Category Archives: Fog Of History

Words Matter

The word treason is being thrown around rather freely of late. It is a very specific crime. In fact, it is the only crime that is defined in the Constitution:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

An additional definition is offered in the constitutional dictionary:

treason n the offense of attempting to overthrow the government of one’s country or of assisting its enemies in war.

At the risk of sounding pedantic, Team Trump has skirted around the edges of treasonous behavior but has not committed the offense itself. We’re not at war with Russia and while conspiring with them to alter election results is an extremely serious crime, it’s not treason. There are other laws on the books and they’ve broken many of them. For one thing, the entire administration is a rolling (reeling?) RICO violation. And RICO is some serious shit.

Why does this matter? Words matter, that’s why. Words are the weapon of choice in a democracy. In fighting a corrupt, mendacious, and authoritarian government, it’s tempting to fight fire with fire. But the reality of what the Trumpers have done is so bad (to use the Insult Comedian’s favorite word) that hyperbole is unnecessary. Words matter.

I firmly believe that you fight lies with the truth, not exaggeration or hyperbole.  The facts are damning enough, gilding the Trumper lily to heighten drama is tempting but gets in the way of exposing their manifest and manifold malefactions. The truth is dramatic enough and will send many of this president’s* men to prison. Truth trumped (pun intended, it always is) Nixon’s lies and it will eventually take Trump down. Words matter.

The most important word in the political lexicon right now is ELECTIONS. One thing that politicians understand is the power of the ballot box. It’s why GOPers have worked so hard to make it difficult to vote. They only want the *right* people to vote. That’s why the resistance’s focus should be on registering voters and getting them to the polls. That’s how you send politicians a message, by voting them out.

Words matter. Use them wisely and well.

I’m old enough to remember when conservative Republicans stood with Eastern European dissidents against totalitarian communism. Now they stand with a former KGB agent whose goal in life is to avenge the “humiliation” of the Soviet Union. That’s why the last word goes to the late Vaclav Havel who knew something about defeating the big lie with truth.

 

Everybody Loves A Parade

Carnival swings into high gear this evening. We live inside the parade box, which is even more intense at the beginning of the route where Adrastos World HQ is located. A highlight of every parade are the military marching bands, especially the Marines in their gorgeous dress blues.

Everybody loves a parade including the Current Occupant:

President Trump’s vision of soldiers marching and tanks rolling down the boulevards of Washington is moving closer to reality in the Pentagon and White House, where officials say they have begun to plan a grand military parade later this year showcasing the might of America’s armed forces.

Trump has long mused publicly and privately about wanting such a parade, but a Jan. 18 meeting between Trump and top generals in the Pentagon’s tank — a room reserved for top-secret discussions — marked a tipping point, according to two officials briefed on the planning.

Surrounded by the military’s highest-ranking officials, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., Trump’s seemingly abstract desire for a parade was suddenly heard as a presidential directive, the officials said.

“The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France,” said a military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the planning discussions are supposed to remain confidential. “This is being worked at the highest levels of the military.”

Everybody loves a parade including Third World tyrants and the Banana Republican who resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue at the moment. I wonder if the Kaiser of Chaos plans to repair the streets that are damaged. Not that he’s thought that far ahead: he’s a tween who wants what Macron has. But that sort of parade *is* a tradition in France, not in America. It’s not a parade to celebrate the military but to celebrate Trump’s ego and prove that his dick is bigger than the handsome young French president’s.

In many parts of the world, tanks in the streets means that there’s a coup d’etat in progress. I heard stories of Athens, Greece in 1967 from my de facto Uncle Lou who was stationed there with NCIS when the colonels overthrew the duly elected government. (A quick personal story. Lou is the reason I cannot watch NCIS: New Orleans despite being a Scott Bakula fan. In his many years of service, he never drew his weapon. He would have considered it a failure to do so. Real NCIS agents are investigators, not action heroes.)

The building on the right is parliament at Syntagma Square. That’s constitution square for anyone keeping score. The score that day was colonels ten, democracy zero.

The Greeks have learned their lesson about tanks in the street. It’s what happens when democracy fails and authoritarianism prevails. Is that what we want to see in our nation’s capital? A parade staged to gratify a vainglorious despot wannabe? No fucking way.

Trump recently called Democrats “un-American” for not applauding him during his desultory state of the union speech. What’s un-American is staging a military parade when we’re not celebrating the end of a war. It’s an act of egomania conceived by an insecure man who is called Cadet Bone Spurs by a real war hero, Senator Tammy Duckworth. Believe me.

America should be secure in the knowledge that our military is second to none. We don’t need tanks in the streets to gratify an Insult Comedian with a dead nutria atop his head.

Everybody loves a parade.

Exhuming McCarthy

Trump with arch-McCarthyite Roy Cohn.

I spent the weekend in the Carnival bubble, which is a good place. I stayed there even when two of the leading resistance activists in my area came over for a parade party yesterday. We didn’t feel like dissecting the Nunes memo and what, if any, significance it might have.

The memo itself is a damp squib: Nunes has admitted that he hasn’t read any of the underlying material. He’s emulating his dear leader who was left alone with a 3 1/2 page memo for several hours. Trump claims to have read it but I think he watched teevee instead. The Nunes memo does, however, aid and abet the possibility of what many have called a slow motion Saturday Night Massacre.

It’s not an original insight to apply the label neo-McCarthyism to Nunes and his doings, especially now that he plans to give Foggy Bottom a spanking next. The State Department was Tailgunner Joe’s main target, after all.

One hears the word unprecedented a lot in the age of Trump. Sometimes it’s used correctly. But it is not unprecedented for Republican politicians to attack arms of government to suit their own political aims. It’s what Joe McCarthy did and it’s what Devin Nunes and Donald Trump are doing right now.

Once again Trump proves that he’s worse than Nixon. Tricky’s assault on the FBI and CIA was mostly subterranean whereas Trump’s is out in the open and on the tweeter tube. Trump’s is more egregious: he is willing to take down the FBI to save his own ass. It surprises but does not shock me that GOPers do not understand that if one is not-guilty one does not need to obstruct justice by finagling to shut an investigation down. One is not the loneliest number in this post.

Will it work? I’m not sure. Slate legal eagle Dahlia Lithiwck thinks it might. If nothing else, the Nunes memo has sown the seeds of chaos, confusion, and discord that Team Trump thrives on. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos. His operating principle is that if you throw enough shit against the wall some of it will stick.

The post title is taken from an REM song from their great 1987 album, Document. Exhuming McCarthy was written in response to the Iran-Contra scandal and the rise of the likes of Newt Gingrich who specialized in McCarthyite attacks on their opponents. The lyrics are just as relevant to the current situation and the Current Occupant who lie as easily as the worst of the Reaganites. The good news is that they’re not as good at it as St. Ronnie and his cohort. Reagan had an aura of niceness that mitigated his lies in the eyes of many. Trump is a prick who is only believed by hardcore cultists. The Reaganites attack on the truth worked: it remains to be seen if the Trumpers efforts will work. One thing I’m sure of: Reagan would be appalled by Trump’s fealty to the neo-Soviet government of Vladimir Putin. Even the Reaganites had their limits.

A reminder: Donald Trump considers Joe McCarthy’s henchman Roy Cohn a mentor as you can see in the featured image at the top of the post. As I wrote during the campaign, oy such a mentor.

The last word goes to-who else?-REM as it did in the Trump-Cohn post.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Night and Day

The Night Cafe by Vincent Van Gogh.

Carnival kicks into full swing this weekend. We’re about to have parades and company up the wazoo. I remain uncertain as to what the wazoo is but I think it’s first cousin to the ying-yang or the place where the moon don’t shine.

One downside of Carnival are the creeps who try to appropriate the public green as their own private space. We call them the Krewe of Chad or Chads for short. For the first time in years, the city decided to enforce the existing ordinances against ladders, couches and such being left on the sidewalks and neutral grounds. The Chads were outraged. They’re always either outraged or entitled hence the 2016 Krewe of Spank theme, Clash of the Entitled.

You may recall the mishigas over the Forever Lee Circle beads.  In a fit of hashtag activism, someone decided to do something about it:

Since we have both night and day parades, I picked a classic for this week’s theme song, Night and Day. It doesn’t get more classic than Cole Porter, y’all. We have two versions for your listening pleasure, Ella Fitzgerald  followed by a swell 1995 version by the Temptations.

Now that we’ve heard the boom, boom of the tom-toms, let’s jump to the break. See you on the other side.

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Lost Cause Festers Do Mardi Gras

Photograph via SPLC.

In the past, Carnival has united New Orleans. The first season after Katrina and the Federal Flood was both memorable and moving. Some outsiders criticized us for throwing a massive street party after a disaster but it’s what we do in the Crescent City. In 2018, divisiveness is in the air, driven by our old “pals” the Lost Causers.

A guy named Charles Marsala and his group Save NOLA Heritage (not to be confused with the tasty veal dish) are selling the “Forever Lee Circle” beads you see at the top of the post. They’ve set up a Facebook page to help hawk their divisive wares and mock their critics. Hawk-n-mock sounds vaguely Trumpian.  Since the only thing the Insult Comedian and I have in common is a fondness for nicknaming people, this Lost Causer will hereinafter be called Spoiled Veal Marsala.

Marsala spoke to WWL-TV the other day:

Marsala is a part of Save Nola Heritage, a group that wants to educate and demand more transparency from the city about what it does with public art, such as monuments.

“We spent the money from the bead sales, we put banners on the monument itself. Robert E. Lee’s birthday was about two weeks ago,” he said.

Marsala said the beads are not meant to be racist in any way. He wants them to serve as a reminder that Lee Circle still needs attention.

Spoiled Veal Marsala’s group is NOT about transparency. It’s about nostalgia for the Confederacy, Jim Crow, slavery, and white supremacy. Instead of banners, they should adorn the empty pedestals with nooses to “honor” the lynchings that used to be depressingly common in the Deep South.

Carnival throws in New Orleans have been traditionally non-commercial and relatively apolitical. Some parading krewes have already asked their members not to throw any of the Lee Circle Forever beads. I suspect they’ll turn up when some of the more retrograde krewes roll: I omit the names to protect the guilty.

Another weird feature of the Forever Lee Circle Facebook page is a cartoon of the three deposed statue dudes, Davis, Beauregard, and Lee, riding a float. They’re throwing books labelled history. I though the Lost Causers were about saving their view of history, not throwing it away.

It’s a pity that they don’t depict Jeff Davis in drag.

It’s no coincidence that Southern Lost Cause Festers have risen again with a white nationalist talking terlet in the White House. The Trumpers have signaled that bigotry, intolerance, and hatred are back in fashion. There are “good people on both sides,” according to the president*. Wrong again, Donny, baby. There’s the right side and the all-white side.

I said this about our Spank-a-Mole box earlier today:

Spank-a-Mole is a game of endurance wherein you beat the mole into submission. That’s what the anti-Trump resistance has to do: keep spanking the ugly orange mole.

That goes double for such enduring pests as racism, xenophobia, sexism, and religious bigotry. They have to beaten into submission. Every time we think we have the hate moles on the run, they pop up again. People of good will hoped that the election of our first black president would be the death knell of overt racism in the country. Our optimism was premature: haters keep popping up.

I’ve been pleased by the overwhelmingly negative reaction to the beads as well as to a fundraiser held at the Mid City Lane Rock ‘n’ Bowl to raise money for local Lost Cause Festers. I hope touring acts will avoid playing that venue as its owner is an ardent Trumper and supporter of Save NOLA Heritage. Just say no to bigots.

The last word goes to John Boutte with his interpretation of Neil Young’s Southern Man:

 

Bedlam

Bedlam was originally the nickname for an early psychiatric hospital in London. The word has subsequently become synonymous with madness, chaos, and disorder as well as this swell 1946 movie:

In the Trump era, our nation’s capital has become the world’s largest loony bin even if the president* passed a cognitive test administered by his doctor. He may not have early signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s, but he’s a fucking moron with a short attention span and impulse control issues. Boris Karloff might have said that he’s nuttier than a fruitcake. I concur: he’s every bit as nasty as one too; his “incredible genes” notwithstanding.

The Kaiser of Chaos has no idea what his policies are or how to argue for them. Congressional Republicans want to use CHIP as a weapon against Democrats to blame them for a shutdown.  Such subtleties are lost on the Insult Comedian who blew up this strategy on the Tweeter Tube:

He’s already tweeted against bills that his administration proposed and is likely to continue doing so. His position on DACA shifts hourly depending who he last spoke to. The result is chaos, confusion, and bedlam.

Trump has convinced himself that a 2018 government shutdown will be a “good shutdown.” There ain’t no such thing. The notion that voters will blame the party that controls none of the political branches of government fails the smell test. It’s the Insult Comedian pandering to a diminished base who are the only ones who still believe anything he says. The result is chaos, confusion, and bedlam.

Well-meaning personally decent Republicans like Jeff Flake are speaking out against the bedlam. Flake’s recent speech comparing the Trump to Uncle Joe Stalin was a good one BUT fine words aren’t enough in this situation. Flake has voted the Trump party line 90% of the time. Flake’s critique is increasingly reminiscent of someone who corrects your grammar or table manners. It’s all style and no substance. It contributes to the chaos, confusion, and bedlam.

Things are so bad that reports about Trump’s affair with Gret Stet born porn star Stormy Daniels are getting no traction. This is the sort of story that the Beltway press corps used to live for, but now they seem to have scandal fatigue. They’re increasingly numb to the chaos, confusion, and bedlam.  (Parenthetical aside: Stormy threatened to run for the Senate against Diaper Dave in 2010. There’s a swell account of this by Mitch Rabalais at the Bayou Brief. Y’all know how much I love sub-plots and this is a juicy one.)

The country has been battered, beaten, and abused before, but we’ve never had an administration with so many scandals that the press has a hard time prioritizing which one to cover. The extent and scope of the Trump administration’s crimes dwarf anything we’ve seen in our history. Teapot Dome was a tempest in an oily teacup compared to the Trump scandals. The result is chaos, confusion, and bedlam.

Quote Of The Day: Radical MLK Edition

The MSM portrays Martin Luther King as a Civil Rights teddy bear when, in fact, he was a tough-minded man. He *was* pragmatic and believed in non-violent action BUT he was a more radical and polarizing figure in his day than the man from the “I have a dream” speech. He would not have accomplished so much if he hadn’t been a bad ass.

There are many good radical MLK quotes out there. This one fits our era quite well:

“Whites, it must frankly be said, are not putting in a similar mass effort to reeducate themselves out of their racial ignorance. It is an aspect of their sense of superiority that the white people of America believe they have so little to learn. The reality of substantial investment to assist Negroes into the twentieth century, adjusting to Negro neighbors and genuine school integration, is still a nightmare for all too many white Americans…These are the deepest causes for contemporary abrasions between the races. Loose and easy language about equality, resonant resolutions about brotherhood fall pleasantly on the ear, but for the Negro there is a credibility gap he cannot overlook. He remembers that with each modest advance the white population promptly raises the argument that the Negro has come far enough. Each step forward accents an ever-present tendency to backlash.”

— Where Do We Go From Here1967

In 2018, we’re experiencing a backlash to the election of our first black president even if the Current Occupant maintains that he’s “the least racist person you’ll ever meet.”

Yeah, right.

Don Donaldo Wants To Wet His Beak

I haven’t used Trump’s wise guy nickname for quite some time: Don Donaldo, Il Insulto Comico. It’s not because he’s stopped grifting but because there’s so much shit going on, which is why I also call him the Kaiser of Chaos. It’s time for Don Donaldo to play a return engagement at First Draft.

<drum roll>

Today on Life Imitates The Godfather Theatre:

Remember the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere”? The Montana Sheep Institute or the now-shuttered North Carolina teapot hall of fame?

Congress years ago eliminated funding for these types of pet projects, known as earmarks, after they became derided as government boondoggles, largess and a pathway to corruption.

President Trump now wants to bring them back.

In a freewheeling meeting about immigration with congressional Republicans and Democrats this week, Mr. Trump lamented the gridlock that has gripped the capital in recent years and suggested that earmarks, the practice of stealthily stuffing funding for pet projects into legislation, be exhumed from the legislative graveyard.

“Our system lends itself to not getting things done, and I hear so much about earmarks — the old earmark system — how there was a great friendliness when you had earmarks,” Mr. Trump said Tuesday. “Maybe all of you should start thinking about going back to a form of earmarks.”

So much for draining the swamp. Of course, he might have already changed his position by now. He’s an ignorant and erratic swamp critter, after all.

I have mixed feelings about earmarks. One person’s pork is another’s important project but the system *was* repeatedly abused. Pork barrel spending was a frequent target of the late Senator William Proxmire (D-Wisconsin) who was a liberal but a cheapskate and proud of it. Proxmire had his Golden Fleece Award, which he bestowed upon shady pork barrel spending projects from 1975 to 1988.

In contemplating earmarks and pork, one should consider the source. In 2018, the source is the most personally corrupt president* in American history. Don Donaldo has ties to both the Italian-American and Russian Mafia. In short, he’s in it for himself.

That brings me back to this episode of Life Imitates The Godfather Theatre. In Godfather Part II,  young Vito Corleone made his mark on the New York crime scene by whacking the greedy, cruel, and ugly Don Fanucci. Here’s Don Fannucci’s best known line:

Like the avaricious fictional mob boss, Don Donaldo wants to wet his beak. That’s why earmarks should not be revived as long as he’s the Current Occupant. Let’s keep his beak dry.

A Very Stable Genius or a Horse’s Ass?

That’s a rhetorical question. I think you know where I come down. I’ll skip the jokes about cleaning out the Augean Stables but it’s what the next Oval One will have to do. That’s recent American history in a nusthell: Democratic presidents cleaning up messes made by their Republican predecessors. The Insult Comedian will leave steaming piles of shit everywhere. So much for skipping the stable jokes. I was not up to the Herculean task of restraining myself.

There was a parade of crazy, no make that a freak parade, last week. I’m glad that the president* raised the subject of his mental incapacity in the wake of the Wolff book because the MSM has been reluctant to do so. At a minimum, he’s extremely insecure about his intelligence. Nobody who is secure in their intelligence talks about their “very good brain” or calls themselves a “very stable genius.” That’s a sign of raging insecurity and, in this instance, horse’s assery and downright lunacy. Believe me.

Genius is one of those words that is overused and misapplied. Genuine geniuses are few and far between in any field of endeavor. When I was a kid, I tested at the genius level IQ-wise. Was I then or have I ever been a genius? Absolutely not. I used to get solicitations from MENSA and I always threw them away. The group sounds like a self-congratulatory circle jerk to me.

Donald Trump is not a very stable genius, he’s a very unstable menace. I think he’s mentally ill but I agree with something Josh Marshall wrote the other day:

That brings us back to the point. It’s really only the behavior that matters to us as citizens. A diagnosis would only be helpful to learn about behavior we don’t know about or predict future endangering behavior. Since we know about the behavior we’re talking about, none of that matters or applies. In common sense, every day rather than clinical language Trump is clearly unstable, erratic, impulsive. In a word, he’s nuts and not well. As citizens, we are entirely able and entitled to make these determinations. They are ordinary English language descriptors that the psychiatric profession doesn’t control and shouldn’t want to control. The entire debate over whether Trump is “mentally ill” is simply a diversion, premised on the idea that we need either permission or dictation to say he is not able to safely or competently fulfill the job of President. We don’t. The observed behavior is really all that is necessary and all that matters. It’s very clear.

It is indeed. Josh has a “very good brain” but he’s not a “very stable genius.” Believe me.

Repeat after me: it’s the behavior, not the diagnosis that matters.

Speaking of freak parades, the last word goes to Todd Rundgren and Utopia:

Quote Of The Day: Nehru On Nationalism

There’s a fascinating op-ed piece at the Failing New York Times about India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. Nehru’s legacy and vision of a secular society has been under attack for years by the Hindu nationalists who govern India in 2018.

Anglo-Indian novelist Aatish Taseer’s piece examines his own contradictory feelings about Nehru and unearths this timeless quote from one of Nehru’s books:

“Nationalism is essentially an anti-feeling, and it feeds and fattens on hatred against other national groups, and especially against the foreign rulers of a subject country.”

Words to live by in an era where some ugly manifestations of nationalism are popping up in our own country.

Button Button Who’s Got The Button?

I was buttonholed by some friends yesterday. They asked me who’s got the nuclear button and instead of telling them to button their lips I decided to be forthright. In a word, nobody:

The image of a leader with a finger on a button — a trigger capable of launching a world-ending strike — has for decades symbolized the speed with which a nuclear weapon could be launched, and the unchecked power of the person doing the pushing.

There is only one problem: There is no button.

William Safire, the former New York Times columnist and presidential speechwriter, tracked the origin of the phrase “finger on the button” to panic buttons found in World War II-era bombers. A pilot could ring a bell to signal that other crew members should jump from the plane because it had been damaged extensively. But the buttons were often triggered prematurely or unnecessarily by jittery pilots.

The expression is commonly used to mean “ready to launch an atomic war,” but the writer added in “Safire’s Political Dictionary” that it is also a “scare phrase used in attacking candidates” during presidential elections.

Donald Trump has reason to be jittery. The Mueller Probe is closing in, his first year in office has been characterized by record unpopularity, which is why he decided to whip out his tiny member and engage in a bit of dick waving with the North Korean kid with the bad haircut. Bad hair is something these two bozos have in common.

Once upon a time in America, loose talk about nukes was enough to cost one a presidential election. Ask Barry Goldwater; of course, you’d have to dig him up. Never mind.

George Wallace made the  mistake of putting retired Air Force chief of staff Curtis LeMay on the ticket in 1968. LeMay was so prone to loose nuke talk that the character of General Buck Turgidson in Dr. Strangelove was based on him. Here’s one of LeMay’s greatest hits:

I think there are many times when it would be most efficient to use nuclear weapons. However, the public opinion in this country and throughout the world throw up their hands in horror when you mention nuclear weapons, just because of the propaganda that’s been fed to them.

LeMay actually believed his own rhetoric. Trump just does it to distract attention from the Kremlingate scandal.

Speaking of bad hair, there’s a hair-raising hair joke told by George C. Scott in Dr. Strangelove:

I’d like to close with some unsolicited advice for Trumpy: button your lip about the nuclear button.

Meet The Chumleys

Josh Marshall had a funny piece this morning about a stupid bill filed in the South Carolina lege. It seems that State Reps Mike Burns and Bill Chumley want to erect a monument to black confederate veterans near the state capitol. There’s a big problem: there’s no evidence whatsoever that there was such a thing other than a cook and a servant. That’s why Josh called his post In Search of the Black Confederate Unicorn.

The thing that struck me was one of the names, Bill Chumley. That name has a proud tradition as you can see below:

From left to right, we have cartoon walrus Chumley, Pawn Stars doofus Chumlee, and Palmetto State Rep. Bill Chumley. I think the walrus is the most intelligent looking and even the reality teevee doofus wouldn’t buy the story of an armed black confederate unicorn. Bill Chumley, however, is made of stupider stuff.

When a reporter asked Carolina Chumley (as opposed to Tennessee Tuxedo) to comment on a report proving that there we no armed black confederate soldiers, his reply was classic: “We are all learning a lot. The purpose of the bill is education.”

I think Carolina Chumley needs to be educated on the basic facts of history as opposed to the myth of the lost cause. After all, everybody needs an education but, unlike the kid on the Kinks cover, Carolina Chumley knows no shame:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Best Of Adrastos 2017

2017 was a terrible year for the country but a great year for satire. It made it hard to winnow down this list. It kept growing like topsy. I’m not sure who or what topsy is but it grows like, well, topsy. I suspect topsy is somehow related to turvy, but where the New Orleans jazz singer Topsy Chapman fits into the scheme of things is unclear; much like this sentence…

I *had* hoped to get the list down to a top forty like the AM rock stations of my youth. It wasn’t happening so I got it down to a top fifty. Yeah, I know: who the hell has ever heard of a top fifty? You have now. Besides, I posted a grand total of 483 times in 2017 so a top fifty is only slightly OTT. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Here it is in chronological order:

1/12/2017: The Fog Of History: Mark Twain On The First Gilded Age.

1/16/ 2017: The Gong Show Presidency.

1/23/2017:  Mock Jazz Funeral For Lady Liberty.

1/25/2017: Sean Spicer Can Lie & Chew Gum At The Same Time.

2/8/2017: The Fog Of History: Explaining Trump.

2/15/2017: Power Before Country.

2/22/2017: The Worst Person Ever To Live In The White House.

3/13/2017: King Of The Bigots.

3/18/2017: Saturday Odds & Sods: Disturbance At The Heron House.

3/22/2017: Tea About The Tillerson.

3/29/2017: The Americans Thread: The World According To Gorp.

4/12/2017: Gret Stet Grifter.

4/17/2017: MOAB DICK.

4/19/2017: The March Of Autocracy.

5/2/2017: Lost Cause Fest: The May Day Melee.

5/8/2017: Le Sigh.

5/17/2017: The World Of President* McBragg.

5/18/2017: The Spirit Of ’73: The Unraveling.

5/24/2017: Book Review: The Selected Letters Of John Kenneth Galbraith.

5/31/2017: Glengarry Glen Ross On The Potomac.

6/14/2017: Tweet Of The Day: Larry Tribe Edition.

6/17/2017: Saturday Odds & Sods: Get Back.

6/29/2017: Mr. Bad Example.

7/3/2017: Back To The Nineties.

7/12/2017: The Beguileds.

7/19/2017: The Finger Of Blame.

7/26/2017: Follow Me Boys To The Trumper’s Jamboree.

7/29/2017: Saturday Odds & Sods: I Should’ve Known.

8/3/2017: The Fog Of Cosmopolitan History.

8/14/2017: Lost Causers Fester In Charlottesville.

8/21/2017: The Fog Of History: There Is No Such Thing As White Culture.

8/23/2017: The Primal Scream President’s* Ego Rallies.

9/13/2017: Walter Trump: Teevee Western Con Man.

9/20/2017: Your President* Speaks: Apocalypse UN.

9/21/2017:  Malaka Of The Week: Bill Cassidy.

9/25/2017: Malaka Of The Week: Frank Scurlock.

10/2/2017:  Oscar R.I.P.

10/19/2017: Quote Of The Day: Movie Monsters Edition.

10/23/2017: Bottom Of The Barrel.

10/25/2017: Flaking Out.

11/8/2017: Fuck Yeah, Virginia.

11/9/2017: Putting The Dope In Papadopoulos.

11/13/2017: Judge Pervert’s Ten Commandments Of Love.

11/15/2017: Malaka Of The Week: Rob Maness aka Col. Mayonnaise.

11/21/2017:  Now Be Thankful.

11/29/2017: The Ugliest American.

12/9/2017: Saturday Odds & Sods: Cold Rain and Snow.

12/13/2017: Fuck Yeah, Alabama: A Perfect Political Storm.

12/14/2017: Only A Memory: Pat DiNizio, R.I.P.

12/18/2017: Seven Dirty Words, 2017.

12/21/2017: Welcome To The New Gilded Age: The Great Tax Heist of 2017.

12/27/2017: Headline Of The Day: The Power Of The Butt.

Some of our more anal retentive readers may have noticed that the final tally was 52. I *had* to include the butt post since the headline was written by First Draft pun consultant James Karst. It was one of the dear boy’s career highlights so what the hell else could I do?

That’s it for this year. The scariest thing about this long and winding list is that it could have been even longer: 483 posts, y’all. The final closing bat meme of 2017 is a tribute to the late Rose Marie who died this week at the age of 94. It was a long life, well lived. Sally Rogers lives on.

 

First Draft Potpourri: End Of The Line

It’s my final full-blown post of 2017. Hey, stop cheering. There *will* be a Saturday Odds & Sods but it will be the best of Adrastos. It’s been an eventful year so it’s going to be an exhaustive as well as exhausting list. There’s nothing like being in opposition to raise one’s blogging game and 2017 was all about resisting and opposing.

Since there won’t be a theme song on Saturday, I thought I’d throw some Traveling Wilburys at youse:

Let’s begin with a some shameless self-back patting. Hopefully, the contortions won’t hurt too much.

The Jon Swift Roundup 2017: I was asked to participate by the estimable Batocchio and I submitted my Glengarry Glen Ross on the Bayou post. Click on this link to check it out. There’s some very good writing by some very good bloggers, and me.

I guess it’s time for some more super group mishigas:

Speaking of egomaniacs:

Roy Moore:  Sore Loser- Judge Pervert is still challenging his loss to Doug Jones. He continues to display his ignorance of the law by filing a last-minute law suit. The man who will never be a Senator’s complaint boils down to “too many black people voted.” It’s good to see that he’s staying on message.

Judge Pervert fancies himself something of a cowboy. Doesn’t he know that cowboys are supposed to ride off into the sunset like Alan Ladd in Shane?

Now that we’ve taken a walk on the Brandon de Wilde side, let’s talk twitter, toots.

Tweets Of The Week: If you’re on the tweeter tube, you know Al Giordano who is the self-described “majority whip for the accomplishment wing of the [Democratic) party.” Al is a veteran political journalist and organizer who is still willing to make election predictions:

I concur with the analysis of the distinguished gentleman from the get shit done wing of the party. I also enjoyed this waltz down memory lane:

The main issues of the 1974 election were Watergate, Nixon, and Ford’s pardon of the Trickster. I despair every time I hear people say that the Dems need a new policy issue to run on in 2018. As much as one might wish that they did, most voters do not vote on policy, they vote their gut. The big issue in 2018 will be: TRUMP, TRUMP, TRUMP.

If the right people turn out, there’s a Blue Wave building. Btw, in 2006 the issue was: BUSH, BUSH, BUSH. We did pretty well that year as you might recall.

One more tweeter tube related segment:

I follow Rosenberg on twitter and have helped his sleuthing a few times. The tweeting twits at the twitter are trying to thwart his efforts. I’ve given them an earful and you should too.

The Mueller Probe: I’ve been following it avidly as well as the smear campaign against the FBI and its former director. It’s amazing that there are Republicans willing to take down the leading federal law enforcement agency in order to save Trump’s worthless ass. They’ve really drunk the orange Kool-Aid.

There’s been much speculation about Trump firing Bobby Three Sticks. The background noise is ominous but my hunch is that it’s less about removing Mueller and Rod Rosenstein and more about discrediting the investigation in the eyes of the Republican base. It was the modus operandi of Team Reagan during the Iran-Contra probe: they relentlessly villified special counsel Lawrence Walsh whose probe was, quite literally, endless.

The drums are louder thirty years later but I still think Mueller will survive unless Trump gets a wild orange hair up his ass. Then all bets are off. I think Bobby Three Sticks has a 2/3 chance of surviving 2018. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong.  It won’t be the first or last time for that, y’all.

Let’s lighten things up and go to the movies.

The Last Jedi: I like Star Wars but don’t love it. I have some friends who are *really* into the series. I like teasing them about their Star Wars Boners. Yeah, I know, I’m a jerk but you knew that already.

The Last Jedi was good but not boner worthy. I give it 3 stars, an Adrastos Grade of B- and a mild thumbs up. I kept hoping that Peter Capaldi would show up and give us the Doctor Who cross-over than I alone dream of.

Finally, thanks to our readers for really rocking it. You’re the top, which is why Der Bingle and Cole Porter get the last word:

 

 

 

Welcome to the New Gilded Age: The Great Tax Heist of 2017

Image by Michael F.

I woke up this morning to see that Michael F had “stolen” my tax heist theme. I decided to retaliate by “stealing” his image. Actually, it was the whole “great minds” thing, and I asked for permission to re-use his image. Unlike the Great Tax Heist of 2017, it was NOT highway robbery in broad daylight. And I am not a robber baron, not even a lesser earl or a discounted viscount. I guess you can tell we’re watching The Crown

Trump promised a throwback administration and this bill offers a throwback to the pre-New Deal tax code. It’s such a throwback that it makes me want to throw up. Ayn Rand believed that the New Deal enslaved people and her disciples are on the verge of perfecting her vision. Thanks, Speaker Ryan. We all know what happens next: proposed cuts to foreign aid, social programs, medicaid, and medicare. Why? Because they’ll suddenly care about the deficit that they themselves blew up. Welcome to the New Gilded Age.

The most horrifying thing about the Great Tax Heist of 2017 is that it emulates failed policies  in Kansas and the Gret Stet of Louisiana. Bloody Kansas has been bleeding red ink since that bloody fool Sam Brownback decided to roll the dice with the lives of Kansans. Bobby Jindal followed the same pattern in the Gret Stet: cut taxes, lose revenue, cut government spending thereby ripping huge holes in the safety net. Thanks, PBJ.

Like their late 19th Century predecessors, the 21st Century GOP only cares about those who are already rich. They don’t care about their ungrateful employees (the middle-class) or the undeserving poor. Welcome to the New Gilded Age.

There is so much else wrong with this bill that it’s hard to know where to begin. My new motto is: when in doubt, bullet point the hell out of it.

  • The president* has no clue what’s in the bill, all he knows is that he needs a WIN. The lyingest administration in history has claimed that Trump will NOT benefit from the bill. Gimme a break.
  • It’s a pay-off to the donor class so they will keep funding Republican campaigns. Sheldon Adelson, Robert Mercer, and the Koch brothers are happy plutocrats right now.
  • The Corker Kickback benefits not only the Senator from Tennessee but 12 of his colleagues *and* Donald Trump. In contrast, the three wealthiest Senators, all Democrats, voted against their own self-interest.
  • There is no plan to implement the bill. Congressional Republicans hope it will take effect in a few weeks, which is crazy to say the least. Do we really want the IRS acting as hastily as Congress?

Welcome to the New Gilded Age.

It’s an era where corruption is out in the open and celebrated as freedom. It’s really the freedom to be selfish and indifferent to the plight of people in need. I’d like to remind everyone that this bill reflects Congress’ vision *and* that of so-called establishment Republicans, not Trump. The only vision Trump has is of himself in the mirror. A different Republican president would be prepared to sign such a bill. They might, however, know what’s in it unlike the Insult Comedian.

Congressional Democrats and outside groups lost the fight over the bill, but won the messaging battle. I may prefer the term heist to scam but whatever works. This is a politically damaging bill and I cannot wait to see the attack ads with footage of Congressional GOPers celebrating their victory alongside their wildly unpopular president*. They’re all in with Trump and it’s going to cost them dearly in November, 2018. BUT only if we stay vigilant and organize the living shit out of the mid-term election.

The good news is that the Great Tax Heist of 2017 is reversible. The bad news is that it’s going to take years and it will inflict grave damage on the most vulnerable members of society. Congressional Republicans are so drunk on victory right now that they’re ignoring their promise to keep the CHIP program going. If I thought shaming them would work, I’d try it but we all know how shameless they are.

The abuses of the first Gilded Age led to the reforms of the Progressive Era. Of course, at that time there were many Republicans who supported those reforms. In the 21st Century, they’re all in with the plutocrats and those who want to deregulate everything. The sense of noblesse oblige that inspired Teddy Roosevelt and other progressive Republicans is alien to the current GOP. They’ve got theirs and they don’t care about the rest of us. They call it freedom, I call it willful cruelty.

Welcome to the New Gilded Age.

Saturday Odds& Sods: Blues Before and After

Lucky Dare-Devils by Reginald Marsh.

I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster all week.  I was on top of the world, ma, with Doug Jones’ win and then on the bottom with Pat DiNizio’s passing. I prefer to be somewhere between those two extremes: it’s exhausting y’all.

They shot a Dixie Beer commercial in my neighborhood yesterday. I hate film crews. There’s always some officious twerp with a clipboard yelling at people. I had to deal with clipboard guys in my past life as a Jackson Square business owner. I learned that if you gave them an inch they’d take a country mile even if you were in the city.

One time a clipboard guy wanted to plug into my shop electricity.  No way: the wiring in the Upper Pontalba was dodgy and one could blow a fuse merely by plugging a space heater in the wrong outlet. When in doubt, demand compensation. That usually runs them off but on one memorable occasion they bribed me. It’s the Louisiana way, y’all.

FYI, Dixie Beer was purchased recently by local plutocrats/Saints owners/GOP donors Tom and Gayle Benson. Every time old Tom farts, the local media wets itself. I yawn in disinterest myself although the family fight over his empire was quite entertaining.

We’re staying in New Jersey this week with our featured image and theme song. The featured image is a painting by Reginald Marsh who grew up in Jersey and the theme song comes from the Smithereens. Anyone shocked by the latter? I thought not.

I hope that y’all don’t get the blues before and after the break because it’s time to jump. Skip the Dixie Beer: it’s swill.

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Quote Of The Day: Judge Pervert Edition

It comes from columnist Gail Collins in the Failing New York Times:

Suppose your state was having a very important U.S. Senate election and one of the candidates was an upstanding family man who was going to vote against all the things you most want Congress to do. And the other was an awful slimeball who you could count on to support all the things you believe in. Which way would you go?

No fair answering “to another state.”

Yeah, I know it’s a rhetorical question, not a quote. Sue me.  If the answer is vote for the slimeball, Judge Pervert wins tomorrow. The wonder is that it’s as close as it is. Alabama is redder that the clay in the northeastern part of the state. White Republicans seem to regard Democrats as space aliens in Birkenstock’s. Nativism is a big part of Judge Pervert’s appeal such as it is.

I feel for the respectable, educated people of Alabama. The gret stet of Louisiana had to deal with David Dukkke in a run-off in consecutive years. In the 1990 senate race, Dukkke faced long-time Conservative Democratic senator Bennett Johnston. He was neither wildly popular nor unpopular, he also had the support of the then-Republican President and his predecessor. The Goober race of 1991 was scarier but economic arguments sank Dukkke. At that point in time, we were still a purple state so Dukkke went down both times.

There have been attempts by sane Alabamians to use economic issues against Judge Pervert. It doesn’t appear to have worked that well but there could be shy Doug Jones voters. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow. I think embarrassment over perviness and Moore’s views on slavery could cause *some* mortified suburban GOPers to vote for Jones or write-in irascible Crimson Tide football coach Nick Saban but it’s anyone’s race as of this writing.

If I were asked at gunpoint who’s going to win tomorrow, I’d say Judge Pervert.  BUT I really don’t know: Roy Moore is an extreme candidate even by the standards of ultra-conservative Alabama. Once again, as a Democrat it’s a win-win proposition whether Moore wins or loses tomorrow but it’s uneighborly for me to wish that on Alabama.

Lose, Roy, lose.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Cold Rain and Snow

It snowed yesterday in the surrounding parishes but not in New Orleans. We just had sleet and gloomy skies. Baton Rouge and rural Tangiapahoa Parish had sustained snowfall. Here’s a message from Mike the Tiger:

The New Orleans media had a snow boner all day long. It was all they talked about. All the teevee people got gussied up in their anoraks and boots. They looked like models in the LL Bean catalog. My favorite snow boner moment came on the WWL morning news:

Repeat after me: snow boner.

The featured image is a venerable postcard showing the 700 block of Canal Street after snowfall in 1895. The last time it snowed in the city was 2008, everyone took pictures of the streetcar in the snow as you can see from this tweet from my friend Katy:

She’s from Minnesota. Say no more.

Repeat after me: snow boner.

This week’s theme song is a “tribute” to the weather. I hate the snow, especially when it falls in a place without any snow removal equipment. I am not an ice person. I do not have a snow boner either.

Cold Rain and Snow is a traditional folk song best known as a staple of the Grateful Dead’s live shows. We have two versions for your amusement. First, the Dead at the 1980 Halloween show emceed by Al Franken and Tom Davis. Sigh. Second, a bluegrass rendition by Del McCoury using an alternate title. I like it with Cold better since I am, in fact, cold right now. I still do not have a snow boner.

Boy howdy. Yeah, boy as the bluegrass types are wont to say.

It’s time to jump to the break. If you have one, be careful not to trip over your snow boner. I should apologize for, uh, beating that joke to death but I won’t. Go ahead and jump.

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Melancholia

I woke up feeling sad this morning. We’ve had a cold snap and along with a 40 degree temperature drop-off in a 24 hour period, it’s been gloomy and rainy. It was pitch black when I first stirred and the space heater was purring in the bedroom. I didn’t feel like getting out of bed but I did albeit slowly and hesitantly.

The word depressed is over used in the 21st Century. I’m not depressed: I’m melancholy, which is a word that needs reviving. It’s on my list, just like a kiss is on Daryl Hall’s list. I have not, however, seen the Lars von Trier film of that name. Not sure that I want to trier out at this point in time…

In addition to nothing but gray skies (to paraphrase Irving Berlin) another reason for my melancholia is the departure from the arena of John Conyers and Al Franken. I understand that the venerable Civil Rights icon had to go but I’m still sad about it. Social media is full of people who know nothing about Conyers and his lifetime of achievement in and out of Congress. In fact, one person I follow on twitter blasted Conyers and in her next missive celebrated Rosa Parks. Rosa Parks was a member of John Conyers’ staff from 1964 to 1988. Conyers, like most of us, is complicated and his life should be placed in context. Some nuance is required.

I’m also sad that Al Franken has announced his plans to resign his Senate seat “in the coming weeks.” He’s made me laugh for many years and has been a good and thoughtful Senator. Once some thirty of his Democratic colleagues called for his resignation, it was time for him to go. But I’m still sad about it because his offenses are loutish at worst, and not comparable to the Weinsteins, Trumps, and Moores of the world. A slap on the butt is not the same thing as dating underage girls. Some nuance is required.

We need to devise a spectrum of misbehavior when dealing with our allies in particular. There are obviously things that require banishment and others admonishment. I’m not sure how to come up with such a spectrum but we need to differentiate the clumsy pass from sexual assault and worse. The latter term is maddeningly vague: simple assault is any unwanted touching by another person. It’s being used as an all-encompassing term when some specificity and nuance is required.

I hope that Senate Democrats are acting strategically, not tactically. But they have a long track record of focusing on short-term goals instead of the big picture. Like Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick, I’m concerned about the effects of unilateral disarmament:

Who knows why the GOP has lost its last ethical moorings? But this is a perfectly transactional moment in governance, and what we get in exchange for being good and moral right now is nothing. I’m not saying we should hit pause on #MeToo, or direct any less fury at sexual predators in their every manifestation. But we should understand that while we know that our good faith and reasonableness are virtues, we currently live in a world where it’s also a handicap.

Unilateral disarmament is tantamount to arming the other side. That may be a trade worth making in some cases. But it’s worth at least acknowledging that this is the current calculus. It’s no longer that when they go low, we get to go high. They are  permanently living underground. How long can we afford to keep living in the clouds?

I’ve been reluctant to weigh in on this topic because I’m a middle-aged white dude whose ethnic culture is a touchy-feely one. Once again, I believe some nuance is required whereas the public discussion has been all black and white without much attention to the gray areas. We have to figure it out before it comes back to bite us in the ass. If we’re going to discard valued allies there had better be a damn good reason for it, especially when Donald Trump remains in office.

All of this is reason for melancholia. And the sun is still obscured by clouds. The last word goes to  a sad song from The Band songbook complete with the appropriate line “and the sun don’t shine any more…”

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Come Rain Or Come Shine

Amerind Landscape by Roy Lichtenstein.

I started this zany, madcap weekly feature in the spring of 2015. I have a lot of fun putting it together and riffing on the segments every week. It’s become a cult favorite among our readers. If you enjoy Saturday Odds & Sods, please donate to First Draft to help keep the doors to this virtual gin joint open. If you don’t like gin, pick your poison as long as it’s not vodka…

That concludes this brief commercial announcement. It’s time to return to our regularly scheduled programming.

It’s full-tilt fall in New Orleans after summer lingered far too long for my taste. We’ve had highs in the low to mid 70s for most of the last week. That means that many New Orleanians are OB’d: Over-bundled. People are so desperate to wear last year’s Christmas sweater that they’re overdressing for these mild days. So it goes.

The big news hyper-locally is that pesky, annoying twerp Seth Bloom has finally conceded in the District B city council race. The satirist in me will miss mocking him, but the citizen in me is relieved that his steady, experienced opponent, Jay Banks will represent me on the council. I will miss having Seth to kick around so I might as well re-post this:

Arrividerci, Sethy. You can go back to annoying people in your daily life. Don’t let the door hit you on the ass as you exit the local political stage. If you re-enter the arena, the feud will resume. Who among us doesn’t like a feud fight?

A brief return to the weather. It was the driest November in recorded history in New Orleans. How’s that for a lead-in to the theme song? Come Rain or Come Shine is the third Arlen-Mercer song I’ve used as the Odds & Sods theme song. I guess I like Harold and Johnny: the nice Jewish boy from Buffalo and the Southern scamp from Savannah. The song was written for the movie musical St. Louis Woman and first published in 1946.

We have three versions for your enjoyment. First, a swinging version arranged by Billy May for Ella Fitzgerald’s Harold Arlen Songbook, which is a seriously underrated entry in the songbook series. Next up, Lady Day with a mid-tempo version from her Music For Torching album. Finally, a 21st Century version from Eric Clapton and BB King.

Now that we’ve risen and shined or something like that, let’s jump to the break.

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