Category Archives: Fog Of History

The Fog Of MLK Day History

I was among those NOT surprised when a tweet from some bozo in Biloxi “revealed” that today is Great Americans Day in the Magnolia State. White Southern conservatives have long resisted the holiday, massively. At least MLK *was* an American hero even if the Confederates his memory has been erroneously linked to were not.

The social media discussion of the Insult Comedian’s idiotic attack on John Lewis has been deeply shallow. Anyone surprised? I thought not. On the right, Lewis has been called a minor figure in the Civil Rights movement. On the left, I saw multiple tweets referring to him as a King lieutenant. Neither are true: he was a major figure as one of the leaders of SNCC and was often an irritant to MLK’s SCLC. Lewis was an ally, not a lieutenant.

I wish people would consult with Mr. Google so their social media sophistry would have a scintilla of substance. Better yet, read David Halberstam’s The Children to learn more about John Lewis. Shorter Adrastos, put down the smart  phone and read a book.

Happy MLK Day, y’all.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Don’t Dream It’s Over

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Everything Is Topsy Turvy by Goya.

It’s been a gloomy week in New Orleans and across America. The reality of who and what the next President is has started sinking in. It’s no longer an abstract concept: a man who is as erratic as New Orleans winter weather is about to be in charge of the IRS, military, FBI, and other law enforcement agencies. The intelligence community is in open-not covert-revolt, which is astonishing given that a Republican administration is coming to power. Spooks usually love GOPers. We are well and truly through the looking glass.

Goya was right: everything *is* topsy turvy. I find myself in agreement about the Insult Comedian with dissident neo-cons such as Max Boot. I have even praised a piece Boot wrote for the NYT wondering if Trump was a modern Manchurian Candidate. I’d rather give Max the Boot, but in a crisis you take your allies where you find them. They keep popping up in the oddest places.

As you can tell, I’m not in the mood for a full-blown Odds & Sods extravaganza. I’ve been battling a cold all week while still writing some pretty good stuff. I plan to keep this post terser than a Hemingway sentence. I may even grown a beard, but please don’t call me Papa or hold me to the short sentence thing.

This week’s theme song comes from the great Neil Finn and Crowded House. Don’t Dream It’s Over has a world-weary, anthemic quality that suits my mood as does the opening stanza:

There is freedom within, there is freedom without
Try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
There’s a battle ahead, many battles are lost
But you’ll never see the end of the road
While you’re traveling with me

We begin with the original Crowdies video that helped the song become a world wide smash as opposed to Letterman’s production company, World Wide Pants:

Crowded House is one of the bands that had a “farewell” concert before the inevitable regrouping a mere 10 years later. The setting was dramatic: the Sydney Opera House. It was also the late Paul Hester’s last waltz with the band. I still miss his zany and madcap antics as well as his stellar drumming.

Don’t Dream It’s Over has been covered quite a few times; even on the teevee show, Glee. That was a nice pay-day for Neil but I prefer Diana Krall’s take on the song. Cue string section:

That’s it for this week. If you’re like me, you feel a bit lost as the news of Russian spying rushes by. That feeling, plus Athenae’s great Hemingway post, has me pondering the Lost Generation of the 1920’s That’s why I’m giving Hemingway and his frenemy Scott Fitzgerald the last word.

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The Fog Of History: Mark Twain On The First Gilded Age

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In 1873 Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner published a novel called The Gilded Age: A Tale Of Today. It was one of the few times Sam Clemens worked in a band and not as a solo artist. End of tortured musical analogy. The book was not merely a “tale of today,” like much of Twain’s best satire it remains applicable to *our* today.

The Gilded Age was not specifically about the political culture of the era, but the term has come to be associated with the excesses of the one-party pro-plutocratic Republican rule of the postbellum age. I believe that the-ugh-Trump Era will be a New Gilded Age with the Darnold as robber baron-in-chief. We’ve had other Gilded Ages, but I expect the next four years will be among the most corrupt in our history. The fish rots from head, after all, and nobody is rottener than the Insult Comedian. Imagine the stench when the nutria pelt atop his head begins to melt. It’s bound to smell like cotton candy piss.

Pondering the man I insist on calling Sam Clemens (we’re old literary friends and brothers in satire) resulted in a Google search for quotes that are applicable to both his time and our own. History *always* repeats, y’all.

Below are a few Twain nuggets that I have excavated from the recesses of the internet mine. I’m all about tortured analogies today and they’re mine all mine. I am, however, neither a miner nor a 49er and don’t have a daughter named Clementine…

If you think income inequality is a recent phenomenon, Sam begs to differ:

“The external glitter conceals a corrupt political core that reflects the growing gap between the very few rich and the very many poor.”

Twain was the greatest satirist of his time. He was as fond of food analogies as I am:

“The political and commercial morals of the United States are not merely food for laughter, they are an entire banquet.”

We’re inclined to think Trump is sui generis to our day and age.  But Sam knew the type only too well:

“All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure. ”

“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”

The Insult Comedian is not only insulting, he’s an habitual, almost obsessive liar:

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

Trump, alas, doesn’t even try to keep his lies straight. He counts on the short-term memory of his followers. It’s what fake populist strong men do.

The next Twain bon mot illuminates the difficult position those of us in the resistance find ourselves in:

“It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”

Nobody likes to admit to getting conned. The country is littered with people who fell for Trumpian flim-flammery. Many are still sleepwalking. It’s going to be ugly when they wake up and realize they’ve been had. Bigly.

Finally, I believe that the best way to undermine this illegitimate mountebank is with ridicule. Who can forget how he attacked SNL after Alec Baldwin nailed his cotton candy piss hair to the wall. Sam is in accord:

“Only laughter can blow [a colossal humbug] to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.”

Ain’t no bigger humbug that the Insult Comedian. Believe me, he’s a tremendous gasbag.

Welcome to the New Gilded Age.

Vive les Maquis.

The Son-In-Law Also Rises

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Hemingway week here at First Draft continues. If you haven’t read A’s great piece refuting Trump’s ridiculous claim to be the “Hemingway of Twitter” make sure you do so. On with the show, this is it:

As a Greek-American, I know a great deal about nepotism and cronyism. Both have long, uh, greased the wheels of commerce both in the old country and here in ‘Merica. Nepotism is one reason the wheels (there’s that image again) came off the Greek economy a few years ago. It’s not always a bad thing (the Karamanlis, Papandreou, and Venizelos dynasties produced some good leaders) but that’s only if the nepotee is competent and knowledgeable. That’s an open question when it comes to Trump-in-law Jared Kushner.

We know that Kushner did a decent job as the Insult Comedian’s campaign manager/enforcer. That doesn’t mean he’s qualified for a job at the White House since, like most Trumpers, he has no governmental or policy experience. Then there’s the pesky matter of the federal anti-nepotism law passed in response to JFK appointing his kid brother Attorney General. In that instance, Bobby *was* qualified: the bigger problem was having an AG who was a campaign manager. There’s no sign that Kushner has RFK’s moxie and intelligence. He does, however, seem to have the requisite ruthlessness and sharp elbows of RFK.

That brings me to the point of this post. There’s a must read article at NYMAG.com by Andrew Rice about Kushner and his background, power, and influence. His plan is to be one of the last people Trump speaks to when a decision is nigh:

Trump doesn’t really appear to listen to anyone, but he likes to hear a lot of advice. “We have no formal chain of command around here,” Trump said at a December boardroom audience with Jeff Bezos, Sheryl Sandberg, and other tech-industry leaders. Yet everyone knew who had played the biggest role in arranging the meeting: Kushner, who sat with his back to the cameras, directly facing the president-elect

Team Trump has come up with a novel argument to ward off the anti-nepotism law:

Trump is relying on an interpretation of the law itself, backed by a court opinion from 1993, as well as a separate provision of federal law from 1978 that allows the president to appoint White House staff “without regard to any other provision of law” dealing with employment.

But several law professors and ethicists interviewed Monday by The Associated Press were not so certain.

A “murky legal landscape” was the description given by Norman Eisen, who served as President Barack Obama’s government ethics lawyer.

If that strategy fails, Kushner’s plan is to defy the law with support from his doting father-in-law. The question arises: why does Kushner need a title and a West Wing office? History is replete with examples of outside advisers with outsize influence on past Oval Ones. Wilson had Col. House. FDR had Felix Frankfurter and a small army of other outside advisers. JFK, of course, had his father until the latter’s stroke. LBJ had Abe Fortas even after he was appointed to the Supreme Court. Fortas had an office in the West Wing that nominally belonged to someone else but he was the big macher in the Johnson White House. More recently, Bill Clinton had Vernon Jordan and Barack Obama didn’t stop listening to David Axelrod after he left his job at the White House. There’s ample precedent for this and no need to stir things up. Of course, that’s the Trumpers specialty: shit stirring.

Kushner’s lust for power isn’t the only thing that makes the incoming regime resemble an old school South American dictatorship. The Insult Comedian has appointed four Generals to senior roles, which is rather reminiscent of the right-wing populist dictator Trump most resembles: Juan Peron. We may all be singing Don’t Cry For Me Argentina before this is all over.

Trump is setting the stage for the most openly corrupt administration in American history. His holdings will not be placed in a blind trust, he will not release his tax forms, and his adult male spawn will run his empire. Past administrations at least had the good sense to hide their grifting. Instead the Trumpers will be transparently corrupt and damn proud of it. So much for the much ballyhooed populist uprising. Welcome to the new gilded age.

There are some people in Rice’s article who express hope that Kushner will be a moderating influence on his father-in-law. Given his close relationship with Steve Bannon that sounds like whistling past the graveyard. The only thing that will stop Trump is resistance and relentless ridicule. The Donald does not like being needled. That’s why resisting his legitimacy is so important. Our goal should be to turn him into the Jake Barnes of Presidents: a eunuch tweeting impotently to a world that no longer pays attention.

Vive les Maquis.

 

Instant Analysis: President Obama’s Valedictory Address

I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t a valedictory address given by the high school kid with the best grades? It is but the term is an expansive one that includes any kind of farewell speech. Besides, Barack Obama *is* the smartest kid in the class, not just the one with the best grades. He’s about to be succeeded by the village idiot and we’re all the poorer for that. I suspect the electoral college winner is in a rage tweeting, press conference cancelling mood right now.

From the cheering crowd to the rhetoric, the speech was vintage Obama in three acts.  The first act wherein he listed his accomplishments in office was the least successful. It was good but it was too much like a campaign speech.

The meat of the speech was when the President discussed the challenges that face the country as he leaves office. It included a series of implicit criticisms of the Insult Comedian and his band of not so merry B3 Brownshirts. There were two passages that were particularly meaningful to me:

“If every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle-class and an undeserving minority then workers of all shades are going to be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves.”

That passage is both a look back at the kind of campaign Trump ran as well as a preview of coming attractions. The Insult Comedian himself has withdrawn to his Manhattan penthouse since the day our national nightmare began; only emerging to be adored by the mugs he conned during the campaign.

Back to the speech:

“Democracy can buckle when it gives in to fear. So just as we as citizens must remain vigilant against external aggression, we must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are,” he said, citing his efforts to fight terrorism on firmer legal and moral ground. “That’s why I reject discrimination against Muslim Americans who are just as patriotic as we are.”

Fearmongering is nothing new in American political history. In the past, we’ve bounced back and the President believes we can do so again. I wish I were as optimistic as he is but that’s why he’s a leader and I’m a blogger. I’m inclined to agree with my publisher:

The final act of the speech was a thank you to his staff, supporters, Veep, and most of all his amazing wife. POTUS is not Mr. Spock when talking about FLOTUS: he got verklempt and wiped some tears from his eyes. That was the moment when I got bit choked up myself: thinking about what we’re losing and what we’re about to confront.

The change from Obama to Trump may be the wildest Presidential personality change the nation has experienced since the extroverted lightweight Warren Gamaliel Harding succeeded the austere intellectual Woodrow Wilson. Harding, however, was a nice man who knew he was in over his head. The next occupant of the Oval Office  is an asshole who thinks he knows everything when, in fact, he knows nothing.

The President’s farewell speech was another in a long line of outstanding speeches. This President needs an audience whilst orating. He feeds off their energy and it makes him a more eloquent speaker. It’s one thing he has in common with the Insult Comedian who, while lacking even rudimentary eloquence, is also a showman who likes the roar of the crowd.

Barack Obama wore well as President. It’s one reason why his approval ratings are as high as he leaves the arena as when he became President 8 years ago. Additionally, he’s run one of the cleanest, most ethical administrations in American history. That’s unlikely to be said about his successor whose administration is mired in scandal before the inauguration.

Thank you President Obama for your service and common decency. The latter is about to be in short supply in our nation’s capitol. I’ll give Athenae the last word or is that tweet?

 

 

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Best Of Adrastos 2016

Nighthawks

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.

It’s time to take a look back at 2016. It may be an exercise in egotism but it’s mine, all mine. Last year’s best of Adrastos was a top thirty list, this year we have a plus-one. Sounds like a dinner party, doesn’t it? It’s time to belly-up to the buffet…

2016 was a good year for satire, but a terrible year for the country. And I was a better pundit than prognosticator. So it goes.

Here’s this year’s crop of posts in chronological order:

January 7, 2016: The Fog Of History: The Wallace Factor.

January 16, 2016: Saturday Odds & Sods: Black Tie White Noise.

February 27, 2016: Saturday Odds & Sods: All The Things You Are.

March 28, 2016: The Fog Of Historical Pictures: Grace Coolidge’s Pet Raccoon.

March 28, 2016: Charles Foster Kane Meets Donald Trump.

March 31, 2016: Malaka Of The Week: John Milkovich (Not Malkovich)

April, 18, 2016: Oy, Such A Mentor

April 21, 2016: Malaka Of The Week: Jeff Weaver.

May 7, 2016: Saturday Odds & Sods: They All Laughed.

May 18, 2016: Speaking In Dudebromides.

June 3, 2016: Trump Violates The First Rule Of Litigation.

June 13, 2016: Still Comfortably Numb Revisited.

June 29, 2016: A Fatal Lack Of Cunning & Guile.

July 11, 2016: Jill Stein: Crunchy Granola Machiavelli.

July 29, 2016 DNC Wrap Up Finale: She Won’t Stay Throwed.

August 18, 2016: Heckuva Job, Advocate.

August 18, 2016: The Insult Comedian’s Not For Turning.

August 22, 2016: Every Flim-Flam Man Needs A Sucker.

September 8, 2016: Is Trump Really Running For Grand Nagus?

September 17, 2016: Saturday Odds & Sods: Birdland.

October 4, 2016: Instant Analysis: The Debate As Altman Film.

October 6, 2016: Absence Of Malice.

October 10, 2016: Breitbart-Bannon-Bossie Man.  Bloggers Note: This post was included by Batocchio in the Jon Swift Roundup 2016. 

October 17, 2016: Moe’s Wife Blames Larry.

November 2, 2016: Out Of Control FBI Playing By The Clinton Rules.

November 10, 2016: Sitting Political Shiva.

November 11, 2016: Confessions Of A Keyboard Maquis.

November 16, 2016: Malaka Of The Week: New Orleans Baby Cakes.

November 17, 2016: The Most Dangerous Game. 

December 1, 2016: Louisiana Politics: A Terrible Candidate For Terrible Times.

December 12, 2016: Hayes/Smith: Only Victims.

That’s it for 2016. It’s been a tough year but we’re still alive and kicking. I’ll give the last word to two guys we’re really going to miss:

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The Fog Of Historical Pictures: Santa Goes To War

I’ve always been interested in World War II posters. Propaganda had style in those days and never wore a red baseball cap. It did, on occasion, wear a Santa hat.

Santa was often put to work selling war bonds, not to be confused with the right-wing actor and blowhard Ward Bond:

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Our British allies put Father Christmas to work for the cause as well:

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Next up is an oddball image that might amuse the Insult Comedian and his pal Putin. I’m not sure what Tovarich Stalin thought of the Russian St. Nick but at least he had a red star:

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Finally, an example of how the Mad Men of the day enlisted Santa’s help in the crucial effort to sell socks during war-time. I’m not sure which of the enemy leaders is saying “sock it to me.”

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Boogie Woogie Santa Claus was first recorded in 1947 but it fits the spirit of the post so we’ll give Brian Setzer the last word:

Saturday Odds & Sods: End Of The World

 

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Sideshow banner by Snap Wyatt.

We’re riding a weather roller coaster here in New Orleans. I hate roller coasters and prefer consistent weather as long as it’s vaguely wintery be it Johnny or Edgar…

I’m still fighting a cold so this will be on the short side. I know, famous last words and all that shit.

I’m not feeling apocalyptic but many people are. I cannot blame them. It’s hard to be a glass half-full person right now and this week’s theme song reflects that. End Of The World was written by John Wetton and Geoff Downes for Asia’s 2010 Omega album. The melody is a bit too gorgeous for a truly apocalyptic feel but that’s what they do.

While we’re ending the world, we might as well give a certain REM tune with a very long title a spin:

If you’re feeling apocalyptic now, you might want to be patient. It’s bound to take longer than expected. Everything does.

Don’t worry. We’ll still be waiting after the break. The world isn’t going anywhere for the time being.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Dead Flowers

Chagall The Drunkard

The Drunkard by Marc Chagall.

It’s run-off election day here in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. I’ll be voting later today in the Colonel Corpone vs. Foghorn Leghorn Senate race. Cornpone has it sown up and I don’t like Foghorn but I said I’d vote for him, so I’ll have to select an appropriate clothespin. I would say I was voting for the lesser of two hicks but Foghorn sounds like he’s been studying the oeuvre of Jeff Foxworthy. My friend Charlotte says he reminds her of Boss Hogg. Hard to argue that point, y’all.

The local news has been dominated by road rage and the law. The one many of you have heard about is the trial of Cardell Hayes for killing former Saints defensive captain Will Smith. I wrote about it in this space not long ago. It’s a very close case with the defense arguing self-defense. The local media have been all over it like turkey buzzards on roadkill. In this Saints obsessed town that was predictable and why the Judge sequestered the jury. The case *may* go to the jury later this evening.

The other road rage incident involved former high school football sensation and NFL player Joe McKnight. He got into it with some creep named Ronald Gasser and McKnight was shot to death. There was a huge stink when Gasser wasn’t charged immediately: he’s white and McKnight was black. Gasser was charged with manslaughter earlier this week. Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand held a ranty press conference, spending more time attacking Facebook trolls than discussing the crime. Normand hasn’t gone off like that in quite some time. It might have been calculated anger (more on that later) or he simply lost his shit.

This week’s theme song fits my somber mood. Dead Flowers was written when the Stones were hanging out with country-rock godfather Gram Parsons. It’s one of the best lyrics the Glimmer Twins have ever written. It’s limey country rock at its finest.

We begin with the original version from Sticky Fingers, followed by a live non-Stones version featuring Keith, Willie Nelson, and Ryan Adams to name a few luminaries.

I’m feeling relatively terse this week so I’m skipping the break and diving right in. I mentioned intentional ranting earlier. The master of tactical screaming was the late great rock impresario Bill Graham.

Bill Graham & The Art Of Tactical Screaming: I grew up attending Bill Graham’s shows in the Bay Area. They remain the best organized and operated rock concerts I’ve ever been to. One reason was the hands on nature of the producer. He was always visible both onstage and in the front of the house. You knew who was in charge. There was one time at a Dead show at Winterland that there was a flood in the men’s room. I ran into Bill in the hallway and informed him. He thanked me and went over there personally. I followed out of curiosity and watched him grab a plunger. Now that’s attention to detail.

My old friend Gus Mozart shared a link to an interview filmed in 1977. It’s called The Mechanics of a Show. It’s well worth watching if you’re a rock and roll history buff. It’s also available on the YouTube. Here’s the segment about yelling:

I saw Bill scream at people many times. He was almost always in the right. An aggressive New Yorker like Bill Graham scared the shit out of California hippies, so they tended to comply with his orders. Besides, it was Bill’s world and we were there as paying customers. He was the boss and the best.

The centerpiece of this week’s post are tributes to two men whose deaths were announced on Thursday. Other than fame they had nothing in common. One of them was 95 years old and lived a long and eventful life. The other died at 69 after a lengthy private battle with cancer.

John Glenn R.I.P. Hero is the most overused word in the English language. Very few acts are heroic and there are even fewer heroes. John Glenn was a genuine hero. It was a label that he modestly rejected but one that he earned over-and-over again.  Despite his advanced years, I was still deeply saddened to hear that he’d died at the age of 95.

All of the Mercury astronauts were brave men. They risked death every time they stepped into those tiny capsules. John Glenn made it look easy, but orbiting the earth was fraught with peril. People knew that and it was one reason they went nuts (in a good way) over Glenn.

Here’s what I posted on my Facebook feed:

John Glenn went on to a distinguished career as a four-term Democratic Senator from Ohio. The punditry briefly went nuts over his 1984 Presidential bid because it coincided with the release of Philip Kaufman’s brilliant film adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff. Glenn was played by Ed Harris. It was the role that put Harris on the map. Glenn’s campaign went nowhere. Charlie Pierce pointed out why at his joint:

when John Glenn was preparing to run for president, I sat down in a bar on Beacon Hill in Boston for a chat with one of his chief strategists. This fellow smacked my gob across the room when he said that the campaign was planning to “downplay the hero stuff.” My god, I thought. Without The Hero Stuff, Glenn was just a kind of boring old sod from Ohio. Without The Hero Stuff, he wasn’t the first American to orbit the Earth. He wasn’t the guy who spent the last of those orbits in a tiny spacecraft with a problem the gravity of which the folks on the ground could only guess. Without The Hero Stuff, he wasn’t…an astronaut.

John Glenn was a modest man. It was how the best men of his generation comported themselves. As a Senator, he was a workhorse, not a showhorse, which is the highest praise I can bestow on a politician. He was also the antitheses of the braggart who won the electoral college and is claiming a landslide. They don’t make them like Senator Glenn any more.

He had a good life and a good death surrounded by his family. Godspeed, John Glenn.

Here’s a piece by Charlie Osgood broadcast on the 49th anniversary of Glenn’s historic Friendship 7 mission:

Let’s move on from the loss of an American icon to the passing of one of the pioneers of British prog-rock.

Greg Lake R.I.P. He was the original lead singer/bassist of King Crimson as well as the L in ELP. Greg Lake died at the age of 69 after a long battle with cancer.

I saw ELP several times at their peak. They were loud, bombastic, and pretentious. I loved every second of it. Lake was the steady, solid one while flamboyant keyboard player Keith Emerson and flashy drummer Carl Palmer whipped the crowd into a frenzy.

Emerson preceded Lake in death earlier this year. E and L are gone but P rocks on as the drummer with Asia. Here’s what Carl had to said about Greg’s passing:

The best way to pay tribute to Greg Lake is, of course, to post some of his music. I have used the opening lyrics for Karn Evil 9 1st Impression Part 2 more than once in lieu of an Odds & Sods summary: “Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends.” Greg Lake’s show has ended but the music never stops, corny but true.

Along with lyricist Pete Sinfield, Lake wrote one of the best rock Christmas songs, I Believe In Father Christmas. Here’s a live version from St. Bride’s Church in London with Ian Anderson and members of his band backing Lake up:

Ready for some live ELP? You have no choice:

I had hoped to post the original studio version of King Crimson’s 21st Century Schizoid Man but it eluded me. Another Lake-era King Crimson song will have to do.

“Confusion will be my epitaph.” Greg Lake will be missed.

That’s it for this week. May the Schwartz be with you:

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Oy, Such A Force

May the Schwartz Be With You.

Oy, such Spaceballs nuttiness.

I’ve been walking the anti-Semitism beat all year. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the revival of open anti-Semitism is one of the most alarming things about the so-called Trump movement. This Thirties revival, if you will, has inspired the silly along with the sinister:

White supremacists are calling for a boycott of the latest “Star Wars” movie as evidence of a Jewish plot to foist racial diversity on whites, even as some on the “alt-right” say they watch the film and root for the evil Empire.

“(((Star Wars))) Is Anti-White Social Engineering,” a Reddit user named GenFrancoPepe posted in a forum for the “alt-right,” a hard-line white nationalist movement. The triple parenthesis, known as an “echo,” is a way anti-Semites online call attention to Jewish names or perceived Jewish influence.

The evidence: “Alt-right” writers point out the multiracial makeup of the stars in the new film, the female starring role, and that Jewish producers and writers were involved. Criticism of the film evokes one of the central tropes of modern anti-Semitism, envisioning a Jewish cabal promoting multiculturalism to suit its own nefarious goals — at the expense of an embattled “white civilization.”

One writer at the neo-Nazi site Infostormer called “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” slated to be released this month, a product of “anti-white hate” produced by Jews. “Nearly all of the major characters are non-Whites and the main character is an empowered White female,” the post reads. “This film should be boycotted.”

Is there a Jewish influence on the series? Yes. Is it sinister? No. Is it a plot? No, as pointed out in an earlier piece at Forward by Seth Rogovoy:

You don’t have to be a linguist to figure out that the Jedi knights, who use “the Force” – the spiritual power of good deeds, aka the mitzvot — to do good in their battle with the “Dark Side” – the yetzer hara, or the evil urge within us all – bear the Anglicized name of a Jew. In other words, jedi = yehudi = Jew. And the name of the wise old man Yoda, who passed away at the very Biblical age of 900 in 1983’s “Return of the Jedi” and who was voiced by Jewish actor-director Frank Oz, translates as “one who knows” in Hebrew.

Philologists have argued, on the other hand, about just what the very Hebrew-looking writing on Darth Vader’s breastplate says. It’s been surmised to be upside-down Hebrew that translates as “One shall be regarded innocent until he is proven guilty,” which of course fits the character of Vader and his true identity.

None of this was lost on filmmaker Mel Brooks, whose 1987 “Star Wars” parody “Spaceballs” relied on Brooks’s usual Yiddish-shtick humor, including the catchphrase, “May the Schwartz be with you.”

Mel Brooks is always there with the joke first. I guess that makes him one of the main conspirators in the alt-right’s Protocols of the Elders of Star Wars world view. I wonder if the farting scene in Blazing Saddles has a deeper meaning? Conspiracy theories and theorists are hot in Wingnuttia right now. Another alarming thing about Donald Trump is his love of conspiracy theories, the nuttier the better, such as birtherism. The MSM may have moved on from that but I have not. As far as I’m concerned the Insult Comedian will always be the birther-in-chief as well as the pussy-grabber-in-chief.

As funny as conspiracy theories cooked up by the Reddit Right and Alex Jones are, they can be lethal when paired with an unhinged mind as in the recent “Pizzagate” shootings at Washington City. Some ideas *can* be dangerous and must be fought with the facts. There is no child sex ring linked to Hillary Clinton and John Podesta. A variation on that bizarre claim even showed up in the creepier sectors of the hard left during the primary campaign.

The far right and left have always had more similarities than people on our side of the spectrum are willing to admit. It’s why so many hardcore lefties have moved to the far right over the years: notorious Islamophobe David Horowitz is a relatively recent example, but it’s an old story. The 1950’s red scare was partially fueled by Communists turned McCarthyites. So it goes.

Speaking of the neo-Nazi far right, there was firestorm of controversy this week in response to an Atlantic article, Are Jews White? The erstwhile Gret Stet Fuhrer, of course, chimed in:

Humor is the best way to attack Dukkke’s nonsense and here’s the best example I’ve seen:

Oy, such logic. It’s hard to beat, right? I know more than a few Jewish Deadheads and prog-rock fans as well. What’s whiter than British prog rock? Perhaps I’ve Seen All Good People is a plot against the white race by self-loathing honkies. Let’s see:

I am obviously an exponent of using humor to combat bigotry.Ridicule has long been an effective weapon against hatred and intolerance. And I’m not going to abandon it just because an Insult Comedian won the electoral college in 2016. Trump’s reaction to satire shows how effective it is. He keeps slamming Alec Baldwin’s bang-on impression of him. It’s not how it’s supposed to work: Presidents get mocked and even the humor-impaired Tricky Dick was able to publicly take a joke. I don’t think Trump will ever learn to take a joke. It’s what happens when you are one.

It’s time to conclude this rambling essay and give the penultimate word to Mel Brooks as Yogurt:

Oy, such a schwartz. Oy, such a farce. Oy such a force. Oy, just oy.

The Fog Of Historical Pictures: Bad Company

No, I’m not posting pictures of Paul Rodgers, Simon Kirke, Mick Ralphs or even the late Boz Burrell who is well and truly Gone, Gone, Gone. This post is about the bad company kept by Time Magazine: its latest person of the year, Donald Trump.

Time’s standard disclaimer is that the honor is based on who “for better or for worse…has done the most to influence the events of the year.” Whatever, y’all. The winners of US Presidential elections are customarily honored as were Trumpian lackeys Rudy and Newt.

I’m interested in the *really* bad company honored by Time over the years, especially the dictators. Here’s a sampler in reverse order.

We begin with the Insult Comedian’s bosom buddy, Vladimir Putin. I suspect both envision themselves as Tom Hanks, not Peter Scolari, neither of them wants to play Lena Durham’s father in Girls. I see Trump as a malevolent Forrest Gump instead. End of Bosom Buddies inspired riff. On with the parade of covers:

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I suspect manly man Vlad was bummed that Time gender neutralized the honor before he received it in 2007. Our next dictator is longtime KGB director and short-term Soviet leader Yuri Andropov. I suspect he’d be proud of the state sponsored hackerism Russia used to disrupt the 2016 election. Andropov was honored alongside his American counterpart who was a former movie actor, not a spook:

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Looks like they had each others back. Me, I would have dubbed them Men of the Yuri…

Speaking of bad company, Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was man of the year in 1979 even though he wore robes, not trousers. He certainly wore the pants in Iran for a decade.

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Here’s another honoree guaranteed to give the Islamophobes surrounding Trump the vapors. It’s an oil embargo based honor:

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Seeing King Faisal’s stern countenance reminds me of a pun made on the name of his oil minister by NYT columnist William Safire. The minister in question was Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, whose name inspired this 1981 column title: “Yamani or Ya Life.” Sounds like a real sheikhdown to me…

I’ve skipped several dictators including Khrushchev and Deng Xiao-Ping despite the latter’s punworthy name. All I have to say to any Deng fans out there is this: tough shit.

Our next dictator was a two-time honoree in 1939 and 1942. Time to introduce the mighty mite from Georgia aka the Red Tsar or Uncle Joe:

stalin-on-time-magazine-1939-and-1942

Just looking at Stalin’s ugly mug gives me a hangover. Vodka hangovers are the worst and Stalin loved drinking his associates under the table then mocking them for being hungover the next day. Nobody ever called him Comrade Nice Guy, after all.

Our last dictator is the worst company of all. A vegetarian teetotaler who loved dogs and Aryan children but hated everyone and everything else:

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As you can see, Trump is in very bad company with this honor. Believe it. I’m surprised he didn’t insist on Time returning to the original man of the year rubric since he *is* the incoming  pussy-grabber-in-chief. I cannot wait until he starts bragging about it. In fact, I’m shocked he hasn’t tweeted about it as of this writing. It won’t be long.

Time to circle back to the beginning of the post and give Paul Rodgers and krewe the last word. They’re actually good company but Bad Company is a better band name:

 

The Fog Of History: Taiwan On

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It turns out that the phone call from the President of Taiwan to the Insult Comedian was a deliberate-as opposed to accidental-fuck up. The Trumpers want to be disruptive and shake things up. That’s how they’d characterize it. I’d call it dick waving or undiplomatic diplomacy. One thing we’ve learned from this episode is that the Trumpers plan to export their penchant for impulsive, poorly thought-out gambits to the world scene. Heaven help us; make that son of heaven since we’re talking about China policy.

I’ve seen some on the right argue that United States China policy makes no sense. The whole “One China and Taiwan is part of it” has been policy since the Nixon to China days. It’s a way to finesse Taiwanese independence without unduly pissing off the Kleptocrats who run China in Communist drag. I agree that it makes no logical sense.

Here’s the deal: American China policy has never made sense. In the late 19th and early 20th Century, we posed as benevolent benefactors trying to “Christianize” China whilst exploiting the hell out of it. Then we mindlessly supported Chiang Kai-shek and his Kuomintang government until they fled the mainland to Taiwan in 1949. After the advent of “Red China,” we allowed the China Lobby personified by Time-Life’s Henry Luce, to control Chinese policy from 1949-1972. In that era, we pretended that Mao’s China did not exist and that tiny Taiwan was the true Republic of China. Repeat after me: American China policy has never made sense.

One reason that Tricky Dick was able to do the Nixon to China thing was that Henry Luce died in 1967. Luce’s parents were Presbyterian missionaries. He was born in China and lived there until he was 15 years old. Luce was the most important GOP press baron for decades. He was convinced that Chiang was the Chinese George Washington and that Mao was Satan. Neither was true but Luce dominated US China Policy for many years. He was also the dominant force in the Dewey-Eisenhower-Nixon internationalist Eastern establishment wing of the GOP. A wing that is well and truly extinct. Poppy Bush was its last gasp.

The current “One China” policy is a way to keep the peace between the PRC and Taiwan. In the late 1950’s hostilities nearly broke out. It was even a hot issue during the 1960 Presidential campaign: Nixon and Kennedy spent time discussing Quemoy and Matsu, which were flashpoints in the 1958 crisis.  I bet most of you have never heard of Quemoy and Matsu. Why? Because of the “One China” policy. It makes no sense but it’s kept the peace. That’s what really matters.

There’s a certain irony that a man who rarely makes sense about anything has allowed ambitious staffers to shake things up in an area of the world that’s relatively stable right now. The idiomatic expression “bull in a china shop” applies here;  both literally and figuratively.

  1. an awkward or clumsy person.
  2. an inconsiderate or tactless person.
  3. a troublemaker; dangerous person.

That’s Donald Trump in a wingnut shell. Stirring things up between China and Taiwan can only cause trouble. It will not lead to an American China policy that makes sense. It never has and likely never will. I’ll take polite fictions or diplomatic niceties over macho posturing any day.

Since I opened the post with Time Magazine covers featuring Chiang Kai-shek, I’ll let the post-Luce Time have the last word, uh, cover:

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Sunday Morning Video: The French Resistance

Since I’ve gone on about les Maquis, here’s a pretty good documentary about the French Resistance. It’s an episode of the Secrets of War series and is narrated by Charlton Heston:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Liar

It’s been another weird week in New Orleans. The weather has been yo-yo-ing to and fro. We reluctantly ran the AC on a particularly steamy day and we’re back to the heater right now. The kitties, of course, prefer the latter. So it goes.

There was a lethal shooting last weekend on Bourbon Street. It doesn’t happen that often but when it does the media, city government, and tourism establishment lose their collective minds. This time there are suggestions of metal detectors and limited access. That’s typical NOLA think: propose something that would be simultaneously costly and unenforceable. We live in a country and a state with an armed population and when you add booze and crowds to the mix, violence is not surprising. It’s difficult to prevent an asshole with a concealed weapon from discharging it. That may sound cold and harsh but “to live in this town, you must be tough, tough, tough, tough.” Thus spake Jagger and Richards. She-doo-be.

The mendacity theme here at First Draft continues with this week’s theme songs. That’s right, my obsession with different songs with the same title continues. We begin with Todd Rundgren’s 2004 tune Liar. It’s followed in quick succession by Queen, the Sex Pistols, Argent, and, of all people, Three Dog Night who covered the Argent tune.

I had no idea there were so many songs with liar in the title and that’s the truth. There will be more prevarication after the break, but first I need to find that lying sack of shit that we’ve heard so much about over the years.

Continue reading

Tweets & Circuses

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Image by Michael F.

The outlines of Trump’s online propaganda operation become clearer by the day. Sometimes the Insult Comedian will lose his shit and tweet without thinking. Other times, he will use his favorite social media platform as a way to distract attention from his latest scandal or terrible personnel choices. Along with the Hamilton tirade, the flag burning tweet falls into the latter category:

Trump wanted people to stop talking about the lease of his Washington DC hotel, the NYT article about the inevitable conflicts of interest caused by his empire, and the appointment of wingnut Congressman Tom Price to head HHS. I may start calling the department Health and Inhuman Services now that Price has been nominated. He not only favors repealing the ACA, he’s a rabid frothing at the mouth Medicare privatizer. I don’t recall the TP ticket running to phase out Medicare. Their elderly supporters are in for a rude awakening. It’s not exactly unexpected: Trump is the rudest man in America, after all.

If Trump’s plan was to change the subject from health care policy-an important but somewhat dry topic-to flag burning, it worked. It’s much easier to discuss threats against flag burners than to delve into the details of Medicare. It’s also the nature of the twitter beast: instant analysis of superficial topics is the bread and butter of the Tweeter Tube.

I am not advocating that we stop paying attention to Trump’s twitter addiction, far from it. Instead, I believe that we should take a deep breath and think our responses through. Not everything requires a response within 3 minutes. We can take up to 20 or 30 whole minutes, which will let us prioritize the effluvia tweeted out in the middle of the night from Trump Tower. Here’s one rule of thumb: if Trump tweets something irrelevant out-of-the-blue, there’s a good chance it’s a distraction. That’s the flag burning tweet in a wingnut shell.

Twitter is the perfect medium for the Insult Comedian. It’s full of ignoramuses with short attention spans who personalize, and feel obliged to comment on, everything. Sound familiar?Twitter is Trump to a T. Any time Trump feels unloved or persecuted, a tweet storm ensues. Some have said that his people should call twitter’s people and pull the plug on the mad  tweeter. I prefer to know what my enemy is up to. I just think we need to try harder to discern what is important and what is a diversion. Both the twitteratti and the MSM have failed miserably at that so far. It’s what happens when you’re a conclusion jumper. I hate them almost as much as close talkers, y’all.

We’re navigating uncharted, shark infested waters. The electoral college winner is a mentally unstable showman with a short attention span. Twitter will play a depressingly important role in how this fake populist deals with the populace.

Michael F came up with the I Claudius style featured image for a post called If Caligula Means Little Boots as opposed to, say, little hands. The term “bread and circuses” was coined by the delinquent Roman wag Juvenal during the reign of Augustus; the man who finished off the Roman Republic. Unlike Trump, Augustus was a competent, intelligent man. The Insult Comedian is more reminiscent of that imperial pussy grabber, Tiberius who tried and failed to fill his stepfather’s strappy sandals. But Tiberius *was* able to provide bread and circuses for the masses. All the Insult Comedian/Sideshow Barker is likely to provide is tweets and circuses.

The next time anyone falls for one of Trump’s diversions, you could do worse than ponder the  following question posed by Pete Townshend, Why Did I Fall For That?

Repeat after me: tweets and circuses. Why did I fall for that?

Saturday Odds & Sods: Broken Arrow

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Right and Left by Winslow Homer, 1909.

I’m black and blue from pinching myself to prove that the Insult Comedian’s electoral college victory really happened. It’s a real life nightmare but at least we had our first cold front of the season. My colleagues in Chicago and Madison would call it mildly chilly but it’s cold by New Orleans standards. Cold enough to plug-in the space heaters and turn on the central. I’m not crazy about the smell of burning dust on the vents but it ends fairly quickly. The cats, of course, love bathing in the rays of the space heaters.

We’ve all been so focused on the electoral disaster that not enough attention has been paid to the South Dakota pipeline controversy. I plead guilty myself but I stand with the Standing Rock Sioux. If you’re like me and feel the need to be educated on the dispute, here’s a link to a FAQ about the situation.

It’s a much better way to spend your time than thinking about the December 10th Gret Stet Senate run-off. Here’s my position on the Neely-Foghorn Leghorn race in two tweets:

I forgot about two earlier ones, so make that four tweets:

Let’s move on to this week theme song. Make that theme songs as they’re two different tunes with the same title. The first Broken Arrow comes from Robbie Robertson’s eponymous first solo album. The second is a Neil Young/Buffalo Springfield numbah that shows how influential Sgt. Pepper was even with roots rockers.

We’ll put the broken arrow back in the quiver when we get the chance but it’s time for our first segment. Hint: it has something to do with a songwriter of Native-American heritage.

Robbie Robertson’s Testimony: The former Band guitarist has long been one of rock music’s best storytellers. He recently published his memoirs, Testimony. He sat down with Esquire’s Jeff Slate to discuss the book, Bob Dylan, the 40th Anniversary of The Last Waltz and his often rocky relationship with his former band mates of whom only keyboard wizard Garth Hudson still survives.

As a writer, I found this passage of particular interest:

Did you find similarities in the way you write music and the way you wrote the book?

Yeah, I think for me the voice is quite similar. The process is extremely different and writing this book was maybe the hardest thing I’ve ever done. This isn’t just slamming down a bunch of words. This is writing a book! The detail! Writing songs is where we’re giving you an impression of a story. When you’re writing a book, you’re writing the story. There’s no skipping over stuff like you can in a song. It’s an art to be able to boil things down, and convey things with a sound and a mood. I love both things, but now, after writing this, I have the fever and I’m gonna write the next volume to it. In fact, it might be a trilogy!

I’m looking forward to reading the book. I wonder how deep Robbie goes into his issues with Levon Helm. I hope he clears the air, but since the major problem was money I have my doubts. I regret they never worked things out but as John Lennon said: “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

Before moving on, here’s one of Robbie’s lesser known masterpieces.

In the interview, Robbie mentioned working on music for the new Scorsese film, let’s move on to a story from tomorrow’s NYT Magazine.

The Passion of Martin Scorsese: It turns out that Marty’s passion project has been to bring The Silence, a novel about Catholic missionaries in Japan by Shusako Endo, to the big screen. It may sound like an odd project to those of you who think of Scorsese as a guy who makes gangster films but religion has always played a role in his films. It sounds like an interesting project. Paul Elie has the details.

I’m keeping it brief this holiday weekend so let’s dive into our next piece, which is about Scorsese’s fellow Italian-American filmmaker, Francis Ford Coppola. I’ll let the NYT’s link icon thing herald the next segment:

I’ve seen The Godfather more times than I care to admit. Actually, I lost count long ago. The first two installments are close to perfect, and 3 would have been much better if Winona Ryder had played Michael Corleone’s doomed daughter. Winona’s fall from grace happened right before shooting and Sofia Coppola stepped in. It’s a pity, there’s much to like about the movie but, let’s just say, Sofia is a better director than actress.

Coppola sat down with Timesman Jacob Bernstein to talk about his Godfather book. Here’s a slice of the pie:

When was the last time you watched “The Godfather”?

Oh, I don’t know, years ago. For me, the memory of “The Godfather” brings great unhappiness. That movie took 60 days, and it was miserable, not to mention the months after of jockeying over the cut. So my reaction is usually of panic and nausea, but that has nothing to do with how it is for the audience.

Something I liked about reading your book was finding out how methodical you were. There’s a presumption that all great art is the result of a boundless imagination. This book shows that it’s a slog.

It was insecurity. I was so young. I was hired because I was young. A lot of important directors turned it down. Elia Kazan turned it down. Costa-Gavras turned it down, a whole bunch of important directors. So the philosophy was, let’s get someone young, who could presumably be pushed around. Also, I was Italian-American, and that was good, because it meant if the studio got flak they could simply say, “But it was an Italian-American director.”

It’s a pity that Coppola has been the Orson Welles of his generation instead of thriving like Scorsese. If you asked me back in the day who would have been more successful, my money would have been on Coppola. Sorry, Marty. It’s another thing I’ve been wrong about. Francis is a helluva winemaker though.

I’ve already done a list of my favorite Scorsese movies, so we’ll try something different. My ten favorite supporting characters in The Godfather trilogy in no particular order. I’ve excluded the males in the Corleone family from consideration. Sorry, Fredo.

  1. Talia Shire as Connie Corleone Rizzi.
  2. Abe Vigoda as Tessio.
  3. Richard Castellano as Clemenza
  4. Michael Gazzo as Frankie Pentangeli in 2.
  5. Lee Strasberg Hyman Roth in 2.
  6. Eli Wallach as Don Altobello in 3.
  7. GD Spradlin as Senator Geary in 2
  8. Richard Conte as Don Barzini.
  9. Sterling Hayden as Capt. McCluskey.
  10. Gastone Moschin as Fanucci in 2.

One flaw of the Godfather movies is the paucity of interesting female characters. David Chase did better in that regard in The Sopranos. Come on down, Janis Soprano and Dr. Melfi.

It’s time to make an offer you can’t refuse, and move on to our final segment.

Saturday Classic: I usually post albums in this space but I had never seen this half-hour Kinks set before. It’s Kinktastic, especially the Kick horns who have nothing to do with Athenae’s kiddo as far as I know.

That’s it for this week. I’ll give the greatest Gret Stet populists of them all the last word:

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Electoral College Blues

Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report has been crunching the numbers and it looks as if Hillary Clinton will win the popular vote by 2.5 million votes. That margin is greater than the following post-World War II popular vote/electoral college winners:

1976: Carter beat Ford by 1,683, 247 votes.

1968: Nixon beat Humphrey by 511,944 votes.

1960: Kennedy beat Nixon by 112,827 votes.

1948: Truman beat Dewey by 2,188,055 votes.

Our 19th Century electoral system has bitten us in the ass for the second time in five elections. Unfortunately, it’s how we elect Presidents. The only way to change the system is for a party that wins the electoral college to propose its abolition. Otherwise it sounds like sour grapes or sore loserdom. It’s terrible when, as in 2000 and 2016, the stakes are so high. In 2000, the electoral college elected a genial simpleton. In 2016, they elected a nasty sociopath. Calling the situation worrisome is a grotesque understatement, but hyperbole got us into this mess so a bit of understatement is not a bad idea.

There are some novel electoral college ideas floating around the internet. I wish I thought any of them could reverse the election but, as of this writing, I do not. There are some faithless electors who hope to blow up the system. I have my doubts there are enough of them to throw the election into the House. That’s not a happy solution either since Republicans control it and Ryan is on the verge of realizing his dream of destroying medicare. Why that should be anyone’s dream is beyond me but it’s his. Hence Charlie Pierce’s nickname for him: the Zombie Eyed Granny Starver. Much of our effort should be focused on stiffening the spines of Senate Democrats to prevent this calamity. F is for filibuster.

The disparity between the popular and electoral vote is troublesome, especially given the allegations about Russian hackers and spooks. Oh my. A voting machine audit is a capital idea BUT it’s unlikely to reverse the results. I think it *should* be done if only to lessen doubts on our side. Given HRC’s margin in the popular vote, there will *always* be doubts about the 2016 election. I harbor them myself but we’re more likely than not stuck with the Insult Comedian as our next President. Having said that, I will never accept his legitimacy. I plan to resist in whatever way that I can. Vive les Maquis.

A more promising reason to challenge the results is contained in a piece by New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman. I’m squeezing it in here because this piece was 95.4% finished.

Hillary Clinton is being urged by a group of prominent computer scientists and election lawyers to call for a recount in three swing states won by Donald Trump, New York has learned. The group, which includes voting-rights attorney John Bonifaz and J. Alex Halderman, the director of the University of Michigan Center for Computer Security and Society, believes they’ve found persuasive evidence that results in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania may have been manipulated or hacked. The group is so far not speaking on the record about their findings and is focused on lobbying the Clinton team in private.

Deadlines are looming so Team Clinton needs to decide before cutting the turkey. I have no idea what will come of this but it means that Trump’s legitimacy is zip, zilch, and zero. Here’s a Yiddish word to annoy Bannon and the B3 Brownshirts: Bupkis.

(UPDATE: Data nerds Nates Cohn and Silver are skeptical of the claims made in Sherman’s piece. So it goes.)

The most thought-provoking piece I’ve seen about the Electoral College mess is by the Atlantic’s Peter Beinart. Here’s the money passage:

It is “desirable,” Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 68, “that the sense of the people should operate in the choice of” president. But is “equally desirable, that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station.” These “men”—the electors––would be “most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.” And because of their discernment—because they possessed wisdom that the people as a whole might not—“the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.”

As Michael Signer explains, the framers were particularly afraid of the people choosing a demagogue. The electors, Hamilton believed, would prevent someone with “talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity” from becoming president. And they would combat “the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.” They would prevent America’s adversaries from meddling in its elections. The founders created the Electoral College, in other words, in part to prevent the election of someone like Donald Trump.

It’s hard to argue that point. This situation is unprecedented. Like all Democrats, I wanted the Florida recount to continue in 2000. When it ended, I was all like: He’s Poppy Bush’s son, how bad can it be? We know how that turned out.

In 2016, we are confronted with an electoral college winner who is stupid, mentally unstable, and has authoritarian tendencies. His claim that he alone can decide not to prosecute his opponent is how dictators talk. I wish I had a clear idea of how to deal with this menace by legal, political means but I don’t. Pointing out problems is easy, coming up with solutions is hard.

Where do we go from here? I wish I knew. Resistance, in ways both small and large, to the new order is in order. It is still possible that Trump’s incompetence will save the Republic but we cannot count on it. Team Trump were somehow able to win the electoral vote.

In 2018, Democrats need to show up at the polls to express our disapproval at the ballot box. The obsession with the White House at the expense of down ballot races has become an unhealthy addiction. We need to kick it and focus on organizing at the state and local level. That’s how a party is rebuilt and how autocracy is prevented.

2016 really sucks the big one. Happy Fucking Thanksgiving.

I hate to end on such a hopeless note, so let’s play the ultimate Yes song:

It’s your move. Vive les Maquis.

Tweet Of The Day: Pho Neo-Nazi Edition

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One reason I’m a faithful TPM reader is that I learn new things there, even those I’d prefer NOT to learn. Today for example, I read about the so-called Alt-Right meeting at Washington City this weekend. It was the first time I’d ever heard of Tila Tequila who is a singer and reality show type. She’s a N-list celebrity: N is for neo-Nazi. More shockingly, her real name is Thien Thanh Thi Nguyen. That’s right, a Vietnamese-American neo-Nazi. Hence the pho in the title. That delicious soup/stew is pronounced fuh. The tweet below made me want to say pho you to Tila:

I wonder if Richard Spencer has made her an honorary Aryan yet. I seem to recall Ribbentrop and Hitler doing racial backflips when they formed an alliance with Japan. Btw, Ms. Tila: Japan was one of the imperial powers that occupied your homeland. So much for Vietnamese nationalism.

There’s a large, lively Vietnamese community in New Orleans East. They tend to be conservative Catholics: the accidental former GOP Congressman Joseph Cao is a good example of their politics. Conservative but not nutty. I don’t think there are many white nationalist neo-Nazis among them. The mind reels at the thought, y’all.

Apparently, Tila Tequila has been an ardent Hitler fan for some time according to her wikipedia entry

In December 2013, Nguyen caused controversy by posting an article on her website titled “Why I Sympathize with Hitler: Part I”, although she stated that her views on Hitler were not derived from antisemitism on her part, nor any feelings toward Jewish people. Nguyen stated:

For those of you who focus on the victims of war well that is just part of war. What do you think war is about? People DIE in wars that is why I am against wars. It brought me to tears because I used to think all of those horrible things about him [Hitler] until I learned the truth about the war and what Hitler truly did and he was not a bad person as they have painted him out to be. Here is a man who was not a coward, stood up for his country in a DESPERATE TIME OF NEED (unlike all of our cowardly leaders), and yet not only did he try his best to help his country and people get out of what was a time of depression, economic collapse, high unemployment, amongst many other things.[61]

Honorary white person, neo-Nazi, and amateur historian. Tila is quite a piece of work. She also attacked the right-wing journalist Ben Shapiro after he quit Breitbart in protest of its Trumpiness:

…on May 6, 2016, Nguyen tweeted that Jewish-American political commentator Ben Shapiro should “be gassed and sent back to Israel” and later posted that “There are only two things in this world, for which I would gladly sacrifice my own life; the destruction of all Jews and preservation of the white race” and “You know what will help Asians earn respect? An Asian version of Adolf Hitler… I want that person to be me; I want to save the world from this Zionist disease.”[65]

.Onslow 2

This is what the country is up against now that Trump won the electoral college and the B3 Brownshirts plan to make the West Wing part of the even Whiter House.

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders wants to take over a party he does not belong to and oblige it to “abandon identity politics.” The Independent Senator from one of the least diverse states in the country remains convinced that the Trumpenproletariat did not vote for him out of prejudice. I remain convinced that he is wrong, and that to follow his line is to abandon support for those female, black, brown, and Asian working class folks who voted for Hillary Clinton. We need to stand up to bigotry, not make excuses for it. Vive les Maquis.

As for Tila Tequila, I’m glad she’s changed her name from the Vietnamese equivalent of Smith. I’m sorry that she’s a self-loathing Vietnamese-American who thinks that white nationalists will accept her people. Does she really believe Trumper xenophobia does not include Asians? It’s hard to tell whether it’s naivete or delusion but both are in oversupply in 2016.

Finally, I’d like to apologize for the pho pun. Sometimes I cannot help myself. I am, however, not sorry enough to remove it. I plan to eat more pho in penance for the pho you pun.

Trump’s Tactical Tweeting

As much as I hate to give the Insult Comedian credit for anything, his use of Twitter this weekend as a distraction shows more cunning than usual. The big story *should* have been the $25 million settlement of the fraud cases against the Flim-Flam man’s fake “university.” That did not happen; instead it was the flap over Mike Pence being booed on Broadway.

Here’s the deal: politicians get booed at public events all the time. The current occupant of the White House was even heckled during a State of the Union speech. Remember the “You Lie” guy, Joe Wilson? Pence receiving a mixture of boos and cheers from the Hamilton audience is only a big whoop because his master’s voice made it one. Trump wanted to create a diversion and the bright shiny object of demanding an apology over this non-event did the trick.

The Hamilton story is a fun one. It *is* funny that the rudest man in American was Miss Manners all of a sudden. It is, however, not as important as the fraud settlement or even Trump’s tweets claiming he would have won those cases but settled for the good of the country. The Pence booing is easier to understand so the MSM and the Twitterati swallowed the bait. The latter has an excuse for being so shallow but the MSM does not. How to cover the Insult Comedian continues to elude them. And the “Presidents grow in office” myth is about to kick in. We’re really in for it if they don’t learn from their mistakes.

Jack Kennedy famously was the first President to master the use of tevee as a political tool. Many called his the Television Presidency. Donald Trump seems poised to become the Twitter President. Sometimes there’s method in his tweeting madness such as the Pence diversion. The good news for the Republic is that Trump is notoriously undisciplined and has hurt himself with his tweets i.e. the Alicia Machado tweetstorm. Let’s hope the MSM doesn’t go for the next shiny object dangled in a Trump tweet. I am not optimistic about this given the spontaneous on-the-fly nature of the medium.

Repeat after me: fraud is more important than booing.

The booing on Broadway gave me an earworm. It’s a good one. In my contemporary reading of this song, the lamb is the gullible MSM. Thus far the mendacious Trump propaganda team is slaughtering them. Time to give Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Steve Hackett, and Phil Collins the last word:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: God’s Comic

man-ray-glass-tears

Glass Tears by Man Ray, 1932.

Facebook killed me off earlier this week. I even got a death notice from them but neglected to take a screen shot. I was not alone in receiving a premature memorial page notice from the Zuckerdudes. Facebook even whacked blog pun consultant James Karst:

Karst is dead.

I’m pleased to report that, unlike the late Johnny Winter, Karst is still alive and well:

I’ve heard several explanations as to what went wrong but there’s one I like. And I’m sticking to it even if it’s debunked as de bunk. Consider it my Ford factory relocation moment. Here it is: It may have been concocted by trolls who wanted to metaphorically liquidate people whose content they dislike. I wear their scorn as a badge of honor even if I have long believed that “we don’t need no stinking badges.” That’s my story and I’m sticking to it, y’all. Facebook and fake news go together like Lennon and McCartney before Yoko and Linda or Rodgers and Hart before Hammerstein. Oscar, Oscar, Oscar.

This week’s theme song is an obvious choice: God’s Comic by Elvis Costello. It’s written from the perspective of a dead guy. This may make EC the Nostraelvis of rock and roll since it was written for the Spike album in 1989 long before Facebook existed. Or is that Nostradeclan? I cannot for the life or death of me keep that straight. First the song followed by a few  lyrics:

EC is a notoriously wordy songwriter so there are a lot of lyrics.  Here’s the first verse followed by the chorus :

I wish you’d known me when I was alive, I was a funny feller
The crowd would hoot and holler for more
I wore a drunk’s red nose for applause
Oh yes I was a comical priest
“With a joke for the flock and a hand up your fleece”
Drooling the drink and the lipstick and greasepaint
Down the cardboard front of my dirty dog-collar

Now I’m dead, now I’m dead, now I’m dead,
Now I’m dead, now I’m dead
And I’m going on to meet my reward
I was scared, I was scared, I was scared, I was scared
He might of never heard God’s Comic

On that mordantly morbid note, it’s time for the break. We should move expeditiously before Facebook kills me off again and I go on to meet my reward.

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