Category Archives: Fog Of History

Ron Ziegler In A Frock

I don’t think many of our readers are old enough to have had the Ron Ziegler experience. Ziegler was, of course, Tricky Dick’s press secretary. He combined ignorance and arrogance in his dealings with the White House press corps. He was never (at the risk of sounding like Poppy Bush) in the loop and said many loopy things: my personal favorite was when he declared  his previous comments about the Watergate burglary “inoperative.”

Sarah Huckabee Sanders (hereinafter Huck’s Horrible Spawn) is well on her way to becoming the most hated White House press secretary since Ziegler; even the dread Ari Fleischer had his supporters. Huck’s Horrible Spawn clearly knows nothing about what’s going on in the White House she pretends to speak for. Today she urged ESPN to fire Jemele Hill for criticizing her boss on the sacred tweeter tube. Apparently, Trump is the only one who can fire off insulting tweets. So much for free speech.

Huck’s Horrible Spawn also dusted off her non-existent law degree and proclaimed James Comey a criminal. This is simultaneously ludicrous and menacing. The White House is threatening its opponents with jail or, in the case, of Ms. Hill, loss of her livelihood. This is a classic authoritarian move, which is why I originally called this post Creeping Authoritarianism. The image of  Ron Ziegler in a frock is much funnier. And we need all the comic relief we can get in the Trump era.

There’s one good thing in Huck’s Horrible Spawn being Ron Ziegler in a Frock. Like the Z-Man she knows nothing, bupkis, zilch about the scandals that are hanging over the White House. She may not even need to lawyer up or testify before Congress about her non-existent knowledge. It’s good to be out of the loop and in over your head.

I don’t have a picture of Ron Ziegler in a frock but I found a picture of him with Elvis Presley. That will  have to do.

 

 

 

Walter Trump: Teevee Western Con Man

Lawrence Dobkin as Walter Trump.

I usually check Snopes.com when something on the interwebs sounds either too good to be true or bogus.  It’s usually the latter. I try not to go down the Snopes rabbit hole too often because one could spend days there. It’s better when one of my friends does it for me. My old pal, fellow OG NOLA blogger, and Spank krewemate, Lisa Palumbo linked to this intriguing and surprisingly true Snopes item about a fifties teevee con man:

The television series Trackdown really did produce an episode featuring a “Trump” character who came to town claiming that only he could prevent the end of the world by building a wall (and also sold special force propelling umbrellas to deflect meteorites). The episode (S1, E30) aired on CBS in 1958 and was titled “The End of the World,” featuring actor Lawrence Dobkin playing the role of “Walter Trump.”

We even have a snippet of dialogue from the episode in question:

Narrator: The people were ready to believe. Like sheep they ran to the slaughterhouse. And waiting for them was the high priest of fraud.

Trump: I am the only one. Trust me. I can build a wall around your homes that nothing will penetrate.

Townperson: What do we do? How can we save ourselves?

Trump: You ask how do you build that wall. You ask, and I’m here to tell you.

While it’s highly unlikely that Trump was inspired by an episode of a long-forgotten teevee oater, it’s a startling coincidence. Like Donald, Walter Trump is a flim flam man selling a cure to a non-existent problem. He also claimed to be the “only one” as did the president* in his apocalyptic acceptance speech at the 2016 Republican Convention. Holy Messianic Complex, Batman.

The guy who wrote the teleplay, John Robinson, died in 1999 without revealing any Nostradamus-like qualities. He’s best-known for producing the Steve McQueen western Wanted: Dead or Alive and for writing for Dragnet. That means that, like Joe Friday, he presumably stuck to “the facts, m’am, just the facts.” Nobody would have predicted the rise of the Insult Comedian in 1958 back when candidates were usually qualified to be president. Imagine that.

There’s another difference between Real Trump and the character actor who played Reel Trump, Lawrence Dobkin. The latter was an honest bald man as you can see in the featured image above whereas Donald wears a dead nutria atop his head.

It’s gobsmacking that there was a flim flamming, wall building fictional character named Trump in 1958. It’s equally gobsmacking that I hadn’t heard about it until this morning. I only know because of my pal Lisa Pal. I’ll be a pal and post the whole damn episode of Trackdown:

I *have* written about life imitating The Sopranos but I never expected to write about life imitating Trackdown. Hell, I’d never heard of Trackdown until today. It’s a funny old world.

First Draft Potpourri: Belabored Labor Day Edition

It’s been a long, hot holiday weekend in New Orleans but not as hot as in my native Bay Area where San Francisco had the hottest day in recorded history, topping out at 106 fucking degrees. It’s not supposed to be hotter in San Francisco than New Orleans in September. Climate change? What climate change?

The heat is one reason I changed my mind about joining Dr. A and our fellow Spanksters in the Decadence parade. My only regret is not seeing the expressions on the faces of the BYU fans who were in town to lose to my LSU Tigers. Decadence is a gay, not a Mormon, thing.

My main reason for bagging the parade is that I’m feeling rundown from a month of dealing with Oscar’s issues.  I don’t need to add heatstroke to the list of *my* issues. It seems almost silly to be this wrapped up in caring for an ailing pet but it’s how I’m wired. I come by it honestly: the only reason my mother didn’t have a massive menagerie is that Lou put strict limits on the number of pets in the house. One could even call it a critter quota. Okay, it’s time for me to stop all of my sobbing and move on.

The national media’s insistence on being upbeat about progress in Houston drives me nuts. The people who were flooded are about to face the reality of what they’ve lost. They’re throwing things out and eventually gutting their flooded houses. It’s going to be a long, slow road back, especially for those without the resources to rebuild quickly. The poor always take in the neck, alas.

The Jolly Insult Comedian: Donald Trump justifiably took a lot of heat for his inability to show empathy on his first Harvey related trip. He went to Houston and Lake Charles, LA and tried to show empathy but he cannot even fake it. You can tell he’s faced very little genuine adversity in life because he just doesn’t get it. He tried but wound up making small talk as tiny as his hands. By way of illustration, here are two tweets from Mark Knoller of CBS News:

I guess jolly platitudes are better than talking about your margin in Texas but only marginally. At least he and Melania didn’t wear those damn caps again. I thought that her FLOTUS hat was even tackier than his. I hope it wasn’t the millinery equivalent of a name tag. She’s not the only one who has a hard time believing she’s FLOTUS.

I did not, however,  join in the twitter mockery over Melania’s stilettos earlier in the week. It was classic tweeter tube dispshittery: focusing on the trivial, going for the cheapest laugh possible.

Speaking of shoes, I got a kick out of this picture from the Gret Stet leg of the trip:

The sign is swell BUT the t-shirt worn by the teenybopper is downright weird. It features the slogan of the Civil Rights movement and an image of Trump. Trump shall overcome what? His disastrous first 226 days in office? The country will have to overcome the way he’s hollowed out the EPA and State Department. Heckuva job, Donald. (Instant Update: Take a look at the comment by Alger below. The shirt says We Shall Overcomb. My eyesight sucks. But the paragraph is too good to cut.)

Joy Reid posed an interesting question on her teevee show on Sunday morning. Why does the media keep expecting Trump to act like a normal president? In a word: history. One of the founding myths of the republic is that presidents grow in office. It doesn’t matter that many have shrunk in office, it’s the myth. Trump is who and what he is. There will be neither growth nor a pivot. Believe me.

Let’s pivot to a loss suffered by rock music fans everywhere.

Walter Becker, RIP: Some sad news came our way on Sunday morning. Steely Dan co-founder  Walter Becker died at the age of 67. Becker was the quiet one of the songwriting team of Becker and Fagen. He let his music speak for itself.

Social media was abuzz about Becker’s passing. Here’s a wee sampler. First, from his old friend and partner in crime, Donald Fagen.

I shared a few thoughts of my own about Becker’s role in Steely Dan:

Finally, a cartoon in the style of Charles Schulz:

I recently assembled a Portable Steely Dan CD, which includes hits as well as lesser known album tracks. My tribute to Becker is to reproduce it here via the magic of the YouTube playlist format. There will be the odd commercial but what can I tell ya? Becker and Fagen are odd guys.

I was one of the lucky people who saw Steely Dan before they got off the road to focus on recording. That was how artists made money in the Seventies. That’s certainly changed. Steely Dan opened for Yes who were touring in support of Fragile. It was a Bill Graham bill made in music geek heaven. I saw Steely Dan several times after they reunited, most memorably at Jazz Fest in 2007.

One of the best loved lines in any Steely Dan songs is an odd one. Anyone surprised? I thought not. It comes from Kid Charlemagne: “Is there gas in the car? Yes, there’s gas in the car.” It looks like that mythic car finally ran out of gas for Walter Becker. He will be missed.

I just realized I wrote a Labor Day post without reference to the holiday itself. It’s supposed to be about working men and women, not grilled meat. It’s also about New Deal style Democratic politics as you can see from this sample of 2016’s Labor Day post showing Jack Kennedy speaking at a 1960 rally organized by the UAW in Detroit:

Happy Labor Day whether you’re laboring or not.

Houston: No Good Options

Hurricane Rita evacuation clusterfuck, 2005.  

I mentioned yesterday that an attempt to evacuate the sprawling Houston area for Hurricane Rita in 2005 resulted in an epic clusterfuck as you can see in the photo above.  Here’s how it was described by the Houston Chronicle:

“In the Houston area, the muddled flight from the city killed almost as many people as Rita did. An estimated 2.5 million people hit the road ahead of the storm’s arrival, creating some of the most insane gridlock in U.S. history. More than 100 evacuees died in the exodus. Drivers waited in traffic for 20-plus hours, and heat stroke impaired or killed dozens. Fights broke out on the highway. A bus carrying nursing home evacuees caught fire, and 24 died.”

This is why Texas Governor Greg Abbot and all the armchair evacuators on social media and the MSM are dead wrong. The state of Texas has declined to stage evacuation drills, devise an adequate contraflow scheme, or do anything that other jurisdictions-even the Gret Stet of Louisiana-do to facilitate evacuations. Texas conservatives hate guvmint even when it would help them personally. I guess the Texas GOP’s motto should be: Drown Free.

Any Houstonian who remembered the Rita clusterfuck would have declined to evacaute. The only way a mandatory evacuation would have worked is if it were ordered on Monday August 21. People simply would not have left then and many could not afford to do so. That’s something the armchair evacuators do not care about. They specialize in judging others while sitting high and dry in their Lazy-Boys, smart phone in hand.

I’ve evacuated twice for Hurricanes. It’s a miserable experience. I understand why people chose to hunker down. I have close friends in the Houston area and my stomach is in knots right now. Thus far none of them have had to boat out of their houses but it’s still raining in H-Town. What a fucking mess.

Hurricane Harvey is an unprecedented event. The rainfall totals are frightening. There were no good options available. It was going to be a clusterfuck no matter what. Backseat driving is always annoying. I suggest the armchair evacuators STFU and figure out how they can help after the waters recede.

Finally, Trump should stay away and not disrupt relief and rescue operations. He lives in an orange bubble and vaguely remembers that Bush got in deep shit over his response to Katrina. Trump should forget the photo-ops and give the people of Texas maximum federal resources and support. Go when the crisis subsides. The world does not revolve around Trump. He just thinks it does.

Since we’ve all got the Hurricane Harvey blues, the last word goes to Texas native Lightnin’ Hopkins with a song about endless rain you know where:

Saturday Odds & Sods: This Summer

Windmills on the Hill by Francoise Gilot.

Prologue/Forward: I wrote this post and timed it for publication before Hurricane Harvey made full landfall. It will be onshore as you read this. It’s gonna be a wet sumbitch. Best of luck to all my friends and readers in the impacted area whether you evacuated or hunkered down. Our thoughts are with you.

Enough sincere shit, it’s time for the main event:

The tropics are becoming more active as August nears an end. It’s unfortunate because the drainage system in New Orleans is still fucked up. I don’t usually get overly nervous when I hear about a new tropical system in the Caribbean, but this year is different. The odds of Adrastos World HQ flooding are slim. As to the rest of the city, that’s not the case. Hopefully, the City will get its shit together but competence is not a hallmark of government in the Crescent City. It’s time for an Adrastos nursery rhyme: Harvey stay away, don’t come again another day.

Have I complained about storm names this year? It’s high time.  The latest storm is Harvey, which is a funny name, not a scary one. Hurricane Harvey reminds me of Harvey the invisible rabbit, Harvey Korman, and this former major league baseball player, coach, and manager:

Admittedly, the chaw is a bit scary, but Harvey Kuenn was famous for being nice and for being the only batting champion traded for a home run champion, Rocky Colavito. Enough about the boys of summer since only Doc and I give a shit about Harvey Kuenn. I would, however, never knock the Rock…

Summer may be winding down where you live but September is often as hot as August in my sultry neck of the woods. We usually get a tease of fall weather but it rarely lasts long before the heat and humidity settle back in until October. That’s life in the Big Easy. Speaking of which, there’s a swell cover story in the Gambit Tabloid about post-Katrina life here: Is New Orleans worth it?  It’s, uh, worth a glance. It proves that old adage: the more things change the more they remain the same. So it goes.

Speaking of summer, it occurred to me this week that my favorite rock songwriting team, Difford and Tilbrook, have written a passel of tunes about summer. This week’s first theme song,  This Summer, begins with a classic line: “Brain engages mouth, mouth expresses thoughts.” That’s how it works in my experience.

I hope you noticed that the late Keith Wilkerson looks like Huntz Hall in this video. He’s the bloke in the blue ball cap. Not only was Keith was more likely to be an East Side Kid than a Bowery Boy, neither Difford nor Tillbrook resemble Leo Gorcey. End of obscure lowbrow comedy reference. I have a million of them…

Happy Days is a song of more recent vintage. It’s about getting out of London on holiday. As a non-resident, London is one of my favorite places to go on vacation. I would propose a house swap but who the hell wants to come to New Orleans in August?

Our final Squeezey ode to summer was one of the band’s first hits and evokes the beach on a warm summer day:

Now that we’ve gone behind the chalet and pulled mussels from the shell, it’s time to insert the break.

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The Primal Scream President’s* Ego Rallies

I batted around several possible post titles. I wound up combining my top two choices: the Primal Scream Presidency* and Ego Rallies. They were good enough to marry. I’m not sure who proposed. It was probably the primal screamer: that fucker cannot shut up to save his life. That’s why I stuck with the Your White Nationalist President* Speaks meme as the featured image. It’s beautiful. Believe me.

While watching clips of the primal scream president’s* latest ego rally, I cast my mind all the way back to Monday when the usual MSM suspects insisted we’d seen a new, humble-n-serious Trump. Only the most gullible people in the country bought the New Trump. Athenae did not, neither did I. It was more of a divot than a pivot. It lasted a mere 25 hours. There will never be a pivot. Trump is like Popeye’s evil twin: he is who he is and nothing that Ivanka Olive Oyl does will change that. As I said back in Februrary, he’s the worst person ever to live in the White House. Believe me.

Last night’s meltdown in Phoenix was depressingly predictable. Put the Insult Comedian in front of a crowd of MAGA Maggots and he’ll in engage in a public form of primal scream therapy. There was one new twist: he misquoted his statements about the Charlottesville neo-Nazi riot. I’m glad he can keep the crazy fresh for the basest members of his base base.

Trump is sui generis. It’s true that he combines some of the worst facets of past national leaders so not everything about his style is original, but he’s the worst as well as the craziest. Here’s a wee check list of traits he shares with recent presidents and party nominees:

Narcissism: Bill Clinton and Lyndon Johnson both had healthy egos as well as an abundance of self-love. They kept it behind closed doors whereas Trump’s narcissism is on daily display.

Self-pity: The Phoenix diatribe was an exercise in self-pity. Clinton, Nixon, and LBJ were known to feel sorry for themselves. Once again, they rarely showed it in public. LBJ and Tricky, however, let the mask slip near the end of their respective terms as Oval Ones.

Dog Whistling: Nixon, Reagan, and both Bushes did their share of racist dog whistling but they knew better than to do it overtly. Trump isn’t sophisticated enough to be as subtle as Poppy Bush was in the 1988 campaign. In that race, he seemed to be running for national police chief instead of president. Poppy’s race baiting was strictly for the campaign. He didn’t believe it. Trump does. Believe me.

Referring to Oneself In The Third Person: This is something that drives me nuts. In this area, Trump follows in the footsteps of former Senator Bob Dole who was on the GOP ticket in 1976 and 1996. He did a lot of Bob Doling. Trump sticks to his surname, which could be called a surly name in his case.

Anger Management Issues: It’s well-known that LBJ, Nixon, Clinton, and 2008 GOP nominee John McCain had volcanic tempers. They kept their angriest moments private, which is where they belong.

Public Attacks On Members Of Their Own Party: This is unusual to say the least. The only direct comparison is FDR’s attempt to purge Conservative Southern Democrats in the 1938 off-year election. Johnson got publicly tetchy about Democratic doves but knew that mounting primary challenges was folly.

Trump seems prepared to ignore these precedents. He thinks the world started over on November 9, 2016. I guess that makes him the asshole messiah. It’s gotten to the point that even Chinless Mitch cannot stand him. I wonder if Trump has threatened to turn him into Turtle soup. Donald is big on empty threats.

One quality that Trump lacks is impulse control; if he had any at all, there would be fewer self-inflicted wounds. He also possess all the worst qualities of baby boomers and none of that generation’s redeeming characteristics. Once again, he’s the worst of the worst.

As long as Trump remains president* there will be ego rallies. It’s the only way to assuage his epic insecurities. I think Bill Moyers summed it up best:

Instead of a soul, Donald Trump has an open sore.

That’s why he’ll keep on primal screaming at ego rallies and on twitter. He cannot help himself. It’s why the country is in such deep trouble that Mike Pence looks less bad than Trump. He does have better hair than the dead nutria Trump wears atop his head, after all.

In my continuing effort to establish that there’s a Kinks song for every situation, I’ll give them the last word. It’s Ray’s ode to positive nonconformism as opposed to Trump’s open sore nonconformism:

The Fog Of History: There Is No Such Thing As White Culture

I’m never certain as to whether white nationalists live in a fantasy world or a fugue state. They talk about a world that never existed with absolute certainty, which means they’re absolutely wrong. They filter everything through their warped ideology and it ends up sounding like they’ve followed Alice into the rabbit hole; a reference many of them would not get. The only Alice they know is the zany maid on The Brady Bunch. Why? They believe in white culture, and what’s whiter than the bloody, buggery, bollocky Brady Bunch?

American white nationalists like to speak in buzz words and epithets. They have a label for everyone and everything. I’m not sure what they’d call me: liberal internet snarkmeister comes to mind. One label they insist of affixing to everything is white culture. They’re a little vague as to exactly what they mean by this. High European culture? Bach was into fugues, after all. End of feeble attempt to make a fugue state pun. Do they mean American pop culture? I haven’t the foggiest and, in the end, neither do they. They’re as coherent as the President they so admire.

Speaking of cultural M*A*S*H-ups,  I’m reminded of Radar’s attempt to be cultured:

The cleverer white nationalists like to contrast African and Asian cultures unfavorably with that of Europe. They almost sound like EU fetishists when they go on about European music, literature, and history. Of course, their version sounds very little like the agreed upon facts and more like delusions. It’s always fun to see if they know how much of European high culture was the work of Jewish artists such as Gustav Mahler, his conversion notwithstanding.  They probably think Mahler has something to do with the postal service…

The vast majority of white nationalists only have a vague idea of what could be called Eurocentric culture. They call it white culture, which is something that does not exist. There is Polish culture, English culture, French culture, German culture and on and on and on. There is no such thing as a culture based on skin color, which is is a granfalloon on steroids. There are sub-cultures influenced by one’s ethnicity but there is no such thing as white culture.

American white nationalist bigots have been with us a long time. They used to belong to xenophobic groups like the Know-Nothing party and the 1920’s iteration of the KKK who were rabidly anti-Catholic. Today’s white nationalists have dropped the anti-papist rhetoric in favor of ranting about black and brown people and that old standby, the Jews. It’s an easier sell to the Trump base some of whom are Catholics who skipped the cafeteria stage…

One thing I’ve noticed in my time as a political observer is that we no longer hear much about pols seeking the votes of European ethnic groups. It used to be a big deal to go after, say, the Polish vote in Chicago, the Irish vote in Boston, the Italian vote in New York, the pan-Slavic vote in Cleveland, and the German vote in Milwaukee. That’s a radical oversimplification that leaves out many groups but it’s still pertinent to what passes for analysis in this piece.

People don’t seem to identify as much with their ethnic background as they once did. As someone who does, I’ll often ask someone if their last name is, say, Croatian. It used to be that everyone knew the root of their names but that’s increasingly less common. I guess the whole assimilation thing is working. Those European ethnic groups all had their baggage and discrete and insular prejudices but it was healthier for one to identify as, say, Polish than white.  It’s the difference between a karass and a granfalloon in Kurt Vonnegut’s fictional faith Bokononism. It may be the time for a Bokononist revival. Anyone game? At the very least, we should all read Cat’s Cradle the book from whence Bokononism sprang.

The next time someone mentions white culture as being bound up with Confederate monuments, just shake your head and walk away. I, too, am tempted to argue with them but it’s as futile as  arguing with one of the Robert E. Lee statues that are being taken down across the country. It’s a pity that they’ve settled upon harmful lies as opposed to the Bokononist idea of foma, which are:  “…harmless untruths; lies that, if used correctly, can be useful.” That’s another term for a white lie which exist whereas white culture does not.

Repeat after me: white culture does not exist, and white nationalism is the ultimate granfalloon.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Spirit In The Dark

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.

It’s full-bore summer in New Orleans. We’ve had our share of heat advisories this week. All one can do is drink buckets of water, keep out of the sun, and stay in an air conditioned space. It’s a good thing that I’m essentially an indoorsman. It’s too bloody hot to be all outdoorsy and shit.

I usually write about matters personal and local in the Saturday post intro, prologue or whatever the hell this is. But I cannot resist taking a swipe at the idiot president* over his recycling the “Black Jack Pershing pig’s blood on bullets to ward off Muslims” story. First, unlike the Insult Comedian, Black Jack Pershing was an intelligent man who never said or did such a thing. Second, who the hell, with the possible exception of Frank Gaffney, believes this crapola in 2017? Only a very superstitious moron, that’s who. Third, there *is* a New Orleans connection. There’s a General Pershing Street not far from Adrastos World HQ. Some of the streets in my neighborhood were named after Napoleon I’s battles: Cadiz, Bordeaux, Milan, and Marengo to name a few. General Pershing was originally Berlin Street but was renamed while the country was in throes of anti-German hysteria during the Great War. We go through times like that periodically. We’re in one of them now thanks to the Kaiser of Chaos. So it goes.

As to the featured image, I usually steer clear of using an artist’s best known work but how could I resist Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks for this nocturnally named post? Like Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops, I Can’t Help Myself.

This week’s theme song was written by Aretha Franklin for her 1970 album of the same name. It’s perhaps the best song the Queen of Soul ever wrote. We have two versions for your listening pleasure: Aretha’s original and a duet with Ray Charles from her fabulous 1971 album, Aretha Live at Fillmore West.

It’s hard to top the Genius and the Queen of Soul, y’all. I won’t even try. Well, maybe after the break.

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First Draft Potpourri: Bayou Briefing

It’s been a difficult week. Everyone I know is upset about the Charlottesville neo-Nazi riot. It’s taken a lot out of me because I know and love the place as I said on Monday. That’s why it’s time to lighten things up a bit. It may not work but comic relief is my middle name. I guess I should’ve capitalized the phrase in that case.

The post is NOT called Bayou Briefing because it’s all stories of the Gret Stet. It’s because the Bayou Brief has published my first column. Holy shameless plug, Batman.

It’s called The Fog of New Orleans Mayoral Race History and they even let me tell some jokes. Unlike some other Bayou Briefers, I wasn’t Born on the Bayou but neither was John Fogerty for that matter:

We’ll keep it in the Gret Stet of Louisiana for now.

Tweet Of The Week: Former Louisiana Governor and federal inmate Edwin Edwards’ 90th birthday soiree was held on August 12th; his actual DOB is 8-7-1927. I’m envious: there was no flooding like there was on my birthday a week earlier. Oh well, I guess us Leos have to stick together. Holy Grandfalloon, Batman.

The big shebang took place in Red Stick and EWE did his Cajun Shecky shtick as you can see from this tweet by the AP’s Melinda Deslatte:

Edwin Edwards, of course, opened a can of whoop ass on Trump’s buddy David Dukkke in 1991. He may have been a crook but he was our crook.

We’ll keep it down South, but first a marginally relevant musical selection:

Actually, I posted that because Dr. A and I usually drive through Birmingham on our way home from the Commonwealth of Virginia. Fast.

My Kind Of Cover-Up: Democratic Birmingham, Alabama Mayor William Bell was tired of looking at a Confederate monument across from City Hall. He had a novel solution:

Bell covered up the monument to Confederate veterans, first with tarps and then with wooden walls erected by city workers overnight Tuesday. Bell told reporters earlier in the day that his immediate goal was to temporarily cover the monument “until such time that we can tell the full story of slavery, the full story of what the Confederacy really meant.”

“What the Confederacy represented was the maintaining of individuals as being less than human, of promoting a supremacy doctrine that is no longer valid, and wasn’t valid then,” he added.

I guess you can tell that Mayor Bell is black. He’s being sued by the  Lost CauserAlabama AG for violating a new state law that protects Confederate shit. It’s thrilling that this is happening in the city where Bull Connor sicced police dogs on civil rights protesters.

It looks as if Birmingham is finally living up to the chorus of the Randy Newman song:

I still don’t think it’s “the greatest city in Alabam,” my money is on Mobile since they have Carnival, but Mayor Bell not only rules, he rocks. Speaking of those who do neither:

Your Twit President* Tweets: I hadn’t planned to do this segment but when I checked TPM that plan went out the window alongside the running joke in my Bayou Brief column.

The Lost Causer In Chief announced his candidacy to be the second president of the Confederate States of America in a “beautiful” tweet storm this morning:

That’s why I added Lost Causer In Chief to my panoply of Trump nicknames.

The whole “they’re trying to change history” thing drives me batshit crazy; almost as crazy as Trump. There are no monuments to Hitler in Germany or Austria. They haven’t forgotten that history, dipshit. I wish we could make like Mayor Bell and cover up Trump’s big bazoo.

How’s that whole disciplining the president* thing going, General Kelly? Not very well from the looks of it.

It’s time to cheese it across the pond for our final segment.

Finest Festival In The District: There was a different kind of Rumble in Brighton recently. Over cheese. I am not making this up:

A festival celebrating cheese is facing serious backlash for running out of it, something the weekend-long event’s organizers apparently didn’t “anticipate” a “demand for.” This Fyre Festival–level fiasco was held in the English city of Brighton and, it’s also worth noting, had sold out beforehand. It’s part of a traveling festival series literally called the Cheese Fest, where people pay £3 to £6 in advance to supposedly enjoy a drool-worthy afternoon filled with endless raclette wheels, halloumi fries, grilled cheeses, and the “most amazing mac and cheese in the world.”

The complaints started pouring in immediately on Saturday — too few stalls, outrageous lines, woefully underprepared vendors, not enough bathrooms. Very soon, the eponymous food ran out entirely. Some visitors noted they didn’t get so much as a sample-size morsel. As the afternoon stretched on, visitors kept coming, spawning more awful feedback, and organizers allegedly stooped to removing negative comments from the event’s Facebook page.

No cheese at the Cheese Festival? It’s too bad that organizers didn’t have Brie Larson or Adrastos crush Alison Brie there to distract attention.  It’s a pity that there are no chicks named Cheddar…

The Brighton cheese rumble reminds me of one of my favorite Python sketches:

Cleese: It’s not much of a cheese shop, is it?

Palin: Finest in the district sir!

Cleese: (annoyed) Explain the logic underlying that conclusion, please.

Palin: Well, it’s so clean, sir!

Cleese: It’s certainly uncontaminated by cheese.

The last word goes to John Cleese and Michael Palin to the strains of bouzouki music. I am uncertain as to whether there was a bouzouki at the  Brighton cheese rumble. One would hope so since there was no cheese. Finest festival in the district, sir.

Your President* Speaks: Lost Causer In Chief

We all knew it couldn’t last. I’m referring to Trump’s second Charlottesville statement on Monday. Call it a brief spasm of coerced contrition over his initial reaction to Saturday’s neo-Nazi riot. Actually, it looked more like a hostage video of a man reading words he did not believe in. Believe me.

Tuesday’s ranty press conference was the latest in a series of  public meltdowns. This time he revealed himself as the Lost Causer In Chief. I halfway expected him to demand that statues of him be erected in towns across the country. He’s a big enough dick to demand such an erection, after all.

Let’s tackle a few of the Insult Comedian’s comments with the odd comment by your humble blogger. Somebody’s gotta be humble in a country headed by a blowhard and braggart. I forgot a b word: Bigot.

Q Let me ask you, Mr. President, why did you wait so long to blast neo-Nazis?

THE PRESIDENT: I didn’t wait long.

Q You waited two days —

THE PRESIDENT: I didn’t wait long.

Q Forty-eight hours.

THE PRESIDENT: I wanted to make sure, unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct — not make a quick statement. The statement I made on Saturday, the first statement, was a fine statement. But you don’t make statements that direct unless you know the facts. It takes a little while to get the facts. You still don’t know the facts. And it’s a very, very important process to me, and it’s a very important statement.

So I don’t want to go quickly and just make a statement for the sake of making a political statement. I want to know the facts. If you go back to —

<SNIP>

And honestly, if the press were not fake, and if it was honest, the press would have said what I said was very nice. But unlike you, and unlike — excuse me, unlike you and unlike the media, before I make a statement, I like to know the facts.

Mr. Conclusion Jumper (no relation to Mr. In Between) wanted to know all the facts before spouting off? Even by Trumpian standards, this is preposterous piffle. He wouldn’t know a fact if it bit him in the dead nutria atop his head.

Esme Cribb of  TPM has compiled a list of all the times the Kaiser of Chaos leapt to conclusions about *other* terrorist episodes.  (I love her name: she sounds like a Dickens character.) Apparently, fact checks only apply when the terrorist is a Trumper.

Q Nazis were there.

Q David Duke was there.

THE PRESIDENT: I didn’t know David Duke was there. I wanted to see the facts. And the facts, as they started coming out, were very well stated. In fact, everybody said, “His statement was beautiful. If he would have made it sooner, that would have been good.” I couldn’t have made it sooner because I didn’t know all of the facts. Frankly, people still don’t know all of the facts.

This latest idiocy is, yet again, about the fact that the people don’t love him and hang on his every word. We’re ingrates as far as Trump is concerned. He should be worshiped. Why? I’ll never know.

THE PRESIDENT: Okay, what about the alt-left that came charging at — excuse me, what about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?

Let me ask you this: What about the fact that they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do. As far as I’m concerned, that was a horrible, horrible day.

It’s a documented fact that the neo-Nazi, neo-Klansmen, neo-Confederates initiated the violence. They were the ones who showed up clad in riot gear. That’s a whole lotta neos. If I were into The Matrix movies I might make a Neo joke but I’m not so I won’t. I just couldn’t get past the presence of Keanu Reeves, dude in the role of Neo, dude.

Now where the hell was I? Oh yeah, your white nationalist president* speaks.

THE PRESIDENT: But not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue of Robert E. Lee.

Q Should that statue be taken down?

THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me. If you take a look at some of the groups, and you see — and you’d know it if you were honest reporters, which in many cases you’re not — but many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee.

So this week it’s Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?

So, Trump is conflating the Civil War with the American Revolution now? The first and third presidents were present at the creation of the republic; neither committed treason like Lee or Jackson. Trump does have something in common with Stonewall Jackson though. They’re both sociopaths. Believe me.

I planned to save the reaction to today’s diatribe for the end but this one is priceless. It’s one New Orleanian quoting another New Orleanian on the tweeter tube:

Back to this episode of your white nationalist president* speaks.

Q Mr. President, are you putting what you’re calling the alt-left and white supremacists on the same moral plane?

THE PRESIDENT: I’m not putting anybody on a moral plane. What I’m saying is this: You had a group on one side and you had a group on the other, and they came at each other with clubs — and it was vicious and it was horrible. And it was a horrible thing to watch.

But there is another side. There was a group on this side. You can call them the left — you just called them the left — that came violently attacking the other group. So you can say what you want, but that’s the way it is.

Q (Inaudible) both sides, sir. You said there was hatred, there was violence on both sides. Are the —

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I think there’s blame on both sides. If you look at both sides — I think there’s blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it, and you don’t have any doubt about it either.

<SNIP>

Q The neo-Nazis started this. They showed up in Charlottesville to protest —

THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me, excuse me. They didn’t put themselves — and you had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides. You had people in that group.

There are “very fine people” who are neo-Nazis wearing riot gear? That’s a new one on me. Neo-Nazis and white nationalists are not “very fine people” they’re what kids today call haters. It’s what they do. It’s what they live for. It doesn’t bother Trump because he’s one of them. The politics of grievance and revenge are Trump’s politics even though he grew up with wealth and very white privilege. I’d call it a paradox but I try to use language the Insult Comedian will understand. That was a lie; something he does understand. Believe me.

The most significant reaction came from the erstwhile Gret Stet Fuhrer:

That’s really all you need to know about the third Charlottesville statement. It pleased David Duke, Richard Spencer, and their neo-Nazi brethren. They didn’t buy the second statement, they didn’t even give it secondhand love.

Anyone who was shocked by Trump’s latest hissy fit has not been paying attention. He started toying with running for president in 2011, which is when he began beating the birther drum. His entire political career since then has been based on racism and bigotry. No shock to any of our readers but it apparently still is to the MSM and most Republican office holders. It’s who and what he is.

A personal note. I believe in free speech but I do not believe in being nice to neo-Nazis and white nationalists. My father and three uncles fought against fascism in World War II. One uncle was killed in action in Italy. We didn’t fight a bloody war against the real Nazis only to see them rise to prominence 72 years after their ignominious defeat. They’re LOSERS, Donald. So are the Confederates. So much for “so much winning.”

Speaking of veterans, some people are quoting remarks made by Bob Dole denouncing racism in his 1996 acceptance speech. The problem with that is that Bob Dole is still alive. Bob Dole endorsed Donald Trump in 2016. We haven’t heard a peep from him or most party regulars about the transformation of the GOP into a white nationalist party. I guess they’re afraid to have a cross burned on their tidy white bread lawns.

Here’s hoping that the Charlottesville is a turning point in the struggle against our white nationalist president* and his despicable supporters. Remember what Hillary Clinton said about the basket of deplorables? She was right about that and so much else.

Since the Pepe the frog crowd  is fond of using memes to wage their war against trite genocide, I’ll fight tiki torch fire with tiki torch fire:

Lost Causers Fester In Charlottesville

I’ve spent a lot of time in Charlottesville over the years. It’s a lovely college town with a population of 45K when the University of Virginia isn’t in session. Dr. A spent her formative years in Staunton 45 miles away, and studied and worked in Charlottesville. We know and love the place. We still have friends there including Parenthetical who wrote a guest post about the May warmup demonstration aka the Klanbake.

Charlottesville is not your typical “moonlight and magnolias” Southern college town. UVA alums think of their school as a Southern outpost of the Ivy League and the town is full of preppies, not bubbas. But just like ANYWHERE in America, there are bigots, xenophobes, and racists nearby. Never forget that one of the ugliest fights over school desegregation took place in liberal Boston. And the president* who gave a green light to the self-styled alt-right is from liberal New York. It may be trite to say it but racism and bigotry are an American, not Southern, problem. It’s everywhere.

About the post title. I’ve mostly used the labels Lost Causers and Lost Cause Fest to describe the anti-monument removal protesters in New Orleans. Since Richard Spencer is not tied to my city (David Dukkke must be slipping), we saw less neo-Nazi shit here but who are bigger losers in history than the Nazis? The Lost Cause label fits them and will remain affixed to their odious cause here at First Draft.

I’m a writer so words mean a great deal to me. I remain conflicted as to what exactly to call the self-styled alt right. I lean in the direct of calling them white nationalists as a way of linking them to the right-wing nationalist movements in Europe. I tend to prefer the label neo-Nazis to just plain Nazis because the latter word is tied to a specific time, place, and people. I am not, however, going to quibble over those terms: a Fascist is a Fascist is a Fascist.

It’s obvious that the right-wing extremist groups who gathered in Charlottesville hope to replicate the Nazi vs. Communist street thuggery that preceded the Nazi takeover of Germany. The anti-fa folks are playing into their hands but it’s hard to argue with someone who defends themselves. Tension in Charlottesville was exacerbated by Virginia’s status as an open carry state. While I think that’s madness, there is a way to reduce the level of thuggery at future demonstrations in open carry states. Many of the neo-Nazi, unmasked Klan types were carrying riot shields, helmets, and billy clubs or baseball bats. Those items can be proscribed in the permitting process thereby allowing the cops to remove a person possessing them from the scene of the future crime. Legislative action would be better but I’m not holding my breath.

I was at a birthday party for a good friend on Saturday night. There was much talk about Charlottesville and the Insult Comedian’s non-statement about the neo-Nazi riot. As Athenae pointed out yesterday, there aren’t MANY SIDES to this issue. It’s a choice between fundamental human decency and hate. I’d like to focus on another side of Trump’s poorly delivered and half-assed remarks:

My administration is restoring the sacred bonds of loyalty between this nation and its citizens, but our citizens must also restore the bonds of trust and loyalty between one another. We must love each other, respect each other, and cherish our history and our future together. So important. We have to respect each other. Ideally, we have to love each other.

On the surface this sound okay because he talks about love, trust, and loyalty. The key phrase is in bold face: this is whoever wrote the remarks (my money is on Miller) way of signalling to the Lost Causers that Trump is on their side. This march was allegedly about keeping a monument to Robert E. Lee and cherishing history as seen by Richard Spencer and erstwhile Gret Stet Fuhrer David Dukkke. It’s certainly how they understood his remarks as historian Rick Perlstein pointed out on his Facebook feed:

I let Rick read the Daily Stormer so we didn’t have to.

It’s telling that a president* who is willing to attack gold star families, disabled reporters, Kim Jong-un, and Chinless Mitch by name is unwilling to call out neo-Nazis and Lost Cause racists. Why? They’re part of his base. Even if Trump is forced into naming names, it will be grudging, half-hearted, and meaningless. We know where he stands. He’s one of them.

It’s time for some comic relief. One of the twitter feeds I’ve been enjoying of late is Yes, You’re Racist. This particular exchange made me laugh on a rather grim weekend:

The picture of that slack-jawed preppie moron led to this bon mot by one of my favorite people on the tweeter tube, me:

Mosley was, of course, the leader of the pre-World War II British Union of Fascists. I half way expected to see the banner of his party waved in Charlottesville last weekend:

If you see the flag at future Lost Cause Fest events, you know what it is.

The best thing I’ve read about the events in Charlottesville came from Slate’s Dahlia Lithiwck who lives there. Here’s how she finished her piece:

The Nazis may come to town, terrorize and threaten people with guns, even brutally murder a young woman. This president may fail to condemn it. But all right-thinking Americans will recoil in horror. And white supremacists will be replaced. There is no room for them here. On Saturday they were relegated to parking at the shopping mall and walking miles in the hot sun, in their sad supervillain Comic-Con outfits. Today they are already slinking back to their own homes, where they are also being replaced, by history, by moral justice, and by our children, who are growing up exactly where they belong, at home, irreplaceable, sacred, and, especially today, brave.

I should give Dahlia the last word but I want to circle back to the featured image of Captain American punching Hitler. I am not an advocate of violence but Nazi punching strikes me (pun intended, it always is) as the least bad and most understandable form of violence. People who attend a rally packing heat below their absurd tiki torches deserve mockery and the odd punch. I’ll stick to the former but I’m beyond sermonizing about the latter.

The last word is part of my continuing effort to prove that there’s a Kinks song for every situation. This song is about Captain America asking for help in a troubled time:

I remember, when you were down
And you needed a helping hand
I came to feed you
But now that I need you
You won’t give me a second glance
Now I’m calling all citizens from all over the world
This is Captain America calling
I bailed you out when you were down on your knees
So will you catch me now I’m falling

The song was written for 1979’s Low Budget album but rings truer than ever:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Touch Of Gray

A Bar at the Folies-Bergère  by Edouard Manet, 1882.

It’s my birthday today. We’re planning a relatively quiet day with dinner at one of the great restaurants in New Orleans, Brigtsen’s. It’s located in an Uptown cottage, not far from the river. The service is great and the food is even better.

A note on the featured image. I’m such a Manet fan that I named a black female cat Manet. She was long-lived and lovable. We had a game that we played together wherein we compared artists. I’d ask “who do you like better, Picasso or Manet?” The answer was always the same: “Manet.” She lived to be twenty, dying in 2005 not long before Katrina. I’m glad she missed the upheaval and disruption of our nomadic evacuation. It’s hard to be a grande dame when you’re on the move.

It’s sad how few pictures we have of our pre-digital camera era cats. This is a good shot of Manet in her Dowager Empress period:

Holy lagniappe catblogging, Batman.

August 1st was the 75th anniversary of Jerry Garcia’s birth. I miss Jerry, which is why the Garcia-Hunter tune, Touch of Gray, is this week’s theme song. It was the Dead’s only genuine hit single, which is remarkable given their longevity and popularity.

We have two touches of gray for your listening pleasure: the  VH1 pop up video of their skeletony promo video and a live version from 7/4/1989 in Buffalo. Notice Jerry and keyboard player Brent Mydland touching their own gray hair before launching into the song. Oh well, a touch of gray, kind of suits you anyway. Literal but still swell. Brent died in 199o. I’ve often said that being the keyboard player in the Dead was much like being the drummer in Spinal Tap. I don’t believe in jinxes but this one has a kernel of truth.

Oh yeah, both videos were posted by someone who spelled gray with an E. So it goes.

Now that I’ve made y’all feel old and decrepit, let’s limp to the break.

Continue reading

The Fog Of Cosmopolitan History

I wish I were writing about the drink they were obsessed with on Sex and the City or the magazine of that name. Not that I’d drink a cosmopolitan since they contain the demon vodka. I’m referring to comments by made by alt-right nutbar Stephen Miller in response to a question posed by CNN’s Jim Acosta. Acosta is on the verge of becoming the Dan Rather of the current White House press corps. You may recall that Dan the Man was the teevee reporter who really got under Tricky’s skin when the Watergate shit was hitting the fan. Splat. Tom Brokaw was a mere fly to be swatted away. I’m surprised Nixon didn’t make Ron Ziegler his designated fly killer. He was vaguely Priebusian, after all.

Back to the “pride” of Duke University who makes up for his lack of people skills with his use of buzz words:

The conversation went off the rails. At one point, Acosta implied the policy would favor immigrants from English-speaking countries — a logical assumption, if English speaking skills are prioritized in green card applicants.

“Are we just going to bring in people from Great Britain and Australia?” he asked.

“No! This is an amazing moment,” Miller said triumphantly. “This is an amazing moment. That you think only people from Great Britain or Australia would speak English is so insulting to millions of hardworking immigrants who do speak English from all over the world.”

“Of course the are people who come — ” Acosta began.

“But that’s not what you said, and it shows your cosmopolitan bias,” Miller said.

“It sounds like you’re trying to engineer the racial and ethnic flow of people into this country as policy,” Acosta said.

“Jim, that is one of the most outrageous, insulting, ignorant and foolish things you’ve ever said,” Miller said. “The notion that you think that this is a racist bill is so wrong and so insulting”

That part of the exchange was too juicy to cut. I’ve bold-faced the buzz words: cosmopolitan bias. There has been much back and forth as to whether this makes a white dude with a boring name a Nazi neo or otherwise. It think it shows his inclination toward Putinesque neo-Fascism since Putinism is derived from Soviet Communism when it metastasized into kleptocracy.

“Rootless cosmopolitanism” was a Stalinist buzz word deployed during a post-war anti-Semitic campaign waged by the Soviet dictator and his lackeys. Many of the enemies purged by Stalin during the Thirties were Jewish but the post-war campaign had more to do with the Red Tsar’s paranoia and dipsomania. Stalin was a vodka drinker. What more evidence do you need that vodka is Satan’s beverage?

It really doesn’t matter what one calls the likes of Miller be it Nazi or Facisct. He’s a white nationalist aka white supremacist aka racist aka bigot. He’s also known as a malaka, which ends in aka. We have a theme here, which has nothing to do with the Mardi Gras Indian song Aka Aka. Yeah, I know, it’s Iko Iko. Cut a brother some slack, y’all. I have a pun community to tend to.

Miller is also historically illiterate and an obnoxious know-it-all. That makes him the perfect Trumper. I am filled with glee whenever the White House trots him out to alienate everyone who isn’t a fan of Jeff Bo and Bannon. Thanks, Donald.

This is as good a time as any to point y’all at the Vanity Fair profile of Miller that discussed in a Saturday post in a segment called Annals of a Duke Puke. The segment title is as true now as it was two months ago.

I don’t feel like writing a treastise on my views about immigration. I’ve already done that so I’ll point you in the direction of a 2014 post, Pulling Up The Drawbridge. It says it all.

Finally, I feel bad for rock and roll hall of famer Steve Miller for having the same name as the Duke Puke. The Real Steve Miller gets the last word with a song that, despite the title, has nothing to do with MAGA maggots.

“Somebody get me a cheeseburger.”

What’s more American than that?

Your President* Speaks: Boy Scout Bullshit Edition

The Insult Comedian gave a rather chummy interview to the Wall Street Journal the day after the Trumpers Jamboree speech. The WSJ declined to post the transcript so I’m obliged to thank Tiger Beat on the Potomac for doing so.

I call it chummy because of the Arabella colloquy. It turns out that and Princess Ivanka and WSJ editor Gerard Baker both have daughters named Arabella. Perhaps that explains all the softballs lobbed at the Kaiser of Chaos in this interview. Additionally, it’s a Murdoch property. Rupe and Donald have been going steady for quite some time.

Here’s all you need to know about veteran Fleet Stret hack Gerard Baker:

Baker has defended his paper in the past from criticism, both internal and external, that the broadsheet has been too soft on the real estate mogul and reality-television star-turned-45th president of the United States.

In an internal town hall with employees in February, Baker said that anyone who claims the Journal has been soft on Trump is peddling “fake news,” and that employees who are unhappy with the Journal’s objective, as opposed to oppositional, approach to Trump should work somewhere else.

Anyone who uses the term “fake news” plays for Team Trump.

I’m going to keep this relatively brief this morning and stick to two segments with the odd annotation. The first one is about the maladministration’s wispy renaissance man, Slumlord Jared. It begins with an exchange between Princess Ivanka and Baker about an editorial that referred to her horrible husband:

MS.: And I liked your editorial today, very nice. (Laughs.)

BAKER: Oh, good, good. Well, you see, you know, my colleagues write those, so they’ll be — they’ll be —

TRUMP: You did a good job.

MS: Yeah, you really did.

BAKER: Thank you very much. Thank you.

TRUMP: You did a good job. He’s a good — he’s a good boy.

MS.: They wrote a very nice editorial, so very good.

BAKER: Thank you.

Slumlord Jared is 36. They’re all good boys to Trump even when they’re not. Ain’t no good boys in his family. Speaking of which, this is the first White House in memory without a First Pet. That tells you all you need to know about the Trumps. I wonder if the ghost of Grace Coolidge’s pet raccoon is haunting the West Wing? That could be Team Trump’s next lame excuse. It would be funny to hear Huck’s awful spawn talkin’ ’bout coons.

Let’s move on to the Insult Comedian’s “reflections” on his Trumpers Jamboree speech.

WSJ: We were in West Virginia yesterday.

TRUMP: Oh, you did? Was that a scene, though? Huh?

WSJ: That was a scene, yes. (Laughter.)

TRUMP: Biggest crowd they’ve ever had. What did you think?

WSJ: I thought it was an interesting speech in the context of the Boy Scouts.

TRUMP: Right.

WSJ: They seemed to get a lot of feedback from former scouts and –

TRUMP: Did they like it?

WSJ: It seemed mixed.

TRUMP: They loved it. [Laughter.] It wasn’t — it was no mix. That was a standing –

WSJ: In the — you got a good — you got a good reaction in –

TRUMP: I mean, you know, he writes mostly negative stuff. But that was a standing ovation –

WSJ: You got a good reaction inside the arena, that’s right.

TRUMP: … from the time I walked out on the stage — because I know. And by the way, I’d be the first to admit mixed. I’m a guy that will tell you mixed. There was no mix there. That was a standing ovation from the time I walked out to the time I left, and for five minutes after I had already gone. There was no mix.

WSJ: Yeah, there was a lot of supporters in the arena.

TRUMP: And I got a call from the head of the Boy Scouts saying it was the greatest speech that was ever made to them, and they were very thankful. So there was — there was no mix.

Trump is the crazy mixed-up kid in this instance. The big Boy Scout issued an apology for the speech and the BSA spokesboy said they were “unaware” of a thank you call. It’s a polite way of calling Donald a lying sack of shit.

Unfortunately, the country is getting used to Trump’s casual, unnecessary lying about *everything* even minor subjects like the Trumpers Jamboree speech. It’s why I feel obliged to wade through the muck of the Insult Comedian’s mind to point out *some* of his whoppers. Btw, if you haven’t read Doc’s great piece, An Eagle’s Eye View on Trump and the Jamboree, please check it out. I Who knew he was an Eagle Scout? Ya learn something every day unless, that is, you’re POUTUS. He’s forever stuck in his tabloid glory days, the 1980’s. He hasn’t learned anything since. Believe me.

One more thing. In the Insult Comedian’s pea brain everything about him has to be the biggest, best, and greatest. The world is his oyster even in the months with an R in them. That’s why he cannot stop brooding about Bobby Three Sticks and the Russia investigation. If he and/or his minions does something, it must not only be right, it’s got to be beautiful and tremendous. He is, of course, ugly, petty, and delusional. So it goes.

One more Trumpism caught my eye. His commentary on the house he currently demeans with his presence:

President Donald Trump explained his frequent weekend visits to his own properties by disparaging the White House in no uncertain terms, according to a report published Tuesday by Sports Illustrated.

Sports Illustrated reported that Trump recently explained his frequent weekend visits to his private golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, by telling members, “That White House is a real dump.”

In contrast, Trump is in the habit of lavishing effusive praise on his own properties, Sports Illustrated reported, citing numerous people who have played golf with Trump: “Is this not the most beautiful asphalt you’ve ever seen in your life?”

Beautiful Asphalt? Sounds like the name of a biker metal band or a Blue Oyster Cult tune.

Back to the “dump” comment. It’s the people’s house and when you insult it, you insult the nation. That’s why I call him the Insult Comedian.

This latest mishigas reminds me of the scene in Beyond The Forest wherein Bette Davis uttered one of her most memorable lines. Make that line. It was three words and it’s the last word.

 

Unpardonable

Team Trump continues to be all over the place on the issue of pardons. Mooch says one thing. Jeff Sekulow says something else. The president* says something entirely different. They *do* seem to agree that the pardon power is absolute just like the Insult Comedian likes his powers. I do not agree and neither do some people who know what they’re talking about.

The self-pardon issue is a non-starter according to our old friend Larry Tribe, former GW Bush ethics lawyer  Richard Painter, and former Obama ethics counsel Norman Eisen. They cite history something with which the president* is only vaguely acquainted:

The Constitution’s pardon clause has its origins in the royal pardon granted by a sovereign to one of his or her subjects. We are aware of no precedent for a sovereign pardoning himself, then abdicating or being deposed but being immune from criminal process. If that were the rule, many a deposed king would have been spared instead of going to the chopping block.

We know of not a single instance of a self-pardon having been recognized as legitimate. Even the pope does not pardon himself. On March 28, 2014, in St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis publicly kneeled before a priest and confessed his sins for about three minutes.

The only non-Trumper thus far to claim that the president*can pardon himself is Jonathan Turley. I knew him when he taught at Tulane law school, but he’s the Slate of legal experts, a constant and consistent contrarian. Read his piece anyway but he’s more likely than not wrong. I hedge my bets because this issue has never been tested in court: no previous president ever contemplated a self-pardon as I pointed out last Friday.

I’m also dubious that the pardon power is as absolute as the Trumpers or the well-meaning knuckleheads at Vox think it is. There’s a thought-provoking piece in the NYT by two University of Chicago law professors that argue that some pardons *could* be crimes:

Yet federal obstruction statutes say that a person commits a crime when he “corruptly” impedes a court or agency proceeding. If it could be shown that President Trump pardoned his family members and close aides to cover up possible crimes, then that could be seen as acting “corruptly” and he could be charged with obstruction of justice. If, as some commentators believe, a sitting president cannot be indicted, Mr. Trump could still face prosecution after he leaves the White House.

Speaking of disputed, untested areas of the law ,one often hears that a president cannot be indicted while in office. That’s based on a finding by the Nixon Justice Department and the fact that Leon Jaworski’s office made Tricky an “unindicted co-conspirator.”  It turns out that Ken Starr’s office believed a president *could* be indicted while in office. Would that be wise? Beats the hell out of me but it’s not settled law.

In addition to Trump’s crazy interview with the Failing NYT, the reason this is arising at this point is that the Insult Comedian is *implying* that he will not allow *any* investigation into his family’s sleazy financial dealings. He, of course, does not get to choose what Bob Mueller’s office investigates. They have a broad mandate and anything they stumble into in the course of their investigation is fair game. Trump does not like that, which is why he may provoke a constitutional crisis unless Congressional Republicans make it clear that removing Mueller is a bridge too far. So far, their collective heads remain lodged up Trump’s ample ass.

In my experience, people who act this guilty usually are. Team Trump seems to think that all they have is a PR problem, which will go after squirting some Mooch juice all on it. The White House has a crime problem and all the smears in the world will not alter that. Repeat after me: Bob Mueller is a Republican who was appointed FBI director by a Republican president. He did such a good and non-partisan job in that post that he was re-appointed by a Democrat. Mueller is a straight shooter and if Team Trump are not guilty of any crimes, his office will say so. If they were genuinely not guilty, they’d let him do his job. Threats against Team Mueller are a tacit acknowledgement of guilt. If the White House had a lick of sense, they would back down and let Team Mueller do its job, but they don’t so they won’t.

In the immortal words of Bette Davis as Margo Channing:

That concludes this essay on the daily constitutional crisis.

SMV- A City On Fire: The Story Of The ’68 Detroit Tigers

It’s the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Detroit riot.  This 2002 HBO documentary takes a look at the riot and why it didn’t happen again the next summer. The main reason was the 1968 World Champion Tigers.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Down On The Riverbed

Valley Farms by Ross Dickinson.

Dr. A and I are going to the Antiques Roadshow at the Morial Convention Center today. We’re not 100% certain what we’re taking as of this writing but I’m nervous that she’ll use me as her antique. While I have some patina, I’m not sure how valuable I am. On the other hand, if puns add value I might be worth a few bucks.

A quick political note. Here’s a tweet I sent out marking the resignation of Sean Spicer, the press secretary who could lie and chew gum at the same time:

I chose this week’s featured image because our theme song is tres Californian. So is the artist. The late Ross Dickinson was our friend Bonny’s grandfather. The Bonster went to grad school with Dr. A. End of cronyistic shout-out. Is cronyistic a word? Since I’m Greek I should know; of course, we specialize in nepotism. Unfortunately, the current administration* is giving nepotism a bad name. I take that as an affront to my heritage.

Down On The Riverbed was written by David Hidalgo and Louis Perez for Los Lobos’ fabulous 1990 album, The Neighborhood. The original studio version features John Hiatt singing harmony with some grit but without the syrup. Hominy grits you want with your eggs, Mr. Hiatt? Dave Alvin’s version comes from the 2006 album West of the West whereon he recorded some of his favorite songs written by California tunesmiths.

Now that we’ve been down on the riverbed without drowning, it’s time to don a life jacket (I wish they were still called Mae Wests) and go to the break.

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Still Worse Than Nixon

Another day, another blockbuster story about administration* criminality. Nothing they do or say surprises me even when it should. Now they’re talking about presidential* pardons including a self-pardon. I am not making this up, if I were nobody would believe me:

Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe, according to one of those people. A second person said Trump’s lawyers have been discussing the president’s pardoning powers among themselves.

Trump’s legal team declined to comment on the issue. But one adviser said the president has simply expressed a curiosity in understanding the reach of his pardoning authority, as well as the limits of Mueller’s investigation.

“This is not in the context of, ‘I can’t wait to pardon myself,’ ” a close adviser said.

And we’re supposed to believe this? Why? I have a firm policy of believing nothing that anyone in this administration* says. And since when was Donald Trump curious about anything? Idleness many be his thing but idle curiosity is not. As you can see, all I have are questions. Answers are increasingly elusive as the Trumpers reel like drunk monkeys from constitutional crisis to constitutional crisis.

I wrote a post during the late election entitled Tweet Of The Day: Worse Than Nixon. It was about Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns, an issue that is returning to the forefront as Team Mueller digs into the Trump crime family’s seedy business dealings. The point I made last May was that even Tricky Dick released his tax forms. Today’s point is that Nixon dismissed the notion of  a self-pardon out of hand. He thought that was beneath the dignity of the office. That was Richard Fucking Nixon who resigned in disgrace. Trump is still worse than Nixon. Now he seems hell-bent on emulating Tricky and disposing of a special prosecutor. He’ll have to find someone to do it since he doesn’t have the power to fire Bobby Three Sticks himself. If it happens, it will be a bloodier and stupider version of the Saturday Night Massacre.

The word of the day is seedy. We’ve had some shady characters work in and around the White House in our history. The Harding administration comes instantly to mind. Attorney General Harry Daugherty spent his tenure at DOJ shaking down suckers and funneling the money to his bag man, Jess Smith. The seedy Interior Secretary, Albert Fall, was involved in a sordid scheme involving oil leases at the place that gave the scandal its name, Tea Pot Dome, Wyoming. Daugherty, Smith, and Fall were choirboys compared to the thieves and blackguards surrounding the Current Occupant. This is much worse: Harding was a relatively honest dupe whereas Trump is so crooked that if he swallowed a nail he’d spit up a corkscrew. Uh oh, I sound like Gret Stet senator John Neely Kennedy…

Back to the pardon power. The constitution gives a president broad discretion in granting pardons. It’s unclear if Trump can pardon himself. Those are uncharted waters because we’ve never had a president as seedy and sleazy as Trump.  It *is* clear that he has the power to pre-emptively pardon his greasy relatives and criminal associates. The Nixon pardon serves as precedent but the scope of his crimes are beginning to pale before the unfolding Trump scandals.

I discarded my crystal ball last fall after Trump’s shocking electoral college win. I’m out of the prediction business but one thing I’m certain of is that this won’t end well for anyone involved including the citizenry. It’s what happens when a criminal is elected president*

And he’s still worse than Nixon.

Your President* Speaks: The Daily Constitutional Crisis

It’s no secret that Donald Trump thrives on conflict, chaos, and crisis. It’s also no secret that normal people find the constant chaos exhausting. I’m only marginally normal but find myself waking up and wondering what shit has hit the fan over night. Some days it’s a crazy tweet, other days it’s an interview. Whenever the Insult Comedian is interviewed by the NYT’s Maggie Haberman, the bats in his belfry come flying out.

Haberman wasn’t the only Timesperson involved in the interview but she’s the one with the knack of summoning the demons. Timing is, of course, everything. Even by the standards of the Trump presidency* it’s been a crazy few weeks: things are not going well in Trump World and when that happens, shit meet fan.

This time around there is *some* method in the president’s* madness. Events in the Trump-Russia scandal are moving at warp speed while the attempt to destroy the ACA is creeping along like a slug that’s been stepped on. The White House is issuing empty threats to Senators who are less and less afraid of the Orange Menace every day. It’s not unusual for a real president to want to change the subject but they rarely move on to an even more damaging topic. Ain’t nothing real about the pouty POTUS* on display today. Pouty POTUS*? I feel a new nickname coming on: POUTUS. I’m not sure if it requires an asterisk. The dumb fucker pouts constantly.

We begin with a comment inspired by his Parisian sojourn:

Well, Napoleon finished a little bit bad. But I asked that. So I asked the president, so what about Napoleon? He said: “No, no, no. What he did was incredible. He designed Paris.” [garbled] The street grid, the way they work, you know, the spokes. He did so many things even beyond. And his one problem is he didn’t go to Russia that night because he had extracurricular activities, and they froze to death. How many times has Russia been saved by the weather?

Uh, POUTUS, it was Louis Bonaparte aka Napoleon III whose government laid out the street grid of which you speak. One would think Trump would like him since he was elected and then became Emperor/Dictator. Of course, he finished “a little bit bad” too. I bet the Insult Comedian has never heard of Napoleon’s nephew Louis. It would involve reading a book.

Next up is a comment about his unsupervised visit with Putin:

We talked about Russian adoption. Yeah. I always found that interesting. Because, you know, he ended that years ago. And I actually talked about Russian adoption with him, which is interesting because it was a part of the conversation that Don [Jr., Mr. Trump’s son] had in that meeting. As I’ve said — most other people, you know, when they call up and say, “By the way, we have information on your opponent,” I think most politicians — I was just with a lot of people, they said [inaudible], “Who wouldn’t have taken a meeting like that?” They just said——

Adoption is Putinspeak for sanctions. They talked about something substantive with only Putin’s translator present. Btw, Karl Rove said he wouldn’t have taken that meeting. That’s right, Team Trump is worse than Karl Fucking Rove.

Constitutional crisis, come on down:

TRUMP: So Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself. I then have — which, frankly, I think is very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, “Thanks, Jeff, but I can’t, you know, I’m not going to take you.” It’s extremely unfair, and that’s a mild word, to the president. So he recuses himself. I then end up with a second man, who’s a deputy.

HABERMAN: Rosenstein.

TRUMP: Who is he? And Jeff hardly knew. He’s from Baltimore.

TRUMP: Yeah, what Jeff Sessions did was he recused himself right after, right after he became attorney general. And I said, “Why didn’t you tell me this before?” I would have — then I said, “Who’s your deputy?” So his deputy he hardly knew, and that’s Rosenstein, Rod Rosenstein, who is from Baltimore. There are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any. So, he’s from Baltimore.

There’s a lot to unpack here. First, Sessions screwed up and did the right thing by recusing himself. He was following DOJ rules. Imagine that. Second, Trump refers to himself in the third person as the president* The only recent Oval One I can recall doing that was Tricky Dick. You know, the only president to resign in disgrace.

The bit about Rosenstein is classic Trumpian projection. Trump is a New York Republican who lost his home state 59-37 and did even worse in NYC. One would have thought Rosenstein would be his political soul brother. I guess not.

Next up is the part of Your President* Speaks in which American history is misinterpreted.

And nothing was changed other than Richard Nixon came along. And when Nixon came along [inaudible] was pretty brutal, and out of courtesy, the F.B.I. started reporting to the Department of Justice. But there was nothing official, there was nothing from Congress. There was nothing — anything. But the F.B.I. person really reports directly to the president of the United States, which is interesting.

The FBI has always been part of the DOJ and its director has always reported to the Attorney General. The president has always had the appointment power. One reason Mark (Deep Throat) Felt insisted on anonymity is that he was bypassed by Nixon to replace Hoover and didn’t want to come off as a disgruntled office seeker.

It’s time for Trump to threaten the Special Counsel:

SCHMIDT: Last thing, if Mueller was looking at your finances and your family finances, unrelated to Russia — is that a red line?

HABERMAN: Would that be a breach of what his actual charge is?

TRUMP: I would say yeah. I would say yes. By the way, I would say, I don’t — I don’t — I mean, it’s possible there’s a condo or something, so, you know, I sell a lot of condo units, and somebody from Russia buys a condo, who knows? I don’t make money from Russia. In fact, I put out a letter saying that I don’t make — from one of the most highly respected law firms, accounting firms. I don’t have buildings in Russia. They said I own buildings in Russia. I don’t. They said I made money from Russia. I don’t. It’s not my thing. I don’t, I don’t do that.

He didn’t definitely say he’d fire Bobby Three Sticks but the implication is clear.  Trump wants Mueller to keep his hands off the Trump crime family. We’ve had some phony Saturday Night Massacres in the past 180 days. Firing Mueller would be the real deal.

In a normal administration, we would have awakened to the news that Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein had resigned. To say that this is not a normal administration is a grotesque understatement. Normal presidents care about the appearance of impropriety and would never meet with a Russian president without a sidekick of some kind. Even the Lone Ranger would have brought Tonto along, but not Johnny Depp’s Tonto with the dead bird on his head. Hmm, maybe Trump should try that. Imagine a dead bird atop the dead nutria he has atop his head. It would be a fashion sensation, y’all.

That concludes this epic edition of Your President* Speaks. I haven’t even included Trump’s recent tweet storms. Twitter is ephemeral. The New York Times is the newspaper of record. Maggie Haberman is the Trump whisperer. The poor dear.

The Finger Of Blame

I don’t know about you but I’m enjoying all the finger pointing over the failure to repeal the ACA. The Turtle is violating every principle of Congressional leadership and making his caucus vote on a bill that cannot pass. Wait a minute, it’s what they’ve been doing since 2009. Of course, they’re in the majority and control the executive branch now. The finger of blame points at them.

POTUS* is pouting and pretending he had nothing to do with it. He claims that he doesn’t “own” this failure. Guess what, Donald, you don’t get to choose what you own when you’re the Oval One. That’s up to the voters. Democrats took the fall for the economy in the 2010 mid-terms even if the finger of blame pointed at the Bush administration and Wall Street greedheads. You don’t get to choose.

It must be great to be Donald Trump. Imagine never having made a mistake in your life. #sarcasm. It’s always someone else’s fault. Now he wants to burn down the health care house because he’s mad. Arson seems to be big in 2017. In politics it usually involves self-immolation. It’s a fiery finger of blame and it’s pointed directly at the Republican party. They own this president*.

It’s time to revisit my Russell Long paraphrase from Monday evening. His mantra was about taxes but all one needs to do is substitute blame for tax and Bob’s your uncle. I still don’t know who Bob is; perhaps he’s a white rural Trump voter or one of their explainers.

Since it’s 2017, let’s meme the Long paraphrase:

The original picture was taken on the 50th Anniversary of Huey Long’s assassination. It’s why he’s peeking out from behind Russell Long. If the Kingfish were around today, he’d probably wonder which part of this story fits the 21st Century GOP:

“The Democratic Party and the Republican Party were just like the old patent medicine drummer that used to come around our country. He had two bottles of medicine. He’d play a banjo and he’d sell two bottles of medicine.

One of those bottles of medicine was called High Popalorum and another one of those bottles of medicine was called Low Popahirum.

Finally somebody around there said is there any difference in these bottles of medicines? ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘considerable. They’re both good but they’re different,’ he said.

‘That High Popalorum is made from the bark off the tree that we take from the top down. And that Low Popahirum is made from the bark that we take from the root up.’

And the only difference that I have found between the Democratic leadership and the Republican leadership was that one of ’em was skinning you from the ankle up and the other from the ear down — when I got to Congress.”

As a seasoned Long paraphraser, I’d substitute McConnell and Trump for the parties, but I’m uncertain which is High Popalorum and which is Low Popahirum. Btw, this was a question posed to me on twitter by my friend Sam Jasper. I wish I had a better answer. All I have for her is a shout-out.

Back to the blame game. It’s more fun than a barrel of monkeys and more disconcerting than a ferret down your trousers. As of this writing, Corey Lewandowski  is claiming that the president* is going to close a deal on Obamacare repeal today. I can count both votes and lies. The votes for ACA repeal are limited and lies from Team Trump are innumerable. You’d think that they’d screw up and tell the truth at some point.

The finger of blame is a venerable phrase but it was used memorably by Neil Finn in the Crowded House song, Fall At Your Feet. I guess you know who has the last word: