Category Archives: Gret Stet Politics

The Finger Of Blame

I don’t know about you but I’m enjoying all the finger pointing over the failure to repeal the ACA. The Turtle is violating every principle of Congressional leadership and making his caucus vote on a bill that cannot pass. Wait a minute, it’s what they’ve been doing since 2009. Of course, they’re in the majority and control the executive branch now. The finger of blame points at them.

POTUS* is pouting and pretending he had nothing to do with it. He claims that he doesn’t “own” this failure. Guess what, Donald, you don’t get to choose what you own when you’re the Oval One. That’s up to the voters. Democrats took the fall for the economy in the 2010 mid-terms even if the finger of blame pointed at the Bush administration and Wall Street greedheads. You don’t get to choose.

It must be great to be Donald Trump. Imagine never having made a mistake in your life. #sarcasm. It’s always someone else’s fault. Now he wants to burn down the health care house because he’s mad. Arson seems to be big in 2017. In politics it usually involves self-immolation. It’s a fiery finger of blame and it’s pointed directly at the Republican party. They own this president*.

It’s time to revisit my Russell Long paraphrase from Monday evening. His mantra was about taxes but all one needs to do is substitute blame for tax and Bob’s your uncle. I still don’t know who Bob is; perhaps he’s a white rural Trump voter or one of their explainers.

Since it’s 2017, let’s meme the Long paraphrase:

The original picture was taken on the 50th Anniversary of Huey Long’s assassination. It’s why he’s peeking out from behind Russell Long. If the Kingfish were around today, he’d probably wonder which part of this story fits the 21st Century GOP:

“The Democratic Party and the Republican Party were just like the old patent medicine drummer that used to come around our country. He had two bottles of medicine. He’d play a banjo and he’d sell two bottles of medicine.

One of those bottles of medicine was called High Popalorum and another one of those bottles of medicine was called Low Popahirum.

Finally somebody around there said is there any difference in these bottles of medicines? ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘considerable. They’re both good but they’re different,’ he said.

‘That High Popalorum is made from the bark off the tree that we take from the top down. And that Low Popahirum is made from the bark that we take from the root up.’

And the only difference that I have found between the Democratic leadership and the Republican leadership was that one of ’em was skinning you from the ankle up and the other from the ear down — when I got to Congress.”

As a seasoned Long paraphraser, I’d substitute McConnell and Trump for the parties, but I’m uncertain which is High Popalorum and which is Low Popahirum. Btw, this was a question posed to me on twitter by my friend Sam Jasper. I wish I had a better answer. All I have for her is a shout-out.

Back to the blame game. It’s more fun than a barrel of monkeys and more disconcerting than a ferret down your trousers. As of this writing, Corey Lewandowski  is claiming that the president* is going to close a deal on Obamacare repeal today. I can count both votes and lies. The votes for ACA repeal are limited and lies from Team Trump are innumerable. You’d think that they’d screw up and tell the truth at some point.

The finger of blame is a venerable phrase but it was used memorably by Neil Finn in the Crowded House song, Fall At Your Feet. I guess you know who has the last word:

Unsolicited Advice For Trump Junior From Earl Long

The shoes keep dropping. Our idiot president’s* idiot son is the subject of another NYT story. The lede of the story says it all:

Before arranging a meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer he believed would offer him compromising information about Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump Jr. was informed in an email that the material was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy, according to three people with knowledge of the email.

I realize the Trump crime family loves headlines but sometimes it’s best to STFU and stop bragging. The late Earl Long was a smart politician who came from a political family. Trump Junior could do worse than to heed Uncle Earl’s savvy advice:

Quote Of The Day: Health Care Edition

I like to call my friend Clancy DuBos the dean of New Orleans political commentators. I’m not sure if he likes the nickname as it sounds rather bureaucratic. Perhaps I should call myself the vice-dean whatever the hell that means. I *could* promote Clancy to chancellor, but it’s a title that evokes British or German politics, not the Gret Stet of Louisiana.

That was a roundabout way of praising Clancy for one of the best columns he’s ever written. He urges Gret Stet GOP Senators John Neely Kennedy and Bill Cassidy to put country and state ahead of the more rabid members of their base and fix the ACA, not destroy it:

So the question Kennedy and Cassidy must answer is “Whom do you represent?”

It appears Kennedy is inextricably in the thrall of the GOP’s right wing, his world-class education notwithstanding. The more moderate Cassidy, on the other hand, appears genuinely torn between his conscience (including physicians’ legendary oath to “first, do no harm”) and his political party.

To his credit, Cassidy has pledged not to support any bill that fails the “Jimmy Kimmel test” in terms of adequate coverage for all (as Donald Trump promised during the campaign). Cassidy also joined fellow Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine to introduce the Patient Freedom Act of 2017. Their bill, which would provide transparency on health care prices, has been ignored by the Senate’s GOP leadership.

Given the Senate’s slim, two-vote GOP majority, Cassidy could influence the future of American health care policy not only because he is a physician but also because he has at times shown the courage to speak the truth, even when truth doesn’t serve the interests of his party. I wish I could say the same of Kennedy.

Both men will cast their votes soon. Will Dr. Cassidy do no harm, or will he follow the money? His decision, like senators’ votes on civil rights bills in the 1960s, will determine how future generations remember him.

Both Kennedy and Cassidy are former Democrats who identified with the center-left of the party. Kennedy did so as an elected official and statewide candidate, so he’s forever overcompensating by hicking it up and pandering to the Trumpers. Why a well-educated, articulate man like Neely is willing to sound like a peckerwood in public is one of the mysteries of Gret Stet politics. Public Peckerwood? That would be a helluva name for a bluegrass band.

Senator/Doctor Cassidy is reachable but has been a follower, not a leader in his political career. As a doctor who practiced in Louisiana’s public hospital system, he *should* know the devastating impact the proposed changes to Medicaid will have. People will die if McConnell’s reverse Robin Hoodism becomes the law of the land. Make that the law of the jungle. Transferring wealth from Medicaid recipients to the 1% is Social Darwinism at its worst.

I hereby challenge Senator/Doctor Cassidy to live up to both his titles and do the right thing. He will be forgotten after he leaves office if he remains in the pocket of leader McConnell. He has a chance to prove that he’s his own man, not merely Bitter Vitter’s creature. Health care is a fundamental human right that should not be bartered away. Doctor Cassidy knows that. It’s time for Senator Cassidy to vote his conscience, not the party line.

Quote Of The Day: The Fog Of Historical Analogy

Bottoms up with the Kingfish,

There’s an interesting piece at the New York Times by Moshik Temkin critiquing the “historian as pundit” trend. There have always been a few name brand popular historians punditting on the boob tube including such recent examples as Michael Beschloss, Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Douglas Brinkley. But the Trump presidency* has transformed a trickle into a flood. Professor Temkin dissents from the trend with some vehemence.

The wonderfully named Moshik Temkin professes at Harvard’s Kennedy Scool of guvmint. His best known book is The Sacco-Venzetti Affair: America On Trial. I haven’t read it but I’ve heard good things.

The money quote in the article addresses comparisons between the Insult Comedian and the Gret Stet’s own Kingfish. Since I posted the Ken Burns film, Huey Long, yesterday, this was an easy pick as QOTD:

To take just one example, during his campaign, Mr. Trump was frequently compared to Huey Long, the Depression-era governor of Louisiana. Sure, there are similarities: Like Mr. Trump, Long ran in the name of the “people,” attacked the establishment and was labeled a demagogue and fascist by his critics. But the differences are even more important: Long was self-made, a genuine populist who took on powerful interests, and as governor was responsible for building roads, bridges and hospitals and helping the poor. He never engaged in race baiting — astonishing for a populist Southern politician in that era. The point isn’t that Mr. Trump is or is not like Long (and he’s not); it’s that the analogy is meaningless.

I don’t entirely agree that the analogy is meaningless. Anything that gets people interested in  history is a good thing as far as I’m concerned. I am more likely to object to politicians who warp history to serve their own purposes. Apparently, Vladimir Putin does so repeatedly in his interviews with that credulous boob, Oliver Stone. Since Stone is ignorant of Russian history, Putin can lie with impunity. Have I mentioned recently how much I hate Oliver Stone? He’s a heavy-handed film director having a second life as a dictator fan boy. So it goes.

Back to Temkin’s piece. I am glad that he understands that Huey P. Long was the ultimate mixed bag but his legacy is overall a positive one. All the Current Occupant wants to do is destroy his predecessor’s legacy as well as one of America’s greatest achievements, NATO. Additionally, Huey was brilliant and Trump is a moron.

Reading Professor Temkin’s piece for second time, I begin to wonder if he’s what Gore Vidal called “a scholar squirrel.” The scholar squirrels of the Master’s day were academic historians who were jealous of those who wrote popular histories or, in Vidal’s case, best-selling historical novels. Envy is never a pretty sight.

For now, I take Temkin at his word when he states categorically that Historians Shouldn’t Be Pundits. But I reserve the right to mock him if starts turning up on cable teevee as an expert and/or pundit. That would be confirmation that he’s a scholar squirrel; as such he should be pelted with envy-green acorns or pistachios. Others might feed him crow but I prefer dispensing mercy as well as mockery. It’s a kinder murder…of crows.

The last word goes to the late great Levon Helm performing a certain Randy Newman tune that I’ve posted before:

I hope y’all are proud of me for getting through the post without punning on the Professor’s name. I didn’t even call him Boychik but the Temkin was killing me…

 

Sunday Morning Video: Huey Long

It’s documentary time. The film that put Ken Burns on the map in 1985: Huey Long. 

No Mystery

It’s no mystery that the just released Senate health care bill is horrible.

It’s no mystery that Republicans want to destroy Medicaid and Medicare.

It’s no mystery that center-right Republicans will bitch and moan before falling in line.

It’s no mystery that Gret Stet Senator Bill Cassidy will vote as a Republican politician, not as a physician who worked in the Charity Hospital system.

It’s no mystery that Mitch McConnell has no respect for the customs and traditions of the Senate.

It’s no mystery that this reform* will inflict pain on millions of people and damage the economy.

It’s no mystery that Republicans think they can successfully lie to the voters about the impact of this wildly unpopular reform*.

It’s no mystery that I hope I’m wrong about some of this. Three no votes will kill this horrendous legislation. If you’re represented by a Republican Senator, please pick up the phone and call.

It’s no mystery that the last word goes to Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Al Di Meola, and Lenny White:

Deep Blog’s Separated At Birth Theory Of The Georgia 6 Race

You may recall my friend Deep Blog from the 2015 Gret Stet Goober race. He only comes out during Southern elections, apparently. He has a unique theory as to what really happened in the Handel-Ossoff race:

I’m sorry that Ossoff didn’t handle Handel but it was *always* going to be an uphill climb in such a Republican district. I was among those who thought Ossoff’s best chance was winning the primary. He still ran a good race against the odds with a double-digit swing in the vote. It wasn’t enough but this is Newt’s old district for chrissake.

Ossoff’s defeat is disappointing. A win in the Georgia 6 would have been of great symbolic importance but symbolism isn’t everything. I live in the even Deeper South and his loss has nothing to do with his alleged ideological impurity. If Democrats are to mount a comeback in the 2018 cycle, we have to get over imposing purity tests and focus on coalition building. It’s how John Bel Edwards defeated David Vitter in the 2015 Gret Stet Goober race. Edwards is a blue dog but he’s governed as a center-left Democrat. If he had run as a proto-Berner, he’d be out of politics and Diaper Dave would be governor.

 As always, Josh Marshall nails how we should respond to last night’s loss:

What Democrats need to resist at all costs is the temperamental inclination to fall into spasms of self-loathing over this defeat – specifically, the idea that there’s something fundamentally wrong with the party because of this loss. I saw one Democrat on Twitter tonight ask if Ossoff’s loss didn’t mean “the Democratic party apparatus needs a total overhaul on every single level?”

Maybe the Democrats do need a fundamental overhaul. But doing 10 to 15 points better than a House candidate has done in this district since the 1970s simply isn’t evidence for that. There’s also a toxic desire on the part of many to use this painful defeat as an opening to relitigate intra-party grievances. Losing is hard. Taking a loss and getting up the next day to keep fighting to get to the next level takes endurance and guts. Many cannot resist the temptation to trade that sting for a toxic self-validation. All I can say to that is that parties build majorities by finding ways to unite competing factions over common interests and goals – something Donald Trump should help with a lot. They almost never get there when they are locked in internecine struggle or when either faction thinks it can or does destroy the other. That’s just not how it works.

This is a big disappointment. But remember, by any objective measure these races show a Democratic party resurgent and a GOP on the ropes. These seats came open because they were vacated by people Trump picked for cabinet appointments. They got those picks because they came from safe seats. They are by no means a cross section of House seats. The thing to do is learn what we can from coming up just short and move on to the next fight. No one should expect any of this to be easy. If you do, bow out of civic questions and just watch movies and TV. We need people with more endurance.

Speaking of teevee, I’ll give Margo Martindale as Mags Bennett the last word. Literally.

The Scalise Shooting

This one hit close to home for me. Steve Scalise represents the district next to mine. I don’t like his politics, but I want him taken out peacefully at the ballot box, not violently in a park.

I wrote about the good part of social media earlier today. We’re seeing the dark side of it now. This time around, it’s bipartisan malakatude since the shooter was a Sanders volunteer. To his credit, the Senator has already taken to the Senate floor to denounce the shooter. It’s not about him, it’s not about right or left, it’s about fundamental human decency.

Not everything is a political issue to be instantly batted about by social media trolls and keyboard warriors. That’s too abstract for my taste, it shows a fatal lack of empathy; a quality we need now more than ever. This is how I summed it up on my Facebook timeline:

Things were already terrible and this will only make it worse. Today, I don’t care that the shooter was a Berner. Today, I don’t care that Scalise has horrible views on everything under the sun. He does. I’ve even made him malaka of the week. But this is not how we *should* do things in America. Unfortunately, violence is as American as apple pie. Our reaction to this event should not be colored by our personal politics. We need to try to be better than that. There’s plenty of time to discuss gun violence and health care. This sort of event doesn’t lend itself to instant analysis. A deep breath is called for.

I told a funny story earlier today,  it’s time for a more serious one. I was a high school freshman when George Wallace was shot. I was a young McGovernite. It was the first time I volunteered in a campaign. As horrible as it sounds, I was in the mood to celebrate when I arrived at my Poli Sci class. My teacher was just as liberal as I was: we stuffed envelopes together at McGovern HQ both before and after the shooting. She informed me that gun violence is wrong regardless of the target. She reminded me that the main reason we both supported George McGovern was to end the war in Vietnam. I realized she was right and felt ashamed for trying to score political points over the Wallace shooting. If it had been George McGovern, I would have cold cocked a kid who was celebrating. She said something that has always stuck with me: “There’s a fatal lack of empathy in the world and that’s what we need.”

It’s true to this very day. The world needs not only love but empathy. Today’s social media discourse reminds me of Adrastos’ first two rules of satire:

  1. Always kick up, never down.
  2. Violence, especially gun violence, is only funny if its slapstick. It’s never funny when it’s real and life threatening.

I learned the second part the hard way when I wanted to tell Wallace jokes way back in 1972. I’m glad I had a teacher who straightened me out. I learned that what the world needs more than anything else is empathy.

I realize some of you won’t agree with parts of this post. So it goes. There will be a time when this is grist for the political mill. I think it’s a good idea to let the dust settle and know what we’re talking about. I prefer the clarity of facts to the fog of social media.

Make sure you read Athenae’s post on the shooting, You Never Thought. She comes at it from an entirely different angle. It’s good stuff.

Saturday Odds & Sods: All Shook Up

March by Grant Wood.

The monuments aftershocks continue here in New Orleans. I went to a friend’s kid’s birthday party and was warned to skip the subject because there were some rabid Lost Causers invited. They went there, I did not. I asked for a gold star but did not get one. I considered pitching a fit but thought better of it.

While we’re on the subject of the late monuments, I have two articles to recommend, nay, commend. First, Adrastos acquaintances Campbell Robertson and Katy Reckdahl collaborated on a story connecting the monuments and family histories. Second, the local public radio station, WWNO, has a piece about a proposed monument to Oscar Dunn a former slave who was Gret Stet Lt. Governor during Reconstruction. The monument was never built. Dunn, however, is worthy of one. That’s where I’d like this process to go: Civil Rights figures. It’s what makes sense if we were striking a blow against white supremacy and the Confederacy.

I saw this week’s bucolic featured image on the Antiques Roadshow. I used it because I like the austere lines of the print by the austere Iowan, Grant Wood. Austere seems to be the word of the day. Besides, Dr. A won tickets to the Roadshow when it comes to New Orleans this July. I want them to know we’re coming.

I was horrified to learn from the Guardian that Elvis Presley’s spell is waning with the kids today. If they think of him at all, they think of bloated Elvis from the end of his life or the notorious body in the box picture.

As his peer Fats Domino would surely say, Ain’t That A Shame. Elvis brought rock-and-roll to the masses and was its first King, Besides, what will NOLA’s own Rolling Elvi do if the Elvis mystique is diminished?

Rolling Elvi, Muses Parade, 2011. Photo by Dr. A.

This week’s theme song, All Shook Up, was written by Otis Blackwell and recorded by Elvis in 1957. According to his biographer Peter Guralnick, the reason Elvis received a writing credit is that he came up with the title.

First up is Blackwell’s rendition followed by Elvis’ studio version and then the Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart belting it out.

I don’t know about you but I’m, uh, all shook up, which is why we’ll take a break at this point.

Continue reading

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:

30753652295_8464e50bfa

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: