Category Archives: Gret Stet Politics

The Fog Of History: Lost Cause Fest Update

Pro tip: the first T is silent.

There hasn’t been any progress on removing the white supremacy monuments since I last wrote about it on May 2. The Lost Causers continue to hang out at the remaining monuments, which are now surrounded with police barricades to help keep the peace.

There was a pro-removal march from Congo Square to Lee Circle on Sunday. I didn’t attend because I don’t agree with all of the aims of march organizers, Take ‘Em Down NOLA. I take a more nuanced position on future monument and street name issues. I am, however, delighted to report that there were no incidents of major violence on Sunday; just a bit of pushing , shoving, and punching. There were reports that heavily armed wingnuts might be descending on New Orleans, but if they showed, they kept their powder dry as it were. NOPD announced sterner measures and enforced them. The protest and counter-protest went off without a hitch. Let’s score one for Mayor Landrieu and Chief Harrison.

There was a brief flurry of activity surrounding the PGT Beauregard  statue at City Park. A pro-monuments group tried to obtain a temporary restraining order claiming that the statue is owned by the park, not the city. The TRO was denied but a hearing is scheduled some time this week Given the fact that the City Council voted to declare the four monuments “public nuisances,” this latest gambit is apt to fail. I won’t even dignify the law moving through the state lege with a comment. In and of itself, it’s a public nuisance. Retroactive laws are disfavored both in Louisiana Civil Law and American public law, so it should have no effect on the current controversy.

The Beauregard statue has always been the toughest case of the four scheduled to be removed. Gen. Beauregard supported racial equality and healing in post-bellum Louisiana. Whether or not he wore bellum bottoms is beside the point…

There’s an interesting piece at New Orleans Magazine’s web site by its editor, Errol Laborde. He wants to leave the Beauregard monument be. I don’t agree with him but he makes an intelligent, historically based argument. Unfortunately, nuance and this issue do not go together, which is a pity. History tends to be foggy, not black and white.

Very few people on the “let ’em stay” side have attempted to make a sophisticated argument like the one advanced by Laborde. More typical are the neo-Confederate, neo-Nazi hillbilly types who rant about heritage and against political correctness.  Then there’s this remarkable comment that popped up on WWL-TV News:

“We love our history,” said Melissa Wainwright. “We love the African-Americans. We love jazz. If it weren’t for slavery, as bad as it was, would we have jazz in New Orleans?”

Local Italo-Americans were also involved in birthing jazz and many of the early jazzers such as Jelly Roll Morton were descendants of free people of color. So, yeah, we would have had jazz without human bondage.

I glanced at Ms. Wainwright’s FB page and it’s full of right-wing conspiracy buffery and praise for the dread Milo Yiannopoulos. My least favorite ethnic Greek is her favorite gay. So it goes.

I’ve mentioned Michael Tisserand before as George Herriman’s biographer. He’s also the former editor of Gambit Weekly as well as an arm-chair philosopher or is that parader? He wrote an excellent op-ed piece for the NYT wherein he made an oft neglected point:

In the late 1980s, when I was visiting New Orleans, the city I now call home, I stopped in a neighborhood drugstore and met a charming and talkative pharmacist. As he rang up my purchase, he placed a thin newspaper in my bag. “You might like to read this,” he said.

Later, I opened the bag and saw the journal of the National Association for the Advancement of White People, filled with stories lauding the organization’s founder, David Duke.

I recall the initial shock but also a sense of recognition. It was just one of countless “just between us” exchanges that I had already been offered in my lifetime. A white-on-white “just between us” moment might take the form of a pointed comment or just a knowing glance. Once it came to me in the middle of a handshake.

They are not limited to the South, but I have come to know them well in the 30 years that I’ve now lived in New Orleans.

I’ve had many of those moments myself. It’s as awkward as hell. It’s gotten to the point where I no longer bite my tongue unless it’s going to waste too much time. People like that druggist aren’t going to be convinced by the likes of me or Michael Tisserand. It’s like trying to talk sense to a Trumper. Of course, they’re all Trumpers now.

Finally, I mentioned having a more nuanced position on future monuments controversies. I first stated it in a 2015 post, The Fog Of History: The Jacksonian Straw Man. I think that each park, school, statue, street name, or whatever needs to be asessed individually. We need to look at why they were named for a specific person and what that person’s local ties were. Intent is everything. All four of the monuments in dispute right now were erected to either honor the Confederacy or to advance the cause of white supremacy. That is why I favor their removal.

The Andrew Jackson statue at Jackson Square is a harder case. It was erected to honor his role in the Battle of New Orleans, not his slave ownership, rabid racism or overrated presidency. It’s definitely not a pro-Confederate monument. Union Gen. Benjamin Butler added a plaque during the Civil War that proclaims: “The Union must and shall be preserved.” I think the statue should stay but if folks want to add more information explaining Jackson’s role in our history, that’s fine with me. Intent and context are everything.

I realize that this is an issue where nuance went to die, but the simplistic solutions offered by people on both extremes will lead to endless controversy when there are other vital local issues that need to be addressed. I neither want to honor white supremacy nor witness a rewriting of history like that in the Soviet Union where St. Petersburg became Petrograd and then Leningrad before reverting to St. Petersburg. I give that a very low grad indeed…

The most important thing right now is that the three monuments be removed as soon as possible. The City Council has spoken. It’s time for Davis, Lee, and Beauregard to come down. It’s past time for the right-wing “outside agitators” to go home and bother people in their own communities.

Tear them down now, Mr. Mayor. Stop the madness.

NOLA White Supremacy Monuments: One Down, Three To Go

The process of removing four Jim Crow era monuments from their current locations has begun. I wish that the city had NOT done so under cover of darkness but the Mayor has said that there were death threats against the work crew. Unfortunately, I believe him. BUT since other security measures were taken, I still think it should have been done during the day. I, for one, am proud of this action, which is why I don’t think we should be sneaking around. It gives the appearance of wrongdoing when they’re doing the right thing. Celebrating hatred and racism is unacceptable.

I also wish Mayor Landrieu would stop calling them Confederate monuments. The one that was removed this morning, the so-called Liberty monument, honors the triumph of white supremacy during Reconstruction. The remaining three statues honor Confederate dignitaries-only one local-and were erected in celebration of white supremacy, which is why I use that term.

It would have been better if there were a post-removal plan in place. I think some form of public display in a park or museum that places them in context is the way to answer charges that we’re trying to erase history.  The removal was relatively well thought out but the aftermath remains murky, which gives ammunition to the erstwhile Gret Stet Fuhrer:

The Alamo, of course, is a monument to Texas independence, not white supremacy. Context and intent are everything is this debate. How does Dukkke think we can “erase” the Founding Fathers? I think their monuments are safe. I would, however, like to shove the Washingtion Memorial up Duke’s ass.

Anyway, I came here to praise the Mayor, as well as to bury the white supremacy monuments, so I’ll stop quibbling about details. I’ll save the nitpicking for another day.

Here’s how one local teevee news organization covered the removal:

 

Happy Boo Republicans Week

It’s spring break time for Congress. That means that Senators and Congresscritters are back home ostensibly interacting with their constituents. In 2017, that makes this boo Republicans week. The trend started when Trumpcare was under consideration has continued: rowdy town halls packed to the rafters with jeering constituents.

According to Tiger Beat On The Potomac, those Republicans not ducking town halls have made some adjustments:

Republicans across the country appeared much more comfortable and better prepared to deal with noisy town hall crowds. Yoho didn’t fire back when he was overwhelmed by angry constituents and protesters. Rather, he’d get down on one knee and gaze directly at his questioner, absorbing any heckling until he could finish his answer. Others defused tension with jokes, waiting out hecklers or pivoting to safe talking points.

“Let’s do some more!” Coffman said when the moderator called for one last question, at an event that had already gone 45 minutes late. It was a stark contrast from a few months ago, when Coffman escaped out the back door of a town hall event that had been overrun by protesters.

Part of that newfound confidence is due to increased vetting of town hall attendees.

Coffman’s constituents, for instance, had to register and show their IDs at the door to prove they were actually constituents. Policemen also stood by and watched from the top of the auditorium. In one instance, they even escorted out a woman who make a ruckus about Coffman’s views on climate change.

Raising a ruckus is as American as apple pie. Members of Congress work for us, not vice versa, and if they can’t take the heat they should stay out of the kitchen. I’ll apologize for that string of clichés with this musical interlude:

Here in the Gret Stet of Louisiana, freshman GOP Senator John Neely Kennedy continues to duck town halls. I’m not sure what he’s so afraid of: he’s been known to handle hecklers reasonably well in the past. It’s what happens when you’re a political chameleon like Neely. He may be afraid that 2004 liberal Neely will make an appearance instead of the 2017 Trumper model.

Some folks in New Orleans held an empty chair town hall the other day:

The questions fell like hail on the impassive white face of a cardboard cutout meant to represent Sen. John Neely Kennedy, who was not present for a “citizen’s town hall” hosted April 19 at First Unitarian Universalist Church by the New Orleans and Metairie chapters of progressive organization Indivisible.

At the event, which was meant to spotlight a perceived lack of responsiveness from the Louisiana freshman senator’s office, speakers took the mic to pose inquiries to the mock Kennedy, who rested opaquely in a cardboard “office” reminiscent of Lucy’s psychiatric clinic in the “Charlie Brown” comics.

You say cardboard cut-out, I say empty chair. Let’s call the whole thing off.

This event was a follow-up to the Milk Carton Kennedy protests in March. This image of the missing Solon was all over the internet back then:

Just remember, the next chance you get to boo a Republican member of Congress, go for it. And if you happen to see Joe Wilson, greet him with a hearty, “YOU LIE.”

One more thing. I am proud of those Democrats who pitched in to help Jon Ossoff in the recent primary election. That was once Newt Gingrich’s seat, so Ossoff’s first place finish was a moral victory. And he still has a chance to win the seat as long as he and his supporters will heed Curtis Mayfield’s admonition and keep on keeping on:

Vive les Maquis.

Gret Stet Grifter

Photograph via Louisiana Radio Network.

This began life as a malaka of the week post but I came up with a catchy title. It’s still about malakatude on the part of Louisiana Republican Lt. Gov Billy Nungesser. Since Nungesser is on the portly side, it’s tempting to call him our Chris Christie. The difference is that Christie is a smart asshole whereas Nungesser is an entitled dumbass. I’m not sure which is worse but, as former LSU basketball dad Bruce Hornsby would surely say, that’s just the way it is.

Our non-Louisiana readers might recall Nungesser in his capacity as Plaquemines Parish President during the BP Oil Spill. He spent a lot of time rubbishing President Obama and posturing for the press. Billy is a classic fake tough guy: he acts as if he’s self made when he was born on third base. His father was the longtime Gret Stet GOP chairman and helped grow that party from a cult to the dominant force in Louisiana politics. He also got his son out of more than a few tight scrapes. It’s the Louisiana way, y’all.

Nungesser was elected Lt. Gov in 2015. It was his second try at the largely ceremonial position. His primary responsibilities are tourism and the state museum system. That’s one reason he inserted himself into the white supremacist monuments controversy on the “let them be” side. In an effort to suck up to Gret Stet Trumpers, the fat fuck has even asked the Insult Comedian to intervene. Bite me, Billy. It’s a local issue, not a state or federal one. I thought y’all believed in states rights. Of course, Billy only believes in Billy.

In addition to showing off for the media, there’s always been a whiff of corruption surrounding Nungesser: from collusion with the Corps of Engineers and BP while publicly bashing them to rumors of cocaine use. I know one person who insists Billy was born with a silver coke spoon in his mouth so to speak. Additionally, many believe that he’s the real diaper fetishist, not David Vitter. That’s one reason why some call him Bordello Billy. Is any of that true? Beats the hell outta me but there’s often fire where there’s smoke. Besides, I like gossip. It’s the Adrastos way, y’all.

That brings me to a front page story by Jeff Adelson in yesterday’s New Orleans Advocate. One of Nungesser’s few duties is the care and feeding of the state museum system. As a professional spoiled brat, it’s impossible for Billy to not abuse his authority:

Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser has been using a Lower Pontalba Building apartment and space in other state museum buildings in the French Quarter for his personal benefit and has engaged in a pattern of political interference with the agency’s operations, the Louisiana State Museum’s interim director said Monday while resigning in protest.

Nungesser’s interference includes attempting to override museum officials and board members who objected to plans to loan U.S. Sen. John Kennedy artworks for his office in Washington, D.C., and threatening to sell museum works of art on eBay to raise funds, said Tim Chester, a museum consultant who took the interim position in October.

“I have never encountered anything like this in the 40 years I’ve worked in the field, ever,” Chester said. “I’ve seen some pretty strange crap come down in museums, but this one takes the cake.”

It’s a classic pattern of malakatude involving the state owned Lower Pontalba and city owned Upper Pontalba buildings. They’re historic buildings located at Jackson Square and have often been involved in Gret Stet grifting. My former shop was in the Upper Pontalba and dealing with the French Market Corporation was no walk in the park. Believe me.

In classic grifter fashion, Billy blasted Mr. Chester and denied everything. It’s as if he said, “Hey, wait a minute Chester, you know I’m a peaceful man.” That would, of course, be a lie.

I hope Nungesser’s latest kerfuffle will inspire a serious investigation. There’s a lot of weird crap involving Billy and his minions:

Chester also alleged Nungesser has been interfering with the lengthy waiting list used to select new tenants for the much sought-after Pontalba apartments.

Chester said his resignation was driven by those issues as well as others, including demands from Nungesser’s staff for keys to the museum buildings so they could use them at their discretion, something that Chester said violated the museum’s security policies.

Another major issue was a request by Kennedy to take 14 pieces of art to Washington, D.C., that had been in his office in Baton Rouge while he was state treasurer, Chester said. Nungesser requested the loan of that artwork be approved, though Kennedy withdrew the request last week, Chester said.

Nungesser said the loan would have been a way to show off artwork that would otherwise be in warehouses. He said Chester’s reluctance to send the artwork to Washington stemmed from Kennedy’s senatorial campaign last year, which included attacks on the state’s public arts program.

John Neely Kennedy is, of course, a legendary phony and hypocrite. It’s probably why he and Billy get on so well: malakas of a feather flock together. The freshman Senator, however, is a smart asshole and will wiggle his way out of this mess like the worm he is.

As to Malaka Billy, avoiding responsibility is what he does best. He reminds me of Tim Holt’s entitled jerk character, George Minifer, in the great Orson Welles film The Magnificent Ambersons. George finally got his comeuppance. I hope Billy does too.

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Best Of Adrastos 2016

Nighthawks

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April, 18, 2016: Oy, Such A Mentor

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

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

May 18, 2016: Speaking In Dudebromides.

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

June 13, 2016: Still Comfortably Numb Revisited.

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

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

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

August 18, 2016: Heckuva Job, Advocate.

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

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

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

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

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

October 6, 2016: Absence Of Malice.

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

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

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

November 10, 2016: Sitting Political Shiva.

November 11, 2016: Confessions Of A Keyboard Maquis.

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

November 17, 2016: The Most Dangerous Game. 

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

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

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

obama-kerry-meme

 

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Dead Flowers

Chagall The Drunkard

The Drunkard by Marc Chagall.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s what I posted on my Facebook feed:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ready for some live ELP? You have no choice:

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

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

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

yogurt-meme

Louisiana Politics: A Terrible Candidate For Terrible Times

foster-foghorn-meme

I swore I wouldn’t write about the Gret Stet Senate run-off since I prefer not to take shots at my own side. BUT a pro-Foster Campbell super PAC ran an ad that can be interpreted as flipping off part of the Democratic base. Here’s how Tyler Bridges described it in the Advocate:

A super PAC supporting Foster Campbell, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, is airing an unlikely television ad on the highly-charged issue of abortion.

The pro-Campbell ad attacks John N. Kennedy, his Republican opponent, from the right — even though Kennedy has the endorsement of National Right to Life, a prominent anti-abortion group.

The ad alleges that Kennedy supported abortion from 1988 to 2004 and, as viewers hear a beating heart, posts the number 22,581,040 on the screen.

 “That’s how many children were aborted during John Kennedy’s career as a pro-choice politician,” the announcer says, citing figures from National Right to Life.

“Foster Campbell worked with us to protect the unborn,” the announcer adds.

I understand that one reason for the ad is to accurately paint John Neely Kennedy as an opportunistic weasel. But the sub-text for people like me is that we have nowhere else to go, so they don’t care what we think. So much for this run-off tag line: Straight Talk with Foster Campbell.

Here’s the deal. I have voted many times for Blue Dog Democrats and I’m sure I will in the future, but Foster’s populist pose really riles me up as they say in the piney woods. He’s also running an ad wherein he states that he will work with Trump when he’s right; not exactly an uplifting message for a blogger whose slogan is Vive les Maquis. He has said he’d oppose Trump on Social Security and Medicare, which is why I’m holding my nose and voting for Foster.

I realize that the Insult Comedian got 58% while winning Louisiana but if Foster were a genuine populist he’d run against all the wealthy plutocrats appointed to the Trump cabinet. The DeVos, Mnuchin, and Ross appointments clearly establish Trump as the phony populist 49% of the people believe him to be. Instead of indulging in me-tooism, Campbell should indict Trump as a lying fake populist who appointed the “foreclosure king” as Treasury Secretary while forgetting the forgotten man. I’d also like to point out that Huey Long, the patron saint of Gret Stet populism, was willing to attack a popular President of his own party. And Trump ain’t no FDR.

Running a scorched earth campaign would also allow the doomed candidate to lose with some dignity instead of trying to out hick Neely. I considered calling this post Hick vs. Hick but I’m sick of the hick shtick so I didn’t. In the end, Foster is a candidate who reminds me of Foghorn Leghorn. I say, I say.

My dislike of Foster Campbell dates to the 2007 Gret Stet Goober Race. He was allegedly the leading Democratic candidate in a race that Bobby Jindal was destined to win. Foster barely had a pulse during that election. He ended up with 12.45% finishing in fourth place behind a guy who had been a Democrat for five minutes and independent John Georges, the dullest Greek tycoon in recorded history. I have a friend who told Campbell he could build a name for himself even in defeat if he ran a spirited campaign. He did not and he lost. Badly.

Campbell *is* running a better campaign than in 2007. His team includes many of the same people who helped elect John Bel Edwards Governor in 2015. The problem is that Edwards was a better candidate than Foster and Bitter Vitter was a weaker candidate than Neely. That race featured a West Pointer versus Diaper Dave. The 2016 Senate race is more like Foghorn Leghorn versus Colonel Corpone. In the end, Senate races are a different beast altogether: they’re about national, not state politics. If the opposite were true, Mary Landrieu would have won a fourth term in 2014,

I am planning to vote for Foster Campbell in the run-off. It will be a clothes pin vote. There’s been some debate among my friends as to what kind of clothes pin it should be. One friend advocates a strong spring clamp, another a cast iron clothes pin. I’m sticking with the old-fashioned pinewood clothes pin since we’re having a hick vs. hick run-off. Or perhaps I should go Claes Oldenburg on their asses:

clothespin

Foster closes one of his teevee spots by shooting a shotgun, Joe Manchin-style. At least he isn’t running an ad with this closing line: “I believe that love is the answer but you oughta own a handgun just in case.”

As an antidote to that Neelyism, I’ll give Todd Rundgren and Utopia the last word:

Malaka Of The Week: Konni Burton

A lot of things have fallen through the cracks of my mind lately because of the electoral college disaster. There’s a backlash brewing across the country against the progress that has been made on civil rights issues in recent years. To be more specific, against the remarkable gains made since 2008 on LGBTQ issues. One might even call it a lavender backlash. Yeah, I know, the term is retro but so is the backlash itself. You won’t be surprised to hear that one locus of the backlash is Texas. And that is why Texas State Senator Konni Burton is malaka of the week.

I was blissfully unaware of what was brewing in Austin until a tweet from Tim Peacock hit my timeline, which led me to a post at his blog, Peacock Panache:

As the state legislative session in Texas begins, state Senator Konni Burton (R) just filed legislation that would force schools to out LGBTQ students to their parents. SB242 takes aim at “the right of a child ’s parent to public school records and information concerning the child” on the surface. Under that veneer, however, Burton’s explicit intentions in filing the legislation are clear.

The bill was filed with the intention of subverting rules proposed by the Fort Worth Independent School District aimed at protecting the privacy rights of LGBTQ teens, especially transgender kids. It’s trickier than that so take a deeper dive into Tim Peacock’s piece.

Senator Burton claims that the intent of her bill is to provide parents with information about their children. It is, of course, a smokescreen (Konni job?) as is typical of so much discriminatory legislation. Haters not only have to hate, they have to hide behind family values rhetoric. Burton’s bill will effectively out LBGTQ students and that is what matters, not her increasingly strident disclaimers.

The implications of Malaka Konni’s bill are ominous and clearly stated by Tim Peacock:

As any LGBTQ person can confirm, keeping sexual orientation and gender identity/expression a secret from parents may literally be a matter of life or death. While society has made significant leaps forward in ensuring families with LGBTQ children are at a minimum tolerant, many areas of the and many belief systems still view being LGBTQ as wrong or criminal. Unwittingly outing a LGBTQ child or teenager to his or her parents can have devastating and sometimes lethal consequences.

If a student is transgender the chances of harm based on outing grow exponentially. A 2011 survey found that transgender people attempted to commit suicide at rates over 30 times the general population. And the causation behind that more often than not was discrimination, violence and/or rejection by those close to them.

While suicide is at the far end of the spectrum, LGBTQ students face a myriad of other consequence in having their identities unwittingly exposed to their parents including verbal and physical abuse, homelessness (after being kicked out) and involuntary conversation therapy (a practice condemned by the medical and psychological community though it’s still popular among anti-LGBTQ conservatives).

A quick reminder that Mike Liar Liar Pence On Fire has been a leading advocate of conversion therapy.

I recall reading some articles earlier this year about how our side had won the culture war. Since I live in a blue dot in a deep red state, I’m always skeptical of such claims. In the Gret Stet of Louisiana, socially conservative Catholics have an unholy alliance on such issues with Protestant biblethumpers. Like the people in Texas, we’re always on the lookout for crazy, retrograde legislation from our lege. It’s going to get worse after Trump’s electoral college victory. I eagerly await the backlash to the backlash. Now I’m feeling whiplashed, he said snidely.

I’d never heard of Senator Burton before her attempted Konni job. I hope to rarely hear of her in the future. If the people of Texas are lucky, she’s merely a malakatudinous comet streaking across the sky before crashing and burning. BTW, Burton was elected to replace Wendy Davis in the Texas Senate. That seat has gone from pink sneakers to lavender backlash in two years. And that is why Konni Burton is malaka of the week.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Broken Arrow

rightandleft

Right and Left by Winslow Homer, 1909.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

uncle-earl-meme

Adrastos’ Fearless 2016 Election Picks

I’ve done a lot of hand-holding here and on social mediaso I decided to do this early in 2016. Anybody freaking out should read Athenae’s Sunday post again.

I’d like to thank the good people at 270towin.com for making this exercise much easier this year. They even have a map that contemplates an independent candidate carrying a state so I have availed myself of it since I predict an upset in the Beehive State.

First, my Electoral College map followed by some explanations.

2016

That’s right, I think Evan McMullin will win the state of Utah by a narrow margin. LDS disgust with Trump is genuine for reasons that I will restate: his anti-immigrant views and threats against a religious minority. Today it’s the Muslims, tomorrow it could be the Mormons. We know who B3 want to move against. You can see it in their closing teevee commercial; more on that later.

LDS disgust with Trump is another reason I think HRC will pull an upset and take Arizona. When the vote totals come in, I expect John McCain to run ahead of Trump; some of those votes will be Hispanics but others will be Mormons. There’s a substantial LDS population  in Arizona and they don’t like Trump. They might not vote for HRC but many of them will never vote for the Insult Comedian. I’m going with my gut on this one even if it makes me a sinner in the church of the Nerd Oracle.

Arizona is my long shot pick. I won’t be surprised if Trump squeaks out a win there but it will be a more important swing state than Iowa in 2020. Why? The Hispanic vote, which is why I think we will win in Florida, Nevada, and North Carolina.

Ohio is the other state I’m not solid about BUT Team Clinton is pouring so much effort and money in there that I think she’ll color the Buckeye state blue. The star power of Jay-Z, Beyonce, and Lebron should help. It couldn’t hurt.

Iowa is lost but it has been replaced by Nevada, which will be solidly Democratic in future Presidential years. I think there will be some new battlegrounds in 2020: in addition to Arizona, Texas and Georgia will be hotly contested. I had dreams they might fall this year but they won’t. They’ll be in play along with Ohio and Florida the next time around.

I’ll have more about the Hispanic/Latino wave of 2016 later today.

I haven’t followed these as closely but here are my somewhat fearful Senate picks:


Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com

 

I think Missouri or Indiana could go the other way but Jason Kander is such a good candidate that I think he’ll win in Missouri. I’m pulling for him but I’m meh on past malaka of the week, Evan Bayh who’s trying to reclaim his old seat.

I think Rubio survives in Florida because of ticket-splitting Hispanics.  But Joe Heck loses  in Nevada because of the Hispanic Wave voting for one of their own, Catherine Cortez Masto, and because of Harry Reid’s phenomenal organization. I will always be wild about Harry. And to Heck with Joe.

I’m not sure how the Gret Stet of Louisiana will break down but there *will* be a December run-off and we will elect a Republican Senator to the Hooker Seat. There’s a small chance that the 2 Democrats could both make the run-off but either will lose to the Republicans if it’s a D-R primary. David Duke will finish sixth or lower and return to obscurity.

I am not nutty enough to forecast House races but my gut instinct is that the Democrats will gain seats but Paul Ryan will remain Speaker. Unless, that is, his caucus mounts another coup. House GOPers love them some coup plotting.

I may get some of the details wrong but I am confident about three things:

  1. The President of the Senate in 2016 will be Tim Kaine.
  2. We will elect our first woman President, Hillary Rodham Clinton,
  3. Donald Trump will not be the first Insult Comedian elected President.

Believe me.

The Not So Great Gret Stet Senate Debate

Not so Gret Stet debate.

Terrible screenshot of a terrible debate.

First of all, congratulations to all the Cubs fans out there. Your manager, Joe Driving Me Maddon, nearly blew it by mishandling his pitching staff BUT his players saved his ass. I hope somebody takes the stupid goat curse behind the barn and puts it out of its misery. At least we won’t have to listen to the “if the AL team wins the World Series, the GOP wins the White House” crapola. I don’t believe in that shit: like Howlin’ Wolf, I Ain’t Superstitious.

The World Series was a nice palate cleanser after watching six terrible candidates in the worst televised debate I have ever sat through. Everything about it was terrible. It looked like a cable access show and the sound was tinny because the hall was empty. It wasn’t a debate, it was a clusterfuck thanks to the media group that produced it. I’ll leave ranting about Raycom to Lamar White and move on to the real reason the debate sucked the big one: the presence of Erstwhile Gret Stet Fuhrer, David Duke. And this is not the phony “mainstream conservative” Duke of 1989-1991, it’s the real neo-Nazi Duke.

Dukkke was included to liven up a deadly dull group of candidates. There was a lone poll showing him at 5.1%, which Raycom seized on to invite Duke who  treated the event like a mini-Beer Hall Putsch. The candidates who have a chance to make the run-off are all over 10% in all the polls but Raycom wanted Duke and it got him. Heil, ratings. He, of course, pitched a series of tantrums worthy of the candidate whose coattails he’s clinging to: Donald Trump. Maybe the debate sound was muffled by all the GOP heads wedged up the Insult Comedian’s ass. I almost made a fart lighting joke but thought better of it…

Moderator John Snell of WVUE-TV News in New Orleans had an impossible job. He did not rise to the occasion. I’ve seen Snell moderate many debates and he usually does an excellent job but he had an off-night. The time limits on the questions were absurdly short and the inclusion of a panel of reporters made the format even clunkier.

Then there was David Duke who denounced the moderator as “a typical media hack.” The man whose picture is in the dictionary next to “marginal, perennial candidate” was allowed to dominate the debate. He ranted, he raved, he raged when asked about “CNN Jews” and his federal fraud conviction. Yuppie Democrat Caroline Fayard likes to bring Dukkke up so she made the cluster even fuckier than need be.

Speaking of clusterfucky meltdowns, here’s Duke losing his shit:

At the end of the debate, Duke was still at his podium howling at the moon or communing with the spirit of Hitler. I’m not sure which.

The other candidates were as boring as usual. Here are a few quick comments about them. First, the Republicans:

Doctor/Congressman Charles Boustany: Nobody asked the dull doc about the Boudreaux Inn and sex workers, not even Duke. I guess they forgot that they’re running for the hooker seat. Boustany’s stock line was: “I’m a heart surgeon.” His politics, however, are heartless. I guess he performed surgery on himself….

Doctor/Congressman John Fleming: He’s a dumbass even for a teabagger. He kept saying he was a conservative as if he needed to remind himself of that fact. It’s easy to imagine him playing Lenny in a little theatre production of Of Mice and Men.

lenny-fleming

If he loses the Senate race, Fleming seems to be angling for a slot on The Apprentice: he kept saying he’d fire the candidate below.

Gret Stet Treasurer John Neely Kennedy: He spent the debate spouting sound bites and corny one-liners. Neely deflected charges that he was an ex-liberal by hicking up his accent. He sounded as if his Rhodes Scholarship fell off a turnip truck. It’s depressing to watch an intelligent man feign idiocy in order to get elected. The funniest claim against him was that he used to have a picture of Earl Long in his office. I wonder if it was this one with Blaze Starr:

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And now for the Democrats who are neither as gret nor as colorful as Uncle Earl. The first one takes us from Sho-Bar to Sho-Nuff:

Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell: He always reminds me of Foghorn Leghorn: I say, I say, I say. He did get off a few decent lines and he even said Voldemort’s, I mean Hillary Clinton’s, name aloud when asked who he was supporting for President. Not exactly a profile in courage but what can you expect from the Foghorn Leghorn of Gret Stet politics? Not much, I say, I say, I say.

leghorn-meme

Non-Career Politician Caroline Fayard: She remains the least terrible candidate even though she is pretty darn terrible. Fayard at least lives in the 21st Century and speaks in complete sentences but that’s the best I can say about her.

Btw, all these candidates love denouncing one another as “career politicians” and “insiders.” It’s all very George Wallace circa 1968. I kept expecting someone to talk about “bureaucrats who can’t park their bikes straight” or “pointy-headed intellectuals” like the Guvnor. Compared to the Insult Comedian, Wallace was George Bernard Shaw…

Since the not so great Gret Stet debate was held at Dillard University, there were protesters outside the empty, echoey hall. Pepper spray was involved. BuzzFeed’s Big John Stanton was with them and filed a story co-written by Claudia Koerner. Here’s an excerpt about the clusterfuck outside:

As Duke melted down inside, the scene outside deteriorated. Frustrated with protesters, police became increasingly aggressive. Within seconds, tactical batons began swinging while thick streams of pepper spray laid into the crowd. Protesters initially recoiled, but quickly rolled forward onto the ill prepared small group of police defending the door. Knotted up college students and middle aged police hit the ground and at least two officers unholstered their taser guns, struggling to find clear shots past their colleagues.

The scene became so chaotic, the small group of police began indiscriminately firing pepper spray, hitting protesters, journalists, and other police. Choking, both sides would fall back, regroup, and repeat.

Frustrated, protesters moved to another entrance to the building, seemingly ready to resume their battles with the police. But after leaders pleaded with crowd to not destroy the campus, both sides seemed to relax.

Thanks to Raycom for inviting David Duke, which turned the debate into a freak show both inside and out. Raycom’s CEO should be obliged to drink pepper spray as punishment for staging this farcical shitshow.

You say clusterfuck, I say freak show: Let’s call the whole thing off. Literally. Hmm, I wonder if David Duke thinks George and Ira Gershwin are good Jews or bad Jews.

It’s time for a closing palate cleanser from NOLA’s own Harry Connick Jr:

 

The Klan Kan’t Spell

The weirdest election in American history gets stranger by the day. Strike that: by the minute. My friend Lamar White Jr. posted a picture of an election packet distributed by the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in rural Many, Louisiana. That’s right: Many in Sabine Parish. You cannot make this shit up, y’all.

The Many Klan packet has gone viral not only for its sinister weirdness but its unintentional humor:

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Photograph by Lamar White Jr.

What did I tell you? The Klan kan’t spell. There are a variety of theories about the word Poles. It could have something to do with Kluxxer (Kluxxette?) strippers slowly removing their hoods whilst undulating to Free Bird. My own pet theory is that it has something to do with Polish voters in Cleveland and Chicago or even Polish American fans of the World Series teams.  I suspect the Polish Falcons are outraged. What it really reflects, of course, is dumbassery and malakatude of the highest order as well as comedy of the lowest sort. Repeat after me: the Klan kan’t spell.

It’s not a shocker that the KKK is capable of heavy-handed symbolism. Subtlety has never been its strong suit but white Lifesavers? Really? I guess the Klan is gonna save the nice white people of Many from the evil female President who’s supported by the evil Black President. I wonder what flavor it was: wintergreen or spearmint? It’s a pity that there wasn’t a Cheeto in the packet to reflect their support for the man some call Cheeto Jesus but I call the Insult Comedian. In any event, a white Lifesaver on your car windshield beats the hell out of a burning cross on your lawn.

The reasons for this assault on the people of the racially mixed community of Many are obvious. Donald Trump is running for President as a White Nationalist and David Duke is vying for the Gret Stet hooker seat. Hey, maybe the misspelling of polls was a nod to Bitter Vitter. Probably not. Speaking of the erstwhile Gret Stet Fuhrer, Dukkke qualified for a Senate debate on Wednesday at Dillard University in New Orleans. For the uninitiated, Dillard is a HBC: historically black college. I told you this was a deeply weird election cycle. I’ll post an instant analysis of the Gret Stet Senate debate on either Wednesday night or Thursday morning

Not only has the election been tough on the voters, it has been a tough year for candy as my friend and Spank krewe-mate Brett pointed out on da Twittahs:

Add another candy to the list: Smarties were found in a few Klan packets instead of white Lifesavers. I guess some of the Loyal White Knights were disloyal to white Lifesavers or maybe they were making a statement about their own intelligence. Beats the hell out of me. I’ve never read The Klan for Dummies…

There has been so much weird nonsense this year that all one can do is mock it. Mockery = sanity. One thing we’ve learned in the Gret Stet of Louisiana is that Hate Is A Many (Louisiana) Splendored Thing.

Gret Stet Politics: Publicity Hound

I came here not to bury Senate candidate Charles Boustany but to praise one of his teevee spots. It’s an attack ad on our weed killer drinking buddy John Neely Kennedy.

The reason the ad is so hilariously effective is that it captures the manic pandering of Neely in a mere 31 seconds. Well done, y’all.

Gret Stet Politics: Drinking Weed Killer With John Neely Kennedy

Weed killer? Say what? It’s a stock punch line for Gret Stet Senate race frontrunner and State Treasurer John Neely Kennedy (R-Hack.) If there’s something he dislikes, he’s apt to reply: “I’d rather drink weed killer than” do that. Me, I’d rather drink weed killer than vote for this shameless opportunist. Why? This is his third run for the Senate and I voted for him the first time. In 2004, Neely was still a Democrat and ran as the most liberal candidate in the field. I saw him at a John Kerry rally on the New Orleans riverfront and he gave the best speech by far. He finished third in the primary with 15% of the vote. Bitter Vitter won it outright. Thanks, Neely.

The next time Neely ran for Senate was in 2008 as a Conservative Republican. This time he opposed incumbent Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu. He lost with 45.7% of the vote, running way behind John McCain who got 58.6%. In 2016, Neely is running as a steely-eyed no nonsense right-winger in the Vitter tradition only without the diapers…

Here’s the thing you need to know about John Neely Kennedy. He sounds like a redneck ignoramus in the ads below. He is not. I’ve met him. In conversation, he has a mildly twangy Southern accent whereas his current public persona “hicks it up” to appeal to the rubes and peckerwoods. He sounds like a graduate of Podunk U when, in fact, he attended Vanderbilt, UVA law school, and was a Rhodes Scholar. That’s right, Oxford, England, just like Slick Willie who Neely surely voted for twice.

I will give Neely credit for one thing. He was a consistent, albeit somewhat unprincipled, critic of Governor PBJ’s fiscal skulduggery, which is one reason he’s the jerk to beat. Actually, there are no pro-PBJ candidates. He’s that unpopular right now.

The first ad is called Fighting for Louisiana. I call it the genius/idiot spot. It has a weed killer finale, man. Bottoms up.

The title of the second ad is self-explanatory. It closes with what Neely’s advisers probably think is a brilliant line: “I believe that love is the answer but you oughta own a hand gun just in case.” Oy, just oy.

The last ad is Neely’s reprehensible national security screed wherein he advocates shooting first and asking questions later. He may well have forfeited the goat lovers vote with the closing line.

There you have it. Neely’s handlers *think* the ads are amusing, but how funny is it when a well-educated man panders to the basest instincts of the Republican base? It’s also ludicrous for a guy who’s been in office since 2000 to pose as an outsider. It’s downright Trumpian.

I am not a fan of any of the candidates but I do hope that the third time will NOT be the charm for John Neely Kennedy.

Tweet Of The Day: David Duke Hearts Julian Assange

I couldn’t figure out how to use an emoji in the post title so I used the word “hearts” to describe David Duke’s man crush on Julian Assange. Dukkke even trades virtual mash notes with Assange’s henchmen:

There’s another meme-y love note from the erstwhile Gret Ster Fuhrer to his white savior:

Since we’re on the subject of Assange, there’s a fabulous piece at the Daily Beast by one of his former senior aides, James Ball. It turns out that Assange wanted to loot the organization’s treasury to fund his legal defense. Holy messiah complex, Batman.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Blues In The Night

_andre_derain_-_harlequin-and-pierrot-1924

Harlequin and Pierrot by Andre Derain, 1924.

Let’s get something out of the way. It’s still hotter than it should be in New Orleans. Fall has fallen with a thud as it may end up as the warmest October in recorded history. End of black market weather report.

In this week’s spirit of deja vu all over again (thanks, Yogi) I promised an update on beleaguered Jefferson Parish President, Mike Yenni. The sexting bastid is still in office after telling the public that it was “in my best interests” to stay. That inspired a scathing teevee commentary by the man with one of the best names in punditry, Clancy DuBos. The video won’t embed but the text rocks:

When Mike Yenni couldn’t avoid facing reporters yesterday, here’s what he said about his decision not to resign:

“It’s in my best interest to do what I was elected to do,” he said Monday.

Think about that statement, folks. He’s saying that his interests are more important than those of Jefferson Parish and its people. His interests.

This is a good time to remember the original Mike Yenni — the real Mike Yenni — and his father, Joe Yenni. They are revered because, as parish presidents, they always put the parish’s and the people’s interests ahead of their own.

This guy, who was born Mike Maunoir but changed his name to Yenni, now makes it clear through his actions and his words that he is not worthy of the Yenni name.

For the sake of the parish, he should resign.

Ouch. I think Yenni is hanging on in order to have something to trade with prosecutors if charges loom. A poll was taken showing that 79% of JP voters want his name changing ass gone. Double ouch. I wonder if there will be a Downfall video any time soon.

The only recourse Jeffersonians have is a recall election. It will be tough but a Metry lawyer, whose father used to be one of the bosses of that parish who was tried but acquitted of corruption charges in 1995, is pledging $100K of his own moolah. You cannot make this shit up, y’all.

That concludes this episode of “As Jefferson Parish Turns.” Cue the Hammond B-3 organ. No, not B3 that’s a different kettle of fish altogether.

My mama done tole me to move on to this week’s theme song. Blues In The Night was written by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer as the title song of a mediocre 1941 movie. The tune has become a classic thanks to all the fabulous versions out there. We have three versions for your enjoyment today. Let’s kick it off with a jazzy rendition by Louis Armstrong and Oscar Peterson.

Here’s Frank Sinatra and Nelson Riddle’s torch song interpretation.

Finally, a 21st Century version from the late, great neo-chanteuse Amy Winehouse.

My Mama done tole me to go to the break before we send in the scary clowns.

Continue reading

Saturday Odds & Sods: Closing Time

Man Ray

Observatory Time: The Lovers by Man Ray.

Foreword: I wrote this post before all hell broke loose in the Presidential campaign. Why anyone is surprised that Trump would say shit like he did on that audio tape is beyond me. It is, however, amusing to see how uncomfortable the Halperins and Cillizza’s of the world are right now. Fuck them sideways. As to the party that nominated this creep, here’s how I put it on Twitter:

It’s time to return to our regularly scheduled programming.

After a brief cool down, it’s still hotter than a vat of ghost peppers in New Orleans. It’s October, y’all. This is getting tiresome as are my complaints, which are trivial compared to having an uninvited guest like Hurricane Matthew. It looks like the fucker may loop back and pay South Florida another visit. Isn’t having Mike Scott as Governor punishment enough?

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Image by Michael F.

This week’s big local story involves Jefferson Parish politics. Parish President Mike Yenni is caught up in a sexting scandal. He spent the past week hiding under his bed in Kenner, brah. He finally resurfaced with a video that kinda sorta explains why a 40-year-old married pol was sexting a 17 year-old boy. Oops. He’d been ducking everyone for days before this modified, limited hangout. Yenni even avoided a public meeting by informing the JP Council that he was deploying to Florida with his Navy Reserve unit until mid-October. He’s clearly vital personnel: he’s a public information officer. Did I say vital? Maybe not, but he’s going after Hurricane Matthew armed with whatever navy flacks are armed with in 2016. Perhaps he’ll do some naughty nautical tweeting. I’d avoid texting if I were you, Mikey.

Yenni is a third generation Jefferson Parish president; both his grandfather, Joe, and uncle Mike served in the same position. And both have public buildings named for them. The Yennis are a big deal in the burbs, which is why little Mikey changed his last name from Maunoir to Yenni. His mother was the Other Mike’s sister, which gave her boy a yen to change his name to Yenni. It was even an issue in his last campaign but he won. He’s gone from Boy Wonder to Boy Blunder in a matter of weeks.

Mikey has been caught with his pants down but may not face the music until mid-October. Thanks, Matthew. Either Maunoir or Yenni is a better name than that of his fellow sexter, Anthony Weiner. I’ll let y’all know how this turns out: people are already calling for his resignation, including my friend Clancy. The story is funny unless younger boys are involved: the age of consent in the Gret Stet is 17. Then it’s Linkmeyerian satire and not funny. Now that I think of it, Frank Linkmeyer is a rather sausagey name. Come on down, Mr. Weiner…

That concludes this episode of “as Jefferson Parish turns.”

Let’s move on to a more cheerful topic:  this week’s theme song. It’s my favorite Leonard Cohen song Closing Time. No, I’m not closing down Saturday Odds & Sods, I picked it because Athenae went all Cohen fan girl this week. We have two versions for your listening pleasure. One by the songwriter himself and the other by my friends in Fairport Convention. My fellow horrid punster Simon Nicol really nails the lead vocal. It helps to have as deep a voice as Leonard.

It’s time to close out this part of the post and run the fast break to the break in this rather sports heavy post. Holy full court pressure, Batman.

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Absence Of Malice

absence of malice

This post isn’t about the 1981 Paul Newman-Sally Field movie although it’s a good flick. It’s about the showdown between Gret Stet Doctor/Congressman Charles Boustany and journalist/investigator/Adrastos acquaintance Ethan Brown. I’ve written about Ethan’s new book Murder in the Bayou twice since its release, here and here. It’s a helluva read. More importantly, it is carefully researched and documented. It is a true crime book NOT political opposition research, better known as oppo.

Boustany is running for David Vitter’s Senate seat, which makes the allegations against him in the book even more amusing. It *is* the hooker seat, after all. With great fanfare, Boustany filed suit against Ethan and his publisher:

 “The law does not allow someone to slander another person to sell books, not even public officials,” Boustany’s lawyer, Jimmy Faircloth, wrote in an emailed statement to TPM.

“Mr. Brown either made up the story or he’s peddling political garbage that he knew or should have known is false,” the statement continued. “It’s easy to spread hateful lies about others, but it’s not easy to defend it under oath while facing the prospects of perjury. This lie will be exposed and those responsible will be held accountable.”

Time for me to put on my lapsed lawyer/legal analyst hat. It’s on the tight side, but it still fits. On to that confusing email. Boustany’s mouthpiece talks about slander in it. Say what? Slanderous statements are oral/verbal. I guess Faircloth is referring to teevee and/or bookstore appearances. Beats the hell outta me. This is a defamation case, which involves written statements of an allegedly libellous nature. A lawyer named Goodcloth would know that…

Notice that Faircloth calls Ethan’s book “political garbage” thereby implying it’s oppo gussied up in book form. Repeat after me: it is not. While researching the Jeff Davis 8 murders and corruption in that corner of Southwestern Louisiana, Ethan stumbled into the Boustany story:

In Brown’s book, which traces the story of eight sex workers who were murdered in Jefferson Davis Parish between 2005-2009, the veteran journalist cites multiple anonymous sources who alleged that Boustany was a client of several of the women who were later found dead. Brown also reported there was “no evidence” that Boustany had anything to do with the murders. One of Brown’s sources was a former sex worker in the parish, another was a friend of the victims, and the third was an unidentified individual who told a police task force investigating the murders that Boustany had a sexual relationship with at least one of the so-called “Jeff Davis 8.”

The prostitution allegations first drew national attention after Boustany’s wife, Bridget, sent an email accusing her husband’s Senate opponents of spreading “lies” about him, prompting them to issue denials. Once those allegations were widely circulated, however, Kennedy and other candidates seized upon them as a stain on the Republican lawmaker’s “character.”

In “Murder in the Bayou,” Brown also reported that a longtime Boustany staffer, Martin Guillory, owned an inn in the town of Jefferson where many of the murdered women met their clients and that Guillory had met “one or two” of the victims before their deaths. Boustany’s office said Guillory concealed that information from them, and Guillory left his post as a field representative soon after the book came out.

TPM got one bit wrong, the Boudreaux Inn was located in Jennings, which is where much of the criminal activity described in the book took place. It connects quite a few of the book’s cast of characters and wasn’t just put in gratuitously to damage a boring Congressman’s political prospects. Ethan relies on anonymous sources for a good reason: people who know something about the murders and grotesque police corruption in that parish have a tendency to meet violent ends. I guess Ethan should be obliged to reveal his sources in order to satisfy Bridget Boustany. If the worst were to happen to the sources, I suspect she’d disclaim any responsibility. It reminds me of my favorite passage in The Great Gatsby:

It was all very careless and confused. They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together and let other people clean up the mess they had made.

I was involved in an epic, and ultimately annoying, discussion of this matter on a friend’s Facebook page. As is typical of social media,  the people with the strongest opinions on the Boustany allegations had not read the book. I have. That endless FB thread reminded me of the circular discussions of Martin Scorsese’s 1988 film The Last Temptation of Christ. The people who were convinced the movie was blasphemous hadn’t seen it. When called on this, they said they wouldn’t see it because it was blasphemous. It’s our old friend Catch-22.

Speaking of “political garbage,” Boustany’s suit has everything to do with politics and very little to do with the law. The case is a loser because he’s a public figure. Here’s a solid definition of the standard a public figure has to meet in the United States:

In the context of the First Amendment, public officials and public figures must satisfy a standard that proves actual malice in order to recover for libel or slander. The standard is based upon the seminal case of new york times v. sullivan, 376 U.S.254, 84 S. Ct. 710, 11 L. Ed. 2d 686 (1964), where the Supreme Court held that public officials and public figures cannot be awarded damages unless they prove that the person accused of making the false statement did so with knowledge that the statement was false or with reckless disregard as to the truth or falsity of the statement. Demonstrating malice in this context does not require the plaintiff to show that the person uttering the statement showed ill will or hatred toward the public official or public figure.

Actual malice is a high standard, one that Doctor/Congressman Boustany will have difficulty meeting. The irony of all of this is that Bridget Boustany introduced the story into the campaign. It might have been wiser for her to not hit the send button: Alicia Florrick would have had the good sense to consult Eli Gold first. It has opened a proverbial can of worms and once they start wiggling across the floor they’re hard to catch. Sounds like a job for Oscar and Della Street.

Time to put my political pundit hat back on. There, that’s much better. I’m not sure how this will play out during the campaign. It’s the first interesting story I’ve ever seen connected to Boustany who is a rather dull and generic Conservative Republican. It *has* increased his name recognition somewhat but not in good way. I neither wish his candidacy ill nor well. The Republicans in this race are all terrible although Boustany *is* slightly better than past malaka of the week John Fleming, Colonel Mayonnaise, or the erstwhile Gret Stet Fuhrer.

Back to Murder in the Bayou. It’s an excellent book. It’s a gripping true crime story with a dose of social commentary. Ethan comes up with some intriguing theories about the sex worker slayings as well as exposing egregious law enforcement corruption. In classic Louisiana fashion, the two so-called reform sheriffs elected in Jefferson Davis parish since 1992 have been worse that the guy who pled guilty to corruption charges. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.

Pepe Le Puke Meets David Duke

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This was originally supposed to be a minor treatise on the alt-right and its mascot Pepe the frog. I planned to post some images of the badly drawn cartoon frog to illustrate my point.  I retreated from the treatise notion when I perused the erstwhile Gret Stet Fuhrer’s twitter feed. It turns out that “Doctor” Duke has glommed on to many alt-right themes and memes. In short, there was no need to download racist propaganda to my computer when Dukkke got there first.

I would, however, like to apologize to one of my all-time favorite toons, Pepe Le Pew, for basing my nickname for the alt-right frog on his moniker. Pepe Le Pew may have been a skunk but he was never a racist stinker like Pepe Le Puke.  He just wanted to be loved.

Before posting some Dukke tweets, here’s Rachel Maddow’s televised takedown of the alt-right and Pepe Le Puke:

I am continually amazed that American right-wing extremists use Nazi imagery. The Nazis were among history’s greatest LOSERS. Their Nazi fetish is something wingnuts tend to keep under wraps, but they find it impossible NOT to put Pepe Le Puke in a picklelhaube: you know, one of those spiky Prussian helmets worn by guys named Helmut. I’m glad that Word Press doesn’t impose Otto Incorrect on its users. The mind reels at how it would spell pickelhaube…

I’ve been putting this off, but it’s time to dive into the cesspool that is “Doctor” David Duke’s timeline. The first tweet requires some explanation. ZOG is an anti-Semitic acronym for Zionist Occupation Government:

There’s more of this depolrable nonsense on Duke’s timeline but I don’t want to make you Le Puke, Le Barf, or Le Hurl. One would hardly know that he’s running for the Gret Stet hooker seat in the Senate. He spends more time plugging Trump than attacking his opponents including accused john, Charles Boustany. That reminds me of one of Edwin Edwards’ classic lines about Duke from the 1991 Goober race:

“The only thing we have in common is we’re both wizards under the sheets.”

I guess Doctor/Congressman Boustany won’t go there. It might make him Pepe Le Puke…

Once again, I’d like to apologize to Pepe Le Pew. He doesn’t deserve having his name linked to a notorious cartoon frog so, as a consolation prize, I’ll give the French stinker the last word:

Once again, I lied about the whole last word thing. Contrasting the awfulness of Pepe Le Puke to the awesomeness of Pepe Le Pew gave me an earworm. I’ll let Peter Wolf and the J. Geils Band have the *real* last word:

 

Gret Stet Politics: Trolling On The Bayou

Murder in the Bayou- Ethan Brown.

The last time I wrote about the Gret Stet Senate race I described it as 24 Candidates in Search of a Plot. That has changed with a political bombshell lobbed in the general direction of Doctor/Congressman Charles Boustany of Lafayette. Other than his medical degree, there was nothing interesting about Boustany until a book by investigative reporter Ethan Brown, Murder in the Bayou, popped up. Boustany is running to replace David Vitter and, as you have surely already heard, is accused of consorting with, uh, consorts, I mean prostitutes. It *is* the hooker seat, after all.

A quick disclaimer. Ethan Brown is a friendly acquaintance of mine, which is one reason I’m inclined to believe his account. The other is that he didn’t go looking for a story about Boustany and sex workers, he stumbled into it. The main story is the murder of 8 women in Jefferson Davis Parish, Louisiana. While investigating the Jeff Davis 8 murders, Ethan uncovered a link between a no-tel motel and Doctor/Congressman Boustany. I’ll let BuzzFeed do the heavy lifting:

In the book, Murder in the Bayou — which will be released by Simon & Schuster’s Scribner imprint next week — investigative journalist Ethan Brown cites three anonymous sources claiming Republican Rep. Charles Boustany was a “client” of some of the murdered sex workers known as the “Jeff Davis 8.” The book also reveals that the motel where some of the victims did their sex work was run by Martin Guillory, a field representative for Boustany who goes by the nickname “Big G.”

Boustany, who is now running for U.S. Senate in Louisiana, denied the allegations to the author through a spokesman. Guillory, who ran the Boudreaux Inn from the late 1990s through the end of 2004, told the author he’d met “one or two” of the sex workers, as well as Frankie Richard, their pimp. But Guillory said he was unaware of any criminal activity taking place at the motel.

<SNIP>

Brown, who has spent more than five years investigating the case, writes in Murder in the Bayou that Boustany’s name first came up in his reporting during a 2012 interview with Richard, the pimp who was briefly charged with one victim’s murder. (The charges were later dropped.)

The author then cites three independent sources claiming that some of the slain sex workers counted Boustany as a customer. One source is described in the book as a “former Jennings sex worker” who knew the Jeff Davis 8; another is described as a “friend” of some of the victims.

The third source is a witness who in 2012 told a law enforcement taskforce investigating the murders that Boustany had engaged in sexual activity with at least one victim:

<SNIP>

I will call this witness Boustany Witness A. Taskforce investigators took Boustany Witness A seriously enough to interview her over several days in October of 2012. Boustany Witness A kept meticulous logs of her visits with the Taskforce, and according to these logs, she was interrogated by the upper echelon of the Taskforce … In an August 2015 meeting at the FBI’s Lake Charles office, I asked Agent Reed about his meeting with Boustany Witness A, and he refused to confirm or deny that such a meeting occurred. Agent Reed also refused to confirm or deny that the feds have received information that Boustany patronized any of the Jeff Davis 8.

Brown stresses in the book that “there is no evidence that either Congressman Boustany or Big G had any involvement with the murders of the Jeff Davis 8.

The Boustany camp has been in full freak out mode ever since the story became public last week. His wife sent an email to supporters denouncing the story. This time, I’ll let UPROXX do the work:

“He’s a good man, a loving husband, and an incredible father to our two children,” Bridget Boustany says in the email. She went on to allege that Brown’s book is the work of her husband’s political opponents, charging that “Charles’ opponents have resorted to lies about him,” adding that the explosive details in Murder in the Bayou are nothing more than “false attacks aimed at bringing down a candidate who threatens to take the lead and win the race for U.S. Senate.” In response to Bridget Boustany’s email, Brown said, “I stand by what I reported in my book.”

Team Boustany  tried to pin the story on one of his Republican opponents, Gret Stet Treasurer and two-time Senatorial loser, John Neely Kennedy. Here’s where the trolling in the title comes into play:

Shorter Team Neely: Bless their hearts. You know what that *really* means when a Southerner says that, don’t you? Here’s the Urban Dictionary’s definition:

This is a term used by the people of the southern United States particularly near the Gulf of Mexico to express to someone that they are an idiot without saying such harsh words.

The Kennedy statement is a trolling masterpiece and received detailed analysis by Amber Phillips in the WaPo. 

Here’s the deal: I believe Ethan’s story. I haven’t read the book yet, but he’s an honest and diligent reporter who has no reason to side with one Republican candidate over another. All I have to say about all the major Republican candidates is this: bless their hearts.

Repeat after me: It *is* the hooker seat, after all.

Writing this post gave me an earworm. I found myself substituting the words “trolling” and “hookers” for the word fire. I cannot imagine where that came from. I can troll too, y’all.