Category Archives: Fog Of History

Quote Of The Day: Lost Cause Monuments Edition

Photograph via CBS News.

60 Minutes had a doubleheader last night. I used to be a devoted viewer until the Lara Logan fiasco and the addition of the dread Oprah to the roster. That’s neither here not there: they still do some fine work.

Anderson Cooper did a segment about the monuments controversy covering both New Orleans and Richmond, VA. Outgoing Mayor Mitch Landrieu got off several good lines. This was the money quote:

Anderson Cooper: You look at these monuments. You wouldn’t know the Confederacy lost.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu: Well, that was the whole point. The whole point was to convince people that actually they won, and even in their defeat, it was a noble cause. And of course, the whole point of this is to– is to confront history. I mean, this wasn’t an LSU-Alabama football game where it didn’t matter who won and lost, and you just got braggin’ rights. I mean, we were talkin’ about millions of people enslaved, 600,000 American citizens were killed, and they were trying to destroy the country.

I have mixed feelings about the second Landrieu mayoralty (the first was his father’s run from 1970-1978) but his handling of monuments issue was a high point. The removal of the massive Lee statute was a particular triumph as it loomed over the city. Lee and his ilk did not fight for a noble cause, they were traitors pure and simple.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Heart Of Gold

Tree Of Life by Gustav Klimt.

The weather is playing tricks on us. We’re having February weather in March. That’s fine with me. It beats the hell out of an early New Orleans summer. But the cool temperatures have brought the pollen that torments me in the Spring. Achoo.

In local news, the Mississippi River is on the rise, so it’s time to open the Bonnet Carre Spillway to divert river water into Lake Pontchartrain to prevent flooding. It has me pondering the way folks in South Louisiana pronounce French words. We’re usually off but as not badly as with the Spillway: the local media insist on saying Bonny Carry. That sounds like a blue-haired old lady up river in Duluth. It drives me nuts, y’all. I feel like taking a stroll up Charters (Chartres) Street.

This week’s theme songs are inspired by the layers of golden pollen that are everywhere in Uptown New Orleans. Achoo. Neil Young’s Heart Of Gold was the first of many sonic departures he was to take in his career. It worked: it was Neil’s first big solo hit.

Ray Davies has told two stories about the Kinks’ Heart Of Gold. One is that it was inspired by the birth of his daughter. The other story is that it was inspired by Princess Ann telling some photographers to “naff off.” Only Ray knows for sure. If you asked him, I suspect he’d come up with a third story.

I love Ray’s chorus:

Underneath that rude exterior,
There’s got to be a heart of gold.
Underneath that hard exterior,
Is a little girl waiting to be told,
You’ve got a heart of gold.
She’s got a heart of gold.

Let’s take our rude and hard exteriors and jump to the break. “Watch out, don’t get caught in the crossfire.”

Continue reading

You Beto You Bet

Texas is a white whale for Democrats and I refuse to play Captain Ahab. I have some friends who are enthusiastic, nay giddy, about El Paso Congressman Beto O’Rourke’s challenge to Tailgunner Ted Cruz. As a firm believer in the 50-state strategy, I’m pulling for him but it’s an uphill struggle since Cruz is taking nothing for granted. It’s apt to be one of the most entertaining races in the country, especially since Beto is such a punworthy name.

Team Cruz has fired the opening salvo in its general election campaign. They’re out to Beto their opponent into submission with a radio ad, which informs us to a country Beto that you “if you’re gonna run in Texas, you can’t be a liberal man.”

The ad implies that O’Rourke adopted the nickname to pander to gun-grabbers and illegal aliens since Beto is a Hispanic nickname for Robert, which is the candidate’s given name. Without missing a Beto, the congressman told CNN that he was called Beto since he was a wee laddie as you can see from this tweet:

I hope he’s learned how to tie his shoes…

This tempest in a Texas sized teacup is, of course, ridiculous since Rafael Edward Cruz goes by the nickname of Ted. I guess the point of this stupid ad is to show that real men and/or manly conservatives don’t have nicknames or some such shit. If that’s so, I call bullshit on Cruz who has been a profile in political cowardice since he caved to the Trumpers. Like most wingnuts, Cruz is a fake he-man who is terrified of the Republican base and Trumpy.

The whole thing is extra-ridiculous because it clashes with two myths beloved by Texas right-wingers: the Alamo and John Wayne. The two myths converged in the bad 1960 movie directed by the Duke who played Davy  Crockett:

Just think, we’ve gone from a movie star with a dead raccoon atop his head to a reality teevee star with a dead nutria atop his head. So much for progress.

Country music has long been used by Texas politicians back to the days of Pass The Biscuits Pappy O’Daniel who was elected Governor in 1939 and Senator in 1941. Are you ready for a biscuity hoe-down?

If the Cruzites want to get really vicious, they could adapt a Kinky Friedman classic and use it against Beto O’Rourke:

The downside is that the Kinkster, who ran for Governor against Rick Perry in 2006, is unlikely to give them permission to use his tune. Besides, the real asshole in the race is Tailgunner Ted.

Whatever happens, the Texas Senate race will be a real barn burner. (Uh oh, I’m showing signs of John Neely Kennedy fake hick syndrome.) I’m sure I’ll write about it again since I have only begun to pun. The last word goes to (who else?) The Who:

That’s Why I Call Him The Kaiser Of Chaos

The word of the week in the MSM was chaos. I’ve been calling Trump the Kaiser of Chaos since last July so I guess I’m ahead of the curve. It’s not much to brag about given how many pundits and news writers are still waiting for the president* to grow in office or pivot. He shows no signs of either and seems to be shrinking the office’s stature, especially in foreign affairs.

Last week, the Kaiser of Chaos declared a trade war on steel producers thinking it was against China when it would impact friendly countries such as Germany and Australia. He also see-sawed between pro-gun control lawmakers and the NRA. It’s classic Trump: he sides with the last person he speaks to and the NRA’s lobbyist was there last. It continues to amaze me that he has an image as a tough guy when he caves at the slightest opposition from his party or the interest groups who finance it. It reminds me of an old baseball aphorism I first learned in Jim Bouton’s Ball Four: He’s has an alligator mouth and a hummingbird ass.

It was also the week that extent of Slumlord Jared Kushner’s corruption went public. Bigly. While I’m not shocked that he’s used his proximity to the president* to save his financial ass, the blatancy of these efforts surprised me. The Javanka-Kelly war was another thing that led the MSM to call chaos on Team Trump. It looks as if the kids may be losing to the asshole Marine general. I think it helps that Kelly is as big of a bigot as the boss. Believe me.

Trump spoke at the Gridiron dinner in Washington last weekend. He trotted out his Insult Comedian persona but stepped on the jokes with lame, incoherent ad-libs. Here’s one about outgoing New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu:

“And I know Mayor Mitch Landrieu feels right at home in Washington coming from Louisiana. I love Louisiana. … Not too bad right? Not bad Mitch! … It’s a beautiful swamp. I like that swamp. … That’s a much more legitimate swamp. But I have to say Mitch, that while you’re here in Washington, only one request. … They already hit him on the statues. I was going to say, ‘Don’t touch our statues.’ But they’ve already hit you three times on the statues. … But Mitch you did a good job tonight and honestly I love the way you finished. … I really did. I thought it was very appropriate. … Thank you.”

A swamp and statue joke from the leading swamp thing in Washington? Draining the swamp seems to be the ultimate lost cause.

A note on my use of the word Kaiser. It started back in the days of my eponymous blog. Then New Orleans Mayor C Ray Nagin had just appointed a windbag named Ed Blakely as recovery director. The local press insisted on calling him the Katrina Tsar. I offered Katrina Kaiser as a more alliterative alternative but it never caught on. That’s when my war on the word Tsar began It’s been a losing battle but I’ve enjoyed pointing out that Tsar and Kaiser are both rooted in Caesar. And both the last Tsar and Kaiser were world-class incompetents and losers. One of them, however, survived to a cranky old age in the Netherlands. I wonder if the Kaiser of Chaos has a golf course there?

Finally, I had some fun with the featured image. On one side, the Kaiser of Chaos with a dead nutria pelt atop his head. On the other side, Kaiser Wilhelm II with a pickelhaube atop his head and a dead animal pelt serving as a furry sash of sorts. Kaisers are kooky in a way that Tsars never are.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Love For Sale

At The Moulin Rouge by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

It’s been a relatively uneventful week at Adrastos World HQ. My cold has gone; only to be replaced by allergies since we’ve gone from winter to late spring without skipping a beat.  It’s hard to believe how damn cold it was just a few weeks ago when we’re slowly moving into air-dish season.  The good news is that a cool front just arrived. It won’t last long but we can dream, dream, dream.

The Toulouse-Lautrec featured image was inspired by a local news story. Last month, some Bourbon Street dancers staged a protest after a police crackdown on strip clubs in the Quarter. They had a lot of support in the community because New Orleans has always had strip clubs and always will. We’ve also always had people who wanted to close or tightly restrict the clubs. The beat goes on.

I suppose I should apologize for using a Cole Porter song for the second time in a month. I decline to do so: Cole was the master. Love For Sale was my earworm when I wrote the Senator For Sale post last Monday. That’s why it’s the theme song. I hope you won’t give me a Cole shoulder for being repetitive…

We have two radically different versions of Porter’s Love For Sale. First,  Anita O’Day’s torchy and sultry version recorded in 1959 with Billy May and his big band. Second, Miles Davis from Kind Of Blue featuring some of his best sidemen: Trane and Cannonball among others.

I should have mentioned the great Bill Evans but he didn’t have a colorful nickname. He was merely a brilliant pianist and arranger.

It’s title disambiguation time. That’s a big word but I bet the brainy members of Talking Heads know it:

Now that I’ve sold you love or some such shit, let’s jump to the break before you demand a refund.

Continue reading

Saturday Odds & Sods: Papa Was A Rolling Stone

Hesitation Waltz by Rene Magritte.

It’s been a frustrating week at Adrastos World HQ. Every time I think my pernicious and persistent cold is getting better, I backslide. I would have preferred to be really sick for a few days and then better. Make up your mind, cold.

In local news, the lame duck New Orleans City Council has been up to all sorts of mischief: voting to approve a new power plant for Entergy that won’t solve our blackout  problems and allowing taller buildings to be constructed alongside the Mother of Rivers.  I suspect that the presence of Mayor-elect Cantrell on the Council is one reason they feel free to take such votes. It does not bode well for those who hoped the incoming Mayor would be more neighborhood/citizen friendly. Score another win for real estate developers who are the worst people in the world. Exhibit A for this argument currently lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

This week’s theme song is a tribute to Temptations singer Dennis Edwards who died earlier this month at the age of 74. Papa Was A Rolling Stone was written by Norman Whitfield and Barret Strong and was a monster hit in 1972. Here are two versions for your enjoyment: the Temps and David Lindley.

Now that I’ve dissed real estate developers and my stupid cold, it’s time to roll over to the break. I’m too enfeebled to jump.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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: