Category Archives: Fog Of History

Finally

On October 7, 2001, President George W. Bush announced the start of American military operations in Afghanistan.

On April 14, 2021, President Joe Biden announced US withdrawal from Afghanistan effective September 11, 2021. He delivered his exit address in the same place in the White House that Bush kicked off what Biden called the “forever war.”

After nearly 20 years, our longest war is about to end. Finally.

American objectives were achieved in 2011 with the death of Osama Bin Laden but we stayed and stayed and stayed.

The military has a term for what happened in Afghanistan: Mission Creep. We moved from fighting terrorists to nation building. We haven’t been adept at nation building since the Marshall Plan. It did not go well in Afghanistan.

Biden was one of the dovish members of the Obama administration when it came to Afghanistan. He favored withdrawal after Bin Laden’s death. We stayed, we surged, we stayed.

No foreign power has ever won a war in Afghanistan. Its mountainous terrain means that there will always be insurgents in the mountains shooting at the government. Same as it ever was.

In the 19th Century great power tussling over Afghanistan was called “the great game.” It was strictly for losers. The Soviet Union learned that the hard way between 1979-1989.

The Taliban are horrible but American military might was only able to hold them at bay. It’s an unwinnable war.

Here’s how President Biden summed up the reasoning behind his decision:

I know there are many who will loudly insist that diplomacy cannot succeed without a robust US military presence to stand as leverage. We gave that argument a decade. It’s never proved effective, not when we had 98,000 troops in Afghanistan and not when we were down to a few thousand. Our diplomacy does not hinge on having boots in harm’s way, US boots on the ground. We have to change that thinking. American troops shouldn’t be used as a bargaining chip between warring parties in other countries. That’s nothing more than a recipe for keeping American troops in Afghanistan indefinitely.

I also know there are many who’ll argue that we should stay, stay fighting in Afghanistan because withdrawal would damage America’s credibility and weaken America’s influence in the world. I believe the exact opposite is true. We went to Afghanistan because of a horrific attack that happened 20 years ago. That cannot explain why we should remain there in 2021.

Finally some finality.

The last word goes to Yes:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: A Hard Day’s Night

My second jab side effects were worse than the first but only lasted for 3 days then vanished. It was weird to walk like a drunk when  stone cold sober, which is why I spent most of my time on the couch.

When did the furniture people start calling a couch a sofa? I can go either way, but sofa potato isn’t as evocative as couch potato. I wonder which one the man who couldn’t spell potatoes, J Danforth Quayle, uses. Ah, the small mysteries of life.

I’m still watching bits and bobs of the Chauvin trial. My dislike for defense lawyer, Eric Nelson grows daily. If I were devising a drinking game for the trial every time he says “right” “correct” “agree” you take a shot. A surefire way to get shit faced drunk, right?

Despite the album cover featured image, it’s Saturday, not Wednesday. I didn’t mean to confuse anyone; that was a lie, I take great joy in sowing confusion across the land instead of either sleeping like a log or working like a dog.

This week’s theme song was written by Lennon and McCartney in 1964 for the movie of the same title. It has always been one of my favorite Beatles tunes. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

We have four versions of A Hard Day’s Night for your listening pleasure: the Fab Four, Perez Prado, the Smithereens, and Miss Peggy Lee.

Peggy Lee? Yes, Norma Engstrom herself. Paul McCartney was a big fan and gave her a song to record after seeing her perform in London in 1974.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Since that’s my favorite Beatley quote, here’s the song it comes from; in German too.

Ja, ja, ja.

Let’s jump to the break. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

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Quote Of The Day: War Of The Rebellion Edition

It’s the 156th anniversary of the glorious surrender at Appomattox Court House. My sympathies are obvious even after living for decades in the Gret Stet of Louisiana, which was not only part of the Confederacy but voted for Strom Thurmond in 1948 and George Wallace 20 years later.

Today’s quote comes from a writer who has been quoted more than once on First Draft, TPM’s Josh Marshal:

April 9th is a glorious anniversary: the day Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, Commanding General of the US Army, received the surrender of Robert E. Lee, a renegade US Army Colonel who was a leader of a violent rebellion against the United States, which killed hundreds of thousands of Americans. Grant offered generous terms to Lee and the other traitors making up his army. Six days later President Lincoln was assassinated in Washington, DC.

Lee was an able tactician but lacked the strategic genius that made Grant the towering military figure of the US Civil War. His Memoirs are one of the great works of American literature, quite apart from his fame and prominence as General and President. Certainly it is the greatest work of literature written by an American political figure. I wrote about both here.

The reality of the past is unchanging, as immutable as time proceeds only in one direction. But our perceptions of it, our understanding of its meaning and the stories we tell about it are perpetually in flux. Humans are story-telling creatures. Many of the great artifacts of human intellection are analytic, mathematic, visual. But at the deepest and most penetrating level we understand the world through stories, narratives. The production of these narratives become histories in themselves.

Nowhere is this more viscerally apparent than in the century of valorization of the traitors who led the pretended state called the Confederate States of America. This even goes down to the deep valorization of Southern military culture and the Confederacy’s top generals. This goes for Lee himself, a very skilled tactician but a highly conventional commander. This applies equally to the denigration of the commanders and common soldiers of the North whose reputations were downgraded as an offering to the wounded pride of the South.

That was a longer quote than I typically use but it sums up my own views quite neatly. There was, of course, nothing neat about the aftermath of the War of the Rebellion. Reconstruction ended with a whimper with the “compromise” over the disputed Hayes-Tilden election of 1876. General President Grant did not approve, but as we were reminded recently Congress had the final say.

Finally, some folks in Alabama who call themselves White Lies Matter swiped a Confederate Monument and turned it into a terlet. I am not making this up.

The last word goes to Cheap Trick with a song that has nothing to with today’s anniversary, but the title works and the song rocks:

 

More Hick Schtick From John Neely Kennedy

The junior Senator from the Gret Stet of Louisiana is the man I love to hate. I considered two Sue Grafton inspired titles for this post, P Is For Phony or H Is For Hypocrite, before settling on this one. It would take a crack detective such as Kinsey Milhone to locate Neely’s integrity, after all.

Neely loves to go on teevee and denounce the liberals; one of whom he used to be. That was before he lowered his political IQ and became a Fox News favorite. He did it again the other day but first some background snark about Neely’s hick schtick.

As Treasurer of the Gret Stet of Louisiana for seventeen years, Neely was a publicity hound, but his brand was as a skinflint guarding the public coffers against both Democrats and Republicans, not the rabid wingnut of today. He was every bit as hard on Bobby Jindal as on his Democratic predecessor, Kathleen Blanco. Of course, he was a Democrat until 2007.

Neely didn’t start hicking up his accent and speaking style until he changed parties. Before then, he was not ashamed of being well-educated and articulate. The dumbing down began in his second run for the US Senate in 2008 against incumbent Mary Landrieu who had also served as Gret Stet Treasurer.

Neely perfected his hick schtick in his successful run for the Senate in 2016. Having secured the prize he’d spent his entire life chasing, he became one of the loudest Trump sycophants and enablers in a Republican party full of them. I wrote a long piece for Bayou Brief in 2018 about what I called his Neelyisms: the cornpone “wisdom” he dispenses on the boob tube.

The Neelyisms stopped being funny when he started using them to defend retrograde, racist, and downright stupid policies. After the slaughter in Boulder, Colorado he said that what America needed was idiot control, not gun control. He’s not really an idiot, he just plays one on teevee.

Neely popped up on Fox News the other day and deployed his cornpone “wisdom” against Major League Baseball for relocating the All Star Game from Atlanta to Denver:

Forget Mars. We need to search for intelligent life in the Major League Baseball commissioner’s office. I have never seen anything like this. Commissioner Manfred has a fiduciary responsibility to Major League Baseball. His job is to do the very best that he can not to suck. He has failed at that. Think about what he’s done. Major League Baseball is losing popularity to football and other sports. His job is to grow it. So what is the first thing he does? He decides to get involved in national politics and alienate hundreds of millions of Americans who actually like the Georgia bill and think that it is an honest effort for election security.

The commissioner hasn’t explained why he thinks these hundreds of millions of Americans who support the Georgia effort are a bunch of racists. He hasn’t bothered to explain why he thinks the bill is racist. The only excuse I can think is he made all of these decisions after his morning beer. I have never seen anything like it. It costs $150 to attend a major league baseball game in some cities. Is this going to encourage people to go? I just don’t think so.

This has nothing to do with Jackie Robinson. It has nothing to do with race.

It has everything to do with race, Senator. In fact, Jackie Robinson was born in Georgia, but his family fled Jim Crow and moved to California in search of a better life.

Republicans are afraid that they’re losing their grip on power in Georgia, so that state’s lege passed an atrocious bill that overwhelmingly effects black voters who are overwhelmingly Democratic. It might as well be called the Beat Raphael Warnock Bill.  One would think that logic would reach a man who was an adjunct professor at LSU law school for 14 years, but he’s only interested in the next election. His election.

Neely is also fond of mocking diversity and claiming that racism is not systematic. Our old pal Deep Blog saw the faux idiot on Faux News the other day and got a bellyful of his pseudo ignorant spiel. He sent me a screen shot of Vanderbilt University’s yearbook from 1973. John Neely Kennedy is second from the right on the top row:

The observant among you have surely noticed that, except for two Asian dudes, everyone on this page is of one race. It explains a lot about John Neely Kennedy. He not only mocks diversity, he’s uncomfortable with it. Imagine that.

Presumably, Vanderbilt is considerably more diverse in 2021 than it was in Neely’s day, which was a mere 9 years after that pricey private school was fully desegregated. In the Seventies, Black Commodores were still rare on the University’s Nashville campus unless some students owned records by the band then fronted by Lionel Richie.

John Neely Kennedy is a cornpone con man who thinks diversity is for suckers. To paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt, Neely talks loudly and carries a hick schtick. I look forward to voting against him in 2022.

Since Neely is so fond of guns, the last word goes to The Commodores with the title track of their debut album:

Soak The Fat Boys & Spread It Out Thin

Hack Looks Askance At Hick Schtick.

Repeat after me: Soak The Fat Boys & Spread It Out Thin.

Thus spake Willie Stark in Robert Rossen’s brilliant film adaptation of Robert Penn Warren’s All The King’s Men. The line was adapted from advice Willie’s fixer Jack Burden gave him in the book after Willie delivered a dull speech:

“Just tell ’em you’re gonna soak the fat boys and forget the rest of the tax stuff…Willie, make ’em cry, make ’em laugh, make ’em mad, even mad at you. Stir them up and they’ll love it and come back for more, but, for heaven’s sakes, don’t try to improve their minds.”

I realize that sounds like something that pardoned felon Steve Bannon would have said to the Impeached Insult Comedian, but it’s sound advice for any politician even an honest one like Joe Biden. It certainly fits the time we live in:

Quite literally, the super-rich got richer, and the poor got poorer during the pandemic.

Repeat after me: Soak The Fat Boys & Spread It Out Thin.

One way to do this is to enact the Biden administration’s increase in corporate taxes. Another more satisfying way is to enact the Wealth Tax proposed by Senator Professor Elizabeth Warren. It will make the fat boys squeal like the pigs they are.

But will the Emperor of the Senate Joe Manchin support such a surtax? He’s from one of the poorest states in the Union but raising taxes became heresy for Blue Dogs after Mondale was blown out in the 1984 election and reinforced by the Gingrich wave election in 1994.

in 1984, Fritz Mondale made it a point of honesty in his acceptance speech:

‘Mr. Reagan will raise taxes and so will I. He won’t tell you. I just did.’

When I searched for the exact quote, it turned up articles warning Democrats not to raise taxes. All were written before the boom, bust, and boom of the pandemic.

Income inequality began its rise in the Reagan era, and exploded last year. Since the right no longer has an appealing salesman like Ronald Reagan, that makes it time to:

Biden’s infrastructure bill *should* be enormously popular. We can all cite crumbling infrastructure in our states and communities. In New Orleans, the greatest infrastructure need involves our water system. The vast majority of the pipes are over 100 years old. They burst with alarming regularity, which leads to frequent boil water orders. The city needs federal money to replace the system. It will take many years, but we need to get going as soon as possible.

I, for one, am relieved that Mitch McConnell has declared his entire caucus against the American Jobs Act. That means there will be no bad faith negotiations with Republicans as Leader Schumer plans to use the filibuster proof reconciliation process again. As with the COVID relief plan, I consider McConnell’s move to be cynical: GOPers will pop up to support projects if the bill passes.

It’s up to Democrats to find middle ground between AOC and the Man of La Manchin. It may sound hard but it’s easier than getting libertarian creeps like Aqua Buddha to agree to a spending proposal that’s guaranteed to attack income equality while improving roads, bridges, and the like across the country. It’s ironic that the original proponent of internal improvements, Henry Clay, hailed from Kentucky given the Turtle and Aqua Buddha’s posturing but he was a Whig, they’re Trumpified Republicans.

The Republican attack on the COVID relief plan was muted because they knew their states would benefit. I expect the same dynamic to play out here. Besides, the faux populism of Trump has seeded the ground for more government spending. Infrastructure week may have been a running joke under Trump, but President Biden hopes to make every week infrastructure week.

Willie Stark was famously based on Huey P. Long who was a blowhard with authoritarian tendencies, but he was big on infrastructure before it was called that. He talked a lot of rubbish, but delivered massive projects throughout the Gret Stet of Louisiana.

Joe Biden seems an unlikely heir to Long but the mere fact that he’s regarded as a moderate helped pass the first huge spending bill and will help pass the next spending bill if the Man of La Manchin allows it. He should follow the example of former West Virginia Senators such as Jennings, Byrd, and Rockefeller and take the money and run.

Make it so, Joe, make it so.

Soak the fat boys by passing a wealth surtax and/or corporate tax hikes, then spread it out thin by passing the American Jobs act.

The last word goes to the Steve Miller Band:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Roll Away The Stone

Notre Dame by Pablo Picasso.

I’ve already blasphemed about Easter in my Son Of Jab Talking post so I’ll resist the urge here. Besides, how can a non-believer blaspheme? A question for the ages.

This week’s theme song was written in 1974 by Ian Hunter for Mott The Hoople’s The Hoople album. They’re one of my favorite bands of that era; all flash and swagger. I like flash and swagger in a rock band.

I saw Mott perform live on that tour on a bill with BTO and a totally unknown band from Boston, Aerosmith. Great show although I’m not sure what Mormon rocker Randy Bachman thought of Ian Hunter and Steven Tyler; not to mention Mott guitarist Ariel Bender. That’s a stage name: his real moniker is nearly as colorful, Luther Grosvenor.

We move from glam rock to roots rock with this week’s co-theme song. It was written by Michael Dempsey and Leon Russell for the latter’s eponymous debut album:

Two more songs with stone in the title:

Let’s crawl to the break then jump if such a thing is feasible.

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GAETZGATE?

I have Watergate on my mind because the nitwit who “masterminded” the break-in, G Gordon Liddy, died yesterday at the age of 90. Liddy was known for his mindless loyalty to Tricky Dick and post-prison talk radio windbaggery.

We go from no-hair Watergate to big-hair Gaetzgate.

Liddy’s death provided the backdrop for a blockbuster New York Times story about one of the Trumpiest Trumpers of all, Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz:

Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida and a close ally of former President Donald J. Trump, is being investigated by the Justice Department over whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him, according to three people briefed on the matter.

Investigators are examining whether Mr. Gaetz violated federal sex trafficking laws, the people said. A variety of federal statutes make it illegal to induce someone under 18 to travel over state lines to engage in sex in exchange for money or something of value. The Justice Department regularly prosecutes such cases, and offenders often receive severe sentences.

It was not clear how Mr. Gaetz met the girl, believed to be 17 at the time of encounters about two years ago that investigators are scrutinizing, according to two of the people.

The investigation was opened in the final months of the Trump administration under Attorney General William P. Barr, the two people said. Given Mr. Gaetz’s national profile, senior Justice Department officials in Washington — including some appointed by Mr. Trump — were notified of the investigation, the people said.

The three people said that the examination of Mr. Gaetz, 38, is part of a broader investigation into a political ally of his, a local official in Florida named Joel Greenberg, who was indicted last summer on an array of chargesincluding sex trafficking of a child and financially supporting people in exchange for sex, at least one of whom was an underage girl.

This is some serious shit, y’all. Greenberg is looking at an extended stretch in the slammer. If he can be induced to flip on Gaetz, the latter could be in deep shit. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

I realize that I’m on the record as opposing affixing a gate to every scandal. But this is an exceptional case because it’s punny and scans so well: GAETZGATE. I think it looks best in all caps.

Like his lord and master, Pennywise, Gaetz looks out for #1. In 2017, he was the only member of Congress to vote against an anti-human trafficking bill.

In response to the NYT story, Gaetz cried SQUIRREL and gave the media hounds something to chase: an alleged extortion scheme.

Gaetz even tried to use fellow wingnut shitbag Tucker Carlson as an alibi. Tucker may be a fucker, but he denied dining with Gaetz and a young lady who is NOT jailbait according to Gaetz. Would he lie? Hell, yes.

GAETZGATE. Try it, you’ll like.

Oh Well, What The Hell

In case you’re wondering about the post title, it’s my new catch phrase. I stole it from Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. I only steal from the best. It’s a catch-all catch phrase that rolls off the tongue. Try it, you’ll like it: Oh Well, What The Hell.

I took the weekend off from the news cycle. The MSM’s insistence on reverting to its pre-Trump form bugs the living shit out of me. They miss the drama of the Trump presidency so they’re focusing on trivia again. I had hoped that dealing with the Madness of King Donald would have cured them of that, but I was wrong. They cannot help themselves.

The MSM spent a month demanding a press conference even though my countrywoman Jen Psaki holds regular briefings. When they got what they wanted, they focused on the hot GOP talking point: the illusory “surge” at the border. It’s a seasonal phenomenon that happens annually.

The “border surge” is what happens when one country conquers the best part of a neighboring country. If you must play the blame game, try blaming the  Mexican-American War after which California was annexed. It was annexation by conquest.

It’s time for a musical interlude:

That song is about Cortez, but it could have just as easily been about Zachary Taylor who parlayed the victory into a brief stint as president. He’s the only Oval One the Gret Stet of Louisiana can stake a claim to, but Virginia and Kentucky should share in the dubious reflected glory of his 16-month reign.

General President Taylor is also responsible for inflicting Millard Fillmore on an unsuspecting nation. The only thing I like about him is his deeply silly name. Oy just oy.

The MSM feels a need to overdramatize everything that happens. It’s a lingering affliction from the Trump regime. I adore Rachel Maddow, but she’s been over-hyping everything of late. She continually expresses amazement that Biden is a normal president who does normal presidential things as if that’s an aberration. Trump was the aberration. It may be a new normal but we’re back to it.

The Impeached Insult Comedian poked his head above the parapet yesterday. There was a wedding at Mar-a-Doorn so, naturally, the Kaiser of Chaos seized the microphone to talk about himself. Even if I died and returned reincarnated as a Trumper, I wouldn’t want him taking over my wedding. It brings to mind the line about Teddy Roosevelt that I’ve used thousands of times, “Corpse at every funeral. Bride at every wedding.” I want a divorce from former President* Pennywise.

Notice how I slipped all three of my main Trump nicknames into that paragraph? It made my day. How pitiful is that?

In other fake news news, Lara Trump is now a paid contributor to Fox News. I guess they’re so busy pandering to the Trumpist base that they’ve forgotten she’s one of the main exponents of the “Dominion rigged the election” mishigas. That company, in turn, is suing Fox for real money: $1.6 billion bucks.  I wonder if they’re paying to shut her up on that subject. Why bother? It’s never worked with any Trump in the past. They never STFU even when it’s in their self-interest; make that selfish interest.

The last word goes to Fleetwood Mac and Elvin Bishop & Charlie Musselwhite with a two part Oh Well, What The Hell:

Groundhog Day

I’ve written many times over the years about the latest mass shooting. I’m almost at a loss for words after 2 mass shootings in 9 days.

While I gather my thoughts, below are links to my past-post atrocity posts; many of which have a pink tinge, Pink Floyd, that is. I’m sure there are more but I’ve lost track after 12 years at First Draft.

12/3/2015: Still Comfortably Numb

06/16/2016: Still Comfortably Numb Revisited

10/10/2017: Still Comfortably Numb Revisited 2

10/29/2018: Kristallnacht In Broad Daylight

03/18/2019: Post Mayhem Rituals

08/05/2019: Still Numb

I guess I missed 2020 because of the pandemic. One of the few good things about the year of the plague.

There are guns in every country. The citizenry in the English-speaking world are particularly well-armed. But American-style mass shootings are rare elsewhere in the world. Why? Laws requiring firearms licenses, background checks, and above all else bans on assault weapons and their components.

The South is often demonized as a heavily armed region. My family is from the West and there were guns everywhere as well. Not in my house: my Republican father wouldn’t allow guns in his house after having to use one in World War II. He didn’t judge our relatives who had firearms for hunting and such, nor do I.

When I was growing up, mass shootings were rare. There were lunatic killers out there, but they weren’t packing assault rifles that made the Tommy Guns used by Prohibition era gangsters look almost as tame as this toy replica:

Then came the rise of the NRA and mass shootings became more common as they espoused a purist nearly theological interpretation of the Second Amendment.

Once the 1994 assault weapons ban was allowed to lapse, the 21st Century became the golden age of mass mayhem.

It keeps happening. The reactions on both sides are as predictable as they are tiresome: thoughts and prayers and yadda, yadda, yadda.

I don’t know about you, but I hate making the same mistakes over and over again. I try to avoid that in my own life. I prefer to make new and original mistakes.

As a country we keep making the same mistakes over and over again. The mass shootings keep coming and our reactions are almost stereotypical. We always have to hear from Joe Manchin who continues to value the filibuster more than the human lives lost in mass shootings. Remember the Manchin-Toomey fiasco in 2013? Manchin told us he could pass a modest gun control measure in the Senate. He failed. He’s likely to make the same mistake again in 2021.

We’re all trapped on a stationary bike, peddling fast but getting nowhere in a hurry.

I don’t mean to trivialize mass shootings by using a movie analogy, but we’re stuck in a post-mayhem stupid loop. It keeps repeating over and over again just like in Groundhog Day. We’re all Bill Murray.

I love Bill Murray, but I want to escape the endless time loop of mass shootings. The time to wake up from this nightmare is now: the NRA is enfeebled by scandal and bankruptcy. President Biden understands this issue and is prepared to act. It’s time for the United Senate to change the plot by acting. I’m tired of quoting Pink Floyd songs and being Bill Murray.

Stop the madness.

The Curious Case Of The Tea Party Royalists

I’ve only seen bits and pieces of THE INTERVIEW because I cannot abide Oprah. I am, however, a notorious Anglophile with mixed feelings about the Battenberg/Windsor clan. They make for good costume movie and teevee dramas as well as fodder for the British tabloids. I’m even enough of a Peter Morgan fan to wonder if The Crown will cover the same territory as his earlier drama The Queen. Otherwise, I have no stake in the British monarchy.

The presentism of much of the MSM coverage of the face-off between Meghan-n-Harry and “the Firm” cracks me up. The British royals are like inbred cockroaches or Keith Richards, they’ve weathered many past storms and they’re still standing. If they could survive being a family with a German name at the outset of the Great War they can survive a rerun of the Diana drama.

It’s not a carbon copy of the Diana mishigas since Meghan-n-Harry have run away to Beverly Hills together. Hopefully, nobody will die as a result of this but the threat to the monarchy is the same. They’re still standing.

It’s obvious that Meghan is either naive and didn’t do her homework about her Prince or that she fibbed to Oprah when she said she never googled Harry. That’s how she missed this:

Yes, he was young and stupid but racism in his family shouldn’t shock anyone let alone its newest member. It’s like marrying into the Trump family and being shocked to learn that Donald is an Impeached Insult Comedian with a dead nutria pelt atop his head.

That’s not the only example of Harry’s wicked old ways. There’s this graph from a great piece by Caitlin Flanagan in The Atlantic:

She told Oprah that she had never even Googled her future husband’s name—a remark that united the viewing world in hilarity, time zone by time zone. It was an assertion that strained credulity, but it was necessary to her contention that she’d had no idea that the Windsors had not, as we now say, “done the work” when it came to exploring their own racial biases. Had she herself done some work by punching her beloved’s name into a search engine, she would have understood that she was not marrying the most racially conscious person on the planet. She would have seen pictures of him dressed as a Nazi at a costume party (his great-granduncle—briefly Edward VIII—had palled around with Adolf Hitler) and a videotape of him introducing a fellow cadet as “our little Paki friend.” The Palace said that “Prince Harry used the term without any malice and as a nickname about a highly popular member of his platoon.” But the palace had no good explanation for why Harry introduced another cadet in the video by saying, “It’s Dan the Man. Fuck me, you look like a raghead.”

In the immortal words of one of my favorite British teevee characters:

I believe that people can change and now that Harry has a multi-racial kid, I’m sure he’s left his wicked, racist ways behind. But once again, Meghan shouldn’t be shocked by any of this. It’s like joining my family and being surprised that you don’t say the word malaka in the company of the older generation. They’re all gone now but my Aunt Mary would have boxed my ears if I said the M word in her presence.

You’re probably wondering when I’m getting to The Curious Case Of The Tea Party Royalists. The time is now.

American right-wingers never get the American Revolution right. They bang on about the Boston Tea Party and even wear silly tri-corner hats in public, but they never get the “taxation without representation” thing right. They always overlook the “without representation” bit.

In the early days of the American Revolution, many patriots would have found having American MPs at Whitehall acceptable. If mad King George had given in and listened to the likes of Edmund Burke, we might be a warmer version of Canada right now.

As usual Josh Marshall nails the current controversy:

But I’ve been struck by the recent efflorescence of pro-monarchism on the American right, something that seems to flow in this particular case downstream from hostility to Meghan Markle, but is yet part of something larger. In the midst of the Markle drama, Trump immigration czar Stephen Miller hopped on to Twitter to defend the monarchy as a symbol of national service and praise the royals he met during President Trump’s state visit as “unfailingly gracious and deeply committed to preserving the traditions and heritage of the UK.” (emphasis added). A week later The National Review published An American Defense of Britain’s Constitutional Monarchy.

Some of this defense is merely situational. Markle, who is young and black, has been cast into the morality tale of ‘cancel culture’, with the royals allegedly on the receiving end of being canceled. So Republicans, as enemies of all this cancel culture, have rushed to the Royals’ defense. But again, it’s bit more than that. Miller name checks the telling catch phrases of white nationalism with references to ‘tradition and heritage’. National Review similarly explains that “modern liberalism” wants to “tear down everything the monarchy represents: tradition, authority, virtue, duty, love of country, and biblical religion.”

There was a similar outbreak of weird pro-royalism in the early years of the Regan administration. Reagan took office in the same year the Charles and Diana drama began with a smashing royal wedding. It was one of the first major events that CNN covered wall-to-wall and in those days they were the only cable news game in town.

I recall many conservatives saying that Reagan would have made a great constitutional monarch. That’s a point I never argued because he was a master of the ceremonial aspects of the presidency. You know, the stuff that the Kaiser of Chaos disdained. I recall saying that I might have voted for Ronnie for head of state but never for head of government. Our presidency encompasses both roles, which always seems to baffle the genuine conservatives of 1981 and the fake conservatives 40 years later. So it goes.

Don’t worry I haven’t changed sides, the words “cancel culture” rarely pass my lips and never in the sense that, say, Donnie Junior uses them. I’m exercising my right to be a contrarian who finds both Meghan-n-Harry and the Tea Party Royalists to be equally silly. Perhaps it’s the Monty Python fan in me. Oh well, what the hell.

The last word goes to Oscar Peterson and Nelson Riddle:

One more from my favorite Canadian:

Have I mentioned lately how much I love Oscar Peterson?

Sitting In Half Vaccinated Limbo

In spite of the side effects, getting the first jab was exciting but my guard remains up. A friend let his down last month and spent 20 days in the COVID ward. Fortunately, he’s slowly but surely recovering but has some lingering brain fog. I regard him as a reverse role model as I feel impatient after a year in exile. Get well soon, mon frere.

Sitting in half vaccinated limbo isn’t easy but it beats the hell out of the alternative. Let’s cue our first musical interlude:

We did something social last weekend. It was outdoors on Bayou St. John with some close friends. I’ve posted about Half Pagan before, it was their vernal equinox show. I called it Half Vaccinated meets Half Pagan.

I heckled them at points and even sang high harmonies from the semi-comfort of a camp chair. The chair was appropriate because these are folks we see a lot of during Carnival. We hadn’t seen any of them since Thoth Sunday in 2020.

I’m a bit impatient for my second jab but for maximum efficacy the Pfizer vaccine requires a 3-week interval. I’m down with that. I want the damn thing to work, after all. I’ve got April 4th circled on every calendar as the day of my release from absolute exile, but my guard remains up.

Our second musical interlude is another Tormato tune:

This is advertised as a potpourri post, so I need some categories. I don’t want to dishonor the memory of the late, great Alex Trebek.

Headline Of The Week: It comes from Talking Points Memo:

Trump Wax Statue Put In Museum Storage After It Kept Getting Punched.

It took place at Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in San Antonio thereby proving that there are many fine people in Texas. That reminds me of another song that could be described as a waxing earworm:

That concludes the Punch & Trumpy segment of this post.

The Curious Case of the Biden Republicans: Pollster Stan Greenburg is the guy who coined the term Reagan Democrats. He sees the same thing happening in reverse. He recently sat for an extended interview with Politico Magazine’s Zack Stanton.

Check it out. It improved my mood. It could have the same effect on you too.

Border Blues: The MSM is in search of a new crisis. One would think they’d be satiated by the Trump years but they’re back to playing gotcha with the current administration.

Border issues between the United States and Mexico have been going on since the 1830’s. They were exacerbated by the Trump regime and continue as the Team Biden tries to clean up that mess. It’s what happens when a poor country and a rich one share a long border. There will always be border issues.

Perhaps we should look for a new scapegoat: how about this guy?

Asian Spring: Showtime Circus performer Alex Wagner has written a fine piece for the Atlantic about the current wave of anti-Asian bigotry as seen the through the eyes of her own family’s experiences. I love it when writers weave together the personal and political. It’s the goal of much of what we do here at First Draft.

Finally, keep your guard up. We all have COVID fatigue, but the virus does not care. Florida appears ripe for another spike as Spring Breakers hit the beaches. College kids think that they’re invulnerable but they’re not. There are some on Bourbon Street as well. That’s why I’m sitting here in half vaccinated limbo.

The last word goes to the Neville Brothers and Bryan Ferry:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Day After Day

La Décalcomanie by Rene Magritte

I’m getting vaccinated this afternoon at the Morial Convention Center. I’m a bit nervous and uncertain as to which vaccine I’ll be getting. I’m fine with any of them. The one-shot J&J variant has considerable appeal because I hate needles. Here’s hoping I get jabbed by someone with a light touch. Just don’t give me a smiley faced Band-Aid. I hope that’s not too much to ask. Enough jab jabber.

It’s pollen season in New Orleans. The mighty oaks are spewing forth their yellow poison (to me) and my eyes are red and runny. If I were a Republican, I’d turn this into a culture war grievance but I’m not so I won’t.

This week’s theme song was written in 1971 by Pete Ham for Badfinger’s Straight Up album. It was a smash hit across the globe hitting number 4 on the Billboard charts in the US&A. The song was produced by George Harrison and featured George on slide guitar and Leon Russell on piano.

We begin with the Badfinger original:

I had no idea that the second version existed until I checked out Second Hand Songs. Ladies and gentlemen, Bradyfinger:

The Brady Bunch kids cut two albums of then contemporary hit songs. It’s weird to hear a chirpy version of Pete Ham’s mournful song. If it weren’t so damn funny, I’d give it the finger, then eat a Butterfinger. Candy is the cure for many of the ills of society including Bradyfinger.

Speaking of fingers:

It’s time to cut out (cut off?) the finger jokes and jump to the break.

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Finding Light In The Darkness

On the 50th day of his administration, President Biden delivered his first prime time speech and delivered on his promise to sign a COVID relief package into law. Anyone who knows anything about the legislative process, knows that this is a remarkable accomplishment. Complex bills such as this typically take much longer to reach the president’s desk. Kudos to Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer for making this possible.

The speech was a strong one. It was vintage Joe Biden complete with Truman-like plain speaking and soaring Humphrey-esque rhetoric. Unlike Biden, Hubert Humphrey’s timing was off, but he remains the American politician most like President Biden. That’s high praise indeed: HHH was the best president we never had. Joe Biden has a shot to be one of the best. As the man himself would say, “that’s not hyperbole.”

In addition to plugging his achievements, Biden displayed the sort of humility that his predecessor was incapable of. Joe Biden is all about we, former President* Pennywise is all about me.

The President warned us that beating the pandemic won’t be easy but that if we stick together, life will return to something approaching normality by Independence Day. Given the amount of vaccine in the pipeline, I think he’s right.

It’s refreshing to see the return of the can-do attitude that reflects America at its best. Happy Warriors are back in style. Whiny Impeached Insult Comedians are out.

I took the post title from one of the soaring passages of Biden’s speech:

Finding light in the darkness is a very American thing to do. In fact, it may be the most American thing we do, and that’s what we’ve done. We’ve seen frontline and essential workers risking their lives, sometimes losing them, to save and help others. Researchers and scientists racing for a vaccine. And so many of you, as Hemingway wrote, being strong in all the broken places. I know it’s been hard. I truly know.

It’s been one year since an international pandemic was declared. It shouldn’t be odd to have a president who cares if we live or die: Donald Trump did not, Joe Biden does. As the man himself would say, “that’s a big fucking deal.”

Americans are a restless, impatient people. We’ve seen that time and time again in the last year. Patience is called for as we round the homestretch and head towards the finish line. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, let’s not blow it America.

Finally, I’m tired of people damning Joe Biden with faint praise. As I said on inauguration day, this is his time. Who cares if he wasn’t your first choice in 2020? Politics is about helping people, not pleasing the cool kids of the Twitter left. Joe Biden has moved left with his party. Hopefully, we can nudge the nation in the same direction. We’re off to a helluva good start.

The last word goes to George Harrison and Leon Russell with Beware of Darkness:

 

Murder Among The Mormons

A little known fact about me: I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. Also little known is that there’s a fairly large Greek community there. My papou landed in Salt Lake because he was recruited to work in a Kennecott Copper mine at the docks in New York.

The recruiter was a Greek guy who showed my namesake pictures of Utah and it looked like the Peloponnesian region from which he hailed. He signed up and raised his family there. I still have some kin there and my parents are buried there as well. That concludes this leisurely stroll down memory lane.

The featured image is an example of how popular true crime is. I cannot fathom wanting a throw pillow with the Mormon temple and blood on it but I guess someone will buy it from Red Bubble. There’s no accounting for taste.

Hell, I don’t want a film noir throw pillow, not even a Claire Trevor one. I don’t want to confuse the cat. I’ll leave that to Monty Python:

Let’s exit this long and winding road of an introduction and get down to business. The business of forgery, deception, and murder most foul.

The latest Netflix true crime series Murder Among The Mormons is set in Salt Lake City during the 1980’s. Three pipe bombs exploded in a short period of time. Two people died from the first two bombs and Mark Hofmann was seriously injured by the third. He set the bomb himself. The why of the third bomb is less clear.

Mark Hofmann was a dealer in documents with a specialty in Mormon stuff. Not surprising for a guy who was raised in the LDS church by sternly pious parents. Hofmann turned out to be something of an LDS rebel, which had dire consequences for his friends and family.

Hofmann caused a sensation by “uncovering” the so-called White Salamander letter, which seemed to refute the church’s belief that the Book of Mormon was given to Joseph Smith by the Angel Moroni. That’s the dude on top of most Mormon churches. Instead, Smith was led to the fateful cave by a white salamander. It’s hocus pocus either way as far as I’m concerned and that was true for Hofmann as well.

The White Salamander letter was a fake. Hofmann was on the verge of discovery when he planted the bombs. The investigation was extensive and eventually led to him. He is currently serving a life sentence. He ducked the firing squad by telling his story to the Utah Parole Board.

Murder Among The Mormons tells this story in three parts. It was, of course, a huge news story in Utah and was covered thoroughly by the Salt Lake media. We see a lot of their work and they did a helluva job as did the prosecution team.

We spend a great deal of time with some folks close to the master forger: his ex-wife Dorie Olds, and his former friends Shannon Flynn, and Brent Metcalfe. They’re swell talking heads who we get to know over the course of the series.

Here’s the trailer:

Mark Hofmann’s goal was to make a fortune off his fakery and to blow up the Mormon church in the process. Instead, he blew himself up and destroyed his life and the lives of some good people close to him.

I give Murder Among The Mormons 3 1/2 stars and an Adrastos Grade of B+. It’s true crime at its finest. I’ll skip the throw pillows.

Let’s close out this bloody, bomby, and pillowy post with some music. The last word goes to Johnny Mercer and Bob Weir.

 

Things Are Looking Up

I made a Magritte joke this morning in my album cover art post. This time it’s a sight gag: the featured image is a Magritte painting called The Therapist, which is, in turn, a joke on the surrealist movement’s passion for psychologically provocative images. And some think Francophones have no sense of humor.

The lockdown phase of the pandemic began a year ago. It’s been tough. We’ve all despaired and been distressed. Things began to improve with the presidential election. There was a major setback with the Dipshit Insurrection, but things got better after the inauguration.

In my last 13th Ward Rambler column for the Bayou Brief I declared February to be the 14th Month Of 2020. That’s NOT how I feel about March 2021. It feels like a new era has begun. In the immortal words of the Brothers Gershwin, Things Are Looking Up.

The first verse of that song says it all:

If I should suddenly start to sing
Or stand on my head or do anything
Don’t think that I’ve lost my senses
It’s just that my happiness finally commences
The long long years of dull despair
Are vanishing into thin air
And it suddenly seems that I’ve
Become the luckiest man alive

Congress is on the verge of passing the most important piece of progressive legislation since the ACA in 2010. I would argue that it’s even more important because it was done without giving an inch to Republican “moderates” who sought to water it down. The MSM is obsessed with that point but they’re wrong. History will see that as a footnote and a minor one indeed. In the immortal words of Joey B. Shark, “This is a big fucking deal.”

I’m hoping that the COVID relief bill is a sign that Democrats have got their mojo back. The dual Reagan landslides in 1980 and 1984 were traumatic. They were really based on Reagan’s persona and extraordinary communication skills, but Democrats care about policy, so they convinced themselves it was about the prose of governing, not the poetry of campaigning. Are we still allowed to quote Mario Cuomo despite his jerk son’s malakatude?

Ronald Reagan was fundamentally a salesman. He gave his party the gift of messaging; something they still excel at, which can’t always be said for Democrats. Our mojo may be back, but our branding remains shaky. Repeat after me: The label on the package is just as important as the contents.

And now for a brief musical interlude:

In other optimistic news, things are looking up on the COVID front. It helps to have an administration that believes in government.  Team Trump dropped the ball on handling the pandemic, but Team Biden has recovered the fumble and done a helluva job at getting the vaccines out there.

The several states are ramping up their vaccination efforts thanks to the administration’s hard work on distributing the vaccine and ensuring adequate supplies. The Merck-Johnson & Johnson agreement is another big fucking deal. It shouldn’t be smercked at…

On the personal front, I got my first haircut in a year last weekend. Not much grows on top but the back gets bushy and curly. Who the hell wants this guy on the back of their head:

I don’t have that shocking contraption on my head. It was the weirdest GIF I could find so I went there. Poor Curly. I bet it was Moe’s fault.

Back to the real world. I’m getting vaccinated at the Morial Convention Center on Saturday. I qualified under the Gret Stet’s phase-2 guidelines since I’m old and overweight. Not long after I made my appointment, the governor loosened the requirements since the vaccine is flowing like wine. I’m not sure what that means, but it’s better than spilling it:

Now that there’s adequate supply, the several states should jab anything that moves. It should be like Word War II era draft boards who inducted anyone that could stand up even if Mr. Potter rejected Slacker George Bailey.

We need to vaccinate 75% of the population before things can get back to Gamalian normalcy. We’re finally on our way but there will likely be speed bumps ahead. Shorter Adrastos: DON’T SPIKE THE BALL.

One more quote from Ira Gershwin:

Bitter was my cup
But no more shall I be the mourner
For I’ve certainly turned the corner
Oh, things are looking up

The last word goes to dueling divas: Billie was a bit subdued whereas Ella was exuberant. I’m somewhere in between.

Gentle On Tucker’s Mind

I never watch and rarely write about Fox News unless I have to. This is one of those times. Prime time big mouth Tucker Carlson recently said something bizarre even by his own standards:

Followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory are “gentle people waving American flags”, Fox News host Tucker Carlson claimed on Friday night – two months since many joined a mob that stormed the US Capitol seeking to overturn Donald Trump’s election defeat, a riot in which five people died.

“Do you ever notice,” Carlson asked his primetime audience, “how all the scary internet conspiracy theorists – the radical QAnon people – when you actually see them on camera or in jail cells, as a lot of them now are, are maybe kind of confused with the wrong ideas, but they’re all kind of gentle people now waving American flags? They like this country.”

Gentle? Really? Has Tucker ever bothered to look into some of their weirder theories like one cited by NYT columnist Michelle Goldberg:

A clear indication that Marjorie Taylor Greene was more than a dabbler in QAnon was her 2018 endorsement of “Frazzledrip,” one of the most grotesque tendrils of the movement’s mythology. You “have to go down a number of rabbit holes to get that far,” said Mike Rothschild, whose book about QAnon, “The Storm Is Upon Us,” comes out later this year.

The lurid fantasy of Frazzledrip refers to an imaginary video said to show Hillary Clinton and her former aide, Huma Abedin, assaulting and disfiguring a young girl, and drinking her blood. It holds that several cops saw the video, and Clinton had them killed.

This is literally a blood libel. It’s based on ancient anti-Semitic tropes about vampires killing babies by Menorah light. This is gentle? It’s certainly concocted by gentiles. Oy just oy.

On his March 4th broadcast, the teevee dinner heir listed a litany of “liberal fears” including this one:

“They’re terrified that someday an army of tattooed high school dropouts in Confederate flag tank-tops is going to rise up from the trailer parks of West Virginia and take over the country. They’ll storm the cities with their 75 calibre AR-15 assault weapon machine guns with flash suppressors, each one of which can fire over a million bullets per minute when mounted on the back of an F-150 pickup truck, plastered with racist bumper stickers. That is their nightmare. That is the monster under every liberal’s bed.” 

I hate to break it to you Tucker but that’s essentially what happened during the Dipshit Insurrection. Remember when those “gentle patriots” stormed the Capitol on 1/6. It was too cold for tank tops, but they wore MAGA hats and carried flagpoles, which they used as weapons to attack cops on behalf of the law and order president* thereby proving that irony is alive and well.

I’m sick and tired of creeps like Tucker Carlson’s fake identification with the masses. He’s a rich dude who went to the snootiest schools and now he’s an apologist for people who shat on the floor of the people’s house. If he loves the ‘gentle patriots” who stormed the Capitol so much he should prove it. How about inviting the QAnon “Shaman” over for a vegan supper if the latter ever gets out of the hoosegow? (Hoosegow is a word I’m trying to revive. It has a weird origin: it’s a mispronunciation of the Spanish word juzgado or panel of judges, courtroom. Shorter Adrastos, it’s a malaprop and I love those.)

In other Tucker Carlson news, his frequent guest Glenn Greenwald seems to have completed his journey from the far left to the far right by describing Tucker, the Kaiser of Chaos, and Steve Bannon as “true socialists.” I am not making this up. This sort of political peregrination was not unusual during the Second American Red Scare as former communists such as Whitaker Chambers, Sidney Hook, and James Burnham made the same journey. Oy just oy.

If Tucker Carlson is a socialist, I believe that Hillary Clinton had Vincent Foster murdered and that General/President Eisenhower was a commie.

Back to Tucker’s description of the Q creeps as “gentle patriots.” It gave me an earworm as well as a punny post title. The last word goes to Glen Campbell:

That’s Glen with one N as opposed to two-N Glenn Greenwald. One-N Glen’s variety show was called the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour. Perhaps Tucker should rename his show The Tucker Carlson Bad Time Hour, at least when two-N Glenn Greenwald is a guest. Just the latest in a long line of “helpful” suggestions. It has the virtue of honesty, which is a rare commodity on the far right nowadays.

It has also given me another earworm. The second last word goes to the Jayhawks with their cover of a Grand Funk Railroad song:

That’s the last last word. I promise.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Mean To Me

My Brother Imitating Scherzo by Andre Kertesz

The cold weather is back but it’s not as bad as last month’s hard freeze. As I watch things unfold in Jackson, MS, I realize how lucky New Orleans was. Our water infrastructure is just as ancient and with a more prolonged freeze it could have been us. We dodged a bullet this time. Our luck is bound to run out at some point. Our pipes are old, old, old.

I posted a version of Mean To Me when I wrote about Neera Tanden before her nomination was pulled. I stand by what I wrote then, but I should have added that, in some ways, she was a surrogate for those on the far left and right who hate Hillary Clinton.

As far as Joe Manchin is concerned, I’m beginning to think he likes being the key vote in the Senate and was flexing his muscles on the Tanden nomination. I guess Tanden had a blind date with the Man of La Manchin, not destiny. So it goes.

Neil Finn wrote this week’s theme song in 1986 for Crowded House’s eponymous debut album. It’s the first track on the record and is a frequent set opener when the band plays live.

We have two versions of Mean To Me for your listening pleasure: the original promo video and a 1988 live version.

It’s time for a visit to disambiguation city with a 1929 song of the same title. We have a double dose of Ella Fitzgerald. First with the Nelson Riddle orchestra followed by a more intimate recording with Oscar Peterson:

Have I mentioned lately how much I love Oscar Peterson? That goes for Ella Fitzgerald as well.

On that upbeat note, let’s jump to the break. And I mean it this time.

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Haven’t They Heard Of The 20th Amendment?

20th Amendment, Article One

The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.

It’s probably unfair to ask the question posed in the post title. But since we’re dealing with the QAnon creeps, to hell with fairness. When were they ever fair to any of us Satan worshippers? The mere thought makes me feel like my countryman John Cassavetes in Rosemary’s Baby.

March 4th was inauguration day until 1936. It was established by custom, not law. It was the day George Washington was supposed to take the oath of office and it was thought to be good enough until it wasn’t. It was huge problem for Lincoln in 1860 with the country falling apart and James Buchanan doing what he did best: nothing, bupkis, nada, rien, zilch.

It was especially problematical in 1933 as the nation suffered through the Great Depression. Loser/President Herbert Hoover tried to trick FDR into supporting austerity measures that would have made matters worse. FDR had no intention of falling for Hoover’s tricks and sharing the blame for the Depression. Democrats were less earnest in those days hence the title of my favorite FDR biography:

One of FDR’s leading supporters, George Norris a liberal Republican from Nebraska decided there had to be a better way and became one of the main sponsors of the 20th Amendment.  Yes, Virginia, along with Santa Claus, there used to be liberal Republicans. One of them New York’s Jacob Javits was among the most liberal senators of his era. He’s better known to our younger readers as the Convention Center Guy.

I thought a bit of history was in order on a day that online domestic terrorist chatter indicates that there could be another assault on the Capitol. The QAnon creeps posit that the Kaiser of Chaos will be returned to power on the original inauguration day. Federal law enforcement is ready for them this time, so it hasn’t happened as of this writing. Empty promises and gestures are Q’s specialties, after all.

There’s a swell explainer piece in the WaPo about what is supposed to transpire on the original inauguration day:

According to QAnon lore, all presidents since Ulysses S. Grant have been illegitimate, so it follows that the day Trump returns to power to set things right would be the original Inauguration Day.

There are a couple of problems with this theory.

First, it’s unclear if the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote, is still valid in the Q universe, since that also came after Grant.

Second, March 4 didn’t actually end up being the first Inauguration Day anyhow. That’s when it was scheduled for in 1789, but bad weather — an actual storm! — kept so many members of Congress from getting to the temporary capital of New York City that they failed to have the quorum needed for Washington to take the oath. The first inauguration didn’t take place until April 30, 1789.

Also, this is not the first day QAnon followers have predicted Trump will reveal himself as an American savior. Other dates include but are not limited to: Dec. 8, 2020; Dec. 14, 2020; Jan. 6, 2021 (attempt by followers to make this prophecy come true notwithstanding); Jan. 20, 2021.

So once Thursday passes without a Trump resurrection, what will the new, actual, real, final day be?

Who knows, but Easter — April 4 this year — is TAKEN.

Jeez, they can’t even get their fractured history right.

My favorite part is the bit about the 19th Amendment. One would think it’s valid since there are two Q congresswomen but expecting consistency or coherence from the Q creeps is asking too much. But what do I know? I’m a slave to Beelzebub as far as this lot is concerned.

Our old pal Gym Jordan has weighed in on the chatter:

“Maybe in a way it’s good, because in the next two weeks think about what the Democrats are going to do,” Jordan told Fox News on Wednesday night, ticking off a doomsday list of ways Democrats will “radically change” election and policing laws.

“Maybe it’s a good idea that we’re not here,” the Ohio Republican repeated.

Jordan also cast doubt on the seriousness of the threat.

“I don’t know that the threat is that critical,” he said, adding that he had not received a briefing on the matter.

“But my guess is this is probably not that serious,” Jordan asserted. “But I just don’t know for sure.”

The Jacketless One is at a loss for words? There’s a first time for everything.

If I’m wrong and there’s a second Dipshit Insurrection leading to a Trump resurrection, I yield the floor to Emily Litella:

All this blasphemous babble about resurrection has given me an earworm. The last word goes to Robbie Robertson:

 

 

 

The Party Of Brezhnev?

The Americans: Season 1 Opening Credits.

I’m rewatching The Americans featuring Spy Family Jennings. That’s what I called them while recapping seasons 5 and 6 when the show was airing; or is that cabling since it was on FX? That’s neither here nor there but an unused joke, like a mind, is a terrible thing to waste.

I’ve gotten to the final season where the Soviet Union is divided between hardliners and reformers. It didn’t matter: the Communist party was doomed regardless of who was in charge. The edifice of the state was rotten to the core and came toppling down with shoves from home and abroad.

That brings me to a fascinating article in the Atlantic by Tom Nichols who is a Russia expert and national security conservative. He’s a lapsed Republican who casts a jaundiced eye on his former party: The Republican Party Is Now In Its End Stages. If anything the tagline is even more revealing:  “The GOP has become, in form if not in content, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union of the late 1970s.”

Nichols’ opening paragraphs set the stage beautifully for his comparison of two decadent political parties:

We are living in a time of bad metaphors. Everything is fascism, or socialism; Hitler’s Germany, or Stalin’s Soviet Union. Republicans, especially, want their followers to believe that America is on the verge of a dramatic time, a moment of great conflict such as 1968—or perhaps, even worse, 1860. (The drama is the point, of course. No one ever says, “We’re living through 1955.”)

Ironically, the GOP is indeed replicating another political party in another time, but not as the heroes they imagine themselves to be. The Republican Party has become, in form if not in content, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union of the late 1970s.

I can already hear the howls about invidious comparisons. I do not mean that modern American Republicans are communists. Rather, I mean that the Republicans have entered their own kind of end-stage Bolshevism, as members of a party that is now exhausted by its failures, cynical about its own ideology, authoritarian by reflex, controlled as a personality cult by a failing old man, and looking for new adventures to rejuvenate its fortunes.

For those of you too young to remember the Cold War, the Brezhnev era was one of stagnation and confusion. The Soviet regime’s policy vacillations made one’s head spin. The went from detente to a resumed arms race, to collapse within nine years of Brezhnev’s death.

In addition to sucking up to the dear leader,  the only things the Brezhnev regime was good at were spying and oppression. They believed in nothing except for the perpetuation of rule by Communist party elites. Their economy collapsed under the weight of the Afghanistan War and an arms race renewed by the Reagan administration.

Back to Nichols’ point. He bores in on the notion that the GOP is an empty vessel that has been filled by the empty ideology of Trumpism:

The Republican Party has, for years, ignored the ideas and principles it once espoused, to the point where the 2020 GOP convention simply dispensed with the fiction of a platform and instead declared the party to be whatever Comrade—excuse me, President—Donald Trump said it was.

<SNIP>

Falling in line, just as in the old Communist Party, is rewarded, and independence is punished. The anger directed at Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger makes the stilted ideological criticisms of last century’s Soviet propagandists seem almost genteel by comparison. (At least Soviet families under Brezhnev didn’t add three-page handwritten denouncements to official party reprimands.)

This comparison is more than a metaphor; it is a warning. A dying party can still be a dangerous party. The Communist leaders in those last years of political sclerosis arrayed a new generation of nuclear missiles against NATO, invaded Afghanistan, tightened the screws on Jews and other dissidents, lied about why they shot down a civilian 747 airliner, and, near the end, came close to starting World War III out of sheer paranoia.

Nichols is convinced the GOP is doomed. I’m less certain of that. The Soviet system was highly centralized whereas Republicans remain in control of a majority of state legislatures and governorships. Additionally, our system makes it difficult for third parties to get on the ballot, which ties into the point about GOP control in the several states.

The most likely prospect for the GOP is a struggle for its “soul” between its crazy and sane factions. I put the word soul in quotes because the current party is soulless. They sold it to Donald Trump in 2016.

The last word goes to Tears For Fears with a song that some believe is about the Cold War. I’m less sure of that but it sure is catchy:

CPAC 2021: Vengeance Thy Name Is Pennywise

Image by Michael F.

My Saturday piece about CPAC idolatry was widely circulated on social media and generated considerable buzz. I knocked that one out in a hurry and was surprised but grateful for the eyeballs. It must have been the golden statue picture.

Before taking a look at Pennywise’s first post White House speech, a few things I missed on Saturday.

One would hope that evangelicals would be appalled by the statue. I’ll let PJ Grisar of the Jewish publication Forward explain why:

It doesn’t take a doctorate of divinity to see the parallel to this ludicrous idol worship and the episode of the golden calf, in which a faction of the Israelites, left alone by Moses for roughly the period Trump’s been out of office, melted down their rings into a “molten calf” and made offerings to it.

This made God (a Jealous God) angry, and Moses, too. I mean, our guy shattered the Ten Commandments when he saw what was going down. It’s pretty clear to see why.

On those tablets, notarized by divine fire, one finds the line item, “Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any manner of likeness, of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”

Oy just oy.

Unfortunately, the bible thumpers think Trump (Netanyahu too) will bring on the rapture and they’ll be lifted to heaven because they’re so piously awesome or some such shit. Shorter Adrastos: They’ll stand by their man.

Repeat after me: Oy just oy.

I also missed a joke in my haste to post graven images and Nazi Symbols:

The root of the word Odal is Odin the head Norse God known to Wagner fans as Wotan. We all know who one of Wagner’s biggest fans was.

Like Trump, Wagner’s Wotan is a notorious windbag. That’s why the Ring Cycle lasts 17 hours. Most of the Impeached Insult Comedian’s speeches only feel as if they’re that long. Does this make Donny Junior Siegfried or Ivanka Brunhilde? Beats the hell outta me, I don’t even like opera, and know precious little about the characters. I do, however, know that Wotan is a windbag. It’s extra-funny vhen you use a Hogan’s Heroes style German accent and say it like zis: Votan is a vindbag.

Speaking of windbaggery, here’s how TPM headlined their live coverage of Trump’s CPAC screed:

Sleepy Don: Trump Targets GOPers, Repeats Bogus Election Claims In Low-Energy Speech

I didn’t watch the speech; I didn’t feel like having my head explode. But reports had me thinking in musical terms as in what kind of album it would be. It’s unclear if it qualifies as Pennywise’s greatest hits, best of, box set, or anthology, but he covered all the usual bases, told the usual lies, and threw raw meat at the crowd. The CPAC gourmands are always hungry for raw meat, which is ironic given Pennywise’s preference for well-done steaks as opposed to steak tartare. Let them eat freedom fries. man.

The most revealing part of the speech was when the Kaiser of Chaos vowed vengeance against those Republicans who have crossed him:

The Democrats don’t have grandstanders like Mitt Romney, little Ben Sasse, Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Pat Toomey, and in the house, Tom Rice, South Carolina, Adam Kinzinger, Dan Newhouse, Anthony Gonzalez. That’s another beauty. Fred Upton, Jaime Herrera Beutler, Peter Meyer, John Katko, David Valadao. And of course the warmonger, a person that loves seeing our troops fighting, Liz Cheney. How about that?

The good news is in her state, she’s been censured, and in her state, her poll numbers have dropped faster than any human being I’ve ever seen. So hopefully they’ll get rid of her with the next election. Get rid of them all.

Thus spake Pennywise, the wrathful god of Trumpism. It’s unclear how much time he’ll have to personally meddle in Republican politics since he’s going to spend much of the next four years as a professional defendant in both criminal and civil cases.

Directly after attacking the courageous GOPers who took a stand against sedition, Trump delivered a bizarre soliloquy about Democrats:

Democrats are vicious. Remember this, it’s true. Democrats are vicious.

He said evil, well, there is evil there, but they’re vicious, they’re smart, and they do one thing. You got to hand it to them. They always stick together. You don’t have Mitt Romney’s in the group. They always stick together.

Talk about alternative facts. I guess he’s never read any “Democrats in disarray” disarray stories. He should at least be aware of them since he used to be a Democrat himself. Oy just oy.

Trump is the great unifier of the Democratic party. We all agree that this racist and sexist criminal should never darken the White House door again. If that makes us vicious so be it.

Let’s revel in our viciousness by repeating my vicious mantra: Donald Trump is a pussy. He should grab himself.

The last word goes to Lou Reed who may have been Vicious, but never hit Pennywise with a flower: