Category Archives: Fog Of Scandal

The Trump Tax Story: Short Form

It landed like a thermonuclear weapon on Sunday afternoon. You know what I’m talking about. The New York Times got ahold of President* Pennywise’s tax forms.

Trump’s lame response proves that he’s the man without a plan. They should have been expecting this shoe to drop for years but they were still caught with their pants down then proceeded to trip over them. Slapstick ensues when a cartoon villain is elected president*.

The main story is enormous. Mercifully, they’ve provided us with summary of their findings: 18 Revelations From A Trove Of Trump Tax Records.

No one is surprised that Trump paid little or no taxes, alas. They’re spinning that as smart, not unpatriotic. The super rich evade taxes all the time. Last year, Pro Publica ran a piece showing that the place where a taxpayer is most likely to be audited  is:

Humphreys County, Mississippi, seems like an odd place for the IRS to go hunting for tax cheats. It’s a rural county in the Mississippi Delta known for its catfish farms, and more than a third of its mostly African American residents are below the poverty line. But according to a new study, it is the most heavily audited county in America.

They should be knocking on the doors of Trump Tower, Mar a Lago, and the White House instead. Talk about a rigged game.

The most devastating revelation contained in Trump’s taxes is what a shitty businessman he is. It’s confirms what many of us have known or suspected but the NYT has the details. It’s all about the write-offs for the Trump family. I wish I could write-off haircuts on my taxes. Not much savings this year since I haven’t had a haircut since February. Thanks, Donald.

No one story is going to topple the Impeached Insult Comedian. It’s the drip, drip, drip effect hence the Magritte featured image. It’s what did in Tricky Dick during Watergate: drip, drip, drip. One of the most devastating drips was Nixon’s tax fraud. It’s something that people understand. They still do.

It’s obvious why Trump has hidden his tax forms. They paint him as just another grifter intent on chiseling a system in a way that ordinary people can’t. It’s essential to his fragile self-image that he be rich, rich, rich, not drowning in debt. The fact that some of his largest loans come due soon is one reason he’s so desperate to be re-elected. He needs Bill Barr to protect him from prosecution and financial ruin. It’s an excellent reason to vote the crooked motherfucker out of office.

It’s time for them to go. Make it so, America, make it so.

The last word goes to Robert Cray:

I know that Trump doesn’t file 1040s but that’s a helluva song.

Drip, drip, drip.

Saturday Odds & Sods: You Won’t See Me

Masks by James Ensor.

It’s been cool all week in New Orleans. It’s unclear if Fall has fallen or it’s a cruel hoax. My money is on the latter. The heat doesn’t usually break here until sometime in October. The good news is that we’re not under threat of a tropical system. It feels odd not to be checking the spaghetti tracks every few hours but that’s another autumnal augury. End of obligatory weather-related opening passage.

This week’s theme song comes from one of my favorite Beatles albums, Rubber Soul. It was one of the first albums I ever owned. When my father saw the cover he said, “Those are the ugliest women I ever saw.”

To this day I’m uncertain whether or not Lou was joking. The only one who would have made an ugly woman was the drummer. Sorry, Ringo.

You Won’t See Me is a Macca song, but it’s credited to Lennon & McCartney as were all the pair’s songs. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

We have three versions of You Won’t See Me for your listening pleasure: The Beatles original, and covers by Bryan Ferry and Canadian songbird, Anne Murray.

I never expected to post an Anne Murray song at First Draft, but I might as well go big and post her monster hit from 1970:

Let’s spread our tiny wings and fly away to the break.

Continue reading

Tweet Of The Day: Josh Marshall Edition

Although we have to prepare for the worst, Josh Marshall is skeptical of Trump’s staying power when it comes to defying the election results:

I concur. I think it’s Trump’s latest con game. He’s making excuses for losing. We’ll be hearing the same pitiful refrain until he either dies or goes to the slammer. President* Pennywise is a pussy. He should grab himself.

I have a busy day today so I’m going to keep this brief. I’ll be back at 4pm sharp for the Friday Cocktail Hour.

The last word is dedicated to the Impeached Insult Comedian. Consider it foreshadowing for when we next meet:

That’s Why I Call Him President* Pennwyise

Image by Michael F.

I first called Donald Trump President* Pennywise on 8/16/2019:

Pennywise the evil clown (is there any other kind?) thrives on fear. He gets stronger the more he fearmongers. It’s what emboldens him to get out of the gutter and come into the open. The Insult Comedian never leaves the gutter BUT he too thrives on fear. That’s why I mock him: he feeds off our fear and recoils from our scorn. President* Pennywise is a pussy. He should grab himself.

I don’t see Trump as a figure of fun even though he’s funny. What he’s doing to the country is not funny but he cuts a ridiculous figure as he wreaks havoc. At the risk of sounding like a Reader’s Digest feature, laughter is the best medicine against Trumpism. Their dear leader has no sense of humor unless the joke is on his enemies. That’s why one should laugh at him, not cower, especially when the laughter is provoked by his latest outrageous statement.

I stand by everything I wrote last year. Satire is even more important as President* Pennywise unravels. He’s terrified that he’s going to lose the election. His recent OTT comments about voting being a “scam and a hoax” are a sign of weakness, not strength A reminder that he said some of the same things in 2016. He expected to lose then too. He was half right. He lost the popular vote.

It’s impossible for Trump to publicly admit error or even the possibility that he might lose. Losing is for “suckers and losers” and Trump is a winner in his own feeble mind. As far as he’s concerned, the only way he can lose is to be defrauded and screwed. It’s like the “perfect phone call” to the Ukrainian president that led me to add Impeached to the original nickname, the Insult Comedian.

Before President* Pennywise’s latest series of extreme statements about not honoring the election results, an article by Barton Gellman in the Atlantic had rattled everyone’s cages. Gellman discussed ideas floating around Trumpistan about possible electoral challenges that they might purse in the event of a close loss to Joe Biden.

Despite Gellman’s careful language, people decided that this was a “plan” as opposed to being a scheme at the discussion stage. If I believed in having imaginary teevee friends Rachel Maddow would be one. Last night, she had an on-air meltdown over Trump’s latest fear mongering putting aside her own maxim: Watch What They Do, Not What They Say.

The news is rotten, scary, and terrible so I get it. But instead of giving into fear, we need to fight back and not lose our nerve for the task at hand. If the electorate administers a thorough ass-kicking to Trump, schemes to set aside the electoral college will be abandoned. The fate of the country is in our hands, not some Republican lawyers in Pennsylvania. Team Biden seems prepared to deal with the legal challenges so we should focus on voting. If turn-out is high, we win, and they lose.

I think Democrats may have to tweak our voting plans. The Banana Republicans are counting on being ahead on election night so they can declare victory and attack uncounted ballots even though they usually include overseas military voters. It’s imperative that as many people as possible vote in a way that their vote will be counted on election day. That means voting early in person or by mail or voting in person on election day. We may just have to mask up and stand in line to vote the fuckers out. Mister Google can help you check the laws in your state to make sure your vote will count on 11/3/2020.

Fear is a powerful emotion. It’s why President* Pennywise spends so much time stoking it. Given everything the country has been through in 2020, it’s understandable why people are afraid. Trump wants his enemies to be afraid, so they’ll be too depressed to vote. I think Bob Woodward is on to something with his Trump book titles. We need to move from Fear to Rage and take it out on Trumpism.

It’s time for them to go. Make it so, America, make it so.

We should all be more like Tom Petty and Mudcrutch who get the last word. They don’t scare easy. Neither should we:

 

Quote Of The Day: Your President* Lies Edition

The Big Lie is alive and well. Here’s the Kaiser of Chaos at a super-spreader rally in Ohio:

“It affects elderly people, elderly people with heart problems, if they have other problems, that’s what it really affects, in some states thousands of people — nobody young — below the age of 18, like nobody — they have a strong immune system — who knows?” Mr. Trump said.

“It affects virtually nobody,” he added. “It’s an amazing thing — by the way, open your schools!”

A reminder that, as of this writing, 201,000 and counting Americans have died of COVID-19.

Remember when we debated whether Bob Woodward holding back the Trump tapes cost people lives? Trump is still trying to lie his way through the pandemic. An earlier release would have changed nothing.

President* Pennywise is also claiming that we’ve “rounded the corner” on COVID. That reminds me of the “light at the end of the tunnel” imagery during the Vietnam War, mocked by Herblock in this 1970 cartoon:

I used the Underworld USA campaign notes meme because the Impeached Insult Comedian is celebrating violence against reporters:

… at a rally in Bemidji, Minnesota, President Donald Trump told his audience a story about the MSNBC journalist Ali Velshi. “I remember this guy Velshi,” the president said (he pronounced it “Welshy”):

“He got hit on the knee with a canister of tear gas. And he went down. He didn’t—heeee was down. ‘My knee! My knee!’ [Crowd laughs] Nobody cared, these guys didn’t care. They moved him aside. [Crowd laughs.] And they just walked right through—it was like, it was the most beautiful thing. No, because after we take all that crap for weeks and weeks, they would take this crap. And then you finally see men get up there and [punches fist forward] go right through, did—wasn’t it really a beautiful sight? [Crowd cheers.]

It’s called law and order. Law and order!”

Ali Velshi is the hardest working man in cable news biz. The least Trump could do is to get his name right. We don’t expect him to get the facts straight. Ali was hit with a rubber bullet, which reminds me of an old rock song:

This celebration of violence is strictly performative. Trump is a coward. If he loves violence so much, why did avoid serving in Vietnam? We all know the reason for that: he didn’t want to be a “loser or a sucker.”  Those horrific remarks ultimately led to this:

Trump’s reply was typically petty:

Beautiful is one of Trump’s favorite words. He usually misuses it. This exchange between Republicans is truly beautiful.

For the last word, it’s time to kick off our periodic election countdown:

Quote Of The Day: Watch What They Do, Not What They Say

I’m alarmed by the number of people who are taking the wilder statements by Team Trump literally. I thought we’d gotten over it, but there’s been a widespread relapse of late. Perhaps it’s caused by the stresses of the campaign or the pandemic. Nonetheless it’s alarming. The default should always be that they’re lying. They’re the lyingest liars who ever lied, after all.

The quote comes from page 263 of Bob Woodward’s book Rage:

Kushner said one of Trump’s greatest strengths was, “He somehow manages to have his enemies self-destruct and make stupid mistakes. He’s just able to play the media like a fiddle, and the Democrats too. They run like dogs after a fire truck, chasing whatever he throws out there.”

Don’t fall for it. Don’t let Slumlord Jared and the Kaiser of Chaos play you. Set your bullshit detector to maximum the next time something crazy comes out of their mouths. There are plenty of actions to be alarmed about; don’t take the bait.

The last word goes to Rachel Maddow:

 

Herd Mentality

The Impeached Insult Comedian gave another incoherent teevee performance this week. This time, it was not in the friendly confines of Fox News but on ABC. The host was my diminutive countryman George Stephanopolous who was able to get Trump to repeat his COVID disappearing act. If you pretend it’s not there, it’s gone.

The post title is the latest Trump malaprop. He said, “herd mentality” when he meant to say, “herd immunity.” That seems to have become U.S. policy by stealth as the Shrugging Doctor, Scott Atlas, and the White House Coronavirus Task Force have told states with high infection rates to cancel mask requirements. Midsommar In America has arrived. Freedom, man.

Pondering the presidential* malaprop made me realize that herd mentality describes the entire Trump phenomenon. Hardcore Trumpers are an unruly group when it comes to “owning the libs”but submissive to the whims and wishes of the Kaiser Of Chaos the man whose only plan is to foment enough confusion so that he can stay in office to avoid federal criminal charges. Freedom, man.

Team Trump seems to have given up on conventional campaigning in favor of tweeting out nonsense and holding super-spreader rallies for the foolish faithful. I’m on the record that the Trump cult is smaller than believed. There are, however, lemmings among them:

Freedom, man.

Younger Trumpers think that prancing maskless through a Target is a cool thing to do:

Florida Man meets Freedom, man.

Team Trump is blowing a lot of smoke right now but there’s one positive development.  Crazy Caputo at HHS has taken a 60-day leave of absence. This is the bozo who talked about armed scientists taking to the streets if Trump is re-elected. Despite working with the CDC, Caputo obviously hasn’t met many scientists. They’re not exactly a group of gunslingers. Caputo turned out to be too crazy even for Team Trump. That’s what happens when you let a Roger Stone protege enter the corridors of power. Mercifully, Caputo is Kaput.

Things are so nutty right now that I have a sudden urge to rake the forests, commit election fraud, or do something equally Trumpy. That’s what happens when you’re caught up in the herd mentality. That would also be a swell name for a band: HERD MENTALITY.

The last word goes to the Beatles with some advice we should all heed:

Free Chicken

I was an Alexander Vindman fan boy during his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee. He’s the poster for bad shit happening to good people in the Trump era. Telling the truth cost him his military career, but not his integrity. That’s something the Trumpers will never understand because they haven’t got any.

It’s been a big year thus far for Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg. First, the “losers and suckers” story. On Monday, he published the first post retirement interview with Lt. Colonel Vindman. Vindman let it rip calling the Impeached Insult Comedian, “Putin’s useful idiot” among other things.

One reason I liked Vindman as a witness so much was his utter lack of guile and cynicism. That made smears against him ineffective except among the Trump cult. Fellow witness Fiona Hill summed it up brilliantly to Goldberg:

It is noteworthy that two other key witnesses in the impeachment—Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, and Fiona Hill, formerly the senior director for European and Russian affairs at the NSC (and Vindman’s boss)—were immigrants. Yovanovitch was born in Canada and grew up speaking Russian at home; Hill came from England. “The truth is that Masha and Alex were very good in their roles, but they were in shock much of the time as this all unfolded,” Hill told me. “Mugged right outside your own door. You can’t quite believe it, because this is not the America that they idealized. I idealized it too, when I got here. There’s no Rudy Giuliani playing this kind of role in your American dream.” William Taylor, who served as acting ambassador to Ukraine after the Trump administration removed Yovanovitch, said of Vindman, “One thing Alex Vindman is not is cynical. I’m absolutely convinced he’s a patriot, to the point where he’s a bit Boy Scoutish.”

Vindman is an intellectual and a straight arrow. That’s why he was such a breath of fresh air even for a hardened skeptic like me. Trump and his minions are incapable of understanding the Alex Vindmans of the world. They cannot be bought, which is a rarity in Trump’s Washington.

My favorite Vindman quote from the Goldberg article is in the second paragraph below:

But do you think Russia is blackmailing Trump? “They may or may not have dirt on him, but they don’t have to use it,” he says. “They have more effective and less risky ways to employ him. He has aspirations to be the kind of leader that Putin is, and so he admires him. He likes authoritarian strongmen who act with impunity, without checks and balances. So he’ll try to please Putin.”

Vindman continues, “In the Army we call this ‘free chicken,’ something you don’t have to work for—it just comes to you. This is what the Russians have in Trump: free chicken.”

I wonder what kind of chicken: Kiev? Pot pie? Tandoori? Kung Pao? Popeye’s? KFC? Super Chicken? Foghorn Leghorn?

Or is there a musical component? There’s always a musical component with me. That’s why the last word goes to Little Feat:

19th Nervous Breakdown

The slow news day seems to have been abolished. Hence another potpourri post in lieu of a stand-alone piece. I made the featured image after the Yo, Semite incident. It was more of a malaprop than an incident but having Yosemite Sam on my side is somehow comforting. Varmints, beware.

19 Years: It’s the 19th anniversary of a terrorist attack that led a previous lousy president to go off half-cocked and start a two-front war without paying heed to the consequences. We’re still paying for the Bush-Cheney administration’s folly.

I was on jury duty when the planes hit the twin towers. We were dismissed early and were only required to come in once more. The only good thing that came of that day.

For what it’s worth, the 19th is the bronze anniversary. To me it evokes this tune:

It may be a venerable song, but it’s still relevant. Who among us isn’t having our 19th Nervous Breakdown of the pandemic?

Trump-Woodward Followup/Fallout: When I first heard of the big COVID revelation in Rage, I was enraged. I almost wrote a post titled Bob Woodward Can Go Fuck Himself.

The more I thought about it, I focused my rage on Trump instead of Woodward. An earlier revelation would not have changed policy and saved lives. The Kaiser of Chaos was determined to fuck things up as shown by his insipid defense yesterday. Woodward’s defense was much stronger: he wasn’t sure if Trump was telling the truth. Holy credibility gap, Batman.

Joe Biden said it best in these two tweets:

A reminder that George W. Bush was a cheerleader at Yale. Sis-boom-bah. Boola-boola. Where the hell are the Whiffenpoofs when you need them? Perhaps one of them is a Whistleblower. You never can tell.

I missed something important in my D Is For Donald & Dumb post. One of the reasons Trump allowed Woodward to interview him so many times is that Woodward is a celebrity. I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump said this during one of their sessions, “Why aren’t you as good-looking as Robert Redford?”

Timesman Peter Baker has written an excellent piece about why Trump agreed to talk to Woodward. It’s summed up by this song title:

It’s surprising that Trump hasn’t assembled his own version of the Palmer Girls. He should hire a lame choreographer and put Melania, Ivanka, Tiffany, Hope, and Kayleigh to work. Imagine a rewrite of another Robert Palmer hit: “Might as well face it, we’re addicted to Trump.”

Sometimes I get carried away. This is one of those times.

One of the stories that got lost in the news blizzard requires its own featured image meme thing:

Bill Barr For The Defense: The news that the Department of Justice would defend the Impeached Insult Comedian in E. Jean Carroll’s defamation suit against him enraged legal eagles everywhere. The DOJ is not usually in the business of defending accused rapists in civil suits. It’s part and parcel of Barr’s degradation of the DOJ. He seems determined to prove that, unlike Tom Hagen, he *is* a wartime consigliere.

The sick Trump-Barr relationship reminds me of-you guessed it-an ancient Paul Simon song about a con man:

“Everywhere I go
I get slandered, libeled
I hear words I never heard in the Bible
And I’m one step ahead of the shoeshine
Two steps away from the county line
Just trying to keep my customers satisfied”

Just substitute client for customer and Bob’s your uncle or is that Bill’s your Attorney General? I confuse the two. Maybe one of them is actually Artie:

In Memoriam:  A quick shout-out to Tom Seaver, Lou Brock, and Diana Rigg; all of whom died recently. Tom was one of the greatest pitchers of all-time. Lou was one of the greatest World Series performers ever. And Diana was my first celebrity crush when she played Emma Peel in The Avengers. They will all be missed.

I could not find a decent animated GIF of St. Louis Cardinal great Lou Brock but Tom Terrific tips his cap to him:

Ny Mets Sport GIF by New York Mets - Find & Share on GIPHY

Diana Rigg as Emma Peel closes the door on this segment:

Finally, there’s a new Springsteen album coming out next month. That allows me to go out on a positive note in a week overloaded with scandal tornadic activity. The last word goes to Bruce and the E Street Band:

That was just what I needed. Thanks, y’all. Don’t forget to hang up the goddamn phone.

D Is For Dumb & Donald

News of the new Bob Woodward book, Rage, landed like a scandal tornado yesterday. I have mixed feelings about Woodward’s withholding the fact that President* Pennywise understood the threat that the virus posed and lied about it instead. I’m uncertain if an earlier release would have changed anything BUT others have differing views including First Draft/Crack Van regular, Lex Alexander, who wrote a pithy post titled, Bob Woodward Has Blood On His Hands. He has a point but I think the focus should be on Trump’s conduct, not Woodward’s ethics.

Trump’s defense is typically preposterous. He didn’t want to cause panic? That’s rich coming from the guy I call the Kaiser of Chaos. Panic is his middle name. I want to shake him like Paul Douglas did to this small-time crook in the pandemic classic, Panic In The Streets:

Panic and pandemonium are hallmarks of the Trump regime as is stupidity. The Impeached Insult Comedian has done a lot of dumb things in his life but sitting for 18 interviews with Bob Woodward takes the cake. He somehow thought he could talk the steely Woodward into giving him good publicity:

CNN reported on Wednesday night that Trump was dead set on granting interviews with Woodward, who was working on a book about Trump titled “Rage,” to boost his image, with the President reportedly relying on his experience as a salesman to present himself in a positive light.

White House aides “repeatedly” warned Trump against speaking to the dogged reporter, a source told CNN, but as usual, the President ignored their advice and acted on his own instincts instead.

Once again, Trump’s instincts were wrong. He knew Woodward was recording him, but he babbled and bragged anyway. The presidency is not a real estate deal and, whatever his flaws, Bob Woodward is not an easy mark. Lordy, there *are* Trump tapes.

The right is flummoxed by this news. They’re blaming everyone but Dumb Donald for this latest catastrophe. My favorite is Tucker Carlson blaming Lindsey Graham:

I know who’s to blame: Donald Trump and his arrogance and stupidity. Make that tremendous stupidity. He’s too dumb to be president*. Believe me.

The last word goes to Todd Rundgren:

Hang Up The Goddamn Phone

I have an admission to make. It may send me to hell in a hand basket, but I’ve developed a sneaking fondness for Michael Cohen. I had a lot of fun at his expense when he was still Trump’s fixer but I quite like Mikey the Flipper as well as his book title: Disloyal.

The Maddow-Cohen interview was more fun than a barrel of monkeys for me, and more uncomfortable than a ferret down the trousers for President* Pennywise. Cohen mostly stuck to what’s in his book but there was a lot a good stuff in the interview. He talked about his and Trump’s role in planting the first story below:

Mikey the Flipper also dished on the Falwell cuckold mishigas. That’s where my new catchphrase comes from: Hang Up The Goddamn Phone. Thus spake Becki Falwell to Jerry Junior. What is it with all the Juniors in this story? It almost makes me nostalgic for this Junior:

Always put the lid on the blender, Corrado.

Mikey the Flipper was cagey and credible last night. He declined to speculate on things he lacked direct knowledge of such as money laundering. He did, however, state something that observant Trump watchers already knew: Donald has no sense of humor. That doesn’t mean I’m abandoning the Impeached Insult Comedian as a nickname. Having a sense of humor requires an ability to laugh at yourself or even smile spontaneously. All Trump can do is mock others and dish out lame nicknames. He’s never come up with anything as good as the Kaiser of Chaos, after all.

One thing that pleased me inordinately about the interview was this colloquy commenced by Rachel:

“You say at the very end of the book that the president and Attorney General William Barr ousted the U.S. Attorney of New York and tried to install, effectively, the president’s golfing buddy as the new U.S. Attorney there because the president, in your view, wanted to arrange for himself to be indicted while he’s still in office because that would give him the opportunity to pardon himself after he lost the election,” she said.

“Well, my theory is that if he loses, there’s still the time between the election and the time that the next president would take office,” Cohen elaborated. “And during that time, my suspicion is that he will resign as president, he will allow Mike Pence to take over, and he will then go ahead and have Mike Pence pardon him.”

“And it’s a very, let’s just say it’s a very Nixon-type of event and it was probably discussed between Roger Stone and President Trump at some point,” he continued. “That this is certainly one way to avoid any potential prison time.”

When Dr. A heard that she said, “That’s what you’ve been saying.” And I said it here at First Draft in an August 13th post,  An Alternative Post-Election Scenario. No wonder I’ve become fond of Mikey the Flipper as opposed to Mikey the Fixer who was a big-time asshole.

I mentioned the possibility that I might go to hell in a hand basket for liking the new improved Michael Cohen. The last word goes to the good old Grateful Dead with an alternate means of transportation to Lucifer’s domain:

Hang up the goddamn phone, y’all.

A Shot In The Dark

Donald Trump is such a bad president* that he’s turning me into an anti-vaxxer. The same administration that brought you herd immunity bleach as a cure-all, and demon semen is determined to rush a COVID vaccine to market just time for the 2020 election:

The Trump administration is doubling down on distributing a COVID-19 vaccine before Election Day, aligning the timeline for a crucial public health measure with the President’s political fortunes.

The director of the Centers for Disease Control sent a letter last week to state governors asking that they prepare to have vaccine distribution facilities be “fully operational” by Nov. 1, and that the states waive requirements that would purportedly prevent a private vendor from meeting that deadline.

The CDC followed the letter with additional materials telling states to be ready to distribute the vaccine by late October.

Thanks to the Kaiser of Chaos, the CDC has lost its credibility. This frenetic rush to come up with a “miracle cure” has all the earmarks of Trumpism: haste, stupidity, and corruption. It’s also given me a very short earworm:

Now that Team Trump has taken a wrecking ball to the CDC, they’re out to destroy the FDA:

In so doing, experts say, Trump is taking a sledgehammer to trust two institutions critical to public health: vaccines and the Food and Drug Administration, responsible for ensuring safety in drugs and other treatments.

The Aug. 27 CDC letter sent by Dr. Robert Redfield does not condition the vaccine on whether the FDA has approved one for use.

Rather, the letter “urgently” asks that state waive safety regulations for vaccine distribution “that would prevent these facilities from becoming fully operational by November 1, 2020.”

“I think that the key to do with timing is really the FDA approval,” Claire Hannan, executive director of the association of immunization managers, told TPM. “And the timing of that is just unknown, and we don’t want to race to a certain date because we want that approval to be done thoroughly and correctly.”

The FDA process is slow and methodical as it should be. Neither word applies to Operation Warp Speed, the Trumper vaccine program. As with herd immunity, rushing a vaccine to market is something that has been tried and failed. If you don’t believe me, read this piece by Rick Perlstein:

The failed 1976 Ford vaccine plan was used against the Swine Flu. In 2020, we have a swine for president*.

If the Trump regime were truly dedicated to finding a COVID vaccine, they wouldn’t have refused to co-operate with the WHO. The World Health Organization, not the band. Of course, I trust Pete and Roger a helluva lot more than I do President* Pennywise.

I hate to slander the sainted name of Inspector Clouseau by comparing the Impeached Insult Comedian to him. But if the ill-fitting trench coat fits, so be it. Team Trump is displaying all the subtlety and grace that Clouseau was known for without any of his sweetness. The Darnold talks funny too.

When I said I had become an anti-vaxxer, I was joking. I’m only opposed to a vaccine that’s sponsored by the Inspector Clouseau of presidents* and his accursed son-in-law; both of whom are likely to get a cut of the proceeds. It’s how this gangster regime works. The whole thing brings out my inner Chief Inspector Dreyfus:

This attempt to rush a COVID vaccine is another sign of Donald’s desperation to win a second term. He’s doing it for the adulation from the marks he’s duped into following him. That adulation is why he can’t repudiate *anyone* who supports him regardless of how loathsome they are. If you worship the false prophet from Astoria Queens, you’re a very fine person. It’s enough to drive a sane person mad. It’s the same effect Clouseau had on Chief Inspector Dreyfus at the end of Return of the Pink Panther:

There were six Pink Panther movies featuring Peter Sellers as Clouseau and Herbert Lom as Dreyfus. It’s time for voters to deny the Kaiser of Chaos a sequel by asking themselves this question posed by The Who, the band not the World Health Organization:

Hurricane Laura & Other Disasters

New Orleanians should have heaved a collective sigh of relief yesterday as Hurricane Laura headed due west of us. Instead, everyone who was here for or evacuated from Katrina was triggered. It’s a mere two days from the Katrinaversary. Plus, the storm is following in the footsteps of another devastating 2005 system, Hurricane Rita. People are unnerved, jittery, and depressed. 2020 continues to be the year from hell.

We’re expecting some rain bands associated with Laura today.  It will be nothing compared to what happened some 240 miles west from here. Lake Charles is the largest Louisiana town in the initial path of the storm; reports are grim but as of this writing there are no reported fatalities and the storm surge wasn’t as high as feared. It’s still a fucking mess that will leave thousands homeless.

In other news, the rolling ethical violation that is the Trumpvention continues. The MSM is shrugging-off the impropriety of holding purely political events at the White House. Fuck those guys. It’s the people’s house, not Donald and Melania’s house. The coverage of her speech was nauseating.  She’s complicit in her husband’s crimes and responsible for the lesser included offense of removing rose bushes planted by past First Ladies in the people’s rose garden. They’re slowly but surely eroding the norms of our civil society; make that uncivil.

The citizenship swearing in ceremony on Tuesday looked like a hostage video. It’s of dubious legality and participants were not informed that they were to be props in a Trumpist farce. The lying never stops.

I could go on and on about the freak show that is the RNC. They’re fond of red baiting so let’s respond in kind. This attempt to rewrite the history of the Trump regime is reminiscent of the Stalinist rewriting of Russian history. They’ve told so many lies this week that it will be impossible for them to keep them straight. Stay tuned.

The Impeached Insult Comedian has challenged Joe Biden to take a drug test as a condition of debating. Team Biden should throw its own gauntlet on the table: produce Trump’s tax returns or the debates are off.

Finally, I’m keeping a wary eye on events in Southwest Louisiana and East Texas. I feel a tinge of survivor’s guilt, but I’m relieved it didn’t hit my city. Nobody deserves to be hit by a devastating tropical system such as Laura. The fact that Acadiana has turned ruby red in recent years is irrelevant. People are suffering. It doesn’t matter how they vote. I’m sending waves of empathy their way. It could have been us.

The last word goes to Lucinda Williams who was born in Lake Charles:

 

Pompeo & Circumstance

The Trump regime is like a three-legged stool held up by ethical violations, sycophancy, and hypocrisy. The Republican reality show now airing is the culmination of everything that’s wrong with that party and their nominee. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s convention speech covers all the bases making it one of the Trumpiest things yet.

Let’s assemble the stool leg by leg:

Ethical Violations: As far as I can tell, Pompeo is the first sitting secretary of state since World War II to address a party convention. He looked somewhat uncomfortable sitting on the roof of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. Deep down, he knew this was improper as well as ineffective. I wonder if Bibi was there coaching him. It wouldn’t surprise me since Netanyahu is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Trump regime.

Pompeo’s speech was the biggest bomb to hit the King David Hotel since 1946. That joke is in poor taste; almost as bad as the RNC itself.

Many other politicians have served as Secretary of State but they had the good sense to stay away from their party’s nominating conventions. The reason Pompeo spoke is:

Sycophancy: According to the WaPo’s David Ignatius,

The Pompeo paradox is that he often seems to know what’s right, even if he ends up doing the opposite. According to John Bolton, the former national security adviser, Pompeo would often grumble privately that the president’s ideas were mistaken but trim his sails to avoid offending the boss. When Trump gave an order, Pompeo’s default response was: “Yes sir, roger that, ” Bolton wrote in his memoir, “The Room Where It Happened.”

I’m glad Ignatius was able to get through Bolton’s book to share that bon mot. I was not. I only lasted 75 pages. The Mustache of War’s prose is heavy going.

“Yes sir, roger that” could serve as Pompeo’s epitaph. There’s nothing distinguished about his record as Secretary of State, after all.

Let’s move on to the third leg of our Trumper stool:

Hypocrisy: According to Slate’s Fred Kaplan,

Pompeo also violated his own guidance, sent to his underlings on Feb. 18 of this year. A bold-faced sentence in that memo read: “Senate-confirmed Presidential appointees may not even attend a political party convention or convention-related event.”

Pompeo’s hypocrisy makes him the perfect Trump Republican. The entire convention is a rolling violation of the Hatch Act where lies are the primary currency. It’s why I’m only reading about it instead of watching. I’m stressed out enough as it is.

I have a confession to make. I’ve had the title Pompeo & Circumstance in my virtual desk drawer forever. That’s why I wrote this post. An excellent post title is a terrible thing to waste.

The last word goes to Sir Edward Elgar and the BBC Symphony Orchestra:

 

 

That was nothing like my high school prom. Of course, I never went. I was one of the cool kids back then and cool kids skipped the prom.

Yes, sir, roger that.

 

No DeJoy In Mudville

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy claims that Post Office “reforms” are being delayed until after the election. As always, the devil is in the details. The whole USPS gambit was a smokescreen blown by the Impeached Insult Comedian at one of the few institutions that’s popular across party lines. It’s another sign that Trump has lost the hot button mojo he had in 2016. The Kaiser of Chaos knows he’s losing and is flailing, trying to save his worthless ass. Stay tuned.

I’ve lad a lot of fun with the Postmaster General’s name:

  • De Almond Joy
  • DeJoy Division
  • DeJoy To The World
  • DeJoy Of Cooking
  • Ode To DeJoy
  • DeJoy Luck Club
  • DeJoy Ride
  • DeJoy Reid
  • DeJoyful Noise

I’m sure I’ve missed a few. No punster is perfect.

Let’s close things out with some DeJoyful Noise from Lucinda Williams and Three Dog Night:

Saturday Odds & Sods: A Trick Of The Tail

Illustration From Dante’s Divine Comedy by William Blake.

The weather in New Orleans has been beastly. We’ve alternated between extreme heat and extreme thunderstorms. Not an unusual summer pattern but the intensity has been, well, more intense than usual. Extremely intense or is that intensely extreme?

My birthday came and went last week. Birthdays are best celebrated when you’re a toddler or a dodderer. In my case, it’s just another tick of the clock or some such shit. All in all, it’s just another brick in the wall. Holy crap, I sound like a mason. Lest you think I’m as Thick as a Brick, I should stop rambling and get down to this week’s post. I don’t want this turning into a Trump press conference. Believe me.

Keyboard wizard Tony Banks wrote most of this week’s theme song in 1972, but it didn’t see the light of day until Peter Gabriel left the band. It was the title track of the band’s first post-PG album. The album is one of the best things Genesis ever did and sent the message that they were here to stay. Oddly, the departure of lead guitarist Steve Hackett in 1977 had a bigger impact on the band’s sound than the exit of Gabriel. Go figure.

A Trick Of The Tail was inspired by William Golding’s novel The Inheritors. We have two variations on it for your listening pleasure. First, the audio track followed by the first promo video Genesis ever made.

Phil Collins later described the video as the most cringeworthy thing he’d ever done. This from the man who wrote and recorded Sussudio, In a word: UGH. Other than the Face Value album, I’m not a fan of his solo work. Is UGH a word? If not, it should be.

I’m still feeling tricky so here’s a Who song:

Now that we’ve figured out that we’ve got no horns and no tail, let’s escape the light by jumping to the break.

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An Alternative Post-Election Scenario

As the campaign season unfolds, it becomes clear that the fate of the Republic is hanging by a thread or like Harold Lloyd in the featured image. If the election is a fair one, it’s clear that President* Pennywise will lose. But he and his minions are determined to steal the election. The good news is that they’re doing it in broad daylight when such a theft is best accomplished covertly as in 2016.

Even better news for those of us who believe in democracy, the man who brought peace to the Middle East and tamed the pandemic, Jared Kushner, is Team Trump’s election fuckery point man. Why the Kaiser of Chaos still thinks he’s a renaissance man is beyond me. Of course, a fuck-up is bound to identify with another fuck-up. Incompetence thy name is Team Trump.

The avenue of election fuckery that concerns me the most is Trump’s Postmaster General messing with the mail. But they’re facing a ferocious push back and have been known to cave when that happens. Stay tuned.

There are many dire post-election scenarios out there. Some think the Impeached Insult Comedian will simply refuse to leave office. The proponents of this view are unclear how this can be accomplished. Once Joe Biden takes the oath of office, Trump’s orders will be ignored. Given Trump’s strained relationship with the military brass, a Seven Days In May type coup isn’t going to happen.

Others fear that Trumpers will take to the street, riot, and augment the confusion caused by their dear leader. I’m skeptical.  Recent pro-Trump rallies have flopped as more and more of his supporters realize they’ve been marks in an elaborate con job. There are enough armed extremists out there to cause trouble but not enough to keep the Kaiser of Chaos in office.

The preceding scenarios illustrate why it’s important to roll up the popular vote as well as win the electoral college. If, like me, you live in a red state, your vote still matters. Running up the score will make the Trumpers think twice about pulling any extra-constitutional stunts. Did I just use Trumper and think in the same sentence? There’s a first time for everything.

Let’s turn to the alternative scenario of the title. Trump has a well-established pattern of running away from trouble. This meme from 2018 sums it up:

He’s all bluster and bullshit. He’s a physical and moral coward. If there’s a blowout. he’ll fold like a cheap suit. It’s what happened when the legitimacy and legality of Trump University and the Trump Foundation were questioned. He quit. He’s a quitter, y’all.

In this scenario, President* Pennywise and his lawyers will cut a deal with Mike Liar Liar Pence On Fire. A resignation in exchange for a pardon. That would make Pence the 46th president for a few months. That puffed-up little chump will jump at the chance to piously lie, “there was no deal, that would be inappropriate.” It’s the only way Pence will ever be the Oval One. He’ll be a Hoosier Hasbeen after the election.

Trump would cite poor health as his reason for resigning during the lame duck period. If he buys into it, he’ll be the sickest man in human history, tremendously ill, and all the usual bluster and bullshit. Lying is like breathing to this evil fucker.

A reminder that a presidential pardon only covers federal crimes. New York DA Cy Vance will still be on the case; many of Trump’s crimes took place in the Empire State.

Whatever happens, we can expect a flurry of post-election presidential pardons. The most interesting question is whether Trump would issue an anticipatory pardon of Princess Ivanka and Slumlord Jared. Jerry Ford pardoned Tricky Dick *before* he’d been charged with anything. I’m not sure that Trump would do it: his sense of family loyalty is limited as his niece Mary can attest. Donald threw her father, Freddy, to the wolves, after all.

On the 46th anniversary of Tricky’s quitting, historian Michael Beschloss posted this picture of his farewell address:

 

 

 

I had long thought that Nixon’s bizarre, rambling, and shambolic speech was the weirdest thing to ever happen in the White House. It’s a daily occurrence with the Impeached Insult Comedian: the man who cannot pronounce Yosemite. Hasn’t he ever hear of Yo Semite Sam?  Oy, just oy.

The last word goes to James Taylor with a song that begins with these lyrics:

Remember Richard Nixon back in ’74
And the final scene at the White House door
And the staff lined up to say good-bye,
Tiny tear in his shifty little eye,
He said, “nobody knows me, nobody understands.
These little people were good to me,
Oh I’m gonna shake some hands.”

 

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Band On The Run

The Bird, The Cage & The Forest by Max Ernst.

I’ve gone on about NOLA rain in this space this summer. It was the wettest July in recorded history, and it happened without any tropical systems getting too close for comfort. That much rain can be inconvenient, but it keeps the temperatures down. That concludes this brief weather report. If I had a green screen, I’d go on longer, but we don’t have the budget for it.

Like everywhere else in the country, life has been grim in New Orleans of late. Small businesses, especially restaurants have been failing daily. It’s estimated that up to 50% of restaurants here will close for good. They need help and since the government ordered them to close, it should come from them. I am not optimistic that Moscow Mitch and his merry band of miscreants will reconsider and ride to the rescue. In the immortal words of Mel Brooks:

This week’s theme song is an ironic choice for this moment in time: ain’t no bands on the run or even on the road.

Paul McCartney wrote Band On The Run in 1973. It was the title track of Wings’ smash hit album, Band On The Run. Was that a run-on sentence? Beats the hell outta me. I’ll stick a band-aid on it just in case.

We have two versions of this Macca classic for your listening pleasure: the Wings original and a raucous cover by Foo Fighters.

Let’s run to the other side of the break. I think I hear band music in the distance.

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Homeland Insecurity

The Department of Homeland Security is a bureaucratic monster spawned by 9/11. The blame usually goes to the Bush-Cheney administration but Slate’s Fred Kaplan has a better memory than most of us:

The DHS was a sham from the get-go. It was the brainchild of Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who proposed the new department in late 2001, just after the 9/11 attacks, as a way of showing that the Republicans in the White House weren’t the only ones trying to tackle terrorism. President George W. Bush opposed the idea, seeing it as burdening the government with another bureaucratic layer. But then, the 9/11 Commission hearings revealed that al-Qaida succeeded in toppling the World Trade Center in part because the FBI, CIA, and other agencies hadn’t shared intelligence about the hijackers’ movements prior to the attack. Coordination and consolidation were suddenly seen as nostrums to our problems.

So, under pressure, in late 2002, Bush signed Lieberman’s idea into law. DHS wound up subsuming 22 agencies from eight federal departments—with a combined budget of $40 billion and a payroll of 183,000 employees—into one hydra-headed behemoth.

The creation of this unwieldy behemoth was the result of partisan politics. This was before Lieberman became a renegade McCainiac. Back then. Holy Joe had his eyes on the 2004 Democratic nomination. He wanted the Dems to look as tough as Team Bush. We’re still paying for his folly in 2020. Fuck you, Joe.

The very name Homeland Security has creeped me out from the beginning. It sounds like something Goering and Goebbels might have cooked up. Americans *never* referred to our country as the homeland before 9/11. It’s one of the manifold ways those attacks adversely impacted our politics.

There’s been much talk of Nixon’s 1968 Law & Order campaign. I’ve done it myself. We should not, however, forget the GOP’s “the terrorists are coming to kill you” campaigns in 2002 and 2004. Anyone who opposed the Iraq War was derided as “soft on terrorism.” Those scare campaigns are also precursors to Trump’s 2020 scare tactics.

If anything, Homeland Security has made the country less secure. It has damaged the mission of the agencies involved including FEMA:

In fact, it made the government less efficient. For instance, before the consolidation, the head of FEMA had been a Cabinet-level official—a member of the National Security Council who attended interagency meetings and enjoyed direct access to the president. Now this official is an undersecretary of DHS. The secretary of DHS can closely follow only a few of the dozen or so issues the department covers. If emergency management is one of the top priorities, then that particularly undersecretary at least has indirect access to the top; if it isn’t, the mission goes largely ignored. This may have been one reason the Bush administration responded so sluggishly to the great natural disaster of 2005, Hurricane Katrina.

Right said, Fred.

It’s time to abolish the Department of Homeland Security and scatter it to the four winds. The advent of the Chaos Squads has made abolition imperative. There’s too much power concentrated in hands of the DHS Secretary and the current creep, Chad Wolf, is the acting secretary. He’s acting in a way that makes us insecure, not secure.

The last word goes to Otis Redding:

Everybody Knows

My insomnia has been raging again. When I have insomnia, I have vivid and usually disturbing dreams. The dreams, in turn, wake me up at odd hours. What I can recall of this morning’s dream gave me both an earworm and the idea for this post.

In this dream, I was chased by shadowy figures much like the ones above who are characters out of Sam Fuller’s film noir, Underworld USA. Being transported to Fuller World in one’s dreams is unnerving but oddly invigorating. It’s not unlike what we laughingly refer to as the real world in 2020. It’s a nightmare but we’re wide awake while experiencing it.

My dreams often have musical soundtracks. Anyone surprised? I thought not. I usually can’t remember what the music was, but this was an exception. The music was insistent and persisted after I awakened: Everybody Knows by the Jayhawks. It’s not a list song a la Cole Porter’s You’re The Top but it inspired the following list of sorts:

Everybody knows that every time Donald Trump opens his mouth, he loses votes.

Everybody knows that nobody should express sympathy  for those accused of procuring minors for a wealthy pervert, especially presidents* who have never done so for people who have perished in the pandemic.

Everybody knows that President* Pennwyise is obsessed with golf and money. These twin obsessions have led to the latest impeachable offense.

Everybody knows that Trump’s Confederate statue fetish and belated but insincere embrace of masking are signs of desperation.

Everybody knows that the MSM should ask the Kaiser of Chaos about Bountygate Noveau every time there’s a press availability. It’s been 26 days since the New York Times exposed the Russian bounty scheme. Why don’t they ask about this egregious dereliction of duty?

Everybody knows that I could go on like this indefinitely. but I won’t.

The song that inspired this post, Everybody Knows, was written by Gary Louris and the Dixie Chicks. It was recorded by the latter in 2006 and the Jayhawks in 2018. They get the last word:

Everybody knows that Leonard Cohen wrote and recorded a song called Everybody Knows in 1988. It was covered by Concrete Blonde in 1990 for a movie soundtrack, but not everybody knows that it was recorded  by Stephen Stills and Judy Collins in 2017.

Everybody knows that I shouldn’t have so many last words in a post but sometimes I can’t help myself. Perhaps it was all a dream. That’s the last word of last words.