Category Archives: Gret Stet Politics

NOLA Politics: I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead, You Rascal You

The rascal in question is the New Orleans mayoral run-off election, which will be held this Saturday. It’s been a nasty, dispiriting race with both sides flinging shit like zoo chimps. Primary  frontrunner LaToya Cantrell has held and expanded her lead despite the city credit card misuse allegation that I went into in detail at the Bayou Brief.  The issue was subsequently diffused by the release of credit card records of other councilmembers showing that Cantrell’s use was on the high-end but not an outlier.

One reason for Cantrell’s expanding lead is the abysmal campaign run by her opponent, Desiree Charbonnet. Team Charbonnet has flooded the city with flop sweat this week. They keep throwing shit up against the wall and very little has stuck. They even falsely claimed that re-elected Councilmembers Jason Williams and Jared Brossett endorsed their effort. I know lying is in fashion but this was a clumsy and easily refutable lie.  It’s the internet age, y’all. These things spread faster than they did 20 years ago.

Another endorsement (real this time) reflects Chabonnet’s futile attempt to win over white conservative voters:

It’s a shitty picture but it makes the point. Here’s how I described Charbonnet’s honky quest in a Bayou Brief column that focuses on her political relationship with the white, conservative District Attorney Leon Canizarro aka Canny: 

Canny’s heavy-handed intervention has confirmed Cantrell supporters’ opinion that Charbonnet is a terrible person who is guilty, if of nothing else, of being a machine politician. I think that Charbonnet’s attempt to woo white conservative voters is doomed to fail. The Charbonnet brand means “corruption” to people in Lakeview and the Garden District. They didn’t support her in the primary and they’re unlikely to do so in the run-off.

And Steve Scalise represents suburban Metry and parts of the Northshore. His support means even less than Canny’s. Canny is at least a New Orleanian.

What Team Charbonnet refuses to understand is that there are fewer white conservative voters than before Katrina. It’s a top-heavy campaign as described by Deep Blog who blames the mess on one of Charbonnet’s campaign consultants:

It’s all on Bill Schultz. He always uses a cannon when the situation calls for a cap gun. Can’t help himself. And Bunny & Ike. Her campaign literally had more money than they knew how to spend intelligently. So they proceeded to spend it very unintelligently on consultants. All chiefs, yet no one really in charge.

They’ve been running a pre-Katrina campaign in a digital world. It’s one of the main reasons they’re about to lose. Bigly. I originally thought there would be a 10 point spread but it looks as if it will be Cantrell by 15 to 20 points. It’s the worst run New Orleans mayoral campaign since the one Dollar Bill Jefferson ran in 2002 for Richard Pennington. I go into more detail in another Bayou Brief column.

One thing that I hope will never change are the scurrilous flyers that are mailed out in the last two weeks of every citywide election campaign. This year PACs have done the candidates dirty work. For more details on that point and much more, check out this week’s Gambit cover story by Clancy DuBos.

I’d like to thank my friend Alex McKenzie for the flyer photos that follow. I may owe him some pho for the photos.

First off is a downright vicious anti-Charbonnet flyer. I didn’t get this one and I’m annoyed by the omission, y’all. It seems like bias against my racially mixed 13th Ward neighborhood or some such shit.

Team Charbonnet has its own PAC attack dogs. I got the next flyer. I guess they realized that I’m “just another white boy with the disco blues.” As far as I know, Fee Waybill isn’t on the ballot Saturday. End of Tubes references. Here’s an edited version of the anti-Cantrell flyer:

Straight Out Of Compton? There you have it, ladies and germs: supporters of an African-American candidate have sent out a blatantly racist attack flyer.

This flyer could only appeal to a racist white Trump voter whose family has been here for generations and hates all transplants. That’s a shrinking part of electorate. Trump only got 15% of the vote in Orleans Parish and those people all hate the Charbonnets. This was money wasted but at least I got a blog post out of it.

I remain a clothes pin Cantrell voter. I’m hoping she will modify her position on short term rentals but she’s likely to win big and feel she has a mandate. Humility has not been a strong suit of her candidacy.

I am thrilled the election will be over soon. We can all wash the mud off our clothes and celebrate Thanksgiving without any political ads polluting the air waves.

Let’s circle back to the post title. I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead, You Rascal You aka You Rascal You was written by Sam Thread in 1929. It’s associated with the greatest person ever born in New Orleans: Louis Armstrong. I’ll give Satchmo the last word as we dance on the grave of the 2017 mayoral election:

Malaka Of The Week: Rob Maness aka Col. Mayonnaise

It’s time to visit an old “friend” who I wrote about in 2014 and 2015. Rob Maness ran for the US Senate in both 2014 and 2016 as the wingnuttiest wingnut in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. He’s a retired military man with a punworthy name, so I dubbed him Col. Mayonnaise without anyone egging me on to do so. I hear that Mean Mr. Mustard was irked with me but I avoided any dire condiment consequences.

Maness did well in 2014: finishing a respectable third to Mary Landrieu and  Bill Cassidy. His candidacy laid an egg in 2016 and he’s now running as the Trumpiest Trumper who ever Trumped for a Louisiana State House seat in ruby-red St. Tammany Parish.

Col. Mayonnaise has a talk radio show and pitched a fit whilst on the air. And that is why Rob Maness is malaka of the week.

Here’s an account in the Advocate of  Col. Mayonnaise’s Trump-type toddler tantrum:

Maness had been jovial moments earlier as he and the caller discussed Roy Moore, who is running for an open U.S. Senate seat in Alabama. Maness had just finished criticizing Republican leaders for working against Moore, who has been accused of sexual misconduct with multiple teenagers in the late 1970s.

But his tone changed abruptly when the caller, who identified himself as “Flaming Liberal,” said that even Cruz had asked Moore to step down. “If you’re to the right of Ted Cruz, you’re an extremist,” he said.

“Whoa, you just called me an extremist, brother,” said Maness, a retired Air Force colonel who went on to outline his military background, including top-secret clearances.

“I’ve done everything this country has ever asked me to do. How dare you call me an extremist,” he said. “I’m the most investigated, stable man that the country could have ever given the keys to nuclear weapons to, so you can blow me! You can blow me and get out of here if you’re gonna talk like that and call me an extremist.”

The caller, David Bellinger, a former New Orleans resident who described himself as a frequent talk radio caller, returned fire, saying “Go screw your ma, a-hole,” several times before Maness asked his producer to cut the caller off.

They should have cut the host off as well. I think he needs more time at the firing range so he won’t lash out at callers or voters for that matter.

As far as I’m concerned, anyone who still supports Judge Pervert is by definition an extremist.  Like Mean Mr. Mustard, Roy Moore is a dirty old man. Col. Mayonnaise better watch out or he might get banned from a mall for having a potty mouth.

Unfortunately, in the Trump era saying “blow me” on the radio is neither disqualifying nor damaging. Col. Mayonnaise appeals to the angry white men out there. In fact, he’s one of them. But Colonels do not have the “keys to nuclear weapons” and Malaka Maness should know that. Another angry white man without maness has the keys, which is frightening enough. That’s why the Senate held hearings on that very issue yesterday. One result could be a Keep the Football Away From Trump bill. It’s time to intercept the Insult Comedian before he starts lobbing bombs at Little Rocket Man.

Col. Mayonnaise ran first in the primary and is favored to win the special election. Northshore voters seem to like their Cheetos dipped in mayonnaise. The malaka without maness may still blow it if the voters decide he’s soft on perverts. And that is why Rob Maness is malaka of the week.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Lover Of The Bayou

Photograph by CC Lockwood.

Fall has fallen. We finally had a week of temptingly temperate temperatures. Unfortunately, it’s oak pollen season, which means I’ve been wheezier than Weezer or Isabel Sanford who played Louise (Weezy) Jefferson on the electronic teevee machine back in the day. Where have you gone George Jefferson? Achoo.

It’s the week after the primary election and the Mayoral  run-off campaign is mostly bubbling under the surface. There was some horrible news involving third-place finisher Michael Bagneris. His daughter, Mia, was hit by a drunk driver while exiting her car after attending her father’s election eve soiree. Since New Orleans is the world’s largest small town, we have several friends in common. Her injuries were severe but it appears that she’ll make it. It’s going to be a long recovery. Best wishes to the Bagneris family. Drunk drivers are the worst.

This week’s theme song was written by Roger McGuinn and Jacques Levy. It has an interesting history. I’ll let the Wikpedia entry for the Byrds album (Untitled) fill you in:

For most of 1969, The Byrds’ leader and guitarist, Roger McGuinn, had been developing a country rock stage production of Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt with former psychologist and Broadway impresario Jacques Levy.[16] The musical was to be titled Gene Tryp, an anagram of the title of Ibsen’s play, and would loosely follow the storyline of Peer Gynt with some modifications to transpose the action from Norway to south-west America during the mid-19th century.[5] The musical was intended as a prelude to even loftier plans of McGuinn’s to produce a science-fiction film, tentatively titled Ecology 70 and starring former Byrd Gram Parsons (no relation to Gene) and ex-member of The Mamas & the PapasMichelle Phillips, as a pair of intergalactic flower children.[12] Ultimately, Gene Tryp was abandoned and a handful of the songs that McGuinn and Levy had written for the project would instead see release on (Untitled) and its follow-up, Byrdmaniax.[4]

I told you it was a long story. We have two versions for your enjoyment, the original live Byrds version and a cover by Mudcrutch, which was Tom Petty’s original band brought back to life in 2008. Holy reanimation, Batman.

That concludes our trip to the bayou or does it? You’ll find out after we jump to the break.

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Quick & Dirty Thoughts About The NOLA Primary Election

It was an eventful weekend at Adrastos World HQ. The LSU Tigers came back from a 20-0 deficit to the Other Tigers of Auburn to win 27-23.  Auburn has still not won at Tiger Stadium in the 21st Century. The Saints won a wild and wacky home game against the Detroit Lions. It resembled a rugby match at times but a win is a win is win.

The most important event, of course, was the New Orleans primary election. For the majority of you who don’t live in New Orleans and need some context, here’s a link to my page at the Bayou Brief. I need to pitch something there soon but the Oscar crisis and its aftermath left me lower energy than Jeb Bush. Believe me.

The headline is that two African-American women will be competing in the run-off and one of them will become the first woman mayor in the city’s history. LaToya Cantrell and Desiree Charbonnet combined for 69% of the vote. It was expected to be a close three-way struggle but Cantrell led by 9%; the other major candidate Michael Bagneris (also African-American) won among white voters but finished out of the money with 18%. Bags pandered to wealthy local Lost Causers by criticizing the removal process, calling for a referendum on future controversies, then declining to say how he would vote. Oy just oy. To be fair, none of the candidates wanted to go there but he gave the worst answer by far.

A quick note about also-ran and recent malaka of the week, Frank Scurlock.  My friend and Bayou Brief publisher Lamar White Jr. crunched the numbers and informed us that Scurlock spent more per vote than any candidate in Gret Stet history, $926 per vote. He received 385 votes. He said he’d stimulate the economy and he kept that promise.

The run-off campaign should be more interesting than the primary. The two contenders are fairly close on the issues but have contrasting styles and backgrounds. The front-runner, Councilmember LaToya Cantrell, is a transplant who made her bones as a post-Katrina/Federal Flood activist. She’s a little rough around the edges but in a good way: it makes her interesting and somewhat unpredictable. She has a bit of a potty mouth, which is something we at First Draft fucking like. And she’s been known to call a motherfucker a motherfucker. There are many of those in local politics. Fuck, yeah.

As to Desiree Charbonnet, it’s become a truism to say that she’s the establishment candidate. As you know, I hate to echo the Conventional Wisdom, but in this case the truism is true.  She raised the most money and gained the most endorsements, which is a two-edged sword. On the sharp side, she has the support of Congressman Cedric Richmond; on the dull side, District Attorney Leon Cannizzarro who is unpopular in many circles because of his office’s habit of coercing witnesses to testify. Canny has the demeanor of an irritable undertaker so seeing him next to the chipper candidate on election eve was most amusing. Smile, Canny, smile.

Back to  Charbonnet. She’s a polished speaker and the camera loves her. Those should be advantages but her poorly run campaign hasn’t taken advantage of her talent. They’ve given her dubious advice about how to deal with criticism as I pointed out in a post called The Empty Podium Ad. I’ve had a series of run-ins with her supporters online. They seem to regard her as the Creole messiah or some such shit. That’s another contrast with her opponent: Charbonnet comes from an old Creole family who have been in New Orleans forever. One of her cousins implied on election eve that differences between locals and transplants that would be a theme of her run-off effort. Of course, she has so many relatives that this guy may not be in the loop. In any event, it’s a rotten idea.

LaToya Cantrell ran first for several reasons: an Obama-style GOTV effort, and negative ads run by Charbonnet’s detractors. It’s unclear how resonant those attacks will be in the run-off but Cantrell benefited from them and the back-and-forth between Charbonnet and third place finisher Michael Bagneris. Charbonnet may have made it difficult for Bags to endorse her because of the nature of her attacks on him, especially comments in the final televised debate implying that he cheated on his wife: “he has a lovely wife who has stood by him.” I know how to read between the lines, y’all.

The open question is who, if anyone, incumbent Mayor Mitch Landrieu will endorse. Despite taking a well-deserved beating over drainage issues, his approval rating remains in the mid to high 50’s. He’s neither politically nor personally close to either candidate so he might be wise to stay out of the fray. I asked around yesterday and the consensus is that the Mayor is unlikely to endorse soon. I think his best course is to praise both candidates, the history they’re about to make, and stay out. Mitch can read the election results and they favor Cantrell. They’ve had a prickly and contentious relationship but she’s the front-runner until proven otherwise.

I didn’t support any of the leading candidates in the primary. I leaned towards Cantrell but have reservations about her position on short-term rentals. I also had a friend and krewe mate, Ed Bruski, who ran as an outsider candidate so I was one of 450 people who voted to give New Orleans a Bruski. In the run-off, the choice is clear. Cantrell is my council member  and she has been responsive to her constituents, which means she’ll listen to the voters. As to Charbonnet, she’s the latest in a long line of machine politicians to run as a reformer or, as she is fond of saying, an innovator. I don’t have a problem with machine politicians but I prefer they be honest about it. My rule of thumb in Louisiana politics is that when someone calls themselves a reformer, check your wallet. C Ray Nagin ran as a reformer, after all.

It looks as if  my post title is a misnomer. It was dirty but not quick. Hell, it could have been longer but I decided to skip the Councilmanic races. That would have been far too manic. I guess that means I should give the Bangles the last word:

 

New Orleans Politics: The Empty Podium Ad

I’ve described the New Orleans Mayoral election as a snooze fest both here and at the Bayou Brief. It’s starting to get more interesting after a mistake made by one of the leading contenders, Desiree Charbonnet. It involved a forum held by the Voice of the People PAC, which is actually the voice of reality teevee star, one-time celebrity garbage man, and man-bun wearer Sidney Torres hereinafter the Trashanova.

The Trashanova flirted with running for Mayor himself but decided instead to be an “influencer” by throwing his weight and money around. Given that he comes from one of the leading political families in St. Bernard Parish, his claim to be a reformer is ironic to say the least. Torres decided to have a debate, which turned into a trap for Charbonnet.

While this may have been a lose-lose situation for Charbonnet, she chose the most damaging path: to skip the forum at the last-minute and have her spokesperson complain about the rules. Here’s how I put it on Zuckerbook:

The Trasanova’s first attack ad features an empty podium, not an empty chair but the effect is the same. It makes her look cowardly, which is a bad look in the African-American community where people like a fighter.

Here’s the attack ad:

Here’s the deal:  the Trashanova’s “charges” against Charbonnet and her political family are already out there. There’s an anti-Charbonnet web site, which, to be blunt, is unconvincing. Charbonnet *is* guilty of hypocrisy: she’s a machine pol claiming to be a “reformer.” But all the attack site proves is that she uses patronage like every other local pol. Hypocrisy and criminality are not the same thing.

Unless the Trashanova has new mud to sling, Charbonnet would have been wise to attend his vanity debate, stand her ground, and fight. The controversy would be over and he wouldn’t be able to show an empty podium in his attack ad.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Tenderness On The Block

Surrealism and Painting by Max Ernst.

It’s still too darn hot in New Orleans and the municipal election drones on like annoying background music. I should be more engaged but (with the exception of Frank Scurlock’s malakatude)  it’s duller than tarnished silver. Hopefully, the run-off will be more interesting.

There is an interesting political story happening next door in Jefferson Parish. I wrote about Parish President Mike Yenni’s perv issues in this space last year. Yenni survived a recall attempt and is clinging to office. One sign that he doesn’t expect to be re-elected is that he’s spent over $200K  to redo his office to make it look like George W. Bush’s Oval Office. I am not making this up.

I hope Mike doesn’t get a Yenni to invade Arabi in nearby St. Bernard Parish. There’s enough weird shit happening in Da Parish already y’all.

This week’s theme song is Warren Zevon’s Tenderness On The Block. I have a confession: I like Shawn Colvin’s 1992 cover even more since it features my homeys, the Subdudes:

Speaking of subdued, I’m feeling that way this week because of Oscar’s illness so I’m going to keep this snappy. So snappy, in fact, that I’m skipping the break and jumping in with both feet or something like that.

My Anglophilia is in bloom this week so we begin with a hilarious piece by the Guardian’s Marina Hyde about the recent Labour Party conference in Brighton. I dig the headline; here it is in its exuberant entirety:

Oh Jeremy Corbyn. I Bet You Think This Song Is About You: The reason I love the Guardian so much is the quality of the writing. They let their funny people be funny. Ain’t nobody funnier than  Marina Hyde:

If you are a political archivist, there are two seriously covetable gigs in the world right now. The first is conceptualising the unprecedented annals facility that will one day be the Donald Trump Presidential Library. The second is collating the many different euphemisms for the Labour party having not won the recent general election.

At party conference in Brighton, you gotta catch ’em all. “We didn’t lose,” Emily Thornberry declared. “The real losers were the Tories.” At Momentum’s parallel event, the official literature noted that Labour had “witnessed possibility being snatched from the jaws of disaster”. In the conference hall proper, shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey elicited a huge cheer for “the biggest narrowing of the polls in British electoral history”.

My favorite bit was about the folks from Momentum, which is a hard left pressure group made up of British dudebros:

Momentum gets a lot of stick for a certain strain of its needling – branding people “centrist dads” and so on. But it rather reminds me of that episode of The Simpsons where Bart inquires of a man: “I’m Bart Simpson – who the hell are you?” “I’m Dave Shutton,” comes the stuffy reply, “an investigative reporter who’s on the road a lot, and I must say that in our day we didn’t talk like that to our elders.” “Well, this is my day,” shrugs Bart, “and we do.” And so with many of Momentum’s in-jokes – there is something Bartishly irreverent and invigorating about them, and pants ought not to be wet in response. All the grownuppery was far more off-putting, anyway. Emily Thornberry kept insisting Labour were “the grownups”, while Keir Starmer echoed that the party was “the grownups in the room”.

It’s unclear as to whether Labour’s performance in the late election was a real political shift or a massive anti-Tory protest vote. I lean in the second direction: many of the new, younger Labour voters are passionate “remainers” whereas Corbyn’s inner circle are soft-Brexiteers. It will be interesting to see what happens when UK voters go to the polls believing that it’s possible for Corbyn to be their next Prime Minister. I threw away my crystal ball on 11/9/2016 so I make no predictions. Stay tuned.

We remain in England (not the EU) for our next segment, which is about one of the more sympathetic royals, the Queen’s late kid sister Princess Margaret.

Princess Margaret’s Misadventures In Bohemia: I’ve long had sympathy for Margaret because she’s one of the few people my main man Gore Vidal never said anything catty about. Hell, Gore even mocked people he liked and admired but not Princess Margaret. He felt sorry for her and admired her snooty wit. Gore was always big on snooty wit.

The Guardian has published a fascinating excerpt from a book by Craig Brown about Margaret, Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret. I knew that she hung out with the Rolling Stones when they were at their most hedonistic but I did not know that Pablo Picasso was madly in love with the Princess and hoped to marry her. I am not letting the catty cat out of the bag by telling you this never happened. Picasso may have not been a surrealist artist but he was a surrealist in everyday life.

I’ve had Puerto Rico on mind since Hurricane Maria. I posted a series of pictures of great Puerto Rican baseball players on Twitter, which led to this list, which is strictly for baseball history buffs but what can I say? It’s made up of players who were born on the island.

Adrastos’ Puerto Rico All-Star Team

1B: Orlando Cepeda.

2B: Roberto Alomar.

SS: Jose Valentin.

3B: Mike Lowell.

OF: Roberto Clemente, Carlos Beltran, Bernie Williams.

DH: Carlos Delgado.

C: Ivan (Pudge) Rodriguez.

Starting Pitchers:  RH:Javier Vasquez. LH: Juan Pizarro.

Relievers:  RH:Roberto Hernandez.  LH: Willie Hernandez. No relation.

The outfielders, catchers, and first basemen were the toughest position to winnow down. Pitching, however, is not a strength. So it goes.

That concludes this tribute to Puerto Rican baseball. Let’s go back to woody old England.

Saturday Classic: Steeleye Span were one of the bands who helped create British folk rock. Parcel of Rogues was one of the albums that emphasized the rock part of the equation. As always, Maddy Prior’s vocals are sublime.

That’s it for this week. I wrote about Ripper Street last week. This time around I’ll give the last word to the cast in their Victorian finery:

Malaka Of The Week: Frank Scurlock

Photo via WDSU.

I try to avoid writing about literal malakatude, especially when it’s the public variety. It’s sticky and gross. Sometimes you’ve got to deal with ugly reality and ain’t nobody uglier than the NOLA mayoral pretender and bouncy house mogul who was allegedly caught with his pants down in Southern California. And that is why Frank (Top Hat Guy) Scurlock is malaka of the week.

The story popped (bopped?) like a one-eyed weasel last Friday afternoon:

New Orleans mayoral candidate Frank Scurlock is facing a misdemeanor count of lewd conduct in Santa Monica, California, where he is accused of masturbating in an Uber vehicle in February.

Scurlock, whose splashy campaign ads have pledged to “Uberize” the New Orleans Police Department, was allegedly caught masturbating by a driver taking him to a hotel in West Hollywood on Feb. 10, Santa Monica Chief Deputy City Attorney Terry White said.

<SNIP>

The Uber driver told police and prosecutors she was driving on a freeway near Santa Monica when she heard sounds coming from the back seat, White said Friday, reading from the driver’s statement. Concluding that Scurlock was masturbating, the driver pulled over and opened the door, White said.

When she did, she said, she found Scurlock with his pants around his ankles, his shirt pulled up and his erect penis in his hand.

The driver ordered Scurlock to get out and went into a gas station to call police, according to her statement. While she was inside, Scurlock left the scene. Police ended up going to Scurlock’s hotel, and the driver identified him from a photo lineup, White said.

Lewd conduct is a misdemeanor in California, but if found guilty, Scurlock would be required to register as a sex offender in the state, White said. It was not immediately clear whether he would also have to sign up for Louisiana’s sex offender registry.

This episode may explain Scurlock’s Uber fixation. Uberize me, baby.

Frank Scurlock entered the Mayors race hoping to be the Donald Trump of the field: an outrageous, mouthy rich guy who would sweep to victory. It was always a forlorn hope in deep blue New Orleans. Instead, he’s a punchline and was a joke even before he pulled this stunt. Here’s what I said in a column last month at the Bayou Brief:

One of my tasks at the Bayou Brief will be to analyze, and occasionally mock, the candidates as the process unfolds. Did I just say occasionally? Who am I kidding? They deserve mockery, especially minor candidate Frank Scurlock, who promises a crime blimp and anti-crime patrols of the French Quarter by the National Park Service. The rangers give tours, dude.

Scurlock inspired several derisive nicknames even before the exposure of his alleged masturbatory exploits. One friend calls him Top Hat Guy and another dubbed him Skank Furlock. That evokes tugging at the forelock. We all know that he’s good at tugging at something. Additionally, Frank rhymes with wank. I got a million of them but you already knew that.

This was Scurlock’s second brush with law enforcement this year. He joined the Lost Causers in their shiva sitting at the former Jefferson Davis monument and ended up in handcuffs:

The citation for the incident states that Scurlock “rattled the fence where he wasn’t allowed to cross,” something he acknowledged he did to get officers’ attention. The citation goes on to accuse Scurlock of bumping the officer, something he denied and which he is not seen doing on the video.

Scurlock, who said he opposes the monuments’ removal because it could ignite a “Civil War II,” said he only just started learning about the city’s two-year-old effort to remove the monuments.

He said he had hoped to question the police about the timeline for the planned removals and to ask whether they were working on the city’s dime or if they were there as a private detail.

I wonder if he would have disrespected a park ranger in an anti-crime blimp in the same way? It’s a funny way for a law and order candidate to behave, innit?

In the wake of the current charges, I bet the cops were relieved they cuffed Malaka Scurlock’s hands during Lost Cause Fest:

Photo via The New Orleans Advocate.

Those charges were dropped but it accelerated Scurlock’s rise as the clown prince of the 2017 mayoral field. I have to give him credit, he’s the only one who’s trying to refute the premise of my second Bayou Brief column: that a weak field of candidates has led to a dull campaign, hence the title The B-List:

Unfortunately, Cantrell, Charbonnet, and Bagneris are B-Listers and the campaign is defined by those who did not run: Stacy Head, Walt Leger, Karen Carter Peterson, and Sidney (Trashanova) Torres among others. The first three belong on the A-list of local politics whereas the current field ranges from the B-to the Z-list. Z is for zany and includes perennial candidate Manny (A Troubled Man for Troubled Times) Chevrolet as well as political newcomer Frank Scurlock. The latter at least has a pulse, even if his ideas are flakier than a dried-out Zulu coconut.

Notice the semi-clever self-promotion. That’s something Malaka Scurlock is good at as well. He’s been known to hire sky-writers to buzz the Fairgrounds during Jazz Fest. It’s a pity that he’s never promoted this local business in his role as the Alt-Skywriter:

Not even Frank the Wank can beat their meat but he allegedly tried in Santa Monica. In fact, he put the pubic into public in that Uber. And some local wag put the cock into Scurlock. My friend Roberta LeGrand spotted the dick and photographed it:

Photo by Roberta LeGrand.

I suppose I should cease and desist the jokes about literal malakatude. I don’t want to rub anyone the wrong way or get into any trouble I can’t, uh, handle. Scurlock’s latest legal problem gives an entirely new meaning to a headline suggested by a friend for a Scurlock piece that will never be written: Scurlocked and Loaded. I somehow don’t think Top Hat Guy will grant me an interview if he hears about this post.

I suppose I should thank Frank the Wank for livening up a dull campaign. We all need a good laugh in the Age of Trump, especially when the rubber hits the road in the backseat of an Uber. And that is why Frank Scurlock is malaka of the week.

Finally, in the spirit of helpfulness for which I’m known, I’d like to suggest a theme song for the Scurlock campaign. It’s Pete Townshend’s ode to wankery, Pictures of Lily:

While we’re at it, Bowie covered it on his Pin Ups album:

I learned that one YouTuber doesn’t understand Pete Townshend’s lyrics. They used Pictures of Lily for a video about their dog and there was no leg-humping involved. Oy, just oy.

Malaka Of The Week: Bill Cassidy

Republican attempts to repeal the ACA started before the ink was dry on the bill.  After the 2010 Teabagger wave election, the House GOP’s hobby was voting for a bill that could not become law because there was a real president ready to veto it. But the bad repeal and replace idea refuses to die. It has more lives than a bad cat thanks to Little Lindsey and one of my senators. And that is why Doctor/Senator Bill Cassidy is malaka of the week.

There’s a lot of talk about the Zombie Health Care bill. The analogy is apt but trite due to the gazillion zombie shows and movies out there. I prefer to think of the Graham-Cassidy atrocity as belonging to the Frankenstein family of horror flicks wherein the characters are reanimated, not undead. The current clusterfuck reminds me of this scene from The Bride of Frankenstein:

That was a (James) Whale of a movie but Graham-Cassidy is an ugly, mean-spirited bill that should be buried, not reanimated.

2017 has been a weird  year in American politics but this week *may* take the cake. We have the supporters of a reality show host president* telling a late night talk show host to STFU and stay out of politics. This is more surreal than a gallery full of gory Dali paintings or any Edward Gorey image for that matter.

The Bill Cassidy-Jimmy Kimmel face-off has really been something. The chat show host has accused the Gret Stet Solon of “lying to my face.” Doctor/Senator Cassidy has compounded the lie by asserting that Graham-Cassidy passes the Jimmy Kimmel Test when it clearly does not. The comedian has asked Cassidy to stop invoking his name but Cassidy has no shame and is unlikely to do so. He’s the center of attention. What pol would exit such a glaring spotlight?

Here’s a tweet from a certain internet smart ass on the Graham-Cassidy-Kimmel mishigas:

I was referring to the fact that Cassidy double billed LSU for his work when he was quacking his way around the Gret Stet public health care system. Take a gander at my publisher’s recent piece about that at the Bayou Brief. That’s right, Senator Malaka is an expert at ripping off the government and poor people. It’s second nature to this so-called moderate.

I also tweeted about the Jimmy Kimmel factor:

I am impressed with Kimmel’s guts and fortitude on this issue.  I am ready to light a torch and stand beside him as we storm Double Bill’s castle or some such shit.

A few words about Cassidy. I called him Cassidybot throughout his successful 2014 challenge to incumbent Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu. He is stiff, lifeless with beady, sunken eyes, which makes the Frankenstein monster analogy spot on. Cassidy’s Victor Frankenstein was our old “friend” former Senator David Vitter. Vitter recruited Cassidy to run against Landrieu and dictated his campaign strategy. It involved relentless dog-whistle attacks on then President Obama, especially over the ACA. It worked.

As  long as Vitter was in the senate, Cassidy was his creature. He didn’t do anything unless his master approved. I guess he was more like Igor in Young Frankenstein at that point. Vitter’s departure from the political scene left Cassidy adrift: he’s a follower, not a leader. In 2017, Cassidy made fucking up the health care system by fucking over the poor and elderly his life’s work. Graham-Cassidy is the fruit of his labors. I liked him better when he was a fake moderate.

I have no idea what’s going to happen in next week’s vote on this hastily stitched together legislation. It’s the worst version of repeal and replace yet. But it has the aura of respectability of being sponsored by phony moderates like Graham, Cassidy, and Dean Heller whose master is right-wing casino mogul Steve Wynn. It savages Medicaid, which is bad for Louisiana. It stripped away the last bad bill’s  provisions to help with the opioid epidemic, which could put a few votes into play. In the end, it may come down to whether or not John McCain believes what he’s said about restoring regular order. Everything about this bill is irregular including the insane deadline of September 30. This is nuts. Believe me.

Here’s hoping that the MSM will stop calling the likes of Graham and Cassidy moderates. This bill is not only procedurally irregular, it is substantively immoderate. The attempt to destroy the ACA was dead until Doctor/Senator Cassidy reanimated this monster. And that is why Double Bill Cassidy is malaka of the week.

Speaking of monsters, the last word goes to Edgar Winter and Rick Derringer:

 

First Draft Potpourri: Bayou Briefing

It’s been a difficult week. Everyone I know is upset about the Charlottesville neo-Nazi riot. It’s taken a lot out of me because I know and love the place as I said on Monday. That’s why it’s time to lighten things up a bit. It may not work but comic relief is my middle name. I guess I should’ve capitalized the phrase in that case.

The post is NOT called Bayou Briefing because it’s all stories of the Gret Stet. It’s because the Bayou Brief has published my first column. Holy shameless plug, Batman.

It’s called The Fog of New Orleans Mayoral Race History and they even let me tell some jokes. Unlike some other Bayou Briefers, I wasn’t Born on the Bayou but neither was John Fogerty for that matter:

We’ll keep it in the Gret Stet of Louisiana for now.

Tweet Of The Week: Former Louisiana Governor and federal inmate Edwin Edwards’ 90th birthday soiree was held on August 12th; his actual DOB is 8-7-1927. I’m envious: there was no flooding like there was on my birthday a week earlier. Oh well, I guess us Leos have to stick together. Holy Grandfalloon, Batman.

The big shebang took place in Red Stick and EWE did his Cajun Shecky shtick as you can see from this tweet by the AP’s Melinda Deslatte:

Edwin Edwards, of course, opened a can of whoop ass on Trump’s buddy David Dukkke in 1991. He may have been a crook but he was our crook.

We’ll keep it down South, but first a marginally relevant musical selection:

Actually, I posted that because Dr. A and I usually drive through Birmingham on our way home from the Commonwealth of Virginia. Fast.

My Kind Of Cover-Up: Democratic Birmingham, Alabama Mayor William Bell was tired of looking at a Confederate monument across from City Hall. He had a novel solution:

Bell covered up the monument to Confederate veterans, first with tarps and then with wooden walls erected by city workers overnight Tuesday. Bell told reporters earlier in the day that his immediate goal was to temporarily cover the monument “until such time that we can tell the full story of slavery, the full story of what the Confederacy really meant.”

“What the Confederacy represented was the maintaining of individuals as being less than human, of promoting a supremacy doctrine that is no longer valid, and wasn’t valid then,” he added.

I guess you can tell that Mayor Bell is black. He’s being sued by the  Lost CauserAlabama AG for violating a new state law that protects Confederate shit. It’s thrilling that this is happening in the city where Bull Connor sicced police dogs on civil rights protesters.

It looks as if Birmingham is finally living up to the chorus of the Randy Newman song:

I still don’t think it’s “the greatest city in Alabam,” my money is on Mobile since they have Carnival, but Mayor Bell not only rules, he rocks. Speaking of those who do neither:

Your Twit President* Tweets: I hadn’t planned to do this segment but when I checked TPM that plan went out the window alongside the running joke in my Bayou Brief column.

The Lost Causer In Chief announced his candidacy to be the second president of the Confederate States of America in a “beautiful” tweet storm this morning:

That’s why I added Lost Causer In Chief to my panoply of Trump nicknames.

The whole “they’re trying to change history” thing drives me batshit crazy; almost as crazy as Trump. There are no monuments to Hitler in Germany or Austria. They haven’t forgotten that history, dipshit. I wish we could make like Mayor Bell and cover up Trump’s big bazoo.

How’s that whole disciplining the president* thing going, General Kelly? Not very well from the looks of it.

It’s time to cheese it across the pond for our final segment.

Finest Festival In The District: There was a different kind of Rumble in Brighton recently. Over cheese. I am not making this up:

A festival celebrating cheese is facing serious backlash for running out of it, something the weekend-long event’s organizers apparently didn’t “anticipate” a “demand for.” This Fyre Festival–level fiasco was held in the English city of Brighton and, it’s also worth noting, had sold out beforehand. It’s part of a traveling festival series literally called the Cheese Fest, where people pay £3 to £6 in advance to supposedly enjoy a drool-worthy afternoon filled with endless raclette wheels, halloumi fries, grilled cheeses, and the “most amazing mac and cheese in the world.”

The complaints started pouring in immediately on Saturday — too few stalls, outrageous lines, woefully underprepared vendors, not enough bathrooms. Very soon, the eponymous food ran out entirely. Some visitors noted they didn’t get so much as a sample-size morsel. As the afternoon stretched on, visitors kept coming, spawning more awful feedback, and organizers allegedly stooped to removing negative comments from the event’s Facebook page.

No cheese at the Cheese Festival? It’s too bad that organizers didn’t have Brie Larson or Adrastos crush Alison Brie there to distract attention.  It’s a pity that there are no chicks named Cheddar…

The Brighton cheese rumble reminds me of one of my favorite Python sketches:

Cleese: It’s not much of a cheese shop, is it?

Palin: Finest in the district sir!

Cleese: (annoyed) Explain the logic underlying that conclusion, please.

Palin: Well, it’s so clean, sir!

Cleese: It’s certainly uncontaminated by cheese.

The last word goes to John Cleese and Michael Palin to the strains of bouzouki music. I am uncertain as to whether there was a bouzouki at the  Brighton cheese rumble. One would hope so since there was no cheese. Finest festival in the district, sir.

The Bayou Brief

In addition to my “duties” (it’s no duty, it’s a pleasure) here at First Draft, I’m pleased to announce that I will be joining the Bayou Brief as a contributing writer. It’s a brand spanking new progressive news site focusing on the Gret Stet of Louisiana.

My first task will be to write about the New Orleans Mayoral race. Don’t worry: I’ll still be here posting weird pictures, telling jokes, mocking the Insult Comedian, defogging history, and doing what I do. Saturday Odds & Sods and Friday Catblogging will continue. Oscar and Della Street will see to that.

Here’s the official, but not officious, Facebook announcement:

NOLA Mayor’s Race: The Forgotten Cause

New Orleans is experiencing monuments fatigue according to four leading contenders to replace Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Tyler Bridges of the Advocate quotes several of the front-runners in a front pager from Monday’s dead tree edition:

The monuments are serving as a huge distraction to this entire campaign,” said Desiree Charbonnet, a former Municipal Court judge who has won attention by collecting the biggest campaign war chest.

“We have way bigger fish to fry,” added Charbonnet, who is African-American. “They’re down. They’re probably going to stay down. The next move is to discuss what everyone can agree on to replace them.”

First of all, the phrase “war chest” is one of the lamest clichés of political journalism. It should be sent to the same place they’re storing Lee, Davis, and Beauregard.  If I weren’t opposed to capital punishment, I’d advocate the phrase be led to the gallows or taken out back and shot. Enough already.

The leading candidates: Desiree Charbonnet, Michael Bagneris, Latoya Cantrell, and Troy Henry are African-American. They’re all eager to be the crossover candidate who reaches the 36% of voters who are white, which is why they’re downplaying the monuments mishigas. Charbonnet has already proposed an OTT anti-crime package in the hopes of attracting white law-and-order voters. It does nothing for me or other white liberals who are a substantial chunk of the 36%. It would also be wise for Charbonnet not to say the monuments are “probably going to stay down.” That just generates uncertainty and more questions on an issue she wants to avoid.

The most amusing quote Bridges got out of the candidates came from businessman Troy Henry. He ran against Mitch Landrieu and finished a distant second with 13.8% of the vote in 2010. He’s best know for his friendship and business partnership with Wendell (Bunk) Pierce. Here’s Henry putting his foot in his mouth:

Henry said he supported the removal of the Battle of Liberty Place monument, which commemorated a white supremacist militia that fought in the city’s streets against Louisiana’s biracial Reconstruction-era government in 1874.

“It was a tribute to something heinous,” he said. “The other ones, quite frankly, I don’t know enough about the details and backgrounds of those folks,” meaning Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Gens. Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard.

That’s right ladies and germs, a man who wants to be Mayor of New Orleans, with its tri-centennial year on the horizon, is either a historical ignoramus or wants to duck the issue so badly that he’s willing to look like one. It reminds me of the just ousted  White House communications director who don’t know Mooch about history. Don’t blame me for that groaner: I got it from First Draft pun consultant James Karst.

One candidate who is willing to discuss the monuments is a guy named Frank Scurlock. He was opposed to removal and was on the periphery of the Lost Cause Fest demonstrations. It’s unclear how many locals are still sitting emotional hillbilly shiva. Scurlock is a non-factor in the race but could get 5-10% of the vote from Republicans and unrepentant bigots. He has money but his ceiling is 15% which was Trump’s total in Orleans Parish. New Orleans is a very blue city, y’all.

Do I think the monuments issue should dominate the Mayoral race? Absolutely not but neither should it be ignored. We still need a conversation as to what to do with the removed monuments as well as a coherent policy on how to address this issue in the future. The candidates are doing themselves no favors by ducking it. They should also remember how many of the 36% are white liberals. Hillary Clinton got 81% in Orleans Parish. Repeat after me: New Orleans is a very blue city, y’all.

I’ll give the last word to former city councilman and current talk radio host Oliver Thomas. Oliver was the frontrunner to succeed Nagin in 2010 before a gambling habit and sticky fingers sent him to jail.

“It’s disingenuous,” said Thomas, a former city councilman. “When (the candidates) talk to us privately in the black community, it’s a real issue. They’re down with the brothers and sisters. But when they talk to the white press, they say we should move on. There’s one speech to the black community, and there’s another speech to the white community letting them know they’re a safe candidate.”

It’s time for less profile and more courage on this divisive issue.

Saturday Odds & Sods: I Should’ve Known

Dog Eat Dog by Joni Mitchell.

It was a helluva week with one of the most eventful Thursdays in recent memory. We all thought the “skinny repeal” atrocity would pass. While I’m glad that John McCain voted NO, the real stars of the vote were Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski. Team Trump has done many stupid things since coming to power but threatening Murkowski takes the cake. This is one tough woman. In 2010, she lost the Republican primary to a teabagger, ran as an independent, and won. Threatening her with an open political grave was futile, she’d already been declared politically dead and came back with a vengeance. Besides, the Murkowskis are a dynasty in Alaska with a collective 36 years in the Senate between Lisa and her father Frank. Take that Ryan Zinke. Z is for zero, zed, and Zinke.

On the local front, the big news was the surprising resignation of Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand. Normand is one of the most popular elected officials in the Gret Stet of Louisiana and a genuine maverick. I’ve both praised and blasted him over the years. You may recall that he was the guy David Vitter hired a gumshoe to spy on. Normand played an important role in defeating Vitter’s goober bid in 2015. On the down side, he was named malaka of the week for one of many bombastic press conferences he gave as Sheriff. He’s becoming the afternoon man at WWL talk radio. I suspect that the station’s money was what did the talking.

The reasons for selecting an Aimee Mann tune as the Saturday post theme song for a second time will be made clear after the break. Suffice it to say that it’s a great tune with a message that fits the post quite neatly. We like things tidy here at First Draft even if  my house is a cluttered mess. Neither Oscar nor Della will lift a paw to help clean. So it goes.

We begin with the 1993 promo video followed by a live version on the Beeb.

I’ve always loved the “dot, dot, dot” harmonies. I originally thought they were singing “bop, bop, bop” but I should’ve known…better. Ponder that as we go to the break.

Continue reading

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.