Category Archives: Fog Of History

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Wake Up, America

In addition to being a rabble-rouser who was one of the Chicago 7, Abbie Hoffman fancied himself a standup comedian. He was pretty good as didactic political comedians go.

Wake Up, America is Hoffman’s only album. Being on the lam for six years makes it hard to perform and record your act.

The artwork is by Peter Bramley. It’s heavily influenced by R Crumb. It’s okay: Crumb got his own movie and Bramley did not. So it goes.

Here’s the whole damn album via YouTube:

My favorite Abbie Hoffman moment was when Pete Townshend kicked him off the stage at Woodstock. Pete was in the right. Hoffman interrupted the Who’s set:

I could not find video of the incident. So it goes.

Essential Worker Or Hoosier Typhoid Mary?

If anyone doubted if Mike Pence is as horrible a human being as his boss, those doubts should be gone. Pence’s staffers are dropping like rona infected flies. Their boss should be under quarantine, but he campaigned yesterday and will preside over the Senate vote to confirm Her Illegitimacy, Amy Coney Barrett. I always thought Typhoid Mary was an Irish cook from New York instead of a pompous German Irish Hoosier.

The White House claims that Mike Liar Liar Pence On Fire is an essential worker. Say what? He’s Vice-President fer chrissakes. I can think of only four Veeps who had any power or influence whatsoever: Mondale, Gore, Cheney, and Biden. And both Gore and Cheney were sidelined in their second term. Most past Veeps agree with Cactus Jack Garner who said, “This job isn’t worth a bucket of warm piss.” The quote was cleaned up for many years with spit replacing piss. It was still an apt analogy.

In the 19th and early 20th Century, being Veep was hazardous to your health: seven died in office. Before the 25th Amendment was enacted, the office was vacant for 37 years and 290 days. And that doesn’t even include the four years J. Danforth Quayle was Veep.

Because the Current Occupant is mentally ill, recent discussion of the 25th Amendment has focused on the removal process. The primary reason the amendment was thought necessary was because Lyndon Johnson’s backup for 15 months was House Speaker John McCormack who was a 216-year-old drunk. I exaggerate slightly: McCormack was 72 when JFK was murdered but he looked three times his age.

Past Veeps would be dazed and confused by Pence being dubbed an essential worker. John C Calhoun resigned the office and Andrew Jackson barely knew he was gone. How’s that for a terrible ticket? Wilson’s Veep, Thomas Marshall, wasn’t even sure what his boss was sick with: the Spanish Influenza or a stroke. I could cite equally awful examples for hours, but I won’t.

The Trump regime’s recent pandemic related actions show why they’re losing the election and know it. Pence is running around infecting people and Mark Meadows is waving a white flag and admitting that their policy is herd immunity without uttering the words. It’s time for them to go.

The good news is that Joe Biden was treated so well by Barack Obama that Kamala Harris’ name will be added to the list of influential Veeps. That’s another reason to vote for the Biden-Harris ticket.

Harris will be a dramatic improvement over the Hoosier Typhoid Mary. When she was in contact with infected people, she left the trail for two days and they weren’t as close to her as Pence’s Chief of Staff and body man are to him. I suspect that famous fictional body men Charlie Young and Gary Walsh would prefer Harris over Pence any day. Kamala is bound to be easier to work for than Selina Meyer, after all. Then again, who isn’t?

I keep expecting Senator Harris to adopt a new slogan:

It’s a winner, I tell ya.

The last word goes to Harold Lloyd hanging on for dear life in Safety Last:

Since we have a voting season now, I decided I should modernize the tick tock. Now that I think of it, Team Trump’s slogan should be SAFETY LAST.

That is all. I promise.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Fortunate Son

Target by Jasper Johns.

John Fogerty wrote this week’s theme song in 1969 for Creedence’s Willy and the Poor Boys album. It’s an unusual protest song in that its protagonist is a soldier lashing out at the rich kids for whom he’s fighting.  Fogerty recently enjoined the Trump campaign from playing it at their rallies. They don’t get the irony: Donald Trump is precisely the sort of Fortunate Son that’s lambasted in the song.

We have three versions of Fortunate Son for your listening pleasure: the CCR original, John Fogerty live, and Fogerty live with Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band.

I have “It aint me. It ain’t me” stuck in my head. Let’s dislodge it with this Dylan cover by Bryan Ferry:

Now that we’ve been mellowed out by Ferry’s silken tones, lets languidly jump to the break if such a thing is possible.

Continue reading

October Surprise Overkill

The phrase October Surprise was first coined in 1980 by Ronald Reagan’s campaign manager/CIA Director Bill Casey. How’s that for a Republican combination? So much for not mixing national security and politics.

Casey was referring to the possibility that the Carter administration would free the American hostages in Iran before the election. It did not happen. Many years later, a guy named Gary Sick claimed that Team Reagan had interfered with the negotiating process a la Team Nixon in 1968. The latter meddling has been confirmed, the former has not. So it goes.

Like a group of demented chimpanzees on meth, Team Trump is throwing one October Surprise after another at the wall. It’s like shit, they figure some of it is bound to stick. Thus far it’s only stuck with committed Trump voters; some of whom should be committed to what used to be called the laughing academy. President* Pennywise should be the first in line.

They’ve tried bizarre variations on the Hunter Biden theme. Nobody cares about Hunter Biden. To be effective, an October Surprise must be something the public gives a shit about such as the Vietnam War, the Iran hostage crisis, or Comey-Clinton. Perhaps not the latter but the jolly green former FBI director cared. About his image.

Speaking of images, some wingnut Trumper posted this:

How dare Joey B Shark love his son. Heartless bastard.

I hope I’m the first to call this bozo Cardildo, but I somehow doubt it.

Another October Surprise landed last night. The man who puts the Rat in Ratcliffe held a sinister presser announcing Iranian interference in the election. The Director of National Intelligence/political hack made the announcement at FBI HQ. It looked like a hostage video starring Chris Wray. Hmm, is he related to Link?

Funny thing that it’s the Iranians doing the October Surprise Rumble, not Russians. Let’s party like it’s 1980 and Walter Cronkite is still counting down the number of days Americans have been held hostage.

In other October Surprise news, Trump is thinking of firing Barr and Wray because they didn’t produce one. How dare Bill Barr fail in his mission to frame Joe Biden, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton. What’s next? A “lock him up” chant aimed at Barr? Or as President Pennywise recently said at a MAGAPALOOZA: “Lock them all up.” To paraphrase the legendary movie mogul Sam Goldwyn: “Include yourself in.”

Sam Goldwyn didn’t actually say all the Goldwynisms attributed to him. I wish the same could be said for Trumpisms. It’s what happens when you’re an asshole who never shuts the fuck up.

The one October Surprise I was devoutly hoping for isn’t happening as of this writing. The Impeached Insult Comedian isn’t bowing out of a second debate. Now I have to watch and write about it tomorrow. Damn you, Donald.

Repeat after me: Donald Trump is a pussy. He should grab himself.

Since October Surprise Overkill gave me insomnia last night, the last word goes to Colin Hay:

George Wallace Called Him Mousey Tongue

The special Senate election in Georgia is getting nasty and weird. Doug Collins, seen above next to George Wallace, is attacking Kelly Loeffler over the Warhol that was spotted at her palatial crib:

George Wallace called him Mousey Tongue. How about you, Dougie?

Rich people have Warhols, Dougie. If your man President* Pennywise had any taste, he might own one himself. He did, however, consort with Andy and a polo pony:

I betcha thought I was making that up. It reminds me of a classic Ed Norton moment from The Honeymooners:

Polopopnies? Sounds like my ancestral region, the Peloponnesus.

My mother loved that Honeymooners routine. In fact, she added Poloponies to the name of the infamous Brutus the beagle chihuahua mix. Not my favorite dog: I caught Brutus peeing on the cover of my copy of Tupelo Honey by Van Morrison. It’s a pity that Van wasn’t there to admonish the dog who renamed that fine album Tupeelo Honey. Now I need some of this:

It’s funny to watch Collins and Loeffler try to be the Trumpiest Trumper in Trumpistan when the Impeached Insult Comedian is increasingly unpopular with other GOPers. Does that make them Throwback Trumpers?

If David Pecker still ran The Enquirer, he’d want to know. Enquiring minds and all that shit.

I don’t know about you but I’m rooting for this guy:

For some reason, Georgia has adopted the Louisiana open primary system. Who copies the Gret Stet in politics? Food, yes; politics no.

I refuse to call it a jungle primary because of connotations that George Wallace and Doug Collins would surely get.

2020, man.

The last word goes to Van Morrison:

 

Donald Trump Is An Asshole

This post began life with another title, Quote Of The Day: Over Thinking The Election. It was a good title but not catchy enough. The “quote” turned into “quotes” and I realized that the title had to change to something snappier. Besides, I haven’t written a Donald Trump Is post in 2020.

Enough navel gazing. As Bugs and Daffy would have surely said at this point: On with the show, this is it.

I wrote the other day about how the elite inside-the-beltway media has been in the bag for the GOP since the Reagan years. That’s particularly true of Politico. Every time a politically unsophisticated friend shares a Politico piece on social media I cringe. Half the time their articles are poisoned darts aimed at Democrats. Politico specializes in “Democrats in disarray” articles. It’s long been a fanzine for the Republican Party. That’s why Charlie Pierce calls them Tiger Beat On The Potomac.

One of the openly pro-GOP Politico types is Tim Alberta. In 2019, he published what is supposed to be a good book about the Party of Trump. Like many other GOPers and fellow travelers, Alberta does not care for Donald Trump. I’m not sure why Cheney and Rove were okay when they were just as assholish as the Impeached Insult Comedian, but progress is progress.

Alberta is one of those Politico writers who specializes in “who voters would like to have a beer with” style campaign coverage. This is what nailed Al Gore to the wall in 2000. He wasn’t as warm and fuzzy as Poppy Bush’s amiable offspring. That amiable dolt got us into a deeply stupid war. Oy, just oy.

The genre is especially weird in an election featuring two teetotalers. Maybe someday, I’ll write about that phenomenon. It almost makes me nostalgic for the days of “Bourbon and branch water” pols like Harry Truman and Sam Rayburn. The latter often used the euphemism “let’s strike a blow for liberty” when it was time for cocktail hour in his Capitol Hill hideaway office. Bottoms up, Mr. Sam.

Alberta has gone back to the well in 2020 and produced a winner. I never expected to praise and quote a Tim Alberta “who voters would like to have a beer with” piece but 2020 is a weird-n-wacky year.  It’s a longer quote that I typically use but, hey, 2020.

Tim Alberta concludes that we’re over thinking the election:

But if Trump loses, the biggest factor won’t be Covid-19 or the economic meltdown or the social unrest. It will be his unlikability.

As I wrote last week in a dispatch from Arizona, sometimes you hear a voter say something “so basic, so one-dimensional, that you’re inclined to dismiss it until you hear it for the thousandth time.” That’s the story of this election: All across America, in conversations with voters about their choices this November, I’ve been hearing the same thing over and over again: “I don’t like Trump.” (Sometimes there’s a slight variation: “I’m so tired of this guy,” “I can’t handle another four years of this,” etc. The remarkable thing? Many of these conversations never even turn to Biden; in Phoenix, several people who had just voted for the Democratic nominee did not so much as mention his name in explaining their preference for president.

But if Trump loses, the biggest factor won’t be Covid-19 or the economic meltdown or the social unrest. It will be his unlikability.

Generations of pollsters and journalists have fixated on the question of which candidate voters would rather have a beer with—a window into how personality translates into political success. Here’s the thing: Americans have been having a beer with Trump for the past four years—every morning, every afternoon, every evening. He has made himself more accessible than any president in history, using the White House as a performance stage and Twitter as a real-time diary for all to read. Like the drunk at the bar, he won’t shut up.

Whatever appeal his unfiltered thoughts once held has now worn off. Americans are tired of having beers with Trump. His own supporters are tired of having beers with Trump. In hundreds of interviews this year with MAGA loyalists, I have noted only a handful in which the person did not, unsolicited, point to the president’s behavior as exhausting and inappropriate. Strip away all the policy fights, all the administrative action (or inaction), all the culture war politics, and the decision for many people comes down to a basic conclusion: They just do not approve of the president as a human being.

Shorter Tim Alberta: Donald Trump is an asshole who won’t STFU.

President* Pennywise let his asshole flag fly again in Erie, Pennsylvania at his most recent MAGAPALOOZA:

“Four or five months ago when we started this whole thing….before the plague came in, I had it made,” Trump said during a rally in Erie, Pennsylvania. “I wasn’t coming to Erie. I mean I have to be honest, there’s no way I was coming. I didn’t have to.”

Unfortunately, the President complained to his supporters, the pesky COVID-19 pandemic that’s caused his approval ratings to plummet forced him to actually reach out to them.

“And then we got hit with the plague, and I had to go back to work,” Trump said. “Hello, Erie. Can I please have your vote?”

That’s why I call him the Impeached Insult Comedian.

Repeat after me: Donald Trump is an asshole.

The last word goes to Leadbelly:

Bayou Brief: Governor Warbucks & Uncle Earl

My latest column for the Bayou Brief is online and ripe for reading. The prose, however, may be overripe in places.

Here’s the tag line: “Peter Athas on the death of former Governor Mike Foster and how Trump’s illness has evoked the final years of Earl K. Long.”

I included my name so you’d know I wrote it.

I compare Earl Long to Donald Trump. Uncle Earl is the winner:

However unhinged Earl Long became at the end of his life, he was a better man than Donald Trump. He wasn’t a malignant narcissist who only thought of himself. He genuinely cared about poor people regardless of their race. He was a kinder, gentler populist before that term was besmirched by the Impeached Insult Comedian.

Get thee to the Bayou Brief.

That’s all folks.

In 1492, Columbus Sailed The Ocean Blue

Team Trump was not content with pandering to Italian Americans on Columbus Day. They attacked “political correctness” as well:

Sadly, in recent years, radical activists have sought to undermine Christopher Columbus’s legacy.  These extremists seek to replace discussion of his vast contributions with talk of failings, his discoveries with atrocities, and his achievements with transgressions.  Rather than learn from our history, this radical ideology and its adherents seek to revise it, deprive it of any splendor, and mark it as inherently sinister.  They seek to squash any dissent from their orthodoxy.  We must not give in to these tactics or consent to such a bleak view of our history.  We must teach future generations about our storied heritage, starting with the protection of monuments to our intrepid heroes like Columbus.  This June, I signed an Executive Order to ensure that any person or group destroying or vandalizing a Federal monument, memorial, or statue is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

This is a White House, not campaign statement. They don’t distinguish between the two. They’re equally incompetent at both so why not?

I’m not a “radical activist” but I agree with the Columbus revisionists. The White House statement left out the bits about corruption and slave trading. Details, details, details.

This statement is a perfect distillation of Trumpist grievance politics. You build a straw man, then burn it down. It’s a pity that they couldn’t work Hillary’s emails into it.

It’s time for my annual viewing of the Sopranos episode, Christopher. Some think it’s the worst episode in the Sopranos canon, but I like it. What can I tell ya? It beats the hell out of the two major movies made about Columbus who was played by two great actors neither of whom were remotely Italianate looking, Fredric March and Gerard Depardieu:

I have no idea why the March image looks like a baseball card. I wonder if there are stats on the back and stale bubblegum that tastes like cardboard in the pack? Questions, questions, questions.

As always, I think the best medicine against Trumpism is mockery and ridicule, especially when they put out such a ridiculous statement. I guess President* Pennywise doesn’t want to piss off his pals in la Cosa Nostra. Wise guys are one of the few groups Trump’s not eager to offend. He identifies with them, after all.

Here’s the Impeached Insult Comedian with his old buddies Big Paul Castellano, Fat Tony Salerno, and Roy Cohn:

Oops, I forgot to call him Don Donaldo Il Comico Insulto.

The last word of this meandering Columbus Day post goes to Burning Spear with a song that includes this refrain: “Christopher Columbus is a damn blasted liar.”

Guest Post: The All-Time, No-World Series Starting Nine

Tommy T is on the mend and still not quite up to doing that voodoo that he does so well.

For the second consecutive week, we have a guest post by Ryne Hancock. This time, he’s talking baseball.

-Adrastos

The All-Time, No-World Series Starting Nine by Ryne Hancock

One thing my friend Peter and I bond over is our love of baseball history (in fact I had floated around the idea of a podcast that focused on baseball history before the Great Pause). Despite the fact that I’m a diehard Cardinals fan and the fact that Peter’s Giants have beaten us three times in the postseason in my lifetime, we can both say that we’ve seen our teams reach the Fall Classic in our lifetimes.

With baseball playoffs in high gear, I thought about a starting nine of players that never saw their talents showcased in the Fall Classic. While I’m pretty certain that you, the reader, have different opinions on who should be on this list, I encourage you to leave comments in the comment section on who I left off.

 OF Dale Murphy:  Sandwiched between Hank Aaron & Chipper Jones, Dale Murphy was the only reason why most people during the 1980’s gave a damn about the Braves. In 15 years with the Braves, Murphy won two MVPs and led the Braves to the 1982 NL West title, where they would lose to the Cardinals in the NLCS. After that season, the Braves would have one more winning season during his time in Atlanta, an 88-win season in 1983. Despite the fact that he put up numbers that were Hall of Fame worthy, Murphy’s name isn’t etched in the annals among the immortals in Cooperstown.

OF Ken Griffey Jr. The greatest tragedy in baseball history was not the Indians choking away a 3-1 lead to the Chicago Cubs and extending the misery of the Cub fans, but kids of a certain generation never got to see Ken Griffey belt a home run with that sweet swing or rob someone of a home run in the World Series. The closest Griffey ever got to the Fall Classic was in 1995, when they beat the vaunted Yankees (more on one of their players later on) to reach the ALCS. Another postseason appearance followed two years later that ended in the ALDS with the Mariners, which would be the last one for Griffey until 2008 when he played on the White Sox.

I thought about that the other day when I was watching a softball game at the Fly when I had a conversation with a 14-year-old kid about Mike Trout and how the Angels were wasting his prime.

“Kid, when I was your age,” I told him, “we didn’t see Griffey in the World Series. You’re getting that with Trout”.

OF Vlad Guerrero: There were a bunch of names that stood out for me for the rightfield position. Of the four names I had (Andre Dawson, Vlad Guerrero, Sammy Sosa, Juan Gonzalez) the one that stuck out for me was Vlad Guerrero.

Of all the players I grew up watching, no one hit the ball more violently than Guerrero, especially balls that were out of the strike zone. Despite all the success the Angels had during that time, with five division titles in six years, Guerrero could never reach the Fall Classic.

3B Ron Santo: Kids of a certain generation in Chicago saw the primes of Gale Sayers, Dick Butkus, Ernie Banks, & the third baseman on this team, Ron Santo, squandered like an Atlanta Falcons lead in the Super Bowl.

A key cog in the Cubs’ resurgence in the 1960’s, Santo didn’t get a chance to sniff a winning season until 1967, when the Cubs finished third behind my Cardinals, who of course won the World Series that year. In 1969, the first year of divisional play, the Cubs looked primed to reach the playoffs and possibly the World Series when thanks to the managerial malpractice of Leo Durocher and the fact that Wrigley didn’t have night games, the Cubs squandered an eight-game lead in the new National League East to the New York Mets.

The Cubs wouldn’t reach the playoffs until 1984.

SS Ernie Banks: When the Cubs won four years ago, the first person that came to my mind was Ernie Banks. In 1958 & 59 Banks won the National League MVP when the Cubs finished fifth and seventh, respectively. It wasn’t until his 11th season in which the Cubs had a winning record, when the Cubs finished 82-80.

Banks had to deal with not only racism, but also an eccentric owner that was more focused on the ballpark than fielding a competent team. He saw the dregs of a pennant race late in his career, but never got a chance to see the Fall Classic.

Just think how things would have been had he had a competent front office.

2B Ryne Sandberg: Despite my fandom for the Cardinals, I was named for Ryne Sandberg. Long before Sosa made his sojourn to the North Side, Sandberg was the face of the Cubs. Fifteen years after their collapse in 1969, the Cubs reached the playoffs for the first time since 1945 when they won the National League East. Another trip would follow in 1989 as they won the division by six games over the New York Mets.

Unfortunately, those two trips would be the closest Sandberg would get to the Fall Classic. In 1984, the Cubs would blow a 2-1 lead to the Padres and five years later, the Giants behind the bat of Will Clark would derail pennant hopes for the Cubs.

1B Don Mattingly: Similar to Dale Murphy in Atlanta, Mattingly was the gap between Reggie Jackson and Derek Jeter. Despite putting up solid numbers during his time in the Bronx, Mattingly could never showcase his talents in the World Series. Many baseball scholars suggest that had the 1994 strike not happened, the Yankees would have probably made the postseason.

P Jim Bunning: Lost in the shuffle of great pitchers in the 1960’s and long before he became a quack politician, Jim Bunning was one of the best pitchers in baseball. In a 17-year career, most notably with the Tigers and the Phillies, Bunning led the American League in wins once and strikeouts three times. During his time in Detroit, Bunning got close to the World Series once, playing on the 1961 team that won 101 games and finished second behind the Yankees. In Philadelphia, he played on the 1964 team that collapsed down the stretch and lost the pennant to the Cardinals.

C Joe Mauer: In a perfect world Joe Mauer is like Kent Hrbek, a local kid who made good by playing for the local baseball team and won two world championships.

Despite being the face of the Twins for over a decade, Mauer didn’t have the same luck in the postseason as Hrbek. In five trips to the postseason, Mauer never won a postseason series.

Madman On The Balcony

American politicians have long avoided posing for pictures on a balcony. It leads to ridicule and comparison to the Three Stooges short, You Nazty Spy.

Donald Trump is made of sterner stupider stuff. He doesn’t mind comparisons to notorious dictators like these creeps:

That’s Benito Mussolini on the left and Juan and Eva Peron on the right. These are the dictators that Trump is most comparable to even if Melania makes an unlikely Eva Peron. Don’t cry for me, Slovenia?

President* Pennywise has been behaving erratically lately even by his low standards. The motorcade to nowhere so alarmed Donny Junior that Gabriel Sherman filed this report on Monday:

Donald Trump’s erratic and reckless behavior in the last 24 hours has opened a rift in the Trump family over how to rein in the out-of-control president, according to two Republicans briefed on the family conversations. Sources said Donald Trump Jr. is deeply upset by his father’s decision to drive around Walter Reed National Military Medical Center last night with members of the Secret Service while he was infected with COVID-19. “Don Jr. thinks Trump is acting crazy,” one of the sources told me. The stunt outraged medical experts, including an attending physician at Walter Reed.

According to sources, Don Jr. has told friends that he tried lobbying Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, and Jared Kushner to convince the president that he needs to stop acting unstable. “Don Jr. has said he wants to stage an intervention, but Jared and Ivanka keep telling Trump how great he’s doing,” a source said. Don Jr. is said to be reluctant to confront his father alone. “Don said, ‘I’m not going to be the only one to tell him he’s acting crazy,’” the source added.

Donny Junior is an asshole, but he has a history of standing up to his deranged daddy. Of course, he’s currently all profile and no courage.

After staging his ludicrous balcony photo-op, President* Pennywise went on a twitter bender. These are the two that doomed his candidacy:

He crawfished on the second one owning the failure of a COVID relief package, but the damage was done. He stands by the first one.

It’s apparent that the Impeached Insult Comedian’s manic behavior is partially caused by the cocktail of drugs dispensed by his docs. Steroids are just as likely to cause a sense of euphoria as roid rage. I’m not sure how disrespecting the memory of the 212,000 and counting Americans who have died during the pandemic helps his cause politically.

In his newsletter, Press Run, Eric Boehlert poses this question:

His erratic actions pose grave concerns for the country. Yet newsrooms today refuse to address the mounting, obvious signs that Trump remains a deeply unstable man.

It all needs to be addressed, unapologetically, in the news coverage and not left for opinion writers and pundits to ponder Trump’s troubled state of mind. It’s a fact and it’s a news story, so why shy away from it? Why don’t we regularly see, “Trump is a Madman” headlines in the news pages?

I agree 100%. The MSM continues to treat this lunatic as if he’s a normal person. Haven’t y’all read Mary Trump’s book?

Repeat after me: Donald Trump Is Mentally Ill.

The last word goes to Elton John and Genesis:

 

 

Joe Biden Has Donald Trump’s Number

“Joe Biden wasn’t my first choice” is a common refrain heard around the virtual water cooler. He wasn’t mine either: Elizabeth Warren was my clear first choice. Biden proved that being people’s second or even third choice in a field of thousands isn’t a bad thing. It’s how he won the nomination.

I have come to believe that Joey B Shark is the perfect candidate to face Donald Trump. A reminder that Trump was impeached because he feared facing Joe Biden in the general election. He dispatched his toothy henchman Rudy Giuliani to dig up dirt on the Bidens. It backfired spectacularly.

The former Veep’s personal qualities are kryptonite to President* Pennywise. Biden’s warmth and empathy are formidable tools during the pandemic since his opponent’s only weapons against it are bluster, bravado, and bullshit. It’s the candidate who “cares about people like me” versus a man who only cares about himself. What better contrast could there be?

In 2016, the Kaiser of Chaos passed himself off as a “man of the people” because he’s a crude lout. It was phonier than his $70,000 hairdo. Joey from Scranton is the real deal. He doesn’t have to pose and posture, he’s Joe Sixpack only without the beer. One of the few things the two candidates have in common is that neither drinks. Trump is punch drunk, not booze drunk.

That vile “debate” last week is clear evidence of how Biden gets under Trump’s skin. Trump arrived angry and proceeded to get stupid angry. Joe’s default response was to laugh at his opponent. Like all humorless people, Trump hates being laughed at and got angrier and angrier as the evening went on. The mask was off. The country saw the real Donald. It was not a pretty sight.

Joe Biden is a party man. That’s why he has moved to the left to reflect the party whose standard bearer he is. His opponent is a party of one. Joe Biden wears his flaws as a badge of honor. His opponent denies having any. He’s “perfect” like the phone call that led to his impeachment.

Yesterday, Joe Biden gave one of the best speeches of his life. The setting was Gettysburg, the site of one of the most important battles in American history. It led to the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln’s re-election, and ultimately victory in the War of the Rebellion.

The speech’s main topic was race: how we got to this moment and where we go from here. He went farther than his former boss ever dared. This was my favorite passage:

There’ve been powerful voices for justice in recent weeks and months, George Floyd’s, six year old daughter, who I met with, who looked at me and said in her small child’s voice, “Daddy changed the world.” Also, Jacob Blake’s mother was another. When she said, “Violence didn’t reflect her son and this nation needed healing.” And Doc Rivers, the basketball coach, choking back tears when he said, “We’re the ones getting killed. We’re the ones getting shot. We’ve been hung. We keep loving this country and this country does not love us back.”

I think about that. I think about what it takes for a black person to love America. That is a deep love for this country. That has for far too long, never been recognized. What we need in America is leadership that seeks to deescalate tensions, to open lines of communications, to bring us together, to heal, to hope. As president, that’s precisely what I will do.

In 2016, Trump was a Teflon candidate, nothing stuck to him. In 2020, he’s a Velcro candidate, everything sticks to him. The cumulative weight of four years of lies, corruption, and outrageous conduct are catching up with him. Drip, drip, drip.

It’s not just one thing that’s bringing the Impeached Insult Comedian down, it’s everything. It’s also the guy he’s running against: the steady, reliable, and eternally underrated man we at First Draft call Joey B Shark.

Joe Biden is the anti-Trump and the antidote to him. He has Trump’s number.

The last word goes to Boz Scaggs:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: The Great Debates 1960

They used to put everything on records. This recording of the Kennedy-Nixon debates is also one of the first double albums I’ve ever heard of.

This was an obvious selection for October 7, 2020 as Kamala Harris is debating Mike Liar Liar Pence On Fire this evening. I wish they weren’t going to be in the same room but there will be some sort of plexiglass divider between the candidates. I suspect Karen Pence would like them in separate rooms but not because of the pandemic. Karens have gotta Karen.

I don’t usually post covers that are both dog eared and have some sort of frame but these are hard to find. The image is still pretty darn swell.

A Coney Island Of The Mind

“I am waiting for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe for anarchy”
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, A Coney Island of the Mind: Poems

Ever since the Impeached Insult Comedian nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, I’ve had Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poetry collection, A Coney Island Of The Mind on my mind. I know it’s strange, but you must be mindful of how my mind works. I’m not only a punster, I free associate like crazy. Just don’t call me crazy, okay? If I were rich, you’d call me eccentric.

Another reason I have Felinghetti on my mind is a thread going around Twitter asking who is the most famous person you’ve ever met and spoken to. My reply was “a toss-up between Frank Sinatra and Willie Mays.”

I also met Lawrence Ferlinghetti in my wayward youth but beat poets aren’t as famous as saloon singers and baseball superstars.

I used to hang out at Vesuvio Cafe, which is a bar in San Francisco across the alley from Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Bookstore. I got a kick out of bellying up to the Beatnik Bar, drinking Irish coffee, smoking Camels, and pondering if Jack Kerouac or Neal Cassady had ever sat on the same bar stool. The only beatnik accoutrement I lacked in those days was a proper beret.

One day a bearded gent sat next to me and struck up a conversation. I realized that it was the legendary poet. I knew Ferlinghetti loved baseball, so we talked about the Giants Sixties glory days when immortals such as Mays, McCovey, and Marichal were blown about windy Candlestick Park. I told him that I knew Gaylord Perry from my suburban neighborhood. I scored points by telling him that Perry’s daughter, Allison, deflected the notion her dad threw a spitball by calling it “a hard slider.” It was a wet slider: Gaylord’s memoirs were called Me and The Spitter.

Being a relatively well-brought up young man, I called him Mr. Felinghetti. He shook his head, slapped me on the back and said, “Call me Larry.”

I chatted with Larry several times without getting the sub-text until he joined me and my future first wife at a table at Vesuvio’s; not its name but I always called it that. Dee was more of a poetry buff than me, so they talked about Anne Sexton and Sylivia Plath instead of flashy former Giant infielder Tito Fuentes who was a particular favorite of Larry’s. I realized that she was holding my hand rather tightly. She explained why after Larry left us:

“He was cruising you.”

“Really? I had no idea.”

“It’s okay. He’s obviously a man who can take no for an answer.”

I realized she was right. It was the first time she’d been with me when I spoke with Larry. I was flattered then and even more so as I look back on that evening in North Beach. Nobody’s going to cruise me in my current decrepitude so it’s nice to remember that I was once cruiseable.

I originally considered weaving my thoughts about Amy Coney Barrett into this post but why spoil a pleasant memory?

Lawrence Ferlinghetti is still very much with us at the age of 101. His longevity is impressive but unsurprising. He’s a life force.

I mentioned Larry’s love of baseball. One of his poems is called Baseball Canto and it mentions the aforementioned Tito Fuentes:

And Tito Fuentes comes up looking like a bullfighter
in his tight pants and small pointy shoes.
And the right field bleachers go mad with Chicanos and blacks
and Brooklyn beer-drinkers,
“Tito! Sock it to him, sweet Tito!”
And sweet Tito puts his foot in the bucket
and smacks one that don’t come back at all,
and flees around the bases
like he’s escaping from the United Fruit Company.
As the gringo dollar beats out the pound.
And sweet Tito beats it out like he’s beating out usury,
not to mention fascism and anti-semitism.

I originally planned to save this story for a tribute to the great man but thanks to Amy Coney Barrett, I’m telling it today. Go figure.

The last word goes to Lawrence Ferlinghetti reading Baseball Canto:

It Came From The Comments

I’ve never done this before but here’s a comment so good that it deserves its own post. It comes from the most recent Saturday Odds & Sods post and was written by my old friend Mike Shapiro:

Ooh a chance for my favorite Anne Murray story! In 1974 Schaefer Beer sponsored a summer concert series in NYC’s Central Park. One week it was supposed to be Boz Scaggs headlining, Anne Murray middle, and Brewer and Shipley opening (honestly can you get more 1974 than that line up). At the last minute Boz Scaggs pulled out and the producers had to scramble to find another act. They decided on a local guy and his band who happened to be available, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

The producers bumped Murray to headliner and told Springsteen he’d be the middle act. Springsteen’s manager, the notorious Mike Appel, went to Murray’s manager and said you need to let Bruce headline. Murray’s manager was incredulous. Murray had two #1 hits and Springsteen was nothing but a songwriter with a band. Appel tried to reason with him, saying if this was Toronto or even someplace in the Midwest he’d be right, but this was NYC and you don’t want your client going on AFTER Bruce in NYC. The compromise they settled on was Murray would still go on last, but Bruce would get to do his full 80 minute show.

Bruce then went directly to Anne Murray and repeated how she didn’t want to go on after him, but she blew him off as some cocky New Jersey bastard (her words according to legend). So the night of the concert 5000 people cram into the makeshift venue built for the concert, suffer through Brewer and Shipley, go wild when the E Streeters hit the stage, and when Anne Murray walks on stage she discovers the crowd has now dwindled down to less than a thousand people. Appel and Springsteen had been right, you follow Springsteen at your own risk.

This reminds me of similar stories about Jimi Hendrix and The Monkees in 1967, I like The Monkees but how the hell can you follow Jimi Hendrix or Bruce Springsteen?

The last word goes to The Boss with an early NYC performance of Jungleland at Avery Fisher Hall in the same year the E Street Band blew Anne Murray off the stage:

 

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: You Won’t See Me

Masks by James Ensor.

It’s been cool all week in New Orleans. It’s unclear if Fall has fallen or it’s a cruel hoax. My money is on the latter. The heat doesn’t usually break here until sometime in October. The good news is that we’re not under threat of a tropical system. It feels odd not to be checking the spaghetti tracks every few hours but that’s another autumnal augury. End of obligatory weather-related opening passage.

This week’s theme song comes from one of my favorite Beatles albums, Rubber Soul. It was one of the first albums I ever owned. When my father saw the cover he said, “Those are the ugliest women I ever saw.”

To this day I’m uncertain whether or not Lou was joking. The only one who would have made an ugly woman was the drummer. Sorry, Ringo.

You Won’t See Me is a Macca song, but it’s credited to Lennon & McCartney as were all the pair’s songs. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

We have three versions of You Won’t See Me for your listening pleasure: The Beatles original, and covers by Bryan Ferry and Canadian songbird, Anne Murray.

I never expected to post an Anne Murray song at First Draft, but I might as well go big and post her monster hit from 1970:

Let’s spread our tiny wings and fly away to the break.

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Quote Of The Day: Your President* Lies Edition

The Big Lie is alive and well. Here’s the Kaiser of Chaos at a super-spreader rally in Ohio:

“It affects elderly people, elderly people with heart problems, if they have other problems, that’s what it really affects, in some states thousands of people — nobody young — below the age of 18, like nobody — they have a strong immune system — who knows?” Mr. Trump said.

“It affects virtually nobody,” he added. “It’s an amazing thing — by the way, open your schools!”

A reminder that, as of this writing, 201,000 and counting Americans have died of COVID-19.

Remember when we debated whether Bob Woodward holding back the Trump tapes cost people lives? Trump is still trying to lie his way through the pandemic. An earlier release would have changed nothing.

President* Pennywise is also claiming that we’ve “rounded the corner” on COVID. That reminds me of the “light at the end of the tunnel” imagery during the Vietnam War, mocked by Herblock in this 1970 cartoon:

I used the Underworld USA campaign notes meme because the Impeached Insult Comedian is celebrating violence against reporters:

… at a rally in Bemidji, Minnesota, President Donald Trump told his audience a story about the MSNBC journalist Ali Velshi. “I remember this guy Velshi,” the president said (he pronounced it “Welshy”):

“He got hit on the knee with a canister of tear gas. And he went down. He didn’t—heeee was down. ‘My knee! My knee!’ [Crowd laughs] Nobody cared, these guys didn’t care. They moved him aside. [Crowd laughs.] And they just walked right through—it was like, it was the most beautiful thing. No, because after we take all that crap for weeks and weeks, they would take this crap. And then you finally see men get up there and [punches fist forward] go right through, did—wasn’t it really a beautiful sight? [Crowd cheers.]

It’s called law and order. Law and order!”

Ali Velshi is the hardest working man in cable news biz. The least Trump could do is to get his name right. We don’t expect him to get the facts straight. Ali was hit with a rubber bullet, which reminds me of an old rock song:

This celebration of violence is strictly performative. Trump is a coward. If he loves violence so much, why did avoid serving in Vietnam? We all know the reason for that: he didn’t want to be a “loser or a sucker.”  Those horrific remarks ultimately led to this:

Trump’s reply was typically petty:

Beautiful is one of Trump’s favorite words. He usually misuses it. This exchange between Republicans is truly beautiful.

For the last word, it’s time to kick off our periodic election countdown:

After Justice Ginsburg

Krewe of Mishigas Float, 2019. Photo by Dr. A.

The news came on a Friday night. Because of the pandemic, most of us were home. It lit up new media and old, social media and anti-social media. Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died at the age of 87.

This frail-looking and petite woman was so mentally and morally tough that some thought she was immortal. I’ve spent a lot of time around people over 80 in the last decade, so I was not surprised. It was a nearly unparalleled act of will for her survive the sort of major illnesses that would have finished off lesser beings. As depicted by the Krewe du Vieux sub-krewe of Mishigas in 2019, Justice Ginsburg was a fighter,

There have been many marvelous tributes to Justice Ginsburg. Here’s a brief list:

Pierce made an apt comparison between Ginsburg and Thurgood Marshall. As a litigator, Ginsburg followed the trail blazed by Marshall and fought to establish important rights for women. Thurgood Marshall, however, was a reluctant judge. He preferred being on the other side of the courtroom. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was just as distinguished a jurist as an advocate. Those two skills rarely coincide. She was a remarkable person who led an exemplary life both personally and professionally. Above all else, she was a fighter.

While I wish that Justice Ginsburg had retired while Barack Obama was still president, her reasons were based on her experience as a Justice. Each generation of Justices learns a different lesson: Bill Brennan and Thurgood Marshall retired when they did because of the negative example set by Hugo Black and Bill Douglas who stayed on the Court too long. Ruth Bader Ginsburg saw her friend and colleague Sandra Day O’Connor regret her retirement to care for a husband who died while she was still on the court. That was a major turning point as her replacement was Samuel Alito who is an unbending member of the conservative bloc whereas O’Connor was the ultimate swing vote.

We’re on the cusp of another turning point with Justice Ginsburg’s death 46 days before the election. Those of us who admire Justice Ginsburg should follow her example, get off the floor, and fight back. I heard despair and defeatism this weekend. That’s a shitty way to honor a tough old bird like RBG, Dahlia Lithwick said it best:

America has lost a warrior, and it’s OK to be crushed. I am flattened. And I will mourn, because she deserves to be mourned. But we are also facing an almighty battle that will rage in the coming weeks, with attempts to fill her seat in an unseemly and grotesque manner. It will be hard and painful, but if you find yourself feeling hopeless and powerless, then you are emphatically doing it wrong. Because if anyone had a right to say “nah,” it was the woman who couldn’t get a job or a clerkship after graduating at the top of her class. But she pushed on, and then she pushed forward. She stepped into the fight of the phenomenal women who paved the path before, and now, well, it’s time to step into her fight and get it finished. I think the Notorious RBG would have peered owlishly out at all of us tonight and asked what the heck we are waiting for. And I think we can probably honor her best by getting to it.

The confirmation battle is joined. The most cynical man in politics has already discarded the rule bearing his name. The Turtle plans to move a Trump nominee through the Senate. I suspect he’ll do the most cynical thing imaginable and hold the vote in the lame duck session. To do otherwise, would doom the only thing that McConnell cares about as much as SCOTUS, his Senate majority.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham has already flip-flopped on his pledge not to push a nomination through in an election year. Nobody should be surprised. In 2016, Graham called Trump “a kook and a con man” among other ephemeral epithets. Now they’re golfing buddies.

The Democratic minority should announce a concrete and specific Court reform plan. (Don’t call it court packing, that evokes FDR’s failure in 1937-38.)  It should expand the number of Justices to eleven. They should also pledge to abolish the filibuster if a Trump nominee is rammed through. It’s time for it to go.

I saw some despairing tweets that a SCOTUS battle would decide the presidential election in Trump’s favor. Color me skeptical. Conservatives who care about SCOTUS and abortion sold their souls to President* Pennywise long ago. In 2020, it’s more likely to galvanize Democrats. A reminder that the Kavanaugh Mess did NOT turn the 2018 mid-terms in the GOP’s favor. The number that counts is this: 204,122 and counting dead of the novel coronavirus.

Back to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was an inspiring figure who will be missed, especially by the young women she inspired to fight the good fight. Women will decide the 2020 election. My hope is that they will be inspired to keep fighting until Democrats recapture the White House and Senate. Vote like the fate of the Republic depends on it. It does.

The last word goes to RBG’s close friend Nina Totenberg with a tweet for the ages:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Wasted On The Way

Three Musicians by Pablo Picasso.

New Orleans dodged a wet and windy bullet earlier this week. Hurricane Sally dumped two feet of rain in some areas on the Florida-Alabama border. I don’t guilty for being relieved. If I were Poseidon, I’d send all tropical systems out to sea. I do, however, feel bad for folks in the affected areas. They got slammed by that evil bitch Sally. Blow ill wind, blow.

I had put this feature to bed and tucked it in when I learned of Justice Ginsburg’s death. I wish everyone would dial their predictions back. It’s unclear what impact RBG’s death will have on the election. I also wish that those who admire Justice Ginsburg would show more respect for her passing, especially since it’s Rosh Hashanah. There was, however, a moment of unintentional levity when the crowd outside the Supreme Court started singing Amazing Grace. It’s a Christian hymn, y’all. I’ll have more on Ginsburg’s passing on Monday.

In some ways, this week’s theme song matches the featured image. Three Musicians = Crosby, Stills & Nash. Graham Nash wrote Wasted On The Way for CSN’s  1982 Daylight Again album. Eagle Timothy B. Schmitt added harmony vocals making that Four Musicians. So much for the Picasso analogy. Oh well, it was imperfect to begin with.

We have two versions of Wasted On The Way for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a live version without Timothy B. Schmitt. Go, Team Picasso.

Stills’ intro to the live version is poignant. I rarely do poignant but sometimes the mood strikes me.

Before we jump to the break, a Neil Young song from the Buffalo Springfield days:

Holy Wall Of Sound-style production, Batman.

Time to take the plunge. See you on the other side.

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Abolish The Electoral College

I realize that I’ve said it before and that I’m preaching to the choir but one of things the Biden-Harris administration should do is abolish the electoral college. It’s done nothing but cause mischief in both the 19th Century and early 20th Century.

The electoral college is not only anti-democratic, it focuses candidates on specific often unrepresentative states. Just think of all the times candidates have been obliged to support ethanol subsidies to win votes in Iowa. It even happened to fictional candidates such as Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda) in The West Wing episode King Corn.

The loser of the popular vote has won the electoral vote five times in our history. It didn’t happen for 112 years after Benjamin Harrison lost the popular vote by 90,956 to Grover Cleveland. We all know what happened in 2000 when one of the best qualified candidates in American history, Al Gore, lost the electoral college to a dipshit named George W. Bush. History repeated itself in 2016 when Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 2,868,518 against a criminal dipshit named Donald J. Trump.

The Bush-Cheney administration played favorites at times, but the Trump regime has gone to extremes in favoring “their people” and “their voters.” As we’ve seen time and time again, President* Pennywise only cares about his people, his voters. Any time there’s an issue in a blue state, he has no interest in addressing it. If the electoral college were abolished even Trump would have to think about Republican voters in blue states.

Here are the Top Six Trump Popular Vote States:

  1.  TEXAS                    4,685,047
  2. FLORIDA                 4,617,886
  3. CALIFORNIA           4,483,814
  4. PENNSLYVANIA      2,907,441
  5. OHIO                       2,841,006
  6. NEW YORK              2,819,557

If the electoral college did not exist, Trump would have been obliged to deal fairly with the states he won his 3rd and 6th most votes in instead of focusing on the 31.49% and 36.51% of the vote he received in California and New York respectively.

Democrats have suffered as a result of the current system BUT this is about democracy, not partisan advantage. The Republicans won’t see it that way, but this is about truth, justice, and the American way. I’m not sure what the exact mechanism would be but there’s a long article by Lee Drutman in the Washington Monthly that looks at the issue in historical context.

It’s time for the electoral college to go. It was nearly abolished in 1970 but fell prey to a filibuster by Southern Senators. It’s also time for the filibuster to go. It’s done in more progressive legislation than Mitch The Grim Reaper McConnell.

It’s time for a change. The last word goes to Sam Cooke:

 

19th Nervous Breakdown

The slow news day seems to have been abolished. Hence another potpourri post in lieu of a stand-alone piece. I made the featured image after the Yo, Semite incident. It was more of a malaprop than an incident but having Yosemite Sam on my side is somehow comforting. Varmints, beware.

19 Years: It’s the 19th anniversary of a terrorist attack that led a previous lousy president to go off half-cocked and start a two-front war without paying heed to the consequences. We’re still paying for the Bush-Cheney administration’s folly.

I was on jury duty when the planes hit the twin towers. We were dismissed early and were only required to come in once more. The only good thing that came of that day.

For what it’s worth, the 19th is the bronze anniversary. To me it evokes this tune:

It may be a venerable song, but it’s still relevant. Who among us isn’t having our 19th Nervous Breakdown of the pandemic?

Trump-Woodward Followup/Fallout: When I first heard of the big COVID revelation in Rage, I was enraged. I almost wrote a post titled Bob Woodward Can Go Fuck Himself.

The more I thought about it, I focused my rage on Trump instead of Woodward. An earlier revelation would not have changed policy and saved lives. The Kaiser of Chaos was determined to fuck things up as shown by his insipid defense yesterday. Woodward’s defense was much stronger: he wasn’t sure if Trump was telling the truth. Holy credibility gap, Batman.

Joe Biden said it best in these two tweets:

A reminder that George W. Bush was a cheerleader at Yale. Sis-boom-bah. Boola-boola. Where the hell are the Whiffenpoofs when you need them? Perhaps one of them is a Whistleblower. You never can tell.

I missed something important in my D Is For Donald & Dumb post. One of the reasons Trump allowed Woodward to interview him so many times is that Woodward is a celebrity. I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump said this during one of their sessions, “Why aren’t you as good-looking as Robert Redford?”

Timesman Peter Baker has written an excellent piece about why Trump agreed to talk to Woodward. It’s summed up by this song title:

It’s surprising that Trump hasn’t assembled his own version of the Palmer Girls. He should hire a lame choreographer and put Melania, Ivanka, Tiffany, Hope, and Kayleigh to work. Imagine a rewrite of another Robert Palmer hit: “Might as well face it, we’re addicted to Trump.”

Sometimes I get carried away. This is one of those times.

One of the stories that got lost in the news blizzard requires its own featured image meme thing:

Bill Barr For The Defense: The news that the Department of Justice would defend the Impeached Insult Comedian in E. Jean Carroll’s defamation suit against him enraged legal eagles everywhere. The DOJ is not usually in the business of defending accused rapists in civil suits. It’s part and parcel of Barr’s degradation of the DOJ. He seems determined to prove that, unlike Tom Hagen, he *is* a wartime consigliere.

The sick Trump-Barr relationship reminds me of-you guessed it-an ancient Paul Simon song about a con man:

“Everywhere I go
I get slandered, libeled
I hear words I never heard in the Bible
And I’m one step ahead of the shoeshine
Two steps away from the county line
Just trying to keep my customers satisfied”

Just substitute client for customer and Bob’s your uncle or is that Bill’s your Attorney General? I confuse the two. Maybe one of them is actually Artie:

In Memoriam:  A quick shout-out to Tom Seaver, Lou Brock, and Diana Rigg; all of whom died recently. Tom was one of the greatest pitchers of all-time. Lou was one of the greatest World Series performers ever. And Diana was my first celebrity crush when she played Emma Peel in The Avengers. They will all be missed.

I could not find a decent animated GIF of St. Louis Cardinal great Lou Brock but Tom Terrific tips his cap to him:

Ny Mets Sport GIF by New York Mets - Find & Share on GIPHY

Diana Rigg as Emma Peel closes the door on this segment:

Finally, there’s a new Springsteen album coming out next month. That allows me to go out on a positive note in a week overloaded with scandal tornadic activity. The last word goes to Bruce and the E Street Band:

That was just what I needed. Thanks, y’all. Don’t forget to hang up the goddamn phone.