The closing peroration is just as relevant in 2021 as it was 54 years ago:
“Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?” Vanity asks the question, “Is it popular?” But conscience asks the question, “Is it right?” And there’re times when you must take a stand that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but you must do it because it is right.”
In 1967, those words applied to King’s decision to turn against the Vietnam War. It was a difficult decision because Lyndon Johnson had done so much for the cause of Civil Rights.
in 2021, those words apply to the upcoming second removal trial of Donald Trump in the Senate. I hope Senators will heed Dr. King’s words and put country above party.
I hate to blaspheme the memory of Doris Day, Rock Hudson, Tony Randall, and Thelma Ritter, but tough times call for action. The My Pillow Guy, whose name I refuse to type or even remember, has surfaced as a close adviser to President* Pennywise. That’s right, the mustachioed jerk who hawks his wares on cable teevee.
MyPillow CEO Michael Lindell brought notes with him to a meeting in the West Wing Friday that zoomed-in photographs appear to show contained the phrases “martial law,” “Insurrection Act” and “foreign interference in the election.”
The paper also included a line reading “move Kash Patel to CIA Acting,” a seeming suggestion for President Donald Trump to fire CIA Director Gina Haspel and move Patel, a Trump loyalist recently installed at the Pentagon amid a purge of senior civilian officials, to fill the role.
Martial law? I wonder if he’s talking about a fellow denizen of cable teevee, Marshall Matt Dillon of Gunsmoke fame.
I don’t know about the martial part, but he was the law in Dodge City for 20 seasons.
One tip for the Gunsmoke gang: keep the Impeached Insult Comedian away from Miss Kitty, he’s apt to grope her. That would make Festus ornery and we can’t have that.
The mere fact that the My Pillow Guy is suddenly a Trump crony is an example of how small President* Pennywise’s inner circle has become in the final days of his misadministration. Why he’s advising Trump about the CIA is beyond me. Of course, spooks have pillows too so…
I wonder if Trump thought of this 1945 movie before inciting the Twelfth Night Dipshit Uprising:
For all we know, a pillow of death was discussed when the My Pillow Guy was at the White House. Pillow talk matters.
Questions are all I’ve got right now. Answers are in short supply, but pillows are not. We have pillows up the wazoo whatever the hell that is.
Cassandra is back. This time we learn that she’s also a Watergate obsessive, which is always a good thing in my book or on our blog.
The featured image is Cassandra by Evelyn De Morgan. She was an English painter who was associated with the Pre-Raphaelite movement early in her career. That’s a fact, not a prophecy.
Take Me Home, Dunning-Kruger Effect by Cassandra
I have been interested in politics since I was 12 years old and fascinated with the Nixon administration. My fascination with Nixon and the Viet Nam war puzzled my parents because they did their best to limit my exposure (and that of my 2 sisters) to coverage of the war. Still, I managed to cobble together pieces of news and had an understanding that the US was losing and losing badly and that the troops needed to come home. I was a weird kid and I give my parents a lot of credit for letting me be me.
It should come as no surprise then to learn I was similarly obsessed with the Watergate scandal. I already had an affinity for law-based arguments, but the biggest single factor in my obsession was that the nuns in my tiny Catholic grammar school brought their portable TVs from their convent to our classrooms to watch the May 1973 Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. It was a revelatory moment: the convent was a source of never-ending curiosity and I had no idea nuns owned televisions. And the fact that schoolwork was set aside for watching television left an indelible mark on my love for politics.
Naturally, I studied political science (as a “government” major, which appealed to my humanities-based approach to life) with an emphasis on political philosophy in college, along with history. (I tell you this for a reason, and not for self-aggrandizement…at least for today.) I loved talking to people about ideas, thinking critically about the past and the present, and always challenging people on their views, pushing them to provide the factual basis for their assertions, and debunking all the lies and half-truths I came across. And when I got online, I sought out those online idea exchange spaces, whether they were about my favorite bands or about current events. This was the pre-social media age, where you participated mostly via email, and where people took the time to fully explain their views or to critique yours.
At the same time, I knew enough not to critique stuff I didn’t know anything about and if I were a novice to do my research so I could be sure I wasn’t writing nonsense. It seemed clear to me that if you wanted people to take you seriously, you should be a purveyor of factual information.
Obviously, I’m a dinosaur when I roam about social media. I see people post compete garbage, with their actual names attached to it (!!!), and I am astonished every time. The other day one of my friends tagged me to ask me a few specific questions about the second Trump impeachment. Before I could compose a sensible response, one of her friends popped in with nonsense about Dominion voting machines, Nancy Pelosi having a hissy fit, and a prediction he would not be impeached (mind you, this was after he had already been impeached(squared), so clearly, he was no Cassandra). I made my response, fact-based, with well-supported speculation as to what was going to happen next week, and he took that as his invitation to present more of his conspiracy nonsense. I pushed him to keep to facts, and he then told me that I was uninformed and should go read The Constitution.
It’s not enough to present facts to these folks—we have to convince them they don’t know as much as they think they do, to think critically, and to question everything (extra points for now seeing Spalding Gray drawing a box in the air). But I have no idea what to do. I see these folks everywhere, and I think their world is about to come crashing down around them, and I don’t know how to help them sift through the rubble.
But I know we have bigger fish to fry these next few days. Joy be to you all.
The cold weather is still with us in New Orleans. I’m getting more use than expected out of the light flannel shirts I bought on sale at the end of last winter. I call them my Fogerty shirts after a certain singer-songwriter you might have heard of.
The big local controversy involves the Houma based grocery chain Rouses. They came to New Orleans after Katrina. I’ve known for four years that former CEO Donny Rouse Senior is a Trumper. I processed the information back then and continued shopping there. Why? The employees at the nearby Tchoupitoulas store are so damn nice; many of them know Dr. A and me by sight and some by name.
It came out that Rouse Senior attended the Twelfth Night Trump rally. Despite claims to the contrary, there’s no evidence that he took part in storming the Capitol. A boycott movement has arisen, which I get. What I don’t get is how so many people didn’t already know about his politics. It was no secret.
I’m still where I was four years ago because 90-95% of Rouses employees in New Orleans are Black. They’re the ones who will suffer from a boycott, not the Rouse family who have stores in redder parts of the Gret Stet. Rouse Senior’s politics are terrible, but he’s retired. Additionally, the other major grocery chains are GOP donors. Boycotting Rouses to support Wal-Mart makes no sense whatsoever. I guess this means that I’m not woke. That’s okay because the idea of being woke puts me to sleep.
John Hiatt wrote this week’s theme song for his 1995 album Walk On. It’s one of the biggest-selling albums of his career.
You Must Go is the second track on the album. I’m using it to send a message to President* Pennywise: “there’s a place, you must go.”
Another reason I love You Must Go is that Jayhawks Mark Olson and Gary Louris sing back-up vocals. We’ll get to them later.
We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the Hiatt original and a recent cover by his daughter, Lilly.
I’m not quite ready to let go. What about you: Are you ready to go? Asia sure was:
One more go song, make that Go-Go’s:
My get up and go seems to have gotten up and went or some such shit. Maybe jumping to the break will revive me. Let’s go.
My late father was a conservative Republican. He was neither a crazy conservative nor “severely conservative” in Willard Mittbot Romney’s memorable formulation. He was a classic business conservative who hated red tape, supported a strong defense, disliked Communism, but also favored Social Security and Medicare. His father came to America alone at the age of 13. My namesake wanted to pull himself up by his bootstraps, so he joined what he thought of as the businessman’s party, the GOP.
Lou and I had many political arguments, but they were usually conducted with genuine civility (I’ll talk about phony civility later) and humor. In short, my father taught me how to argue. I remain grateful that he taught me how to disagree without being disagreeable.
I still lived at home for part of the Carter administration and his opening gambit for many political arguments was, “Your boy Carter did” XY or Z. After reminding him that Vice President Mondale was my boy, not his boss, we were off. In 1980, he supported Poppy Bush in the primaries, but wound up voting for Reagan twice saying that he’d “filed down the sharp edges” as president. I politely but firmly disagreed.
I put my father’s lessons to work many times over the years. I had a string of conservative friends with whom I loved to argue. As far as I was concerned, I usually won the arguments and I suspect they felt likewise. I learned a lot from the smarter ones. That’s right, there used to be many intelligent conservatives, which, even for me, is hard to believe after witnessing yesterday’s impeachment debate.
American politics has gotten ruder and cruder in the last 40 years but it’s not a new phenomenon. Regardless of Kevin McCarthy’s bizarre interpretation of the “civil” 1800 election, Adams skipped the inauguration and he and Jefferson hated one another for the next 20 years. We lived through the War of the Rebellion, McCarthyism, and the excesses of the war on terror. Critics called FDR a “traitor to his class” and implied that he was a Jewish communist. Of course, he was neither. He thought the whole Franklin D. Rosenfeld thing was hilarious.
The turning point in the modern civility wars was the election of Newt Gingrich to Congress. He was a bomb thrower who brought New Left tactics to the New Right. He was out of office by 2010 but the Tea Party wave election perfected the rise of the rude. Overt racism slowly but surely replaced the dog whistle culminating in the whole birther mishigas. Yesterday, Gym Jordan and his ilk accused Democrats of “hating President* Trump” but the cycle of hatred intensified with their racist attacks on President Obama.
I miss genuine civility but phony or forced civility is for the birds. 21st Century phony civility typically involves Republican demands that “the left” bow down and be nice to them. It’s never reciprocal. Genuine civility involves reciprocity: the relationships between John McCain and Joe Biden and John Kerry involved genuine civility, not the ersatz kind. Genuine political civility seems to have been interred with Senator McCain.
It’s time at long last to get to the post title. When I was growing up, we heard a lot about the Loyal Opposition. It was premised on the notion that the things Americans have in common are more important than our differences. It was a concept often honored in the breach, but it was important. It was like the way I discussed politics with my father, respectful disagreement without questioning the other side’s patriotism.
Respectful disagreement is out of fashion. It’s made impossible by the lunacy of the current Republican party and their dear leader, President* Pennywise. Yesterday, House Republicans gave lip service to the idea of unity without practicing it. Unity like genuine civility requires reciprocity. The extremism of Congressional Republicans makes that impossible.
As the Biden administration comes to power it’s clear that, to begin with, Republicans will be the Disloyal Opposition. It took a riot for many of them to admit that the Kaiser of Chaos lost the election.
The GOP not only nominated and elected a malignant narcissist, they’ve allowed right-wing extremists to infiltrate their party. The GOP is no longer a conservative party, it’s a far-right radical party. Genuine conservatives seem to be outnumbered by the wingnuts or they’re too afraid to stand up for their beliefs. That means their beliefs are meaningless. Genuine conservatives would have voted to impeach.
The Disloyal Opposition has been active since the election. There are now QAnon types in the House. They call themselves libertarians but they’re really anarchists. That’s why they refuse to go through metal detectors and insist on arming themselves. This sort of thinking led to the Dipshit Insurrection. Freedom, man.
There are credible charges from New Jersey Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill that some of her more extreme colleagues allowed insurrectionists to conduct what amounts to reconnaissance of the Capitol on January, 5. Group tours were once common, but they’ve been tightly restricted during the pandemic. The only way groups can tour the Capitol now is with the permission of a member and must be accompanied by a member or staffer.
I should have called her Lt. Commander/Representative Sherrill. She served in the Navy as a helicopter pilot. She’s a serious person who observed some serious shit. To prove her seriousness, she isn’t naming names publicly until she’s certain which members are complicit in the rioter’s reconnaissance of a building that’s a labyrinth. Even members sometimes get lost. The insurrectionists knew where they were going. That’s why I call House Republicans the Disloyal Opposition.
Several names have been floated but I’ll only mention one, Rep Paul Gosar of Arizona. That’s because his estranged siblings believe that he was involved in the planning of the Dipshit Insurrection.
The brother of Arizona Representative Paul Gosar (R) said he believes the congressman committed treason for his role in last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol. Five people were killed, including a U.S. Capitol police officer.
“What he’s done personally is commit treason I think,” David Gosar told ABC15. “He has blood on his hands for those people dying in there.”
David Gosar and other members of the Gosar family are lobbying members of Congress for an investigation. They’re demanding an investigation to find out what role Representative Gosar played in organizing and promoting the mob scene at the Capitol.
Ali “Alexander” Akbar, the man who says he is responsible for organizing the Stop the Steal Rally, claims Gosar and Arizona Congressman Andy Biggs (R) were among those who helped with the planning. Biggs denies involvement.
“With his participation in the rally ahead of time, the lies he spread down there about the election, his meeting with Trump, he’s as instrumental as a member of Congress with what happened at that capitol,” David Gosar said from Wyoming where he is a practicing attorney.
If that’s not disloyal, I don’t know what is.
I’m not talking about loyalty to party or president. I’m talking about loyalty to the constitution and to our democracy. The peaceful transfer of power has been pushed to the limit in the past, but it’s always happened. Thanks to the Impeached Insult Comedian and his followers that’s no longer true.
The transfer of power will happen but there remains a chance of violence. The good news is that the federal government is prepared to meet the challenge with overwhelming force. The bad news is that it’s necessary because of the Disloyal Opposition.
The last word goes to Kiwi rock music demigod Dave Dobbyn:
I swore not to use the Impeached squared nickname, but the Insult Comedian was my first nickname for Trump, so I wanted to use IIIC in the post title. Holy long sentence, Batman. For the rest of this post I will call him President* Pennywise per the featured image.
10 Republicans joined Democrats in voting to impeach. Thanks to all of them for finally standing up for the country and the constitution they swore an oath to uphold.
Time for some random and scattershot observations in lieu of coherent instant analysis. Listening to GOPers whining is hard, man.
Gym Jordan wore a mask and his suit jacket. I didn’t know he had any of either. He, of course, lied relentlessly and spoke out of both sides of his mouth. So much for being a conviction politician. The mask muffled his rants so he wasn’t as loud as usual.
House Republicans admitted that Biden won the election and will be inaugurated in one week. Thanks for nothing, dipshits.
House Republicans should be glad that the speech and debate clause protects them for being charged with perjury. There was a whole lotta lyin’ goin’ on.
It was sickening to be told by people who have never criticized Trump for his divisive rhetoric that it’s time to unite. In between inciting a riot, Louis Gohmert Plies had the nerve to issue such an appeal.
I have an appeal to make. I am admirer of Abraham Lincoln. He was the best writer to ever serve as president. But he’s not the only quotable president. GOPers should try Reagan or even TR, he wouldn’t recognize today’s GOP, but he was a Republican until he wasn’t. Democrats, quote JFK, FDR or HST. Both sides quote Lincoln obsessively. Enough, I beg you, enough.
I’m not a big fan of Steny Hoyer but his closing was pretty darn good, especially how he quoted Liz Cheney. Have you ever noticed that she looks like Dick with hair?
Speaking of other members of the House Republican leadership, both McCarthy and Scalise gave tepid speeches. Like the Turtle they’re keeping their options open.
McCarthy was one of the few GOPers to admit that Trump made major mistakes during the Twelfth Night White Riot. He’s willing to censure but not impeach President* Pennywise. Trump would wipe his ass with a censure letter.
I’m tired and hungry from watching the House all day so I’ll close here.
The day before the Dipshit Insurrection I wrote a post called The Strangest Bedfellow Of All. It was about the op-ed written by the ten living former secretaries of defense reaffirming the non-political nature of our military. The bedfellow in question was Dick Cheney who initiated the piece. It was the first time I’ve ever agreed with the former Veep. I never expected to praise him, but the world is almost as crazy as President* Pennywise.
Lightning has struck again. Yesterday, Rep. Liz Cheney, who is a member of the House Republican leadership as well as Dick Cheney’s kid, announced that she would vote to impeach the Impeached Insult Comedian. This is, of course, a big fucking deal and gives a green light to right-wingers that’s it okay to abandon ship. Trump has repeatedly betrayed them and the constitution. It’s time for them to return the favor.
Unlike the McConnell leak that he now looks favorably on impeachment for political reasons, Cheney is taking a stand on principle. As with her old man, I never expected to praise her but her statement makes a unequivocal case for why Trump must be impeached in the waning days of his misrule:
“On January 6, 2021 a violent mob attacked the United States Capitol to obstruct the process of our democracy and stop the counting of presidential electoral votes. This insurrection caused injury, death and destruction in the most sacred space in our Republic.
The NYT’s take on the Pence-Trump dust-up is different than that of the WaPo. They obviously had different sources. One thing they agree on is that Pence viewed his role in the administration* as calming down the Kaiser of Chaos and shielding staff from his wrath. Once again, Mike Pence is made of calmer stuff.
You’re probably wondering where the quote of the day is. Here we go:
Mr. Trump was enraged that Mr. Pence was refusing to try to overturn the election. In a series of meetings, the president had pressed relentlessly, alternately cajoling and browbeating him. Finally, just before Mr. Pence headed to the Capitol to oversee the electoral vote count last Wednesday, Mr. Trump called the vice president’s residence to push one last time.
“You can either go down in history as a patriot,” Mr. Trump told him, according to two people briefed on the conversation, “or you can go down in history as a pussy.”
This quote is an exhibit in my ongoing case that irony isn’t dead. It works both ways. After years of being a pussy, Mike Pence finally stood up to his boss and will go down in history as a patriot for a day.
Repeat after me: Mike Pence is made of calmer stuff. During the Twelfth Night White Riot aka the Dipshit Insurrection it paid off.
It’s been cold every day this year. Not Chicago cold, but New Orleans cold is damp and gets in your bones. It makes one feel creaky and cranky. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t need anything to make me feel crankier in the waning days of the Trump regime. We all just want him to exit the national scene before he wreaks more havoc. He plans to stick around but the events of the last week may make that harder than previously thought. Stay tuned.
I didn’t plan to make January John Hiatt-Edward Hopper month. It just happened that way. Once I used Stolen Moments for Album Cover Art Wednesday, the die was cast or did the cast die? I prefer the former.
John Hiatt wrote this week’s theme song for the aforementioned album in 1989. It’s a lovely mid-tempo ballad that I saw him open a show with in the late 1990’s. He sang it without accompaniment, then the band joined him for Drive South. Twas a great show.
We have multiple versions of Through Your Hands for your listening pleasure. We begin with the Hiatt original followed by covers from Joan Baez, David Crosby, and Don Henley.
Don Henley’s version was in the Nora Ephron-John Travolta movie Michael, which was about an angel come to earth. At least I think it was: I saw it in a movie theatre when it came out many years ago. I could Google it, but I’m on a roll so I won’t.
I miss attending the movies less than expected. I loved the outing and the big screen BUT I despise people who talk during the show. I’m a shusher from way back. The only one I have to shush now is Claire Trevor as she demands a handout. You’d think that the namesake of a movie star would have more respect. Cats: can’t live with them, can’t live without them.
Let’s strap on some angel wings and fly to the break. I’m tired of jumping.
And the winner is Blue Sky since Warnock and Ossoff won their races. The alternative was a song that, along with Louie Louie, I used to request at every rock concert I attended in my wayward youth: Whipping Post.
David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler must feel like they’re tied to the Whipping Post this morning. They should have won their races, especially Perdue who is well-known in the Peach State and has won elections before. Loeffler is an awful person who ran a terrible campaign. For some reason, Gov. Kemp thought she’d be a formidable candidate partially because she was a semi-moderate GOPer before selling her soul to Trump. She should demand a refund instead of a recount.
This tweet from the former Republican strategist who ran Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign nails Loeffler to the Whipping Post:
As someone who in past years has had to listen to major donor Kelly Loeffler going off on how the Republican party was way too conservative, it’s hard to express the depth of her nothingness. She makes Martha McSally look like Margaret Thatcher
Jon Ossoff had the tougher task this time around, but Reverend Doctor Senator Raphael Warnock has to run again in 2022. The good news is that Stacey Abrams is gearing up for a grudge rematch against Brian Kemp, which will boost Warnock’s chances. It was a bad year for Kemp: he tried his best to please the Impeached Insult Comedian but wound up on the latter’s shit list for refusing to risk going to jail for him. That makes him a slacker Trumper much like Vice President Pence or former AG Bill Barr.
Warnock ran ahead of his Democratic colleague all night for a variety of reasons: Loeffler’s attack on his church, wealthy black Republican ticket splitters, and the overall awfulness and fakery of the wealthiest woman in the US Senate. Make that wealthiest short-term senator. I wonder if she still plans to posture and pose at the fakakta election challenge mishigas event later today. Stay tuned.
As always, I watched the returns on MSNBC. In large part to watch the antics of Steve Kornacki who never sits down and seems to have the bladder of a camel. I’m glad they turned Kornacki’s producer Adam into a character last night, so it doesn’t look like Steve is a lunatic talking to himself.
This Kornacki-related tweet by TV writer and former New Orleanian Matt Brennan was one of the winners of the evening:
I admit to having a case of the heebie jeebies when Perdue led by over 100K votes. By the time I went to sleep it was clear that Ossoff would eke out a win. His current lead is bigger than Biden’s margin, which was good enough to win. I should have calmed myself by remembering the election nights in which New Orleans’ votes were out and Mary Landrieu narrowly trailed her Republican opponent before winning.
Since this post has degenerated into a tweet fest, here’s one for and from the history books:
Leo Frank, 31-year-old president of the Atlanta chapter of B’nai B’rith, was lynched in Marietta, Georgia, 105 years ago last summer, causing many fellow Jews to leave the state. This is one important backstory of Jon Ossoff’s campaign to become a U.S. Senator tonight. pic.twitter.com/pjO6YwCP8c
Jon Ossoff became the first Jewish senator from the Peach State and RDS Warnock became the first black Southern senator to enter the senate via election since Reconstruction. South Carolina’s Tim Scott was appointed before winning his seat; something Kelly Loeffler tried and failed to do. Heh, heh, heh. Democratic Senate, baby.
It was a long night and it’s going to be a long day of yelling at Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, and John Neely Kennedy as they suck up to the Sore Loser In Chief. Like yesterday, it will turn out to be a good day for democracy when this preposterous and futile challenge fails.
The last word is obvious. It goes to the Allman Brothers Band:
William Perry, of course, was Bill Clinton’s first term Pentagon honcho. The big news is that Dick Cheney initiated the op-ed, which is a clarion call against military involvement in politics.
That’s right, Dick Fucking Cheney.
The man who made himself Veep.
The man who enjoys being compared to Darth Vader.
The man who got us into the Iraq War.
The man who’s known for saying the craziest things in the flattest monotone.
The man who shot a friend in a hunting accident and tried to lie his way out of it.
To the best of my recollection, I’ve never agreed with Dick Cheney on anything before. He may be the hawk’s hawk, but he believes in the peaceful transfer of power. This is a weird moment, but it should be savored.
Dick Cheney: The Strangest Bedfellow Of All.
Now that I’ve kinda sorta praised Dick Cheney it’s time to bury him with a last word by James McMurtry:
I love black comedy and dark humor. A friend once told me that I could shift from comedy to tragedy faster than anyone she’d ever met. My passion for outré humor is one reason for my obsession with The Sopranos. There’s also something damn funny about New Jersey beyond the table flipping, cake throwing Real Housewives of New Jersey. Everything in Jersey is BIG: from the hair to the corruption to the people to Big Pussy.
You’re probably wondering what I’m on about. A common issue for my readers. Here’s what: the HBO Max documentary about the world’s craziest and most dangerous amusement park, Action Park in Vernon, New Jersey, which operated from 1978 to 1996. Class Action Park has been out 4 months, but we saw it for the first time on Friday night. Better late than never.
Action Park was the brainchild of a sleazy stockbroker, Gene Mulvihill. He’d lost his trading license and turned his attention to creating the world’s weirdest water park in the sylvan setting of rural New Jersey. That’s right rural Jersey: if you don’t know what I’m talking about you’ve never seen the Pine Barrens episode of The Sopranos. It’s unclear if that makes you a barbarian or more civilized than me. Just don’t ask David Chase what happened to the half-dead Russian guy Paulie and Chris dumped there.
Back to Action Park. Mulivihill’s brazen disregard for safety made it what it was. Most amusement park rides are designed by engineers, not at Action Park. Most amusement parks are run by adults, not Action Park: the teenagers were in command. That’s right, the inmates were running the asylum. Why the fuck not? It’s Jersey.
Class Action Park was written and co-directed by Seth Porges who’s also one of the talking heads. The documentary has three acts: the beginning of Action Park, the rides that became increasingly dangerous, and the human costs of this libertarian hellscape. The first two acts are played for laughs but they’re edgy dark laughs. Just how I like them.
My two favorite talking heads are comedian Chris Gethard and actress Alison Becker both of whom were guests. The remainder are mostly the folks who worked there as youngsters. A word I have never used before. I’m getting old, y’all.
Gethard is profane and hilarious, always an excellent combination. Here’s a quote about how hot the asphalt sidewalks were at Action Park: “If you didn’t bring your own flip flops or shower shoes, you were going to suffer from chopped meat feet.”
Ouch. That’s what they call ground meat in New York and Jersey. Dr. A lived on Long Island until she was 8 years old, but she still calls it chopped meat.
Here’s Alison Becker imitating the rowdy dudes who heckled timid guests, “You fucking pussy. This is Jersey. Do it or get out of Jersey.”
Action Park was no place for the faint-hearted. It was a genuinely dangerous place that narrator John Hodgman describes as a “cross between Ayn Rand and Lord of the Flies.” That hurts even more than chopped meat feet.
Mulvihill was an OTT character who was alternately charming and intimidating. If you sued the park, they never settled. A good thing because they had fake insurance. I am not making this up.
It’s unclear how “connected” Mulvihill was but there were a few wise guys in the woodpile. It reminded me of the Sopranos episode, Camelot, in which Tony meets his father’s mistress and learns that she was screwed out of her share of a dog track owned by Johnny Boy Soprano, Heshy, and Phil Leotardo. It wouldn’t surprise me if their real-life counterparts had a stake in Action Park.
In the final act of Class Action Park we meet Esther Larsson whose 19-year-old son George died on the infamous Alpine Slide ride. Ms. Larsson calls Gene Mulvihill “a piece of shit” and reminisces on how she toasted his death in 2012.
They don’t make them like Gene Mulivill or Action Park anymore. That’s a good thing. Despite the hilarity of the earlier acts, the movie closes on a somber note with the talking heads expressing amazement that they survived Action Park.
Class Action Park is streaming on HBO Max. I give it 3 1/2 stars and an Adrastos Grade of B+. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll crave chopped meat.
The last word * should* go to Bruce Springsteen or The Smithereens but I’ve had an era appropriate earworm since seeing the documentary:
A friend asked me the other day if I felt different now that I’m the publisher of First Draft. Not at all; other than nervousness at having to follow Athenae in the role. There are worse things than having a case of the jitters. I’ll take them over the heebie jeebies any day.
I considered asking Tommy and Michael to call me Chief so I could make like Perry White and do this:
I decided not to do that, but I may start saying “Great Caesar’s Ghost.” It has a nice retro ring to it. It reminds me of my salad days…
This week’s theme song was written in 1990 by John Hiatt for his Stolen Moments album. The main reason I selected it was this verse:
It’s a new light, a new day
Listening for new meaning learning how to say
It’s a new place but you’ve always been here
You’re just listening to old voices with a new ear
I thought that fit the moment as we break ground on a brand-new year.
The late folk singer Odetta also recorded Listening To Old Voices but I have been unable to find it online. The Hiatt original will just have to do.
Before we jump to the break, here’s the title track from that album:
If you have a stolen moment, let’s join hands and jump to the break together.
A major wave of corrupt pardons by the crooked president* came last night on Christmas Eve Eve. There may be more to come on Christmas Eve itself. In All About Eve, Margot Channing warned us that we were in for “a bumpy night.” Who am I to argue with a Bette Davis character? Remember when Bette served Joan Crawford a rat in Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? Those broads played rough…
It’s time for another Life Imitates The Sopranos moment. Santa Donald has spent the week bestowing gifts on the grifters who refused to rat him out. A reminder that playing St. Nick can be dangerous. The two Sopranos characters who played Santa at the Pork Store Christmas party were wacked: Big Pussy and Bobby Bacala. Not a happy precedent for Paulie and Roger.
I have New Jersey on my mind because of the pardon of Jared Kushner’s father, Charles. That sleazy real estate developer was successfully prosecuted by Chris Christie who used his fame as a portly prosecutor as a springboard to the Governorship. Slumlord Jared still nurses a grudge against former Gov. Asshole who must be fuming right now.
The Impeached Insult Comedian clearly thinks pardoning his Kremlingate cronies is a clever move. I wouldn’t be so sure of that, Donald.
Here’s what former Mueller man and Manafort prosecutor Andrew Weismann said about it on Twitter:
The fifth amendment issue is a non issue. Yes, those pardoned may still have a colorable fifth amendment claim but, even if they do, the government can immunize them and require them to testify in the grand jury. If they then lie they face criminal prosecution.
Who’s next? Steve Bannon knows where the early skeletons are buried. He’s one possibility as is Rudy and the odd Trump family member. A reminder that Trump will only pardon relatives if they have something on him. He won’t do it out of love or loyalty. He doesn’t know the meaning of either word. The only love he’s capable of is self-love
Speaking of Who’s Next, I think the Who album cover sums up the situation: Trump and his enablers are peeing on the national obelisk instead of leading. It’s not a good Bargain for the American people:
“Hand them a shit pie so gross they will choke on it.”
It’s what they given the country, after all. Turnabout strikes me as fair play.
Finally, a few thoughts for those folks who believe that a Trumpist coup is a possibility instead of a fever dream. A leader who is planning a golpe de estado to keep himself in office never leaves the capital. (When Gorbachev left Moscow in the summer of 1991, that’s when the Soviet dead enders struck.) Why did Trump go to Florida if he wants to declare martial law? There’s no plan. There’s never a plan with this guy.
One of the worst things about the Trump era is how conspiratorial thinking has spread across the political spectrum. I hope the trend dissipates after he’s gone, but some usually sensible people on the left have been spouting nonsense about pocket vetoes leading to what Latin Americans call an “auto-golpe.” That’s a coup intended to keep a leader in power. They know about coups in South America. Americans don’t know shit about coups, and it shows every time people mutter about them online and elsewhere. Leave the conspiracy theories to QAnon and Alex Jones, y’all. Please.
The last word goes to Southern Culture On The Skids with a countrypolitan classic whose full title is (I Beg Your Pardon) I Never Promised You A Rose Garden:
Rumor has it that shit pies make excellent fertilizer. I wouldn’t know first-hand: plants die if I so much as look at them.
The weather has been god awful in New Orleans most of the week. Cold, cloudy, and gloomy. It’s enough to make me mutter “Bah Humbug” under my breath as I write this. I also envy Claire Trevor her fur coat and ability to lie close to the space heater without catching on fire. One of our former cats, Window, singed her whiskers on an old-fashioned wall space heater in our old place on Pine Street. So it goes.
I’ve been listening to The Band a lot the last few weeks. Just call me a throwback music buff. Robbie Robertson wrote this week’s theme song for The Band’s 1975 album Northern Lights Southern Cross. The album remains overlooked and underrated; I’ve always liked it, especially this song. It’s a perfect album opener and a fine Odds & Sods theme song.
We have two versions of Forbidden Fruit for your listening pleasure: the studio original and the Band live in 1976.
Now that we’ve tasted the forbidden fruit and been banned from the garden of eden, we might as well jump to the break.
As a Watergate buff, I’m always pleased to have a pretext to go there. The Trump regime has given me plenty of opportunities. Bill Barr and John Mitchell will be linked in history as Attorneys General who disgraced the office. Mitchell, of course, went to the slammer for authorizing the Watergate break-in and lying about it to the Senate select committee on Watergate. Barr’s fate is as of yet unknown, but we can speculate. What’s a little speculation among friends?
The reputation of the Justice Department is the lowest it’s been since Mitchell and his successor, Richard Kleindienst, were convicted of felonies. They were also newsmagazine cover boys when that mattered:
Barr has acted as if he were Trump’s personal lawyer, not the people’s lawyer, which is what the job really entails. Repeat after me: the Attorney General is NOT “the nation’s top law enforcement official.” That’s one of my pet peeves or hobby horses so I like to mount it whenever feasible.
Barr clashed with Trump recently over the fakakta election fraud claims and a DOJ investigation into Hunter Biden. Trump wanted Barr’s abject loyalty on the former and thought the latter should have been made public. It was one of the few things during Barr’s tenure on which he followed departmental policy. But he deserves no credit for doing so and he’ll get none here.
I’m gobsmacked that anyone thinks that Barr wrote his exit letter. It was obviously dictated by the Impeached Insult Comedian much like the doctor’s letter that claimed he was in the best health of anyone on the planet.
I am greatly honored that you called on me to serve your administration and the American people once again as Attorney General. I am proud to have played a role in the many successes and unprecedented achievements you have delivered for the American people. Your 2016 victory speech in which you reached out to your opponents and called for working together for the benefit of the American people was immediately met by a partisan onslaught against you in which no tactic, no matter how abusive and deceitful, was out of bounds. The nadir of this campaign was the effort to cripple, if not oust, your administration with frenzied and baseless accusations of collusion with Russia.
He may be Trump’s bull goose sycophant, but florid language is not Barr’s thing. He writes in bone-dry legal prose. Only Donald Trump can adequately flatter Donald Trump. Barr may, however, have thrown in some of the fancier words like nadir. The only nadir Trump has heard of is Ralph…
You may have noticed that I called this ode to obsequiousness an exit or farewell letter. Nowhere in the letter are the words resign or fired used. I think he was pushed out by a president* eager to torment a new acting AG. Remember President* Pennywise’s last acting AG:
The post title hints at the notion that Barr could face criminal charges for some of his Trumpier actions. It’s unclear if that will happen but at least one former federal prosecutor thinks Barr leaves office with a pardon in his hip pocket:
Bill Barr “resigned.” Well, if that’s true (and with Barr, one never knows), then that suggests Barr already has that pocket presidential pardon he’ll be needing once the indictments start flying . . .
Barr’s successor is Deputy AG Jeffrey Rosen who is best described as Barr’s Barr. The Failing New York Times has a profile of the acting AG which indicates that he was down for all the DOJ horrors that occurred during Barr’s reign of error.
The other day I wrote about my distaste for the law of sedition. It has traditionally been used by right-wingers to suppress left-wing political speech. If Bill Barr and Jeffrey Rosen had their way, it would have been used against Black Lives Matter protestors:
And in September, Mr. Rosen threw his support behind Mr. Barr’s threat to charge perpetrators of violence amid Black Lives Matter demonstrations with sedition, a word that connotes plots to overthrow the government. In a memo to prosecutors, he rejected criticism of that threat as an overreach, noting that the law also covers seizing federal property or hindering the execution of federal laws outside the context of attempted revolutions.
“Those who have actually read the statute recognize that the text” of the sedition law, Mr. Rosen wrote, “could potentially apply to some of the violent acts that have occurred.”
Rosen also spearheaded the failed attempt to indict Andrew McCabe for conduct that was customarily handled administratively. How was that for a lawyerly sentence? It was almost as bone dry as your typical Bill Barr sentence. If I were a Catholic, I’d say five Hail Marys in penance for that prose but it didn’t help Fredo survive his brother’s wrath in Godfather II so I’ll skip it.
Rosen has shown the same tendency as Barr to implement President* Pennywise’s worst ideas. He’s unlikely to resist unless threatened with disbarment, which is a fate that a big law firm mouthpiece is apt to regard as akin to death. Billable hours are everything to the Jeffrey Rosens of the world.
Here’s hoping that the DOJ bureaucracy will run out the clock on any really bad ideas proposed by Trump to Rosen. Civil servants are revolting against the Trump regime now that it’s doomed. DOJ is full of smart lawyers. They’ll figure something out; at least I hope so.
Times are bleak but here’s a reminder that help is on the way:
I dislike criticizing people with whom I usually agree. I prefer to aim my fire at the other side, especially since it’s currently overpopulated by sycophantic Trumpers. In this instance, it’s the rhetorical overreaction to the futile Texas Twisted election case that leads me to criticize some of my fellow liberals. I suspect my views will be unpopular with many. So be it.
I’m on the record as believing that COUP is the wrong word to describe Trump’s doomed attempt to steal the election. It’s a con, not a coup. It’s one of Team Trump’s most successful fundraising gambits ever. It’s also a vivid illustration of why wingnuts like to “own the libs.” It’s so damn easy. One of the few things they’re good at is trolling. My ironclad first rule of internet interaction is DO NOT FEED THE TROLL.
A new word is in use by those devoted to rhetorical overkill in the post-election period: SEDITION. The Attorney General of Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro, described the Texas Twisted suit as such in his brief to SCOTUS. Others have applied the word to the 126 GOP Congresscritters who supported this idiotic and baseless election challenge. I disagree, it’s sycophancy, not sedition.
My objection to the loaded word sedition is based on our historical experience. Its first major use occurred during the partisan slagging match between Federalists and Jeffersonian Republicans over the French Revolution. The former supported it and the latter sided with the British in their opposition. This split resulted in the justly infamous Alien and Sedition Acts, which were a massive First Amendment violation. To his credit, President Adams had qualms about the Acts, but still signed them into law. That led to the second president becoming the first to lose re-election.
We’ll skip the War of the Rebellion as the secessionist South was clearly seditious and move on to some 20th Century examples. The word sedition was slathered over every form of “disloyalty” during the post-Great War Red Scare as well as during the McCarthy period. It popped up occasionally during the anti-Vietnam War protests and was uttered on several occasions by Dick Cheney during the Iraq War.
In our national experience, the word sedition has been applied to suppress unpopular, usually left-wing speech. I am not eager to see it used by the left in overreaction to Trump’s post-election con. Do anti-Trumpers really want to keep company with A. Mitchell Palmer and Tailgunner Joe McCarthy? I certainly do not.
The 126 House GOPers who supported the fakakta Texas Twisted suit were motivated by sycophancy, not sedition. It’s the fear of a primary challenge or the desire to curry favor with President* Pennywise that led them to sign on to Gret Stet Congressman Mike Johnson’s stupid petition. I refuse to dignify it by calling it a filing.
There are many who want to punish the House 126 in some way. They will clearly not be prosecuted since it involves speech, not overt actions. Some want Speaker Pelosi to refuse to seat the 126 using the 14th Amendment as a rationale. In theory, that’s possible but it would be unwise in the extreme. Nancy Smash is too smart to go there. The result of such a refusal would be the disenfranchisement of approximately 94 million Americans. (The current ratio of voters per district is 747,000.)
Refusing to seat the 126 would open a second front in this ridiculous cold war between Democrats and Republicans. It would cede the high ground to the latter as they could scream about their constituents being disenfranchised. This notion is first cousin to the “led the red states secede” group. For obvious reasons, I disagree with this damn fool notion as it would banish millions of people of color and me from the Union. What happened in first in Virginia then Georgia proves that red states can evolve, especially those with large black populations.
For those desperate for the House to punish the 126, a less incendiary idea is to censure the ringleader, Congressman Mike Johnson. His actions take the Gret out of the Gret Stet of Louisiana and he’s not even the worst member of our delegation. This is also unlikely to happen, but it wouldn’t have the effect of needlessly turning the 2020 election into another 1876. There’s a clear victor in this election as will be ratified by the electors today.
There’s a public health crisis in this country and Congress needs to take a page out of Bill Clinton’s impeachment playbook. Every time he was asked about impeachment, he’d say something to the effect of “I’m not focused on that. I’m doing the work I was elected to do by the American people.” For the first time, there’s some hope on the COVID front. Vaccine distribution and relief for the American people is what Congress should focus on, not 126 sycophantic House GOPers.
If I wanted to be a member of a party of dick wavers and screamers, I’d be a Republican. I prefer to follow the lead of the incoming Democratic president Joe Biden and be prepared to fight off substantive challenges and shrug off the rest. It’s time for the MSM and the public to expel Donald Trump from their heads. He’s the past. He’s just a troll demanding to be fed. Stop giving him the attention he desperately needs.
The latest turn in the insane legal challenge to the First Sore Loser’s election defeat got me thinking of one of my favorite professors at Tulane Law School. His name was Luther Love McDougal III and I took two classes from him: International Law and Conflicts of Law.
I did not expect to find Conflicts fascinating but I did because he was such an excellent teacher. Conflicts of Law is all about jurisdictional tangles and Professor McDougal took a puckish pleasure in explaining how to untangle them. He lived in the French Quarter and I ran into him from time-to-time after my parole from law school. He didn’t remember my name when first we met post-law school, but he recalled that I was one of his students and that I had exceptionally bad handwriting. I still have bad dreams involving blue books and blue ink.
Conflicts was one of the few law school classes in which I voluntarily participated because Professor MacDougal’s version of the Socratic Method was not a form of intellectual torture. I learned a lot from him and, more importantly, I retained a lot of information that would have otherwise gone in one ear and out the other after the final exam. That’s the sign of a great teacher.
Professor McDougal suffered a heart attack when I was taking his International Law course. I remember the day the Dean informed us that our prof was on the disabled list and that we’d all be given passing marks in lieu of a letter grade. In typical law student fashion there was outrage about this turn of events. I rose to my feet and said something to the effect of: “What the hell is wrong with you people? Professor McDougal is a good man. He treats us well and deserves the same treatment in return.” My classmates were mostly unmoved, but I felt better. One cannot shame the shameless, after all.
Professor McDougal died in 2004; like all great teachers he made an impact on his students. It’s time to finally explain why I have the wonderfully named Luther Love McDougal on my mind.
The Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is a major buttinski. He’s asked the Supremes to okay a lawsuit that seeks to overturn the election results in Georgia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. It’s a conflicts of law issue. That’s why I thought of Luther Love McDougal: he taught me that the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction in cases between the states.
Everything is bigger in Texas, including the lengths its top attorney will go to to do the anti-democratic bidding of President Trump.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a request with the U.S. Supreme Court that it review a lawsuit challenging the election results in Georgia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
Texas is suing those states on the extremely dubious theory that they somehow violated the U.S. Constitution’s Elections Clause in how they handled their elections. It floated allegations — some of them straight-up conspiracy theories — pertaining to the states’ changing their election practices in ways not explicitly authorized by the states’ legislatures.
Texas is asking the justices to block the use of the current results in those states — which Joe Biden won — and to give the legislatures, all Republican-controlled, the opportunity to appoint their own electors to the Electoral College instead.
The U.S. Supreme Court has the power to adjudicate lawsuits between states. But Texas will first need the court’s permission to even formally file the lawsuit, where it is also seeking expedited review.
They pander bigger in Texas as well. This hits President* Pennywise’s sweet spot: his fantasy that the Supremes spearheaded by his nominees will hand him the election. If he thinks 2020 is like 2000, he’s dead wrong. Bush v. Gore was wrongly decided but there was *some* evidence in support of the GOP’s claims. There is *no* evidence in support of Trump’s claims. Paxton’s move is likely to be rejected by SCOTUS in the same peremptory manner that they dismissed a ludicrous attempt by Pennsylvania GOPers to disrupt election results in that state.
The real reason for Ken Paxton’s preposterous attempt to tell other states how to run their elections is spelled: P-A-R-D-O-N. He’s been fighting off Federal charges for years and reckoned that if he stuck his head far enough up Trump’s ass, he might get one of the pardons that the Kaiser of Chaos is considering handing out like stocking stuffers. Hence the new rubric, The Pardon Chronicles, which will only be in use until January 20, 2021.
If Donald Trump knew any history at all, he’d understand that appointing someone to the Supreme Court does not mean that they will back your every move. The unanimous majority in the Nixon-Watergate tapes case included three Nixon appointees: Warren Burger, Harry Blackmun, and Lewis Powell. Tricky was said to be livid that his other appointee, Justice Rehnquist, recused himself from the case.
Ken Paxton may have maneuvered himself into a pardon, but I think it’s time for sanctions against Trumper lawyers for abusing the legal process with specious claims. Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure sanctions misbehavior in Federal court. It should be invoked by a judge in one of these cases. The legal process has been abused; it’s time for the abusers to be abused in return.
That concludes this essay about Luther Love McDougal, conflicts of law, and Ken Paxton’s unpardonable brown nosery that may well be rewarded with a pardon. The election is over. Deal with it.
The post title is a pun on a Little Feat song beloved by Tommy T and me. That’s why they get the last word with this real Texas Twister:
I used the 1967 class picture of the Warren Court not out of nostalgia for an all-male SCOTUS but out of respect for the legacy they left behind. It’s still there some 53 years later but it’s been eroded by subsequent courts. The current court seems poised to take an ax to what’s left.
Laurence Tribe is on record that Bill Brennan (first row on the right) was the greatest judge of the 20th Century. I concur. That concludes this brief historical preamble.
Professor Tribe appeared on The Last Word with Laurence O’Donnell last Thursday. The topic was a president’s ability to pardon themselves. Since I couldn’t find any transcripts on the MSNBC web site, here’s an extensive quote from Raw Story:
Prof. Tribe noted that Article 3, Section 2 of the Constitution says the president “shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.” But Tribe noted the very next section says the president “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”
“It doesn’t say “except the criminal laws.” It doesn’t say ‘except when he chooses to violate the criminal laws.’ Now, if it were true, as Donald Trump said in the little segment you played, that the president has the absolute power to grant himself a power of pardon, to grant himself a pardon — which would be an odd way for the framers to have put it, you grant things to other people — if he had the absolute power to grant himself a pardon, if he knew that throughout his presidency, and if all presidents knew it, what would follow is that presidents do not have to follow the law,” Tribe explained. “They can’t be, according to the Justice Department, indicted while they’re in office, and if at any time they could pardon themselves…if that were the case then the president would not be below the law, he’d be above it.”
“There would be no limit. Every president would know from the very moment — puts his hand on that Bible and takes the oath — that whatever he does, or she does, during the four-year term of that presidency, could not be criminally prosecuted, either during the presidency or ever in the future because the pardon would cover everything that president had done,” Tribe explained.
The founders had just revolted against a high-handed and bat shit crazy King over his abuses of power. There’s no way they would have given the executive unlimited pardon power. If cooler heads such as Edmund Burke had prevailed at the time, we might be members of the Commonwealth with our own National Health Service like Canada.
Additionally, the deservedly maligned Justice Department memo that states that a president can’t be indicted while in office also maintains that they cannot pardon themselves. The Impeached Insult Comedian has relied on the “no indictment” language and is trying to have it both ways by ignoring the bar on self-pardons. If he tries it, I think it will extend his legal losing streak, especially if he has his current legal team handle it.
I usually don’t like calling prominent people by their first and/or nicknames. It makes them sound as if they’re imaginary friends or some such shit. I make an exception with Laurence Tribe because of a story I told about one of my law professors:
One of the names Con Law dropped was Laurence Tribe. He never called him by either his full name or title and surname, he was always Larry Tribe. Con Law turned both names into a multi-syllabic pronunciation extravaganza. There would come a point in most classes that I’d nudge a friend and whisper, “here IT comes.” The IT in question was a Larry Tribe name drop; usually about how they’d discussed an issue and agreed on it. It was Con Law and Larry Tribe against the world, y’all.
Con Law’s relentless braggadocio was the reason I used the voice of the pathological liar character in my impression. Not because Con Law was lying but because of his OTT boasting. It was actually charming in a cocky short man kind of way. Con Law may have been short but he ran with the big boys including Larry Tribe.
To this day when I see Professor Tribe on teevee or read his tweets, I think of Con Law and hear his voice in my head saying Larrrr-eeee Tryyyyyy-buh. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
Read the whole post. It’s one of my personal favorites.
The last word goes to Lawrence and Laurence on The Last Word on December 2:
Today is our last day under quarantine. I’m relieved that neither of us were ever symptomatic. We were damn lucky.
This week’s theme song was written by the great Motown songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland in 1964. It was originally intended for the Supremes but wound up being recorded by Marvin Gaye. Its real title is Baby Don’t You Do It but I prefer The Band’s re-titling, Don’t Do It. Either way it’s a great song that’s been recorded oodles of times or is that scads? Beats the hell outta me.
We have five versions of Don’t Do It aka Baby Don’t You Do It for your listening pleasure.
The IT in question is “don’t you break my heart.” Here’s a Stones song that says doo doo doo doo instead of don’t:
Now that we’re all heartbroken and shit, let’s jump to the break.