lazy black women who are having too many babies, that will always drown anything else out. So long as cable news continues to poison the well of public discourse and define the narrative as “politics is broken, everybody is bad, just give up,” so long as local papers run four pages on a good day and three of those are syndicated columns talking about “Washington” being the problem, the only thing people are going to hear is what Republicans want them to hear.

It’s understandable, sure, to my fellow palefaces. Give me a choice between studying and shooting heroin, I’m gonna show you my veins. I know these people, I meet them on the regular, and you do not have to dig very far under the surface to find the jokes about people getting fat on soda and public assistance while they, the virtuous, just marvel at the destruction of their neighborhoods by “those” elements.

They side-eye every low-hanging-pantsed dude they see on a trip to the mall because THAT is who they picture taking everything away from them. It’s all one thing. They don’t separate their contempt into rural vs. urban vs. black vs. white boxes. I’m not making a joke. You can’t counter vagaries like that with specifics of policy.

You have to counter it with entertainment and right now we have no show.

A.

GOP Impulse Control Blues: Greg The Goon & The Insane President Posse

Trump spawn and Greg the Goon. Photo via the Toronto Star.

A venerable expression of disputed origin that I’ve been using for years has become a cliché or truism. There’s a reason for that: “a fish rots from the head down” is true. It certainly applies to the Republican Party whose members have gotten crazier and crazier since the Insult Comedian became its bull goose loony. One wouldn’t think that impulse control would be a problem for candidates and office-holders, but it is in the New Gilded Age. Trump sets the tone for his party.  It’s an ugly and discordant tone; not unlike skinhead thrash metal complete with guttural vocals. Tremendous. Believe me.

I suspect you’ve all heard about the special behavior exhibited by Montana special election candidate/rich Republican malaka Greg (The Goon) Gianforte. He assaulted Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs last night. Jacobs’ offense was asking a question about Trumpcare. Gianforte does not like the Guardian because they wrote a piece about his ties to Russian companies. (Why is it always Russia with these fuckers?) Greg the Goon has been charged with misdemeanor assault for body slamming the bespectacled journalist. He should be charged with rampant mendacity as his campaign’s account is contradicted by a Fox News crew’s account:

Fox News reporter Alicia Acuna, field producer Faith Mangan and photographer Keith Railey witnessed the incident at Gianforte’s campaign headquarters in Montana, according to an account published on the Fox News website. After Jacobs asked Gianforte his question, Acuna wrote: “Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him.

“Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the man, as he moved on top the reporter and began yelling something to the effect of ‘I’m sick and tired of this!’ … To be clear, at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte, who left the area after giving statements to local sheriff’s deputies.”

That’s right, Fox Fucking News; the home of Sean Hannity’s falling ratings. I wish I could say I was surprised that many GOPers defended Greg the Goon. Said defense inspired a brisk rejoinder from Never Trump conservative Rick Wilson. Here are the first three tweets of a 12-part tweet storm:

Yeah, you right, Rick. The president* has brought the WWE mentality to national politics. Only the impulse control impaired party practices it. You guessed it: the GOP. It’s not very grand of them is it? G should be for goon from now on.

It’s a pity that Greg the Goon may still body slam his way to victory. The downside of early voting is that 50% of the ballots have been cast. The race, however, has been tightening and Montana has election day registration. The assault cost Greg the Goon some newspaper endorsements. The Missoulian don’t play that.

Greg the Goon isn’t the only Republican having impulse control issues. The GOP’s bull goose loony, president* Trump has them as well and in a more lethal form.

I am referring, of course, to Trump’s propensity to leak classified information whilst in the throes of braggadocio. In addition to his Oval Office exploits with the Russian Foreign Minister and GRU Rezident/Ambassador. Trump bragged to fellow insane President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philipines about submarine positions. This is a big no-no: loose lips sink ships, especially subs. Submarines by their nature are stealthy. It would be a mistake for Trump to tell the leaders of Britain, France, or Japan let alone a member of the Insane President Posse.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is pissed off at Team Trump for leaking details about the Manchester bombing including the name of the alleged bomber. May plans to admonish Trump but it’s unlikely to have any impact. One doesn’t learn impulse control at age 70. Besides, Trump never listens to women even Brexiteering ones.

We’re at a depressing stage in the history of the Republic. One of our major parties is in the hands of a leader who reflects all of its worst qualities. The few diehard Never Trump GOPers are not office-holders but people like Rick Wilson, Ana Navarro, Evan McMullin, and David Frum. Congressional Republicans are content to be pro-Trump as long as they think he’ll sign anything they send to him. The good news is that scandals like the Russian affair have a way of paralyzing government, especially when the Insult Comedian’s specialty is making things worse.

I’ll give Peter Gabriel the last word with a song from the PG3 aka Melt album. Greg the Goon certainly had a meltdown last night as well as no impulse control whatsoever.

At the risk of being branded a last word liar, I came up with the second part of the post title after it was written. The piece was too tight to disrupt, so here it is. Greg the Goon & The Insane President Posse is a helluva band name innit?  I see them riding off into the sunset on their pygmy ponies after checking out the dental floss bushes. You really didn’t think I’d do a post about the place Gus McCrae always called Montany without mentioning Zappa did you?

Le Sigh

I know that Pepe Le Pew is in bad odor in many quarters, but he still cracks me up. He’s a cartoon skunk who sounds like Charles Boyer, y’all. He’s not real. One of Monsieur Le Pew’s catchphrases was, Le Sigh. And that’s what I did when I checked on the French presidential election yesterday. In this case, it was le sigh of relief that Emmanuel Macron defeated the malodorous Marine Le Pen. How do you like that? I’ve gone from Le Pew to Le Pen. They’re both stinkers, but only one is dangerous and it ain’t the toon.

Watching CNN cover the results gave me a mild headache. Instead of talking heads who knew something about either French politics or foreign policy in general they had political consultants and even a former aide to that legendary Francophile Senator Mike Lee of Utah. Yeah, I was being sarcastic there. CNN’s coverage inspired this tweet:

I make no bones about being an expert. I know something about French political history but my French is at the Pepe Le Pew level: rudimentary at best, stinky at worst. I do, however, know that every country has its own distinctive politics and the equation used by many before the election was nuts: Brexit + Trump = Le Pen for le populist wave win. Merde.

That formulation conveniently skipped the poor performance by Gert Wilders’ far right party in the late Dutch election. Populist nationalism is not a contagious disease. Each country has its own strain; in France, the Le Pens are associated in the public mind with xenophobes, collaborators, Holocaust deniers, and Vichy Fascists. Besides, Le Pen blew it in the final teevee debate. Bigly:

In the end Ms. Le Pen failed to “undemonize,” spectacularly. She failed during the course of the campaign, when her angry rallies drew the Front inexorably back into the swamp from which it had emerged. And then she failed decisively in one of the campaign’s critical moments, last week’s debate with Mr. Macron, when she effectively “redemonized” herself and the party, as many French commentators noted.

It was an hourslong tirade against Mr. Macron, laced with name-calling and epithets, and woefully deficient in substance. She appeared lost on subject after subject, fumbling on one of her signature issues — withdrawing from the euro — that is opposed by a majority of French. Something essential about Ms. Le Pen, and the National Front, had been revealed to France.

Mr. Macron, on the other hand, demonstrated a quality that French voters, unlike many Anglo-Saxon ones, have long found essential in their successful candidates: cool mastery of the critical issues confronting the country. Where Ms. Le Pen repeatedly lost herself in the weeds, Mr. Macron sailed right through them. Whether he will now be able to translate that knowledge into action is another question.

Word. There will be two rounds of parliamentary elections in June and Macron’s new party needs to elect some deputies or else he will be le screwed and Vichy Fascism will make a comeback in 2022. Le Pen did receive 34% of the vote in this rout, which is nearly double her father’s performance against Jacques Chirac in the 2002 run-off. The Le Pens aren’t going anywhere. They’re playing the long game.

The biggest difference between our late election and Sunday in France is that the establishment right did NOT support Le Pen. They supported the Republic and democracy against the Vichy Fascist threat. In contrast,  the American establishment right made a pact with the orange devil. I almost said “sold their souls” but they’re souless stinkers. Has anyone ever seen Mitch McConnell’s reflection in a mirror? I thought not.

I must admit to saying “I told you so” yesterday on social media. Every election is not about America. France is not America, and America is not France. Vive la difference. Vive la France.

That concludes this inexpert post about the French election. Hey, at least I resisted the temptation to call it Pepe Le Pew meets Marine Le Pen.

All this talk of Le Pen and Le Pew has given me le earworm:

Everything Is An Enormous Pain in the Ass

It’s not just Obamaphones and poor people’s choice of TVs:

It’s that it takes six calls to the insurance company to get routine drugs approved. It’s that there are fees tacked onto everything for seemingly no reason at all. It’s that when you go on the website to make a doctor’s appointment they tell you to call, and the voicemail auto-answering thing tells you to go on the website and then hangs up on you. It’s that you have to swipe or insert or insert and swipe or WHATEVER to pay for stuff. Change your password to something else, but not that password, because we’re not going to tell you what the password requirements are until you’ve screwed them up.

It’s that there are half as many buses as there used to be, for twice as many people, and they don’t clean them as much so the ride to work every morning is gross. It’s that we’re told at every turn that we can’t have nice things, unless we’re super-rich, so most of us have almost-nice things that break constantly and require a roundabout with four customer service reps until we lose it and start screaming at the company on Twitter.

That’s for those of us who can afford to be on Twitter, have things at all, or be consumed with petty shit. The rest of us are sitting at the bus stop, having gotten up an hour early only to find the bus delayed by 30 minutes because it’s snowing, and the bus doesn’t go to the one ADA-compliant stop on the train so we have to roll the damn chair down the middle of the street in the snow because the city doesn’t shovel as much as it used to. Shortage of funds, you know. Can’t salt the sidewalks. Grrr. It’s doing everything the way you’re told — job, home, family — and life STILL being just this hard.

We transfer that anger at corporate bullshit to politicians, and we should, because they’re the ones allowing companies to charge more for doing less and call in the cops when someone says screw that. They’re the ones allocating resources from one place to another, and somehow where the resources end up is never where we think they’re gonna be, and it’s that their misdeeds are presented as happenstance for which there is no redress. Washington “is broken.” Our system “doesn’t work.”

Not that people made it that way and can unmake it, not that actions and laws and regulations and requirements can be made to protect consumers more than producers, but that it’s all fucked up and bullshit, as the kids say. Easier to turn your back on it in disgust. Easier to walk away.

A.

King Of The Bigots

Our old “friend” Congressman Steve King of Iowa used to claim that he wasn’t a racist. Now that white ethno nationalism is fashionable among the deplorables, those days are gone, gone, gone:

Guess who applauded King:

The Wilders mentioned by King is far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders whose ironically named Party for Freedom is running first in the polls in that nation’s upcoming election. A headline in the “failing” NYT captures the horror of what’s happening in the Netherlands: How The Dutch Stopped Being Decent and Dull. I’d like to throw another D word in the mix: depressing.

The good news is that, thanks to Holland’s multi-party system, Wilders is unlikely to be the next Prime Minister BUT his party has gone from being cranks to contenders. That’s bad news for those of us who have admired the Dutch for their political common sense and cultural tolerance. The French presidential election is next up and Marine LePen may lead in the first round. The conventional wisdom is that her opponents will unite against her as they did against her father in 2002 but the CW has taken a beating in the last few years. Stay tuned: if France leaves the EU, it’s as dead as the Weimar Republic.

Back to Steve King. The Iowa cornholer is standing by his statements. It’s now safe in certain circles for an elected official to sound like David Duke, Richard Spencer, and Geert Wilders. King was on CNN this morning and went into a rhapsody about his horrendous views:

“I’ve been to Europe and I’ve spoken on this issue and I’ve said the same thing as far as ten years ago to the German people and to any population of people that is a declining population that isn’t willing to have enough babies to reproduce themselves. And I’ve said to them, you can’t rebuild your civilization with somebody else’s babies,” King said on CNN. “You’ve got to keep your birth rate up and that you need to teach your children your values.”

There you have it, we’re not “making” enough babies. It’s what happens when women get uppity and think they can do other things and not just be baby factories as in The Handmaid’s Tale. There’s a new teevee version of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian classic and it couldn’t be timelier. Make sure you read Ms. Atwood’s essay about The Handmaid’s Tale continuing relevance in the “failing” NYT.

In addition to supporting the King of Bigots, the erstwhile Gret Stet Fuhrer is bragging about his own fertility. Duke only has two kids whereas his role model Joseph Goebbels had six. Of course, he murdered his children in 1945. Some hero. Some role model.

Remember when mainstream conservatives ran away from David Dukkke? Now they sound just like him: Steve King is merely a canary in the coal mine. That’s life in the 21st Century, which is starting to feel like the 1930’s with memes. The Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland recently had a great deal to say about that, so I’ll give him the last word:

If there’s a common thread linking 21st-century European nationalists to each other and to Trump, it is a similar, shared contempt for the structures that have bound together, and restrained, the principal world powers since the last war. Naturally, Le Pen and Wilders want to follow the Brexit lead and leave, or else break up, the EU. And, no less naturally, Trump supports them – as well as regarding Nato as “obsolete” and the UN as an encumbrance to US power (even if his subordinates rush to foreign capitals to say the opposite).

For historians of the period, the 1930s are always worthy of study because the decade proves that systems – including democratic republics – which had seemed solid and robust can collapse. That fate is possible, even in advanced, sophisticated societies. The warning never gets old.

But when we contemplate our forebears from eight decades ago, we should recall one crucial advantage we have over them. We have what they lacked. We have the memory of the 1930s. We can learn the period’s lessons and avoid its mistakes. Of course, cheap comparisons coarsen our collective conversation. But having a keen ear tuned to the echoes of a past that brought such horror? That is not just our right. It is surely our duty.

Journalism: A shitty job in a nuclear winter

One of my former students became a science reporter a few years out of school and once found himself on a trip to Chernobyl. A group of researchers were collecting stool samples from people who lived adjacent to the old Russian nuclear reactor, trying to see if they were suffering from any radioactive poisoning nearly three decades after the meltdown.

He sent me a post card from the area with a final line I still love:

“Journalism. It’s a shitty job but somebody has to do it.”

I thought about him and that trip today when I was trying to read anything in my social media feed that wasn’t about Trump’s press conference. When all I was left with was if Steve Kerr was going to play Russell Westbrook alongside his four Warriors in the All-Star Game and Draymond Green clarifying his “slave-owner mentality” statements, I gave up.

Trump’s hour-plus screed was a brick of uncut alternative facts, packaged in a wrapper of vulgar abuse and denigration. The word “rambling” might be overused at this point and I don’t think it goes far enough. It was like he took every topic of interest or a point of pride he has, wrote them on bingo balls and then had the machine spit them out to determine the order of his talking points.

The biggest problem came when he started taking questions from the press, one of his favorite targets of abuse. A reporter from Ami Magazine, a conservative orthodox Jewish publication, offered Trump the olive branch he was desperately seeking, a pass on personal anti-Semitism. However, as Jake Turx tried to ask Trump to explain how he planned to fight this problem, Trump just stepped all over himself, assuming Turx was calling him anti-Semitic and then told him to sit down and shut up.

When a reporter refuted Trump’s claim that his 306 (actually 304) electoral votes was the most since Ronald Reagan, he dodged with “I meant Republican victory.” He then was told Bush 41 had way more, which led Trump to blame his staff for the information.

Perhaps the worst moment is the one most people are noting: Trump’s clash with April Ryan, a long-time member of the White House press corps. Ryan, who is African-American, asked about Trump’s plans to improve urban areas that he often referred to as terrible hell holes and wondered if he’d reach out to the CBC and Hispanic caucus in congress. Trump seemed unaware of what CBC stood for, but upon learning it stood for Congressional Black Caucus, asked Ryan if she’d set up the meeting for him.

“Do you want to set up the meeting? Are they friends of yours?” Trump asked her in what could only be described as a confrontational tone.

At this point, I had two thoughts:

  • Based on his “you all know each other, right?” approach, I was amazed Trump didn’t start off with, “Hey, I loved you in ‘Hidden Figures!’ What’s your question?”
  • If you believe that Sean Spicer isn’t getting fired, buy stock in Orbitz. This guy is going to put a dent in our national supply by Saturday.

This press conference, naturally, scared the living shit out of me as a citizen, but my one saving grace is that I can turn off the TV or ignore the news. The journalists who have to work in this environment are like the people at Chernobyl in 1986, going shirtless and using some Windex to clean up the mess.

Journalism has always been a shitty job and it takes a weird breed of person to do it. If you don’t believe me, you should have been in our student newspaper’s newsroom this week. Conversations regarding a dead squirrel, double entendres about a professor “coming” and whether Meatloaf’s “I would do anything for love (but I won’t do that)” was about anal were among the most acceptable for public consumption.

The kids do this for almost no money, which will get them ready for a career in a field where cutting positions and salaries is an annual ritual. They talk to people who don’t want to talk to them about things everyone wants to know but no one who knows is willing to disclose. (A student told me an administrator offered him about a three-minute “No Comment” on a topic we had been covering. My first response, “Did you record it so we can use it as a quote?” The answer, of course, was “yes.”)

Abuse in this field is common. I’ve been called scum, an asshole, a weasel, a vulture and worse. One lady told me my mother didn’t raise me right. I’m sure there are worse ones that I’ve just blacked out of my memory. It got so bad that I used to have a recorder attached to my phone so I could record the abuse. That way, when the person on the other end became sweet as pie to my boss and accused me of random shit, I could just play him the tape.

The thing that amazes me about all of this is that we keep having more and more kids entering this field with the idea that each one of them probably has (at the very least) one Cousin Carl who believes everything not on Breitbart is fake news. Many of the kids I teach come from the Rural Red areas of the state where family members at Thanksgiving ask things like why they aren’t earning an “honest living” like “Gene the Retard” down the way who sells dachshunds out of his trailer.

One kid who recently changed majors to journalism sat with me after I mentioned that a long time ago, when I was changing from pre-law to something or other, Dad told me I needed to find a field where I could get a job.

“As long as you aren’t majoring in English or something else stupid like that, I don’t care,” he said. “You just need to be able to get a job.” (Incidentally, English was going to be my major right up to that moment…)

The kid’s dad had said something similar when he made the change to journalism and he wondered what was out there for him. I explained about the various ways the skills he picked up in journalism would make him a fine hire for a ton of great jobs. He relaxed and then asked, “Can you tell my dad that? He runs his own business and he thinks this is a stupid move.”

Of course it’s a stupid move, if you enjoy low-stress jobs with good benefits and career security. It’s also a stupid move if you enjoy being liked and you don’t want your illusion shattered when it comes to thinking the best of people. It’s a really stupid move for 1,001 other reasons that undercut sanity and longevity. Still, the kid felt like he found the right major, so like a moth to a flame, he decided to stick with it.

I was glad for that and I’m looking for more just like him because we need those guys and gals to fill in the ranks of reporters, editors and other journalists who push back every day against the tide of bullshit. Talking to kids who want to be the next reporter to be told, “Sit down! You’re fake news” really energizes me and makes me want to get them ready to go in the corner and fight for the puck. That’s why this weekend finds me at a journalism convention in Minnesota where kids from a lot of small-college Midwestern schools will show up and learn how to write, report, dig, challenge and fight better.

Best of all? The person running the convention told me the number of attendees this year is higher than it has been for the past several mid-winter conferences.

And, like any other decent journalist, I’ll make sure to check it out before I believe it.

Wingnut Mailbag: On Wisconsin Edition

Clarke

For some reason, I’m on Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke’s email list. I’m not quite sure why. It shouldn’t have anything to do with my making fun of Clarke last fall, but it might. All publicity is good publicity to the likes of Clarke. Trumpers love to be trumpeted.

I’m getting a perverse thrill at poaching on Scout, Doc, and A’s turf but I suspect they don’t mind. I’d rather not be getting wingnut email from the Clarkites but I am. So it goes.

Sheriff Clarke is looking to 2018. He could run for re-election but his approval rating is even lower than Trump’s: an abysmal 31%. Milwaukee County is a Democratic stronghold, which is why he’s nominally a Democrat. Clarke is even less popular among Democrats at home: only 13% of Dems want him re-elected. That’s why he’s likely to change parties and challenge Senator Tammy Baldwin.

The aforementioned  fundraising emails combine homophobia, sexism, and wingnut lunacy. On January 30th, Team Clarke sent an email entitled Arrest Sen. Tammy Baldwin. Hey, at least they used her title. Here’s a sample of the ravings therein:

Liberal lesbian Tammy Baldwin is aiding and abetting ISIS. She is working to stop President Donald Trump’s ban on terrorist refugees. Tammy Baldwin is more concerned about protecting the safety of ISIS members than she is about the security of the United States. It is clear that Tammy Baldwin doesn’t care that many of the refugees have plans to attack America. Tammy Baldwin belongs in prison! She is a traitor to our country!

Fun fact: a group called Restore American Liberty sent the email. It’s located in Denver, Colorado. Clarke might call it federalism, I call it carpetbaggery.

The ironically named Restore American Liberty has sent me the same email three days in a row. You’d think they’d get tired of repeating themselves, but wingnuts are simple people. Here’s another passage:

Sheriff David Clarke can win! He can defeat leftist lesbian Tammy Baldwin in the Wisconsin U.S. Senate race! If elected, he will work to secure the borders and ban Muslim immigration. Unlike Tammy Baldwin, Sheriff David Clarke supports balancing the budget, protecting the Second Amendment, and defending the right to life. 

Liberal lesbian Tammy Baldwin needs to be defeated! She is a radical pro-abortion, open borders Democrat. She supports higher taxes, gun control, and expanding ObamaCare. America needs Sheriff David Clarke to defeat her!

Wealthly LGBT donors from Hollywood, San Francisco, and New York are going to spend millions in support of Tammy Baldwin. It is crucial that grassroots conservatives fight back!

Wealthly? Don’t these bozos spell check? Of course, their target audience is knuckledraggers who read about as much as the Insult Comedian. Trump, of course, would say that Sheriff Clarke is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice. If you think I’m obsessed with that gobsmacker of a sentence, check out N Todd’s joint, Dohiyi Mir.

My unsolicited advice to Wisconsinites: get over the Packers loss and go to work supporting “leftist liberal lesbian” Tammy Baldwin. The helots are coming for her. If it’s not David Clarke, they’ll find another challenger. It’s an example of why our voters need to turn out for EVERY ELECTION. The country you save may be your own.

The Word Of The Day Is Salacious

Unless you live under a rock in an isolated part of Siberia, you’ve heard about the raw intelligence file posted by BuzzFeed. Many reputable news organizations, including Mother Jones, refused to publish it because it’s unverifiable. Slate’s Will Oremus describes how it finally came out after months of teasing:

The dossier was not new. Buzz Feed and multiple other news organizations had obtained it well before Tuesday and had been investigating its various claims. Mother Jones wrote about it prior to the election, on Oct. 31, and published a handful of quotes from it. Key figures in Congress had also seen it and even publicly alluded to it, and the Guardian reported on Tuesday that Sen. John McCain had passed it to FBI Director James Comey last month. But no one had published its entire, stunning contents before Tuesday—partly because, as my colleague Joshua Keating put it, “nothing in the memos has been confirmed, and even their provenance is murky.”

<SNIP>

Smith didn’t address why BuzzFeed waited until now to publish the document, and he declined to comment further for this article. But the move came almost immediately after CNN reported Tuesday that top U.S. intelligence officials had shown Trump and President Obama a two-page synopsis of the dossier. The synopsis was presented as an unofficial appendage to the classified security briefings they gave Obama and Trump about Russian interference in the presidential election, CNN reported. Sources also told CNN that the “Gang of Eight” Congressional leaders had been provided a synopsis of the dossier as well.

In short, the timing was driven by media momentum. It turns out that our old friend FBI Director James Comey has been sitting on the information. He apparently only publicizes unverifiable information about Hillary Clinton.

Twitter was agog last night over the ickiest part of the dossier: Trump’s use of golden showers as a soggy revenge mechanism.  While amusing that was NOT the most important passage of the dossier:

In terms of specifics, Source A confided that the Kremlin had been feeding TRUMP and his team valuable intelligence on his opponents, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary CLINTON, for several years [see more below]. This was confirmed by Source a close associate of TRUMP who had organized and managed his recent trips to Moscow, and who reported, also in Tune 2016, that this Russian intelligence had been “very helpful”. The Kremlln’s cultivation operation on TRUMP also had comprised offering him various lucrative real estate development business  deals in Russia, especially in relation to the ongoing 2018 World Cup soccer tournament, However, so far, for reasons unknown, TRUMP had not taken up any of these.

However, there were other aspects to TRUMP’s engagement with the Russian authorities. One which had borne fruit for them was to exploit personal obsessions and sexual perversion in order to obtain suitable ‘kompromat’ [compromising material] on him. According to Source D, where s/he had been present, (perverted) conduct in Moscow included hiring the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where he knew President and OBAMA {whom he hated] had stayed on one other official trips to Russia, and defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him. The hotel was known to be under FSE control with microphones and concealed cameras in all the main rooms to record anything they wanted to.

I don’t do terlet humor: it’s low-hanging fruit for low-brows. The jokes missed the ominous point of the memo: that the KGB’s successor agency, the FSE, has allegedly been blackmailing Trump because he was stupid and arrogant enough to have hookers pee on a bed the Obamas slept in. Both claims are plausible if disgusting. Trump *is* stupid and arrogant and blackmail has long been used by Russian intelligence as a means of gaining leverage over people. Anyone who has read John LeCarre or watched The Americans knows that. Of course, Trump doesn’t read books and is incapable of sitting still long enough to marvel over Philip’s wigs on the FX show.

I never thought I’d be writing about a President-elect, and peeing Russian hookers. This is the level to which Trump has dragged our national dialogue. I am, however, worried that the publication of the dossier will backfire and make people feel sorry for Trump. He deserves only scorn, not sympathy.

Last night I tweeted this out:

The NYT called the dossier salacious hence the post title. As of this writing, Trump’s first full-blown post-election press conference is still on. I’m skipping it. I’d rather read about it than watch it on the electric teevee machine. Why? After reading the raw intelligence file, I feel like I need delousing. I don’t want to go through that more than once.

What Are You Looking At?

I cannot tell you how exhausted I am of the Democratic Party pretending there’s only one race that matters: 

Still, the party’s expectations about Clinton demonstrated just how bad parties are at analyzing what they need to fix to win. Next year, while it is not what they boast about, Democrats are expecting mistakes by Trump — the most unpopular incoming president in decades — to create opportunities for them. Their debate about winning a new majority is not about a savior from red America, or even a change in policy. It is about better organizing, and how to win back voters who were Democrats until the party was branded as neoliberal and pro-trade.

 

Democrats can’t just organize at the national level and run for president and lose every House and Senate seat and every state house and expect those losses not to eventually bite them in the ass at the national level too. Let the blue states become seething roiling pits of anti-everything sentiment, from Scott Walker’s rageaholic anti-education Wisconsin to Bruce Rauner’s union-bashing Illinois, and those feelings reach a critical mass.

If every voice from every leader is an authoritarian Republican one, how do you expect them to listen to what Democrats are saying? Where are they supposed to read your 5-point plan? Twitter?

When we look at the future, what are we looking at? National numbers on Trump’s unpopularity? If that shit mattered John Kerry would be opening his presidential library and Hillary would be having Bill measure the Oval for new curtains. State numbers are all that matters, and maybe this more than anything: How far down the Republican rabbit hole have the state legislature and the house races gone?

If those have all been won by tea-freak bigots, I don’t care what it did in the last election, that’s not a blue state.

What are we expecting otherwise? “Well, on a local level I approve of drug testing for welfare and repealing worker protections and gutting public schools and bashing professors and throwing the entire economy into a tailspin so I can regulate where transgender people pee, but nationally? I’m all for fairness, sharing, kindness, gay people, single mothers and the idea of a representative democracy!”

Forget a 50-State Strategy. We need a 50-State Legislature Strategy.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Best Of Adrastos 2016

Nighthawks

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.

It’s time to take a look back at 2016. It may be an exercise in egotism but it’s mine, all mine. Last year’s best of Adrastos was a top thirty list, this year we have a plus-one. Sounds like a dinner party, doesn’t it? It’s time to belly-up to the buffet…

2016 was a good year for satire, but a terrible year for the country. And I was a better pundit than prognosticator. So it goes.

Here’s this year’s crop of posts in chronological order:

January 7, 2016: The Fog Of History: The Wallace Factor.

January 16, 2016: Saturday Odds & Sods: Black Tie White Noise.

February 27, 2016: Saturday Odds & Sods: All The Things You Are.

March 28, 2016: The Fog Of Historical Pictures: Grace Coolidge’s Pet Raccoon.

March 28, 2016: Charles Foster Kane Meets Donald Trump.

March 31, 2016: Malaka Of The Week: John Milkovich (Not Malkovich)

April, 18, 2016: Oy, Such A Mentor

April 21, 2016: Malaka Of The Week: Jeff Weaver.

May 7, 2016: Saturday Odds & Sods: They All Laughed.

May 18, 2016: Speaking In Dudebromides.

June 3, 2016: Trump Violates The First Rule Of Litigation.

June 13, 2016: Still Comfortably Numb Revisited.

June 29, 2016: A Fatal Lack Of Cunning & Guile.

July 11, 2016: Jill Stein: Crunchy Granola Machiavelli.

July 29, 2016 DNC Wrap Up Finale: She Won’t Stay Throwed.

August 18, 2016: Heckuva Job, Advocate.

August 18, 2016: The Insult Comedian’s Not For Turning.

August 22, 2016: Every Flim-Flam Man Needs A Sucker.

September 8, 2016: Is Trump Really Running For Grand Nagus?

September 17, 2016: Saturday Odds & Sods: Birdland.

October 4, 2016: Instant Analysis: The Debate As Altman Film.

October 6, 2016: Absence Of Malice.

October 10, 2016: Breitbart-Bannon-Bossie Man.  Bloggers Note: This post was included by Batocchio in the Jon Swift Roundup 2016. 

October 17, 2016: Moe’s Wife Blames Larry.

November 2, 2016: Out Of Control FBI Playing By The Clinton Rules.

November 10, 2016: Sitting Political Shiva.

November 11, 2016: Confessions Of A Keyboard Maquis.

November 16, 2016: Malaka Of The Week: New Orleans Baby Cakes.

November 17, 2016: The Most Dangerous Game. 

December 1, 2016: Louisiana Politics: A Terrible Candidate For Terrible Times.

December 12, 2016: Hayes/Smith: Only Victims.

That’s it for 2016. It’s been a tough year but we’re still alive and kicking. I’ll give the last word to two guys we’re really going to miss:

obama-kerry-meme