Category Archives: Fog Of History

Saturday Odds & Sods: Band On The Run

The Bird, The Cage & The Forest by Max Ernst.

I’ve gone on about NOLA rain in this space this summer. It was the wettest July in recorded history, and it happened without any tropical systems getting too close for comfort. That much rain can be inconvenient, but it keeps the temperatures down. That concludes this brief weather report. If I had a green screen, I’d go on longer, but we don’t have the budget for it.

Like everywhere else in the country, life has been grim in New Orleans of late. Small businesses, especially restaurants have been failing daily. It’s estimated that up to 50% of restaurants here will close for good. They need help and since the government ordered them to close, it should come from them. I am not optimistic that Moscow Mitch and his merry band of miscreants will reconsider and ride to the rescue. In the immortal words of Mel Brooks:

This week’s theme song is an ironic choice for this moment in time: ain’t no bands on the run or even on the road.

Paul McCartney wrote Band On The Run in 1973. It was the title track of Wings’ smash hit album, Band On The Run. Was that a run-on sentence? Beats the hell outta me. I’ll stick a band-aid on it just in case.

We have two versions of this Macca classic for your listening pleasure: the Wings original and a raucous cover by Foo Fighters.

Let’s run to the other side of the break. I think I hear band music in the distance.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Higher Ground

Blue Night by Edward Hopper.

The tropics have been busy this week. There are two named storms in the Gulf. Neither is headed our way, but it’s been a wet week. Oh, to be on the dry side of a storm.

It was qualifying week for the 2020 election in the Gret Stet of Louisiana.  Senator Double Bill Cassidy gained a name opponent when Democratic Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins filed to challenge him. He has his work cut out for him: he’s not well known in South Louisiana. The spineless incumbent remains a heavy favorite.

The most interesting local race is for Orleans Parish District Attorney. Incumbent Leon Cannizzaro is retiring, which makes it a wide-open race. City Council President Jason Williams looked like a very strong candidate until he was indicted on federal tax charges. The funniest moment of qualifying week was when Williams told us not to be distracted by his indictment. Dude, you’re running for DA. You need a better argument than that.

This week’s theme song was written by Stevie Wonder for his smash hit 1973 album Innervisions.  It’s about reincarnation or some such shit but I like it for the funky groove.

We have two versions of Higher Ground for your listening pleasure: Stevie’s original and a 1989 cover by Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Glad I was able to funkify your lives today. I took lessons from the Meters:

That George Porter Jr. bass line makes me want to jump…to the break. See you on the other side.

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Homeland Insecurity

The Department of Homeland Security is a bureaucratic monster spawned by 9/11. The blame usually goes to the Bush-Cheney administration but Slate’s Fred Kaplan has a better memory than most of us:

The DHS was a sham from the get-go. It was the brainchild of Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who proposed the new department in late 2001, just after the 9/11 attacks, as a way of showing that the Republicans in the White House weren’t the only ones trying to tackle terrorism. President George W. Bush opposed the idea, seeing it as burdening the government with another bureaucratic layer. But then, the 9/11 Commission hearings revealed that al-Qaida succeeded in toppling the World Trade Center in part because the FBI, CIA, and other agencies hadn’t shared intelligence about the hijackers’ movements prior to the attack. Coordination and consolidation were suddenly seen as nostrums to our problems.

So, under pressure, in late 2002, Bush signed Lieberman’s idea into law. DHS wound up subsuming 22 agencies from eight federal departments—with a combined budget of $40 billion and a payroll of 183,000 employees—into one hydra-headed behemoth.

The creation of this unwieldy behemoth was the result of partisan politics. This was before Lieberman became a renegade McCainiac. Back then. Holy Joe had his eyes on the 2004 Democratic nomination. He wanted the Dems to look as tough as Team Bush. We’re still paying for his folly in 2020. Fuck you, Joe.

The very name Homeland Security has creeped me out from the beginning. It sounds like something Goering and Goebbels might have cooked up. Americans *never* referred to our country as the homeland before 9/11. It’s one of the manifold ways those attacks adversely impacted our politics.

There’s been much talk of Nixon’s 1968 Law & Order campaign. I’ve done it myself. We should not, however, forget the GOP’s “the terrorists are coming to kill you” campaigns in 2002 and 2004. Anyone who opposed the Iraq War was derided as “soft on terrorism.” Those scare campaigns are also precursors to Trump’s 2020 scare tactics.

If anything, Homeland Security has made the country less secure. It has damaged the mission of the agencies involved including FEMA:

In fact, it made the government less efficient. For instance, before the consolidation, the head of FEMA had been a Cabinet-level official—a member of the National Security Council who attended interagency meetings and enjoyed direct access to the president. Now this official is an undersecretary of DHS. The secretary of DHS can closely follow only a few of the dozen or so issues the department covers. If emergency management is one of the top priorities, then that particularly undersecretary at least has indirect access to the top; if it isn’t, the mission goes largely ignored. This may have been one reason the Bush administration responded so sluggishly to the great natural disaster of 2005, Hurricane Katrina.

Right said, Fred.

It’s time to abolish the Department of Homeland Security and scatter it to the four winds. The advent of the Chaos Squads has made abolition imperative. There’s too much power concentrated in hands of the DHS Secretary and the current creep, Chad Wolf, is the acting secretary. He’s acting in a way that makes us insecure, not secure.

The last word goes to Otis Redding:

The Chaos Squad

Protests have died down in some parts of the country but not in Portland, Oregon. There are many names one could call the DHS thugs who are operating there right now; ostensibly to protect federal buildings and statues. I think of them as The Chaos Squad. Others have called them Stormtroopers, Trump’s Gestapo, or the Goon Squad:

Whatever you call them, they’re an integral part of the Scandal Tornado that touched down on January 20, 2017. Do I think they’re part of a “dress rehearsal” for a coup when Trump loses the election? I do not.

According to Ken Cuccinelli there are only 2000 of them; not even close to enough to stage a coup in such a large country. Their task is to spread chaos and confusion, which is the only thing Team Trump is good at. They’re also incapable of not bragging about what they’re up to. Thanks, Cooch.

A reminder that any time someone puts the words plan and Trump administration in the same sentence, they’re giving them too much credit. These are the same people who brought you the pandemic response and the paper towel toss relief effort in Puerto Rico, after all.

Does that mean I’m pooh-poohing scenes that are reminiscent of Chicago in 1968? Absolutely not. It reminds me of something said on the podium by then Connecticut Senator Abe Ribicoff:

Just substitute Joe Biden and Portland and the jackboot still fits.

DHS is not the only federal agency complicit in the Portland clusterfuck. Bill Barr is up to his neck in this mishigas. Remember when I compared him to Hermann Goering?

Goering was the founder of the Gestapo.

In a brilliant move to counter the Brownshirt tactics of the Chaos Squad, the Portland protesters have brought in the Moms:

This move is reminiscent of the Children’s March in Birmingham in 1963. They faced Bull Connor’s firehose wielding cops who won the battle but lost the war. This Mom’s March is a brilliant way to shame the Goon Squad. If, that is, they can be shamed. Their so-called “leader”, the Kaiser of Chaos, is incapable of either shame or leadership.

The advent of the Chaos Squad is another example of how Team Trump thinks they can win a LAW & ORDER campaign by sowing the seeds of chaos and confusion. As always, they’re all tactics and no strategy. They’re forever lost in the weeds and incapable of seeing the big picture. That’s a damn good thing.

It’s not 1968. They’re in power and the backlash year on *our* political calendar was 2016. In 1968, Nixon was the challenger. Besides, Tricky was a devious bastard who knew how to hedge and tap on the brakes when need be. Subtlety is lost on the Trump Regime. Overkill is all they know.

In honor of the Mom’s March, the last word goes to Mott the Hoople:

John Lewis, R.I.P.

I selected the image above with some care and thought. It was posted on social media in 2016 by John Lewis upon the 49th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act being signed into law by Lyndon Johnson. John Lewis was not only present at this historic occasion, but his activism helped inspire the bill itself. John Lewis *was* American history and now he’s gone at the age of 80 after losing a battle with pancreatic cancer.

John Lewis was one of my heroes. He never lost his passion or sense of humor. He was a man with a big voice and an even bigger heart. He was never petty and was always willing to accept changes in former adversaries. He famously forgave George Wallace in 1979 when the latter expressed remorse over the chaos and havoc he wrought during the Sixties.

The New York Times has republished a 1998 piece he wrote after Wallace’s death, which those who are using John Lewis’ death to settle petty scores should read:

When I met George Wallace, I had to forgive him, because to do otherwise — to hate him — would only perpetuate the evil system we sought to destroy.

George Wallace should be remembered for his capacity to change. And we are better as a nation because of our capacity to forgive and to acknowledge that our political leaders are human and largely a reflection of the social currents in the river of history.

It’s hard to be as big a person as John Lewis but we should try.

He would, however, note the irony of those who would limit the franchise speaking in glowing terms of his lifetime of service. The best tribute to John Lewis would be to reinstate the Voting Rights Act in all its glory.

Central to my admiration of  John Lewis were his kindness and fundamental decency. He was proof positive that you could be a firebrand without being an asshole. Too many Americans confuse assholery with strength and leadership. John Lewis never did. Again, we should follow his example. Being the bigger person isn’t always easy but it’s the right thing to do.

As I searched the internet yesterday, I came upon a tribute that John Lewis wrote about another one of my heroes, David Halberstam after his death in 2007:

I have often said that without the members of the media, the Civil Rights Movement would have been like a bird without wings. David Halberstam, as a reporter for The Nashville Tennessean, was a sympathetic referee who helped to convey the depth of injustice in the South as well as the heart and soul of a movement that would transform America. We talked to him because we trusted him.

We trusted John Lewis to do and say the right thing. He was always focused on the big picture, which is what made him such a singular figure during his nearly sixty years on the national stage. John Lewis kept his eyes on the prize.

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Bayou Brief: Mask Wars

Image by John Valentino.

My latest 13th Ward Rambler column is online at Bayou Brief. In Mask Wars, I ponder political performance art and three of its Louisiana practitioners: State Rep Danny McCormick, Picvocate columnist Dan Fagan, and State Attorney General Jeff Landry.

After the column was written, Landry tested positive for COVID, which gave me the chance to write a rather amusing afterword. He subsequently issued a legal opinion from quarantine that the mandatory mask order issued by Governor John Bel Edwards is unenforceable. The opinion is strictly advisory, so it amounts to sound and fury signifying nothing. It’s also much like this venerable expression:

“Offering an opinion is like peeing on yourself in a blue serge suit. It feels warm and no one knows you’ve done it.”

There’s a dispute as to who first said this, but I first saw it in Gay Talese’s NYT book The Power and the Glory. It was attributed to former Times executive editor Turner Catledge. Catledge was from Mississippi and retired to New Orleans. After Catledge’s death, Dr. A and I went to an estate sale at his Garden District house. I bought his copy of that Talese tome. If only I could find it among the book clutter in my study. So it goes.

In other Mask War news, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp finds himself in a peach of a pickle. In a breathtaking display of hypocrisy, he’s banning local governments from mandating masks. Other than party affiliation, why is he a hypocrite? He wore a mask while welcoming the Impeached Insult Comedian to Georgia the other day. Trump was unmasked. Freedom, man.

Finally, one more Mask War note. Earlier this week, historian and New Orleanian John Barry wrote an opinion piece for the NYT about the pandemic. It was excellent except for this passage:

Social distancing, masks, hand washing and self-quarantine remain crucial. Too little emphasis has been placed on ventilation, which also matters. Ultraviolet lights can be installed in public areas. These things will reduce spread, and President Trump finally wore a mask publicly, which may somewhat depoliticize the issue.

Trump flip flopped on mask wearing the day after this piece ran. I’m glad Barry hedged his bets by using the word somewhat. Never assume that President* Pennywise will stick to a position for more than a few days. As I said in Mask Wars, “He’s consistently inconsistent.”

The last word goes to Fleetwood Mac with a Christine McVie song:

Hard Times

The New Great Depression is shifting into high gear. It’s obvious what needs to be done: the government should give households $2000 or so a month to help them survive the economic impact of the pandemic. It’s equally obvious that Senate Republicans will not go along with such a plan. The spirit of Herbert Hoover is alive in the land. Freedom, man.

This depressing news has inspired a new subset for this feature: songs of economic hardship.

We begin with a song from my favorite Ray Charles album, The Genius Sings The Blues. He also wrote this song:

Eric Clapton covered the Charles classic in 1989. Here’s a live version from the late great teevee show Night Music with host David Sanborn on sax:

Stephen Foster wrote Hard Times Come Again No More in 1854. Here are three 21st Century versions. I suspect you’ve heard of these artists.

Finally, yesterday was the 108th anniversary of Woody Guthrie’s birth. We have two versions of his Great Depression anthem Do-Re-Mi for your listening pleasure by Ry Cooder and the songwriter himself.

Better Be Home Soon

I’ve been working on my next Bayou Brief column, so I felt like keeping it relatively brief here. Shorter Adrastos: I don’t feel like writing about Roger Stone and the latest Justice Department horrors. Suffice it to say, I think Stone’s commutation sucks the big one. I’m also not a fan of those who use the words commute, reprieve, and pardon interchangeably. They don’t mean the same thing. There’s a wonderful thing that can even be found online: THE DICTIONARY. Use it.

An old friend who is familiar with my musical taste pointed out that there were two songs notably absent from different entries of Songs From The Pandemic. Woe-is-uh-me-bop.

I somehow managed to post twice about songs with home in the title Home Is Where The Heart Is and Bring It On Home To Me without using one of the homiest (homeliest?) songs ever written. It’s time to remedy that omission:

In the songs of mortality entry, I forgot one of my all-time favorite Kinks tunes, which is, in part, about cremation:

“I’m scattered here and scattered there. Bits of me scattered everywhere.”

More importantly, Ray Davies wrote Scattered in honor of the deaths of his mother and sister:

Scattered was also the final track on the last album of new Kinks material, Phobia. There have been rumors of a reunion recently but I’m not holding my breath after 27 years. The bad blood between brothers Ray and Dave runs deep as you can see from this lagniappe song from the same album:

Frankly, it’s a miracle that Ray let Dave drive the car in the Scattered video. As the youngest child in my own family, I identify with Dave who’s in the same boat.  So it goes.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Heart Of The Sunrise

Wheatfield with Rising Sun by Vincent Van Gogh.

It’s been a difficult week in New Orleans. Mayor Cantrell has, quite wisely, rolled back the “reopening” to what amounts to Phase 1.5. Here’s hoping that people get the message and stop acting as if we’re back to normal. Even Gamaliel wouldn’t find this normal and he lived through the last great pandemic. That’s great as in big, not good. Pandemics are never the latter.

I’m trying to bring some beauty to an ugly era with this week’s theme song. It was written by Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, and Bill Bruford for Yes’ 1971 Fragile album. It was the first track they rehearsed and recorded with Rick Wakeman.

We have two versions of Heart Of The Sunrise for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a 21st Century live version.

Before jumping to the break, another song from Fragile:

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North By Northwest, Trump Style

I originally hadn’t planned to write about President* Pennywise’s latest White Grievance speech. He’s said it all before and I’ve written about it recently in American Carnage 2020. Then, I re-watched the Hitchcock masterpiece North By Northwest and knew what I had to do. This is it.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear: I’m not comparing Trump to Cary Grant. The only thing they have in common is a love of tanning. Grant’s tan always looked natural whereas Trump’s tan last Friday was artificial even by his standards. Orange is not a natural skin tone: he looked as if he’d fallen asleep in the White House tanning bed (there is such a thing) then slathered on bronzer. Why he thinks this looks good is beyond me. Of course, his hair resembles a dead nutria pelt so what the hell does he know.

One thing the Impeached Insult Comedian has in common with Grant’s North By Northwest character Roger Thornhill is wanderlust. The movie is an extended road trip as Thornhill flees bad guys James Mason and Martin Landau. In Trump’s case, he’s traveling the country whipping up fear and spreading COVID-19 wherever he goes. He *is* the bad guy. FYI, Thornhill’s initials were ROT, which aptly describes the moral rot brought to our politics by the Current Occupant.

As to the content of the speech, it was bizarre. The Kaiser of Chaos needs to expand, not contract his base if he wants to be re-elected. Instead, he seems to be running to be the second president of the confederacy. If he wants to run on monuments to slave owners and traitors, more power to him.

Team Trump might as well turn this image into a banner and drag it along on the campaign trail:

The speech was Steven Miller channeling George Wallace; only the racism was explicit, not implicit. Why they think this is a winning strategy  is beyond me. In 1968, Wallace polled as high as 30% before sinking to 14% by election day. It’s another example of Team Trump’s lunatic notion that a sitting president* can run as an insurgent and outsider. It worked for them, just barely, in 2016. Repeat after me: reelection campaigns are always about the incumbent and their record.

Back to the post title. It was the setting for Trump’s speech that inspired thoughts of North By Northwest. Mount Rushmore has long been polarizing. The four-headed presidential tribute rightly enrages the Lakota Sioux as it sits on one of their holiest sites. The only time I ever saw it was as a small child. I loudly declared that it was weird. My father shushed me but my mother laughed because she knew 6-year-old me was right. It *is* weird, y’all.

I’ve long thought it was a pity that Hitchcock didn’t go through with this idea:

“In North by Northwest during the scene on Mount Rushmore I wanted Cary Grant to hide in Lincoln’s nostril and then have a fit of sneezing. The Parks Commission [sic] of the Department of Interior was rather upset at this thought. I argued until one of their number asked me how I would like it if they had Lincoln play the scene in Cary Grant’s nose. I saw their point at once.”

The working title of the screenplay was The Man In Lincoln’s Nose. That title was just as weird as Mount Rushmore itself. It’s *almost* as weird as the fact that the 45th president* is an openly racist Impeached Insult Comedian with a dead nutria pelt atop his head. Strike the word almost: nothing is weirder than that.

The last word goes to The Beatles, not Bernard Herrmann:

Strike the not Bernard Herrmann thing:

Tweets Of The Week: Picture Book

Captain America punches Hitler

The pandemic has driven me to spend more time on the Tweeter Tube. It can be annoying as hell but sometimes I see swell stuff. I used Captain America punching Hitler as the featured image because I can never get enough of it. It’s also relevant to the post as you’ll see directly.

We have three pictorial tweets for your amusement. They’re good enough that I’m using a Kinks song as part of the title. I assume you’re familiar with my Kinks Theorem: there’s a Kinks song for every occasion.

Our first entry is dedicated to readers and viewers of The Plot Against America:

Oy just oy but who among us doesn’t love Theodor Geisel?

Next up is a sign of the times:

A little-known fact about me. As a child, I loved Mary Poppins so much that I made my father sit through two big screen showings. That’s probably why my mother became the movie parent from then on.

I feel a song coming on:

The last word goes to The Kinks with a double dose of Picture Book:

Everything Is A Hoax

It’s hot even for New Orleans this week. So hot that we’ve had cold suppers two nights in a row. The streak ends tonight because I have a package of chicken thighs whose sell-by date is tomorrow. But I’m still not turning the oven on because it’s:

Now that we’ve settled that, a few quick thoughts before slicing this potpourri post into segments like an overripe orange.

In my John Bolton Can Go Fuck Himself post, I expressed a desire for a bootleg/samizdat copy of that tendentious tome. Tommy T granted my wish. It’s tough going. Bolton writes in a lawyerly manner and sprinkles neo-con foreign policy pixie dust over everything. I’ve read about 100 pages. Not sure I’m tough enough to finish the Mustache of War’s tell-all tome.

Before moving on, another musical interlude:

I’m also not tough enough to continue watching HBO’s Perry Mason. The second episode was a slight improvement but it’s still pretty, pretty bad. It reminds me of this segment on the original Siskel & Ebert show, Sneak Previews:

Bountygate Nouveau Redux: President* Pennywise gave this post its title when he declared his latest impeachable offense a “fake news hoax.” Everything he doesn’t like is a hoax. This scandal is not. It’s as real as the pandemic, which he continues to think he can wish away. There’s a special place in hell for the Donald and his whole tribe.

Some people scoffed when I wrote last fall about how Trump had alienated the military. Since then, we’ve have the firing of Captain Crozier, the Lafayette Square disaster, and now the $100K bounty paid to kill Americans. All of Trump’s excuses are equally feeble as attested to by Rep. Elissa Slotkin who briefed two of his predecessors. You’re busted, asswipe.

That’s Why I Call Him The Impeached Insult Comedian: A piece by Carl Bernstein about Trump’s phone antics with foreign leaders confirmed our worst fears. He sucks up to dictators, especially Erdogan and Putin, and shits all over the Three Ms: Merkel, May, and Macron. Does he talk hairdos with Boris Johnson? You never can tell.

Team Trump’s response has been to attack the leakers. That’s confirmation that the story is true. Hopefully, it will help turn the country:

Soylent Green had been sitting on the DVR since it last aired on TCM. We watched it last night. I hadn’t seen it in “I decline to say how long” many years and Dr. A had never seen it before.

Since that giant slab of ham, Chuck Heston, is the star, I riffed like my hero Crow T. Robot. Fortunately, the great Edward G. Robinson is Chuck’s wingman, and his performance rescued the movie. It’s hard to believe that Heston is the one who won an acting Oscar when Emanuel Goldberg was so much better. So it goes.

Soylent Green is a dystopian movie, set in 2022 in a New York that has been ravaged by the Greenhouse Effect, not the Kaiser of Chaos. There are no flying cars, just people, people everywhere.

One way you can tell that the world has gone to hell is that veteran character actor Whit Bissell played the Governor of New York. I love Whit Bissell: his name and his 321 credits. He looked pretty good in a gubernatorial leisure suit too on the tube teevee they used in 2022, Soylent Green-style:

The sets and costumes are what people in 1973 thought the future would be like. Everyone wears tan and Mid-Century Modern decor is everywhere. I spotted a lamp that my friend Steve’s folks had in their Mid-Century Modern Eichler House.

I’ve gone from riffing on the Three Ms to Mid-Century Modern. Beats the hell out of contemplating Heston’s outfit and deeply hammy performance.

Believe it or not, I like Soylent Green and give it 3 stars and an Adrastos Grade of B-. It lost a grade-step because wooden TV star and failed Dodgers 1B Chuck Connors is in it as a hit man for the Soylent Corporation. So it goes.

The last word goes to Heston as Thorn:

Bayou Brief: The Rename Game

My latest Bayou Brief column is online. I wade knee deep, not into the Big Muddy, but into the monuments controversy in New Orleans. I offer my top ten list of stuff that should be renamed. I make a few suggestions but I’m mostly interested in getting a conversation started.

I have a lot of fun playing The Name Game in the column. Let’s do it for the current First Draft team:

Peter, Peter, bo-beter
Banana-fana fo-feter
Fee-fi-mo-meter
Peter.

Allison, Allison, bo-ballison
Banana-fana fo-fallison
Fee-fi-mo-mallison
Allison.

Michael, Michael, bo-bichael
Banana-fana fo-fichael
Fee-fi-mo-ichael
Michael.

Tommy, Tommy, bo-bommy
Banana-fana fo-fommy
Fee-fi-mo-mommy
Tommy.

Oh, mommy. The last word goes to Shirley Ellis:

Bountygate Nouveau

I suspect that the original Bountygate is forgotten everywhere but in New Orleans. It was the accusation that there was a bounty system on the New Orleans Saints for hits against opposing players. The NFL came down hard on the “implicated” coaches and players including head coach Sean Payton who was suspended for a year. It turned out to be sound and fury signifying nothing after further investigation. That’s a fancy way of saying that it was bullshit.

Bountygate Noveau is infinitely more serious:

American intelligence officials have concluded that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including targeting American troops — amid the peace talks to end the long-running war there, according to officials briefed on the matter.

<SNIP>

The intelligence finding was briefed to President Trump, and the White House’s National Security Council discussed the problem at an interagency meeting in late March, the officials said. Officials developed a menu of potential options — starting with making a diplomatic complaint to Moscow and a demand that it stop, along with an escalating series of sanctions and other possible responses, but the White House has yet to authorize any step, the officials said.

The Trump regime is tripping over itself to explain away the latest foreign policy scandal. My favorite excuse is that the Impeached Insult Comedian didn’t read the briefing papers. That’s the presidential* equivalent of that old standby “the dog ate my homework.” Trump, of course, hates dogs. I wonder when they’ll move on to “my grandmother died.” That won’t work either: his grandparents are long dead.

Shortly after the meeting cited by the NYT, President* Pennywise resumed his push to restore Russia to the G-7. How dare Obama ban Putin for attacking and conquering the Crimea? They were just taking it back. #sarcasm. Of course, Trump doesn’t know it used to be part of the Soviet Union and Russian Empire. All he knows is that Putin is a tough guy, not a fake tough guy like himself.

Joe Biden pounced on the latest Trump-Putin scandal:

“Not only has he failed to sanction and impose any kind of consequences on Russia for this egregious violation of international law, Donald Trump has continued his embarrassing campaign of deference and debasing himself before Vladimir Putin,” the former vice president said.

Biden called it a “betrayal of the most sacred duty we bear as a nation — to protect and equip our troops when we send them into harm’s way.”

FYI, the featured image shows the aftermath of Putin throwing the ball and Trump fetching it like a good dog. It’s unclear if Putin scratched his head or gave him a treat as a reward. Good boy, Donald.

On a more serious note, this is NOT the first time that a Republican president has endangered the lives of our soldiers. In its rush to war, the Bush-Cheney administration failed to give the troops proper equipment such as body armor. Like W, President* Pennywise can’t be bothered with the details. So much for caring about the military.

I called this post Bountygate Nouveau because it’s a fresh scandal but reminiscent of past scandals. If it were a wine, it would be Beaujolais Nouveau, which a friend of mine insists on calling Boojelly. I’m not sure if the wine image works but I’m not a sommelier. There ain’t no cure for the sommelier blues

The last word goes to the Lincoln Project with an instant response ad to this newly vinted (decanted?) scandal:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Darkness On The Edge Of Town

My Brother Imitating Scherzo by Andre Kertesz.

The Saharan dust has arrived in New Orleans. The good news is that it’s a two-edged sword. It fucks up our air quality but hinders tropical development in the Gulf. So it goes.

Bruce Springsteen wrote this week’s theme song in 1978. It was the title track of his fourth studio album. It’s a winner, I tell ya

We have two versions of Darkness On The Edge Of Town for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a 2009 live version.

The rest of this week’s post can be easily found after the break.

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Confidence, Not Cockiness

I got another shrill fundraising email from MoveOn. In it, they warn that “Trump is winning” when all evidence to the contrary shows that he’s not. They warn that Democrats are overconfident about kicking Trump’s ass. I’m not a fan of fearmongering as a fundraising technique. It’s too Trumpy for my taste.

I realize that many remain traumatized by the 2016 election. Some even see Trump as an almost supernatural creature with demonic powers. It’s time to get over it and move on; pun intended, it always is.

President Pennwyise’s real superpower is this: Every time he opens his mouth, he loses votes. Here’s the latest example:

“So we’ve done a lot and we’re very proud of it and we had the best until this artificial problem ‘cause I call it an artificial problem,” Trump said.

“We had to turn off our country to save millions of lives and now we’ve turned it back on,” he continued. “And it’s coming back much faster than anybody thought possible.”

Over 124,00 and counting Americans have died because of this “artificial problem” and the Trump regime’s grotesque incompetence in addressing it. Sounds real to me, fuckhead.

Contrary to what MoveOn thinks there’s nothing wrong with confidence, it’s cockiness we need to guard against. The proverbial ball should remain unspiked until Joe Biden takes the oath of office next January. Does that sound overconfident to you? Trump is NOT winning.

I agree with veteran WaPo columnist E.J. Dionne:

But after 2016, overconfidence will never be the major problem. One of the most debilitating aspects of Trump’s rise is the extent to which it has undercut the confidence of many liberals and moderates in the common sense of a majority of the electorate. This attitude is anti-democratic and self-defeating. Understanding, as Reagan did, the potential to ignite a large coalition for change is the precondition for bringing it to life.

If we’re confident, we win. If we’re cocky or scared, we lose. The future belongs to the bold, not the timid. It’s that simple.

Trump is trying to run an outsider/insurgent campaign once again. It’s doomed to fail: he’s the incumbent. He has a record and a very bad one indeed. Reelection campaigns are ALWAYS about the incumbent. That’s the sound of confidence, not cockiness.

Joe Biden is being slammed by some for “campaigning from his basement.” In fact, he’s running a good campaign attuned to the moment by positioning himself as a calm and compassionate candidate in stark contrast to the fear and frenzy stirred up by the Impeached Insult Comedian who remains the Pigpen of American politics:

Team Biden also believes in two venerable rules of politics:

  1. If you give your opponent enough rope, they’ll hang themselves.
  2. If your opponent is destroying themselves, let them.

Repeat after me: Trump loses votes every time he opens his mouth. That’s confidence, not cockiness.

The last word goes to Graham Parker and includes a message for MoveOn:

Pun intended, it always is.

Nuance Is Dead

There have been many articles over the years proclaiming the death of irony. It turned out not to be so: what’s more ironic, in a sick way, than one of the world’s richest countries having 1/3 of the COVID-19 cases? I am, however, concerned about the plight of nuance. It appears to be knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door.

Nuance and I are old friends. While many see life in stark terms of black and white, I revel in the gray and ambiguous. While I’m still burning a candle for it, I’m afraid nuance is dead in our public life.

I usually detest bothsiderism but both the right and the left share the blame for nuance’s demise. Nuance was finally banished from the Republican party upon the nomination of the Impeached Insult Comedian. House GOPers such as Louie Gohmert Piles, Matt Gaetz, and Gym Jordan have trampled nuance to death with their antics. It’s unclear if they’re three of the horsemen of the apocalypse or the Three Stooges. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.

Nuance suffered major blows in the last week with the toppling of a statue honoring General/President Ulysses Grant as well as the Lady Forward statue in Madison, Wisconsin. The latter became a symbol of pride during the anti-Walker demonstrations in what seems like another lifetime. Its downfall certainly vexed Our Scout Prime:

I feel your pain, Scout.

An appreciation for, and an understanding of, nuance would have prevented the toppling of a statue honoring the man who did more to defeat the Confederacy than anyone else, General/President Grant. His father-in-law was a slave owner (as was Lincoln’s) who gave Ulysses and Julia a slave. Grant found the whole thing embarrassing and freed the poor bastard within a year. Many have credited that incident with beginning the process of Grant’s enlightenment on racial matters.

As president, Grant joined forces with the advocates of radical reconstruction and equal rights. The Civil Rights Act of 1875 was perhaps his greatest accomplishment as president. It was struck down by the Supremes in 1883, but it set the template for Civil Rights legislation in the next century. That’s right, Grant was the LBJ of the 19th Century; another historical figure nuance is needed to understand.

If you don’t believe me, here’s what the great Frederick Douglass had to say about Ulysses Grant:

“A man too broad for prejudice, too humane to despise the humblest, too great to be small at any point. In him the Negro found a protector, the Indian a friend, a vanquished foe a brother, an imperiled nation a savior…”

Grant’s historical reputation was the first casualty of the cult of the Lost Cause. In recent years, his star has been on the rise because of his record on Civil Rights while Woodrow Wilson’s has declined because he was a segregationist. Nuance requires that I point out that Wilson was instrumental in passing significant progressive legislation as president.

I dislike criticizing those I agree with and rarely do so. I’m down with removing monuments to Lee, Davis, Calhoun, and others. I’ve even stopped making nuanced arguments about Jackson Square in New Orleans. While I understand the thrill of toppling statues, I prefer a legal process, which has the benefit of being safer. The bronze statue of General/President Jackson is heavy and could hurt someone if hastily removed. I’ll have more about that and the renaming frenzy next week at the Bayou Brief.

Perhaps the post title is melodramatic. Nuance will live as long as people take the time to understand the complexities of our history. History is made by human beings and we’re flawed and, well, human.

A final thought: while we know who is buried in Grant’s Tomb, why is there a statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square? That’s too nuanced even for me.

The last word goes to Oscar Brand with an 1868 campaign song:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Kid Charlemagne

Charlemagne Crossing The Alps by Paul Delaroche.

It’s rally day in Tulsa for the Impeached Insult Comedian and his delusional supporters. After months of believing in the pandemic, he’s changed his mind, but his lawyers are still making attendees sign a disease waiver. That’s a wise idea because they’re cramming people in that arena like MAGA sardines. What could possibly go wrong?The term clusterfuck was created for moments like this. O is for Oklahoma and Oy, just oy.

This week’s theme song was written by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen for Steely Dan’s 1976 album Royal Scam. The studio original features a brilliant guitar solo by jazz man Larry Carlton.

We have two versions of Kid Charlemagne for your listening pleasure: the Royal Scam original and a live version by the Dukes of September a combo that Fagen formed with Boz Scaggs and ex-Danman Michael McDonald.

Now that we’ve gotten (gone?) along with Kid Charlemagne, let’s move along to the break.

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Not Taking Sides Is Taking Sides

It’s a crazy news day even for the Trump era. It’s Juneteenth, which the Impeached Insult Comedian claims to have discovered or some such shit. It’s much like Christopher Columbus sailing the ocean blue in 1492 and “discovering” lands populated by indigenous peoples.

Trump’s comment is so moronic that it should be preserved for posterity or stuck up his posterior. It’s a coin toss as to which:

“I did something good: I made Juneteenth very famous. It’s actually an important event, an important time. But nobody had ever heard of it.”

In the same Wall Street Journal interview, President* Pennywise also said that some people wear masks not for safety reasons but to signal disapproval of him. Seriously? Everything is about him

Trump was for preventive measures before he was against them. Oy just oy.

In other mask news, the story that gave this post its title popped up on the Tweeter Tube:

Too late, dude, You stuck your foot in a massive pile of dog shit and now it’s stuck in your mouth. Yuck.

I wasn’t planning to attend the movies until there’s a vaccine anyway, but it won’t be to an AMC theatre. We have three locally owned and operated cinemas so I’m sticking to them.

AMC does, however, have comfy reclining chairs:

Repeat after me: Not Taking Sides Is Taking Sides.

There was some good news yesterday. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar removed her name from Joe Biden’s Veep list. She urged the former Veep to pick a woman of color as his Veep. This should boost Senator Kamala Harris’ chances, but like Klobuchar she’ll have to deal with questions about her prosecutorial past. I’d use the reformed sinner/it takes a thief argument; meaning that only those who understand the criminal justice system can fix it. Stay tuned.

Finally, New Orleans writer Megan Braden-Perry has compiled a swell Juneteenth listicle for those of you who have heard of the holiday that the Kaiser of Chaos made “very famous.” Enough with the verys, dude. We’re very sick of them. Yea, verily.

Speaking of masks, the last word goes to Graham Parker:

Repeat after me: Not Taking Sides Is Taking Sides.

John Bolton Can Go Fuck Himself

When it comes to John Bolton, some liberals are too into the whole “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” thing for my taste. The title of the last post I wrote about the Mustache of War sums up my feelings: John Bolton Is An Honest Asshole, Not A Hero.

That post was about the reaction to Fiona Hill’s testimony wherein she discussed the response of her former boss to the Ukraine scam. Bolton subsequently played games with the House impeachment investigators and the Senate. Instead of testifying against the Impeached Insult Comedian, he’s ready to cash in with a tell-all book. I’m not alone in being vexed as you can see from this Mother Jones headline: Say It Under Oath, Asshole.

The reason I think Bolton should go fuck himself is this passage in the NYT’s story about his tell-all tome:

Mr. Bolton, however, had nothing but scorn for the House Democrats who impeached Mr. Trump, saying they committed “impeachment malpractice” by limiting their inquiry to the Ukraine matter and moving too quickly for their own political reasons. Instead, he says they should have also looked at how Mr. Trump was willing to intervene in investigations into companies like Turkey’s Halkbank to curry favor with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey or China’s ZTE to favor Mr. Xi.

And who was it that had the goods on President* Pennywise? John Bolton, that’s who. Instead of writing a tell-all tome, he should have testified under oath. Fuck him sideways.

Bolton’s testimony wouldn’t have changed the outcome in the Senate, but it would have made any praise of him palatable. Instead, I feel queasy and in need of a barf bucket. Repeat after me: John Bolton can go fuck himself.

I wonder what people who worked for and with Bolton thought of his refusal to testify. The greedy and selfish prick threw Col. Vindman, Fiona Hill, and Bill Taylor under the bus. The belated publication of The Room Where It Happened constitutes backing the bus over their slandered reputations. It was downright Alice Cooper-ish of Bolton:

The Kaiser of Chaos has called Bolton a dope that nobody likes. What does that make the dope who hired the dope? A double dope, I guess. Projection thy name is Donald.

I’m glad that Bolton is spilling the beans and I’m opposed to Justice Department attempts to suppress the book. Contrary to what the First Dope thinks, all conversations with him are NOT classified. Having said that, I’m not buying Bolton’s book and hope that someone will release a Samizdat version of it on the internet.

In the end, I agree with Chairman Schiff:

That was an elegant way of saying JOHN BOLTON CAN GO FUCK HIMSELF.

The last word goes to Harry Nilsson with a song that could be renamed John Bolton’s Song. Why? This opening line: “You’re breaking my heart, you’re tearing it apart, so fuck you.”

Repeat after me: John Bolton can go fuck himself.