Category Archives: Guest Post

Ryne Hancock: The Son, the Estranged Mother & the Hurricane

Imagine this for a second.

Hours after you have a small glimmer of hope with your power, only to see that extinguished because a transformer blew out five minutes later, you’re once again forced to take your laptop and cell phone to your friend’s art gallery in the Quarter to charge, a practice that you’ve been repeating for the last six days.

Your legs and entire body feels sore as shit due to the constant biking for wi-fi, charging stations, and food. You’ve had to sleep on the porch of your building a couple of days at night because of no electricity. You have a neighbor that is a complete doofus that has driven you crazy for the last week and you’re praying to every higher power for electricity.

After milling about for a few hours in the Quarter, you return to your neighborhood and make a stop at the library. You’re not paying attention to your cell phone or notifications while you bike, just the road. Once you sit down and log into the wi-fi at the library, you pull out your phone and check your notifications. A Facebook notification about a comment from a video you posted on August 28th appears from a longtime friend of your mom, a person that basically watched you grow up. You don’t think anything about the notification or even the comment, you’re focused on the now.

Then you read it. It’s your estranged mom, who watched a video that you posted from a week ago, prior to the landfall of Ida, about why you didn’t evacuate. Instead of being understanding about why, you’re cursed out.

“Your ass didn’t want to come home,” she wrote. ‘

Granted, I didn’t help matters by saying at the end of the video I knew where my true family was, which some took as shade towards the city of Memphis and relatives, but the fact that I chose to ride out a hurricane and not evacuate to Memphis over dealing with a mom I hadn’t spoken to in six years, speaks volumes.

Not to mention that the fact that the first communication in six years is a rebuke about a video in which I laid out my reasons for staying instead of seeing how I was doing.

That was the upsetting part.

If you have the energy to say things like that in a comment section about a video, then you could have used said friend’s account to check on how I was doing.

In times of crisis, people’s true colors show up. Sometimes for good and sometimes for bad.

What happened on Saturday showed my mom’s true colors.

For the worst.

Ryne Hancock: Do The Right Thing, Cleveland

Towards the end of June, I was a guest of a local rapper by the name of E.D. Nix, who was celebrating the release of his brand-new album “Blvck Economics”.

Midway through the rooftop party, I looked off in the direction of Municipal Auditorium, a hulking white elephant that is located in the Treme, one of the oldest black neighborhoods in the United States. The more I took in the view from the 925 Common building, I thought about the ancestors that paved the way for us to have a rooftop party to celebrate black excellence.

As soon as local comedian Mark Caesar finished speaking, I took to the mic and gave a small speech.

“We are standing here on the shoulders of those who came before us,” I said, “Our paths to this point in time was created by the footprints of our ancestors.”

Less than two weeks after that rooftop party speech, I told that same story to Jay Banks, who represents the New Orleans City Council district I live in, on my podcast.

“Each day that I go to work,” he told me during our conversation, “I know I’m standing on the shoulders of those who came before me.”

In the black community, respecting our elders is something that is ingrained in us from birth. That’s not to say to blindly agree with everything our elders do or say but respect the work they put in to put us as a community into a better position.

In the case of the primary race between Nina Turner and Shontel Brown, it’s a battle of a chaos agent against a rising star in the Democratic Party in the state of Ohio.

Despite the fact I believe in a lot of the stuff Nina Turner says (as I did with Bernie), I feel that constantly operating from a point of rage as well not finding a middle ground much less knowing how to compromise is something that would turn me off as a voter.

Not to mention the fact that the rallies, save for that Dr. Cornel West character that shows up out of hibernation every four or five years, look as unseasoned and bland as a cookout in a lily-white Chicago suburb when the congressional district that Nina wants to represent is 53% black.

It’s as if Nina wants to basically cut off the noses of black voters because in her mind, they’re the establishment and what’s wrong with the Democratic Party.

With Shontel Brown, you see a positive vibe and a reasonable message that can attract the main voting base of the Democratic Party; older black voters and of course, black women.

It’s why Brown, not Turner, earned the blessings of elders like Joyce Beatty and Jim Clyburn.

In the eyes of Clyburn and Beatty, they see themselves in Brown. They know she’s going to continue their legacy in Washington.

That being said, Cleveland, do the right thing. Vote for someone that isn’t going to Washington to be some chaos agent and give bulletin board material for the GOP.

Vote Shontel.

Ryne Hancock: The Tool Is There

Ryne is frustrated with people who will not get vaccinated. His ire is targeted at Louisiana but it applies to the rest of the South. There’s a resurgence of COVID and there’s a simple solution. Get jabbed.


The Tool Is There by Ryne Hancock

“The ones that cry most are usually the reason for the tears.”

That was something my friend Dee said to me on Twitter on Friday when I said the same people that were mad about no tailgates and parades in Louisiana are now angry about Coronavirus cases going up in the state, something that, as opposed to last year, is preventable with the availability of the vaccine.

If you took away Orleans and Jefferson parishes, only one other parish out of the 64 in this state has over 50% of its residents fully vaccinated, which would be West Feliciana, which I believe is the first rural-like parish to crack that threshold.

And while that’s good news, attached to the fact half of the adult population in the state has at least one dose of that sweet vaccine, it doesn’t change the fact that this state, despite everything our governor and health officials, are being jackasses about not getting the vaccine.

That’s right, I used the term “jackass”, because as opposed to January where everyone was wary about getting the vaccine, myself included, there should be no excuse whatsoever for anyone to get the vaccine now.

If you’re not getting the vaccine now, you’re not only putting your own health in jeopardy, but your family and your friends. You’re going to be the main one angry that you can’t go to football games and tailgates. You’re going to be the main one calling John Bel a snowflake because he decided to bring back restrictions (which I’m not a fan of, but whatever works) because to you he trampled on your personal freedoms.

“No one’s going to make me get a vaccine,” you say.

When in actuality, when you had to go to school you had to get your mumps, measles, and rubella shots.

That’s why you don’t hear about mumps, rubella, and measles, or even polio, which hasn’t been relevant or in the conversation since DePaul basketball was nationally relevant.

Because we have tools that eradicated those diseases, a tool that is available to everyone, my generation doesn’t have to worry about polio or being in an iron lung.

But those same people that had to get those types of shots when they were kids are now skeptic of a vaccine that has been peer reviewed, researched, and gone through trial runs. They’re quicker to listen to the person at the barbershop who believes that the vaccine is another Tuskegee Experiment than a person with actual medical qualifications.

If you ask me, their listening to the jackasses at the barbershops tells me one thing and one thing only.

They’re choosing death.

Ryne Hancock: Choose Joy, Not Temper Tantrums

Ryne in repose.

Imagine for one second, you’re at a long-anticipated party with friends. The drinks are flowing, the vibes are good, and the music is on point. Everyone is having a good time and forgetting the problems of the real world.

Midway through the party, a brave soul walks in. Dressed like one of those annoying hipsters in the Bywater area of New Orleans, they start to loudly complain about everything. And while everyone around them is trying to hold their tongue by not saying anything or even acknowledging their asinine concerns, a few people let their feelings be known to the said brave soul. In turn the brave soul goes home and goes on social media to comment on how mean the people at the party were to them.

In other words, they decide to play victim instead of looking in the mirror at their own behaviors. They become defensive and believe everyone is mean to them for no reason when in reality, their track record is there for everyone to see.

They don’t seem to have a sense of reality and expect everyone to be miserable like them.

Back in 2016, I was close to being a member of the Democratic Socialists of America chapter in New Orleans. I was of the impression that maybe going the typical corporate Democrat route, which is what Hillary Clinton represented to me, wasn’t the way we needed to go.

That was, until I saw the true colors of not only the DSA, but their lord and savior Bernie Sanders.

Anytime I have to squint hard and look for a person that looks like me in a group photo, your whole movement is trash and I automatically ignore everything that you have to say.

So, I dismissed them and became a Clinton supporter.

The same thing happened last year when I roundly criticized Bernie Sanders, going as far as writing on Facebook about how Bernie and the DSA had a black people problem, which got me a lot of hate mail from leftist loon jobs.

“You must be some Trump supporter,” was what someone wrote me in a message.

Another message from someone on Facebook went as far as accusing me of being anti-Semitic because I said Bernie Sanders was always full blown angry.

After a while, I realized that there was no point getting through to a bunch of spoiled trust fund kids that were stuck on stupid.

Fast forward to now, where those same spoiled brats in DSA and Rose Twitter are sharpening their knives and criticizing Joe Biden.

That’s not to say that Biden is exempt from criticism. He’s the president and he should be held accountable for what he does.

But when you sit on social media all day and complain about how everything in the world sucks and then get mad when people call you out on your shit, it makes me hard to feign any type of sympathy for you.

The reason why your lord and savior Bernie Sanders isn’t in office today is because of black people, the demographic that your corner of the twitterscape is afraid of. The demographic that you view as low-information and in need of a savior.

The reason why your podcasts and YouTube channels are dwindling in viewers and listeners is because you can’t find any joy whatsoever in anything. You can’t have a moment of brevity because it would make your grift useless. People don’t want to hear a person complain about how bad the world is all the time. They want brevity. They want joy.

You don’t seem to get that.

In closing, keep having your temper tantrums and irrelevant podcasts.

While you’re whining, I and the majority of this country gonna choose joy.

Paul McMahon: Second Verse, Same As The First

If it’s Sunday, it must be part two of Pmac’s Big Adventure.  I *should* apologize to Paul for the cheesy Peter Noone/Herman featured image but sometimes I cannot help myself. This is one of those times. Hopefully, it won’t lead to High Noone…


Second Verse, Same As The First by Paul McMahon

So, maybe I’m really Henry VIII?!?

Following Wednesday’s airport debacle, we awoke on Friday morning with an attitude of fuck the past and let’s move on to bigger and better things. I mean, the gods can only inflict so much punishment on a man not named Job, correct?!?

Get to the airport and arrive at the United check in counter with 4 pieces of luggage, dog in a carrier, guitar in a case and 4 carry on pieces. Start to place the luggage on the scale, and the clerk utters those ominous words, “oh, oh.” Yeah, my dear wife has overloaded both of her bags a good 10 lbs each beyond the maximum capacity set by United. So, much to the chagrin of the patrons queued behind us, my beloved opens up her two pieces and quickly starts to grab and throw various items into my much lighter pieces of Samsonite. After having exposed various items of lingerie to the huddled masses at Louis Armstrong International, the bags are now all sufficiently svelte, and we proceed to our boarding gate.

Our new itinerary has us heading west to go east, with our first stop in Houston before proceeding to DC, Frankfurt and finally to Casa de Pmac in Spain. The hour-long flight to Houston goes off without a hitch, hopefully a precursor to what we know will be a long day. Board our flight to DC and despite having been told that the three seated rows will all have an empty middle seat to help enforce Coronavirus standards, we discover that there is a pre-teen boy firmly ensconced in seat B. I politely ask the young man if he would like the window seat in order for my wife and I to sit together, to which I am met with a resounding, yet simple, “No.” Fair enough. My wife climbs over this seated young Einstein, puts the dog under the seat in front, while I wedge myself into seat A, and away we go on our 3-hour journey to DC.

Since I cannot engage in any banter with my spouse during this flight, I decide to take a nap, from which I am awakened by the sounds of whimpering. Fearing that it’s our dog, I open my eyes but quickly notice that it’s my junior row companion, who is quietly whimpering to himself, with the onset of some tears streaming down his cheek. Overcoming my initial thought of the little bastard had it coming, I inquire if there’s something wrong, and now discover that junior actually is capable of more than a one-word utterance. “I don’t feel good” is quickly followed by that all too familiar yack sound and the expulsion of vomit from the kid’s mouth, onto his lap, and my pant leg. Luckily, the stewardess quickly emerges, and pulls junior off to the bathroom, and drops a few packets of wet wipes in my lap and asks if I’ll assume the role of janitor and clean up the remains. I look over at my wife, and she is laughing uncontrollably. Yeah, empathy is not her strong suit.

So, junior re-emerges and, thankfully, the rest of the flight is uneventful. We land in DC, with only a little more than an hour before our flight across the pond starts to board. On the way to the new gate, we find a pet park, allow our pup to relieve himself, and then quickly find ourselves in line for the Frankfurt flight.

I want to write that the rest of our day was joy filled and ends with us entering our new digs in Seville. I want to, but I can’t. When we get to the gate agent, and present our papers for the flight, we are summarily dismissed and refused entry since our Covid tests, while within the 72-hour mandate imposed by the Spanish authorities, are now outside of the 48-hour limit that our German friends have adopted. Despite numerous pleas/threats to various officials, we still are not allowed on the flight (a fate shared by at least 20 other ticketed customers), and instead find ourselves at the United customer service stand.

So, I am composing this missive while sitting in room 176 at the Hilton Dulles airport, having taken yet another Covid test (to those still counting, that makes three tests in the past 5 days), and awaiting our new flight on Saturday evening to Frankfurt with a final connection to Seville. And, to add further levity to the situation, all of our luggage is now in Seville, which while it does relieve me of the Herculean task of carrying again the 4 pieces of luggage, it does leave me still wearing the pants that junior soiled.

“I’m Henery the 8th I am, Henery the 8th I am…..”

Guest Post: Pmac’s Big Adventure, Part 1

I skipped the Sunday Morning Video today because we have something special for you.  Last December, I published a guest post by my friend Paul McMahon aka Paul McRambles: A Yat In Queen Isabella’s Court.

In that post, Paul described his plan to leave New Orleans and move to Seville, Spain. He is not, however, a barber or an opera singer.

Paul has finally gone and done it. This is the first part of a trilogy of sorts, which will grace First Draft on Sundays this month.

The first part is about Paul and Ms. Pmac’s struggle to cross the pond. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll yell at Delta. Whatever you do, don’t stay in Kenna, Brah.

-Adrastos Out. If it’s good enough for Shapiro, it’s good enough for me.

Pmac’s Big Adventure, Part 1 by Paul McMahon

So, its Thursday morning and instead of sitting on our balcony in Seville, I’m at a hotel in Kenner, La.

Back up the time machine, and here’s what has transpired over the past 48 hours.

Tuesday morning we go to a local pharmacy for a Covid test. Timing is crucial, since we need to show the authorities in Spain, a negative PCR test within 72 hours of arrival. Told results will be emailed before our flight on 4pm Wed.

On way back from the test, get a call from the company buying the now lone car we own, my wife’s 25-year-old Mazda. They are at our house now, ready to get it. Several hours early, but other than the trip to the airport, we only need one other trip, so why not (cue the violins from the Psycho shower scene).

Get home, car transaction complete. I call an Uber and go to the internet company provider’s office to turn in the box, back home and we’ll be off to the hotel for the night (no longer have a bed, so we opted to stay at a hotel next to the airport).

Call the Uber again, start to get our small dog into his carrier. Go to pick it up with him in it, and, the bottom of the carrier and the dog stay firmly on the ground, while I am holding the rest of the dry rotted carrier.

So, cancel the Uber, call the local pet supply place, and eureka, they have a carrier. Call another Uber and get to the store to discover that the employee was mistaken – no carrier there. Redirected (with another Uber) to a store across town that actually does have one. Grab it, another Uber ride back home, and then another Uber ride to the hotel with our 4 pieces of luggage, dog in a carrier, guitar in a case and 4 carry on pieces, for a restful night prior to departure.

Wednesday morning awaken to no news from the covid lab. Email them and am again assured results will be in prior to departure. Get to the airport with our 4 pieces of luggage, dog in a carrier, guitar in a case and 4 carry on pieces, go to check in and am told we actually can’t even board a plane without the results. So, we cool, our heels in the lobby of the airport. One hour later, the email hits. Open it and read that no test was performed because the tech who took our samples forgot to label the specimen container. Yeah, fuck me large.

So, back to the Delta (oh, and a double fuck you to Delta as you will shortly see) counter and the friendly attendant says no problem and gives us directions to a place that will do the test and provide results within 2 hours. She also advises that she will book us on the same flights tomorrow, at no extra cost. Our guardian angel (so we thought).


Grab our 4 pieces of luggage, dog in a carrier, guitar in a case and 4 carry on pieces and grab another Uber, to yet another hotel. Drop off the bags and the pup, and then yet another Uber to the testing company. Sure enough for $300 apiece, they will test and give results in 2 hours. And, 2 hours later, we have our written proof of being Covid free and Uber yet again to a hotel with thoughts of Seville dancing in our exhausted brains.

That night before turning off the lights we notice that we haven’t received an email confirming our new flights and log into the Delta web site. Nothing there either. Call Delta customer service, and after literally being on hold for 2.5 hours, am told that we missed our flights today (yeah, what a revelation) and that there are no other flights booked for us. And, while there are seats available for Thursday’s flight to Seville, it will cost us an extra $5k for that luxury. After an expletive filled fuck you fest of epic proportions, I was connected to the customer service supervisor, who despite not having been at the Delta counter earlier that day with us, advises that no Delta rep would have so booked us and that we were lying. Another fuck you rant ensues, with a full refund from Delta, and a promise that my sorry ass will never fill one of their seats again.

So, it’s now Thursday morning, we are still stateside, and still in a hotel room. We have a flight booked for Friday morning with United that should get us to Seville on Saturday, a scant 2 hours prior to the 72-hour expiration of our Covid test results. Yeah, it’s an adventure.



Shapiro: A Latino Senator On Every Corner

New US Sens. Raphael Warnock, left, Alex Padilla and Jon Ossoff are sworn in on the Senate floor on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, by Vice President Kamala Harris. (Image from C-SPAN video)

Inspired by Cassandra’s introduction of her senator Joe Manchin to the wider world now that he’s got a higher profile, I thought I’d introduce all of you to MY new senator from the State of Bliss, aka California, Alex Padilla.

At best what you might have heard about him is that he’s Latino, that’s he from the LA area, and that he was our Secretary of State. Boring. Alex Padilla is in the most interesting man in the world contest. I will bet he drinks Dos Equis as well as a buttery oak tinged Chardonnay from California.

First some background. His parents are Mexican immigrants who came to California in the late 1960’s. Padilla was born in Pacoima in the San Fernando Valley so fer sure, he’s a Valley Boy. He graduated from San Fernando High School before going to MIT where he got a degree in mechanical engineering. Yes, he is the American dream, the son of immigrants who worked hard and got a college education that would get him a high paying white-collar job. But after working for a year or so at a Hughes Aircraft writing software code, he dropped out to get into politics. He worked his way up from Senate aide to Dianne Feinstein, to campaign manager of several successful runs for others, to at 26 being elected to the LA City Council and the next year being elected President of the Council. Election to the State Senate presaged a successful run for Secretary of State.

In 2018 then Lt. Governor and former Kimberly Guilfoyle husband Gavin Newsom had locked up all the Democratic Party nomination so Padilla ran again for Secretary of State. His stock had risen quite a bit the previous year when he was one of the loudest voices opposing Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity or as it came to be known the “Kris Kobach I Don’t Want To Let the Brown People Vote Kommision”. With anti-Trump sentiment at an all-time high in the state that move alone was enough to guarantee re-election.

2020 and COVID made running a presidential election a challenge in a state with 22 million registered voters. He advocated for all counties in the state to adopt the mail in ballot many regularly sent to their citizens. This allowed a voter to fill out the ballot at home then either mail it back, drop it off at designated spots starting twenty days before the election, or just bring it to the polling location on Election Day. The pandemic necessitated immediate implementation in all counties, and it ended up being a successful proving ground for the concept. 81% of registered voters went to the polls in some format with 86% of those voting doing so by “mail in” voting.

When the Biden-Harris ticket took the White House, California was now in need of a new senator. Initial speculation centered on five candidates, but Padilla was clearly the front runner from the beginning. With 40% of California’s population now claiming some form of Latino background it was the politic choice. For the first time in 27 years California will have a male senator and for the first time in our history we will have a Latino senator.

So, what kind of senator will Alex Padilla be?

  • You can expect he will be at the forefront of the immigration reform issue. He is the first senator of what is known as Generation 187. Proposition 187, a referendum voted on in 1994 that would have eliminated all public services, including public education, for any undocumented person in the state had been passed. It was immediately overturned by a court, but it became a clarion call for many Latinos to get involved with politics, Padilla included. Don’t be surprised if this junior senator with the largest Latino constituency spearheads the Biden immigration plan.
  • Tote bags aren’t just giveaways you get for contributing to your local PBS station. Here in California they are in everyone’s car trunk, the necessary outcome of Padilla’s work on the environment. His law bans plastic bags at grocery stores and makes paper bags cost you a quarter. Environmental issues will be paramount for him especially when it concerns, being the senator from wildfire central, climate change.
  • At least initially he’ll be guided by his former boss Feinstein in learning the ways of the senate, but I fully expect he’ll draw the line at hugging Lindsey Graham. While he does prefer to form a consensus it was said of his time on the LA City Council, “it’s not that he didn’t make waves, but he didn’t make enemies”. He’ll be the very model of the modern Senate Democrat.
  • Voting rights will also be on his radar. His motor voter bill here and his experience with the 2020 election puts him in a position to be a point person on this issue. Democrats will be wanting to power up a revised Voting Rights bill, one that the Supremely Unqualified Court can’t pick apart.
  • And of course he will be one of the two senators from Silicon Valley so intellectual property rights, cybersecurity, and high-tech piracy are sure to be issues he will want to tackle. He will be one of the few senators who when some tech exec testifies in front of them will actually be able to go toe to toe on code. That MIT degree means he speaks their language so any work around they may try is likely to fall on deaf ears.

That should be enough for the two years between now and when he must face the voters. Californians like our senators to be out in front on national issues. Hell, we’re Hollywood, we make our actors into politicians and our politicians into reel heroes all the time. I expect Alex Padilla will be coming to a political debate near you very soon. And if he does well enough, a Republican nightmare, a Latino senator on every corner.

Shapiro Out

Cassandra: Just A Soul Whose Intentions Are Good

The Manchins Go Gaga.

Cassandra is back with a piece about her Senator, Joe Manchin. As a red state/Gret Stet Democrat, I miss our former Blue Dog Senators John Breaux and Mary Landrieu. They were always convincible unlike GOPers Double Bill Cassidy and John Neely Kennedy.

Enough from me. Here’s Cassandra’s take on the Other Joe.


Just A Soul Whose Intentions Are Good by Cassandra

Every president’s agenda lives or dies in Congress, and Joe Manchin has set himself as the gatekeeper for everything Joe Biden wants to do. Manchin doesn’t want additional stimulus checks to go out, he won’t vote to expand the Supreme Court, he won’t kill the filibuster, he’s against DC statehood, he voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, and on and on and on and on. Naturally, we all hate him, right?

I don’t. Here’s a quick primer on the senior senator from West By God Virginia:

–He’s not going to become a Republican, not now and not ever. For one thing, he’s consistently opposed the vast majority of GOP policy initiatives. For another, why would he hitch his wagon to a party that is about to be severely damaged by the pent-up fallout of the Trump administration?

–He has never voted against the Democrats when his vote was needed. Let me say that again, because people don’t seem to be able to grasp this fact:  he has never voted against the Democrats when his vote was needed.

–“He’s not a real Democrat.”  I hear this all the time–from blue state Democrats who have lived in blue states their entire lives. Well, Democrats from red states get elected too, and they have constituents who are moderates or even center-right. My response?  Blue state purity tests lose red state Democratic seats.

–Manchin had decided to retire in 2018 so he could run for governor again. He really doesn’t like being a senator in the hyper-partisan Senate that McConnell created, and being governor of West Virginia is more immediately rewarding (plus you have your own private helicopter). Chuck Schumer convinced him to run again to hold that blue seat and so he did. His own sacrifice has given the Democrats their new majority because he is the only Democrat in the state who would have won that seat.

I think the most interesting question regarding Manchin is what he will do now that, in a fit of pique, McConnell has brought the business of the Senate to a grinding halt. Manchin, like the late John McCain, is a big believer in “regular order”. He is concerned with the entire institution of the Senate:  its procedures, customs, and courtesies. Manchin is the new chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The Georgia Senate election has been certified, the 2 new Democratic senators have been seated, yet Lisa Murkowski still holds the gavel. This can’t sit well with Manchin.

For what it’s worth, I don’t take any of Manchin’s pronouncements at face value. For example, I think there are scenarios where he votes to expand SCOTUS (e.g., the Biden commission returns solid constitutional reasons to do so). Obviously, he is well aware of the need for stimulus checks for many West Virginians. But in the rush to condemn him, people didn’t read the rest of the interview where he supported $4 trillion in infrastructure spending.

Along those lines, I also believe that there is a scenario where Manchin votes to eliminate the filibuster. He said that he would not be the deciding vote on that issue, but given his emphasis on regular order, he clearly meant that he would not be the deciding vote if the filibuster were preventing passage of an actual bill. That is, implicit in his opposition to nuking the filibuster is the real-world existence of a fully functioning, “regular order”, Democratic-controlled Senate.

Manchin could also say that he supports eliminating the filibuster just for the vote on the organizing resolution, thus keeping the rest of his powder dry for future fights. The latter option would also severely limit what obstruction McConnell could concoct going forward, and Manchin would still be able to make deals for his vote on key pieces of legislation. Let’s see what happens this week.

UPDATE:  Naturally, as I finish this, the news breaks that the Senate organizing resolution impasse has broken, and Joe Manchin had a key role in it. Twitter and the message board where I post are full of hot takes about the first 3 items of my Manchin primer (please feel free to link them to this post for edification).

I am surprised that so many Democrats don’t know that currently there are not enough votes to nuke the filibuster (and, honestly, there are reasons to keep it, albeit structured differently, but that’s a conversation for another time) among the Democratic caucus. Manchin is being vilified across the ether for reasons I don’t understand. McConnell wanted a written statement from the Democrats that they would preserve the filibuster, or at least a Schumer speech on the Senate floor, and he got neither. He did get 2 non-binding promises to keep the filibuster from 2 non-leadership Democrats over whom he wields no political power. I’m sure we’ll learn soon enough what Manchin and Sinema got from the Democratic leadership. Oh, and the first Black Secretary of Defense was sworn in today, and the first female Secretary of the Treasury was confirmed. Joy be with you all, indeed.

(Yes, that’s Lady Gaga with the senator and his wife. Her mother’s side of the family is from Wheeling.)

Shapiro: Pardon Me, Do You Have Any Get Out Of Jail Free Cards?

I’m not the only one at First Draft with pardons on their mind. Shapiro has a modest proposal for President Biden.


Pardon Me, Do You Have Any Get Out Of Jail Free Cards? by Shapiro

There’s a joke going around the internet. A Rolls Royce pulls up next to Biden’s presidential limo. The back window rolls down and Donald Trump sticks his head out. Biden rolls his window down. Trump says “pardon me, but do you have any Grey Poupon?” Biden looks at Trump for a minute then says “I’m not pardoning you for anything” as he rolls up the window and has the driver take off.

OK, the joke’s not very funny but it gave me an idea:

Joe Biden should pardon Donald Trump.

You heard me right. And before you get all up on your high horse or want to string me up as the enemy of the people Trump once said the media was, hear me out.

Pardon Trump with three conditions.

First, he must admit it was all a scam. Everything.

The Muslim ban? Hey, they weren’t staying at my hotels so why should I care.

The Ukraine call? I thought that was how diplomacy works, you want from me you gotta do for me.

The Russian investigation? Bobbie Three Sticks was right all along.

Putin was giving you orders to carry out? Duh, da.

Downplaying the seriousness of COVID so you could get re-elected? Actually he already admitted that on tape. (Jeez how dumb can one guy be, admitting to THE Watergate reporter who told him he was taping the conversation that it was all about re-election.)

Did you incite the mob that attacked the capitol? Of course, autocoup was the last chance I had and besides, it always works in those shithole countries.

Did you make those deals with the Mob to get your buildings built? Jeez of course I did, how do you think real estate in NYC works? Same as in Moscow, only the Mob there is called the Putin regime or the Middle East where it’s called the House of Saud.

On a side note this pardon will allow Trump to keep Secret Service protection but still he’d better get fitted for a bulletproof suit so one of Putin’s or bin Salman’s guys doesn’t go all Hyman Roth at the end of Godfather II on him.

In addition Trump needs to admit to everything we have always suspected no matter how bizarre or outlandish.

The pee tape? Absolutely true.

Did you sleep with Ivanka? You bet.

Is there more than one Melania? Absolutely how could you not have seen that before.

Were you grinding up Adderall and snorting it? How do you think I could stay up all night Tweeting and watching TV?

Was Stormy Daniels right when she said your dick looked like a little mushroom? Yeah, well, whatcha gonna do, genetics.

Oh and he’s gotta admit to sexually assaulting and/or raping all those women. E. Jean Carroll, Ivana, the Miss Teen USA contestants, the Fox News correspondents, all of them. That includes the girls Epstein got for him. Speaking of which Donny John you gotta fess up you had him whacked.

But most of all he has to admit that everything he said about the 2020 election was a lie. He will have to stand up and say there was no fraud, Biden won the election fair and square, all the lies he told after the votes were counted were just in a vain hope of overturning the outcome. He will have to tell the American people the truth, even if it’s for the first time in his life, that he didn’t win, there weren’t 11,800 votes in Georgia to be found for him, that Cindy McCain was right and he pissed off Arizona Republicans by trash talking her dad, that all the bluster and all the prevarication was just so much hogwash. That it all came down to this: Donald Trump just couldn’t stand the thought of being branded a loser.

The second condition of the pardon is no takebacks. No turning around and saying, “oh I just said it to get the pardon”. Nope. He’s gotta admit it all in a joint interview with Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow broadcast on every network in the cablesphere. Hell, let Nickelodeon do a version like they did with that NFL playoff game, complete with him getting slimmed. He’s gotta tell the entire sordid story, come clean about anything and everything. Look at the bright side Trumpy, you always wanted to be the biggest star on TV so here’s your chance. The ratings would be better than any Super Bowl, any Olympics, hell they’d beat the final episode of M*A*S*H.

The third condition I’ll admit this one is just for my own personal perverse pleasure. We’ll call it the Sophie’s Choice condition. Donny John you have to pick one of your kids to get a pardon with those same two conditions as yours. But only one. So decide if Vanky, Jr., or the dumb one gets to skate and which two must learn how to make friends with their new cellmate. I’d love to see the backbiting, groveling, pathetic cloying they’d all do to get that pardon. I wouldn’t even mind if Mark Burnett gets him big upfront money for a one shot special so we can all watch. Hell if it goes well, Burnett could turn it into a series starring all of the supporting characters from the last four years. The Kushner, Bannon, Miller episode would make delightful holiday viewing.

Now why would I put this proposition out to the world? 81 million plus people in this country want Trump’s hide hung high. 74 million people think he’s the cat’s meow and had a second term stolen by evil Demoncrats. It’s obvious to me that the only way these two extremes can meet in the middle, the only way this nation will heal from the four years of divisiveness Trump stoked with his angry, insipid, malevolent words and actions is for the people who fell for it to understand they were lied to and for the people who always saw through it to get the vindication they deserve. The American people need to be told by the person who lied to them that he did it only for the power and the money and that he never really cared about them or their problems. That for the last four years they were nothing but the toys a narcissistic man-child pulled out from the closet to play games with, even when playing with those toys meant sadistically pulling them apart limb from limb. This is the way we can begin to heal. I have no delusion his doing this causes everyone to join hands around the campfire and sing Kumbaya, but if we can at least get the temperature down to 2012 level when political discourse was sharp but not stick a knife in your neighbor sharp then maybe we can get on with solving some really big problems this country and the world face.

If we’ve learned anything over the last four years, it’s that Trump and his family are all about pay for play. So here it is, the biggest payday. Refuse it and you will face the remainder of your life as defendant, bankruptee, and inmate. On the other hand accept this pardon with all its conditions and you skate away from all responsibility for the harm you have done and kickstarted the process of healing. And for the first time in your life you will have done a service to your country.

That’s my proposal to President Biden. I submit it in the hopes he will give it all the due consideration it deserves.

Shapiro Out

PS: If you clicked on the link for the Grey Poupon commercial and happen to be a fan of British television, yes that’s the guy from Yes Minister and the guy from the original House Of Cards.

Cassandra: For There is Always Light

Cassandra is back with her reactions to the Biden-Harris inaugural.


For There is Always Light by Cassandra

Sometime yesterday afternoon I realized could breathe again. I had actually started breathing again before that, during the inauguration ceremony as I watched Michelle Obama greet Kamala Harris, and when the Biden grandgirls made their neopolitian and sneakered entrances. I was breathing again when I cried as amazing women shared their talents with us, even though I hadn’t quite realized it yet.

I consciously started breathing again when the Biden clan clambered out of fortified vehicles and made their way up Pennsylvania Avenue. I know that piece of pavement well, because I had a part-time job when I was in grad school in DC, and my bus stop was right there, in front of the Treasury Department (this was back in the days when there was unfettered access to the area in front of the White House.), with the grandchildren bickering about whether they should hold hands as they walked and then deciding it was too corny. I breathed again as I watched President and Dr. Biden stand at the front door of the White House and hug each other in amazement and relief and joy.

And I bawled through fireworks. FIREWORKS! I love fireworks and for 20 years watched them on Independence Day, either from The Mall or up at the bell tower at National Cathedral (I was part of the change ringing group there and we had an excellent vantage point to watch them, plus I only lived a few blocks away), but I have never cried during a display. Somehow the exuberance of that display shook the last bits of fear and dread out of me (and it was really loud because my friends in DC who never hear the Independence Day fireworks immediately started tweeting and posting on social media how it scared the crap out of them at first).

Wasn’t it wonderful to wake up this morning without that burden of dread about what the president had done? I know there are a lot of very serious problems that remain unsolved, but we’re no longer helpless and at the whims of severely damaged men.  I worried at the start of the pandemic that we might lose our collective ability to recognize joy. Yesterday proved I was wrong to worry. Joy be with you all.

Shapiro: To My Nephew Ben

When I contacted my friend Shapiro about writing for First Draft, one reason he accepted was to reclaim his surname from the dread wingnut pundit, Ben Shapiro.

That sounded like such a noble cause that I suggested he write about his Shapiro quest. The result is this open letter to Ben who is neither gentle nor a gentile.


To My Nephew Ben by Shapiro

Dear Nephew Ben:

Let me say right off that no, you are not my nephew. We share a last name that’s more common amongst those of our lineage than those outside the tribe suspect. Some of our forebearers came from the old countries with it, some were given it by a harried immigration official at Ellis Island. Whatever. I do have a nephew who is like you in that he is married to a professional woman (a lawyer, I believe your wife is a doctor) and both you and he each have three kids. Like you he trained as a lawyer after attending private schools his entire academic career. Also like you he claims to be conservative bordering on libertarian. Have to wonder if private schooling begats conservative thinking. Nah, don’t have to wonder about it, it’s pretty obvious it does.

I’m writing to ask you to stop using our common name as a way of selling books. It’s a proud name, the name of poets (Karl), scientists (Norman), businessmen (Herman), lawyers (Robert), a few mobsters, singers (Helen who had an opening act called The Beatles in the early 1960’s), and thousands of everyday people who just go about their lives trying to do good and raise their kids to be decent human beings. You are using our name to pridefully insist that you are the smartest kid in the room, that you know better than anyone else. You seem to have forgotten, or perhaps you were never taught, that the smartest people in the room are the ones who know they can still learn from someone else and who can process new information and even change a long-held opinion.

When I use my name it’s in the service of making the world a better place. You use it in a vain attempt to blow up 2000 years of western civilization just so you can buy a bigger house. Even the most ego driven capitalist never went that far; the soon to be booted president being the exception. Then again, he’s a goyim and that’s their gig. We don’t believe in that.

We believe in Tikkun Olem, the concept of repairing the world. Surely at that LA Yeshiva you went to high school at they must have mentioned it, but if they didn’t it basically means live your life in a way to better the lives of others. It is a great way of living; I’ve been practicing it for over 60 years. It’s garnered me absolutely wonderful friends, compelled me to travel to far distant places, to care about my community, and to be able to sleep well at night. I don’t know how well you sleep at night, but if I were calling large swarths of humanity somehow less than human, it would probably be with one eye open.

When you say LGBTQ people should have no rights to marry, let alone no rights at all because they are somehow lesser as human beings for choosing to love a person you wouldn’t choose to that’s not making other people’s lives better. That’s going out of your way to put a vile hateful message out into the world that someone, already filled with rage and hatred, will take as an excuse to assault, and even kill. “Well that smart Jew fella told me I should”.

You call Jews like myself Jews In Name Only (JINO) and deride us because we think that global warming is a greater threat to mankind’s survival than if Exxon gets to hit its stock valuation. You say we don’t care about Israel because we think human rights are a greater imperative than subjugating an entire group of people. You have said that doctors who perform abortions should be prosecuted but prosecuted for what? In case you were absent that day in law school abortion is a legally protected medical procedure. What you call “cancel culture” the rest of us call the consequences of your actions. What you disdain as “political correctness” we simply call good manners. And then of course there is the whole “Big Tech is stifling the voices of conservatives” brouhaha to which I can only say hahahaha. The highest rated cable news network is a conservative mouthpiece plus now there are two competitors that are even more conservative. Big Tech doesn’t seem to have stifled any of those voices. Oh yes, that little KKK koffee klatch called Parler got taken down but that was because the owner didn’t want to abide by the rules that he agreed to when he set up the site. Wow, imagine that, a tech company enforcing their rules. Next thing you know restaurants (when we can go to them again) will enforce “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service”.

Oy, just oy.

And now you’ve stepped into another minefield with this piece you wrote for Politico.

The events at the Capitol on January 6 were not directly at your command, but you gave the mob an intellectual underpinning that allowed what we have been seeing in all the days that followed from Republicans and their allies:

“STACEY ABRAMS never accepted her election loss (she still claims she was the victim of voter suppression).”

Stacey Abrams’ followers never marched on the Georgia statehouse calling for the beheading of the governor, nor did she incite them to.

“The real impeachment charge against Trump is extraordinarily reckless and inflammatory rhetoric and behavior. But that sort of rhetoric is, unfortunately, commonplace in today’s day and age, and sometimes even ends with violence (see, e.g., a Bernie Sanders supporter shooting up a congressional softball game).

First of all you are in large part responsible for the commonality of inflammatory rhetoric and behavior today. And if you don’t want to admit credit for that you must at least admit that you yourself do nothing to tamp down that vitriol. As for the guy who shot up the congressional softball game, he was a nutcase acting alone with (and I can’t help myself on this point) LEGALLY purchased guns not under the direction of anyone other than the voices inside his head. The President of the United States didn’t tell him to do it.

Then there’s this infamous Tweet:

Where do I start with that one? I tell you, let’s just leave it at no one has ever used a Hefty bag zip tie to secure, well, even a Hefty bag let alone a government official.

You could do so much to make the world a better place. You have the intelligence and charisma to command attention and thoughtfully delineate a point of view. Instead you choose to take those gifts and throw firebombs. In fact, you’re not just yelling FIRE in a crowded theater, you are locking the doors from the outside, calling the fire department telling them to disregard the alarms, and forcing ambulances down the wrong street. You incite instead of inspire, tear down instead of buildup, negate instead of collaborate. You hate with a ferocity generals would want in their shock troops. Those are characteristics I find abhorrent in anyone, but in someone with the same last name as mine I take an even greater offense.

One last thing, you are not a conservative. By definition classical conservatism does not reject change, but insists that changes be organic, rather than revolutionary, arguing that any attempt to modify the complex web of human interactions that form human society purely for the sake of some doctrine or theory runs the risk of running afoul of the law of unintended consequences and/or of moral hazards. No you are as revolutionary as they come. The reason you write and speak and broadcast what you do has nothing to do with a desire to make the world better, but to enrich yourself and those who have placed the MAGAphone in your hands. You could say you believe in oligarchy. I would say you believe in fascism.

My editor, Adrastos, suggested I call this piece Give Me Back My Name after the Talking Heads song. After reading so much of what you have spilled out into the world, I thought a more appropriate song reference would be from Bob Dylan, Idiot Wind:

Uncle Shapiro Out.


Guest Post: Take Me Home, Dunning-Kruger Effect

Cassandra by Evelyn De Morgan.

Cassandra is back. This time we learn that she’s also a Watergate obsessive, which is always a good thing in my book or on our blog.

The featured image is Cassandra by Evelyn De Morgan. She was an English painter who was associated with the Pre-Raphaelite movement early in her career. That’s a fact, not a prophecy.


Take Me Home, Dunning-Kruger Effect by Cassandra

I have been interested in politics since I was 12 years old and fascinated with the Nixon administration. My fascination with Nixon and the Viet Nam war puzzled my parents because they did their best to limit my exposure (and that of my 2 sisters) to coverage of the war. Still, I managed to cobble together pieces of news and had an understanding that the US was losing and losing badly and that the troops needed to come home. I was a weird kid and I give my parents a lot of credit for letting me be me.

It should come as no surprise then to learn I was similarly obsessed with the Watergate scandal. I already had an affinity for law-based arguments, but the biggest single factor in my obsession was that the nuns in my tiny Catholic grammar school brought their portable TVs from their convent to our classrooms to watch the May 1973 Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. It was a revelatory moment:  the convent was a source of never-ending curiosity and I had no idea nuns owned televisions. And the fact that schoolwork was set aside for watching television left an indelible mark on my love for politics.

Naturally, I studied political science (as a “government” major, which appealed to my humanities-based approach to life) with an emphasis on political philosophy in college, along with history. (I tell you this for a reason, and not for self-aggrandizement…at least for today.) I loved talking to people about ideas, thinking critically about the past and the present, and always challenging people on their views, pushing them to provide the factual basis for their assertions, and debunking all the lies and half-truths I came across. And when I got online, I sought out those online idea exchange spaces, whether they were about my favorite bands or about current events. This was the pre-social media age, where you participated mostly via email, and where people took the time to fully explain their views or to critique yours.

At the same time, I knew enough not to critique stuff I didn’t know anything about and if I were a novice to do my research so I could be sure I wasn’t writing nonsense. It seemed clear to me that if you wanted people to take you seriously, you should be a purveyor of factual information.

Obviously, I’m a dinosaur when I roam about social media. I see people post compete garbage, with their actual names attached to it (!!!), and I am astonished every time. The other day one of my friends tagged me to ask me a few specific questions about the second Trump impeachment. Before I could compose a sensible response, one of her friends popped in with nonsense about Dominion voting machines, Nancy Pelosi having a hissy fit, and a prediction he would not be impeached (mind you, this was after he had already been impeached(squared), so clearly, he was no Cassandra).  I made my response, fact-based, with well-supported speculation as to what was going to happen next week, and he took that as his invitation to present more of his conspiracy nonsense. I pushed him to keep to facts, and he then told me that I was uninformed and should go read The Constitution.

It’s not enough to present facts to these folks—we have to convince them they don’t know as much as they think they do, to think critically, and to question everything (extra points for now seeing Spalding Gray drawing a box in the air).  But I have no idea what to do. I see these folks everywhere, and I think their world is about to come crashing down around them, and I don’t know how to help them sift through the rubble.

But I know we have bigger fish to fry these next few days. Joy be to you all.

Guest Post: A Postcard From Sonoma

One of the many unfortunate consequences of the Dipshit Insurrection is how it has overshadowed all other news since Twelfth Night. The pandemic has worsened dramatically since the beginning of the year. New mortality records have been set almost on a daily basis.  It’s a fucking mess, y’all.

In his second post for First Draft, my old friend Shapiro ponders the pandemic’s impact on his town, Sonoma, California.


A Postcard From Sonoma by Shapiro

A tractor trailer rolled into my town last night.

My town is Sonoma California. To many of you that name conjures up images of vineyards and wineries, rolling hills in the distance, warm summer days followed by cool summer nights. A visitor once said to me he couldn’t even see the word Sonoma without imaging a wine glass in his hand.

In many ways Sonoma is just a small town like so many other small towns across America. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had a guest tell me “It’s just like Stars Hollow!”, the fictional TV home of the Gilmore Girls.  We have a town square, historic in California as the spot where the Bear Flag Revolution began, the place where Californios, the Americans who came to Spanish, then Mexican Alta California, rebelled against the Mexican government who said they were not allowed to own land unless married to a Mexican. There is a large statue dedicated to those men, but most visitors pass it by as they head to picnic tables, laden down by wine purchases from nearby tasting rooms and emboldened by the fact it’s legal to consume alcohol within the square’s boundaries. During the summer, the square is the sight of a Tuesday night Farmer’s Market. Sonomans gather, folding chairs and tables in hand, picnic baskets filled, to see and be seen, to gossip and kibbitz, to lay down the workday and remember why we live here. Kids play on the swings, unbothered by helicopter parents, an admonishment only to be back when the streetlights come on. Occasionally people will wander over to the farmer’s stalls and pick up a few things or maybe get a churro or an Indian dish from one of the food trucks.

Across from the square on the east side is the Sebastiani movie theater, a single screen, real popcorn covered with real butter, first run, old fashioned movie house that on occasion will quietly show a new Pixar animated feature for a week before it’s official premiere since the guys who run Pixar, some of whom grew up in Sonoma, like to see their movies the way they grew up watching movies. Some nights the theater is given over to lectures or musical performances and, in the spring, it is the center piece for the Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF). The big movies get shown there, smaller ones are shown at the Arts Center around the corner, the Veteran’s Hall down the street, and some are even projected onto an inflatable screen set up on the runway of the prop plane airport over on 8th street.

Neat little shops line the four legs of the square as well as restaurants, bars, and even an upscale sausage emporium. The ice cream shop proudly advertises its strawberry ice cream is made with not just local berries, but exactly which local strawberry patch provided them. Early mornings are accented with the intoxicating aroma of freshly baked bread from the Basque Bakery. The ladies clothing store competes with the thrift store, modern versus vintage, each holding their own against the other. The jewelry store owner proudly will detail how she was once Bob Hope’s girlfriend and you smile and nod your head, indulging the elderly lady her stories until she points to the pictures on the wall of her and “Bobby” at the Brown Derby and the Biltmore Hotel. There’s even a store selling old fashioned candy and games you played as a kid on long car trips, shoved into your hands by parents who tired of the eternal question “are we there yet?”.

Just off the square are neighborhoods filled with houses, neatly tended gardens watched over by large dogs who lay in a corner, raise a head, and pant a smile at those passing by. It seems as if every house has a story connected to it. It was built by a winery owner for himself or it was built by a winery owner to house favored employees or it was built by a San Franciscan who came to escape the big city willingly or not. Occasionally as one walks down a street of 1920’s California bungalows, an Amberson like 1880’s mansion will rise from behind a row of immaculately tended hedges to remind the street of a more elegant if less technologically advanced time.

A tractor trailer rolled through those neighborhoods last night.

It’s no secret things haven’t been usual the past nine months. COVID came to America through the West Coast which might be why California initially responded so furiously. San Francisco and Los Angeles locked down early, the state prepared to turn convention centers and sports arenas into makeshift hospitals. Fortunately, we never needed them. The people of California, for the most part, accepted the idea of lockdowns, quarantines, and face masks, hoping the combination would get us at least to the point where science would come through with a vaccine.

And we believed. We believed the doctors who told us this was worse than the flu. We believed the public health officials who said wash your hands, don’t touch your face, keep your nose and mouth covered. We believed the government officials when they said how important it was to have ventilators and PPE and intensive care beds at the ready. We battled the federal government’s non-response, their non-belief, and got prepared. The virus came and we were ready for it.

In Sonoma wineries closed their tasting rooms, restaurants went to takeout only, the square was empty on Tuesday nights, the film festival was cancelled. A summer came and went with few out of town guests, but we kept telling ourselves do this now and maybe by the fall things will start to get back to normal. Maybe we can at least have a family Thanksgiving became maybe we could at least have a family Christmas which in turn became maybe next year we will get back to normal.

But they haven’t gotten back to normal.

Things didn’t get back to normal because while we prepared for the worst, the rest of the country debated if the virus was even real. While we politely told visitors to wear a mask, yahoos proclaimed that their freedom was infringed being told to wear one. Even when their Yahoo in Chief waddled out to a helicopter to be whisked to the most intensive of intensive care facilities his followers refused to take the simplest of precautions. Predictably the virus grew stronger, the toll became higher, the deaths piled up. Just when it looked like we might be able to open up a bit, the door was slammed shut again. Last Friday Sonoma announced the tough restrictions would have to remain in place for at least another month because even with all our precautions, all our mask wearing, all our hand washing, all our businesses shut down and our lives disrupted, even with all of that intensive care bed space was at 3% and projected to hit zero within a matter of days.

So last night a tractor trailer rolled through Sonoma on its way to the county seat of Santa Rosa. There it dropped its refrigerated trailer, doubling the county morgue’s capacity.

Shapiro Out.

Guest Post: Gently Rise and Softly Fall

You can’t shake a tree around here without a guest writer falling out. This time it’s a friend of mine from the internet music mailing list scene. It’s a scene that barely exists now because of social media but it was once lively.

In the great tradition of First Draft pen names, she is writing as Cassandra. Here’s hoping that her prophecies are not scorned by our readers.


Gently Rise and Softly Fall by Cassandra

I woke up this morning in a really crappy mood, which is pretty normal given what is going on right now. When I sat down with my laptop, my first reminder was “write piece about joy”. OK, here goes nothing.

Last March, my husband and I were watching our cat Rey play with her favorite toy:  a spring coated in vinyl. Cats play when all their needs have been met and so they can expend precious energy for fun things. Rey stands up on her back legs when she plays with a spring, passing it from paw to paw, and dancing herself. She goes to the legs of the bar stools and climbs over and around the legs, with the spring turning round. It’s infectiously joyful to watch. I clearly remember saying that we needed to memorize that image because we were going to need to remember what joy looked like as the months went on.

Last January I started reading Wanderers by Chuck Wending, a book about a mysterious pandemic which also included the scenario of an authoritarian US president and a national election. I also stopped reading it in January as things got to be way too close to real life here in the US. (Don’t spoil it for me—I fully intend to pick it back in a week or so.) Even though I couldn’t read the novel, I came across some of his stuff on Twitter and found his blog. A week after I had that conversation with my husband, Wendig wrote this:

Also accept any joy you feel and do so without guilt. Joy is hard-won, and if you manage that victory, there’s no shame in that. Take the victory lap. We will have to hunt joy like an elusive beast across the wasteland.

If you capture it, celebrate.

I thought of both of those things that glorious Saturday when the national election was called for Joe and Kamala (the weirdness of a TV network calling an election is a conversation for another day).  I live in West Virginia, so there was no parade of cars through the streets, honking and beeping for joy. (I made do with yelling “BEEEEEEEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEEEEEEEEEEEP” all day around the house (my poor husband)). I don’t know that there was much uncertainty around the final outcome earlier that morning, but the joy was certainly real and comforting—because we could recognize what joy looked like.

I studied US history for a long time, and I have a lot of things to say about politics. I think last week was the worst week in US history, and this week has already said “Hold my beer,” so politics can wait another day. Find some joy today and hold it fast.

Ryne Hancock: The Fallacies Of Our Crushes

My friend Ryne Hancock’s first post of 2021 strikes a wistful tone. For the non-New Orleanians out there, Broadmoor is an Uptown neighborhood.


The Fallacies Of Our Crushes by Ryne Hancock

In a few days, my friend Cait in Broadmoor will be turning 42.

Despite the fact that we are still in a pandemic, her birthday will include dinner, gifts from her kids and husband as well as well-wishes from friends and family for another trip around the sun.

During that same week in January of 1979, one of my first celeb crushes, Aaliyah, was born. If my memory serves correctly, according to Cait, she and Aaliyah were born two days apart.

As a wide-eyed sixth-grader, I dreamed of marrying Aaliyah. Apart from her looks, she was an honor roll student (she was valedictorian of her Detroit high school senior class) and seemed to be on the surface the type of girl you could actually take home to your mom.

Once I entered high school, Aaliyah had gone from teen prodigy to a superstar on the rise. Not only was she doing music, but she was appearing in movies such as “Romeo Must Die” with Jet Li.

Then it happened.

On August 25, 2001, Aaliyah was killed in a plane crash, dead at 22.

Unlike my friend Cait, Aaliyah never got the chance to experience marriage or motherhood. She never had the chance to mentor young ladies like KeKe Palmer (could you imagine the two of them on a podcast?), write books, and get her flowers.

In a few months, we’ll be celebrating 20 years without her on this planet, which means many of us have experienced a world without her presence almost as many years as she gave us her presence.

And it still hurts.

Guest Post: The Dead Fish Problem

I’m Greek and believe in cronyism and nepotism if the person is talented. My old friend Shapiro is a talented writer. He has requested that I only use his last name. Request granted. Just don’t call me Chief.

I hung out with Shapiro a lot when we both lived in San Francisco. We went to many ballgames at Candlestick Park together. The ballpark sucked, but the company was excellent.

We were known to heckle opposing players. I’ll never forget the time we went after Pittsburgh Pirates 2B Rennie Stennett. Our group was merciless. Oddly enough, Stennett signed with the Giants the next season and was an expensive flop. That concludes this episode of when I was young and obnoxious theatre. It wasn’t very theatrical, was it?


The Dead Fish Problem by Shapiro

Hear me out about this.

I don’t claim to be a lawyer (much to my parents’ dismay) or a political operative or a public relations wizard (that position is held by my younger son). I am wrong about political maneuvers I see in the media as often as I am right which probably means I should go into the political operative business because that gives me a higher batting average than many of them.

But I digress.

My point is I am not a pro when it comes to political posturing. But I am a pro when it comes to knowing how to rid yourself of a dead fish.

Dead fish smell. They smell bad. Go ahead, smell one for yourself and see. Told you so. Problem is you can’t just throw a dead fish out. Doing that just stinks up the garbage pail in your kitchen, then the garbage can in the side yard, and if you live in an area that outdoor critters are known to prowl the smell of the dead fish will encourage said critters to tip over your garbage cans in attempts to retrieve what it considers to be a tasty treat and you’re left with your neighbor Fred’s icy stares for being such a slob.

So you must be careful in the disposal of a dead fish. You have to wrap it in plastic to segment it from the rest of the trash, then you have to acknowledge there is a dead fish in the garbage (“Hey Fred sorry about the smell from the dead fish in my garbage”) even if the smell can’t be detected. You have to tightly secure the lid to the garbage can, so no roving band of raccoons get wind of the deliciousness awaiting them inside. Once the garbage company comes and hauls it away no one need think about it again.

Which brings us to the Republican Party and the dead fish that is Donald J. Trump.

Up until January 6, 2021 the Republican Party fully embraced Donald Trump. That embrace covered a wide gauntlet from full on “the election was rigged and unfair” to “we need to investigate possible irregularities in the voting” to “the election was fair, and he lost”, but they embraced him. Why not? He might have lost, but he got the second highest number of votes for president in the history of the country. That’s not a number to sneeze at. That’s a number a Republican challenger in 2024 would like to emulate. Add in the “hold my nose and vote for Biden because Trump is cray-cray” Republicans who you want to return and that’s a winning combination. Embracing him makes full political sense. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley know that and that’s why they are at one end of the embracement scale while Mitt Romney is at the other. The little procedural BS they were going to engage in over the certification of the electoral college was all just so much talk to be able to chop up into fund raising media, a little red meat to throw to the fanatics.

Instead on January 6, 2021 that scale got thrown to the wolverines. Embrace Donald Trump? The man who incited a mob to march on the capitol, break through the doors, desecrate the chambers, and end up with one shot dead before they were pushed out? The man who set up a watch party in a tent on the White House lawn and let his son live cast a few minutes of him cheering on the mob via TV? The man who, when finally forced to attempt to calm the mob down, did so on YouTube instead of network TV even though cell service and Wi-Fi had been cut off to the capital and it’s surrounding area so none of the mob could see it? Who in that message said he loved them and just wanted them to be safe?

For those of you impatiently waiting for Trump’s Lonesome Rhodes comeuppance moment this was it.

Republican senators who had said they would sign on to the notion of a challenge to the electoral vote count began to drop. What once was 15 ended up at 4 (4 others changed votes after the measure was defeated). In the House, the numbers didn’t drop as dramatically, but they did drop. Suddenly congressmen who were afraid to speak against Trump for fear of being primaried in 2022 now had to worry about being primaried for not coming out hard enough against the main instigator of the mob. They were worried that the stink of Trump, like a dead fish, would cling to them long after the carcass had been thrown away.

In the spirit of bringing America together, allow me to offer a suggestion for the Republican Party.

While it’s tempting to just dump Trump in the garbage can, that would not solve your problem. I understand your need to walk a balance beam more agilely than an Olympic gymnast. You don’t want to piss off his supporters who, for the moment and with nowhere else to go, vote for you. But you also need to signal to the vast majority of Republicans, the people who didn’t storm Capitol Hill, and the independents who truly are the difference makers in elections, that you won’t stand for mob rule no matter what the mob was for.  If you urge the VP and the cabinet to invoke the 25th you’re pretty much admitting Trump was crazy from the beginning with the inference being that you enabled him which you did but we’re trying to work on solutions here. If you work for impeachment that just reminds voters, you had your chance a year ago to be rid of him and didn’t take it. Get him to resign? Fat chance he’d do that unless you can guarantee him a billion in gold, a plane to Moscow, and the promise to not try and extradite him back. Whatever you do, his stink will be in your Dolce & Gabbana outlet store suits for years to come.


Crazy times call for crazy stunts. You know all that talk about working together to do what’s in the best interests of the country? How about you try it. I know it goes against everything you stand for McConnell, but right now the American people want to see something done. They watched on their TVs as a group of wild-eyed radicals, egged on by a defeated election loser, attack the very bastion of our democracy. That’s crap that happens elsewhere, not here in the good old US of A. They’re scared and anxious about what’s going to happen in the next two weeks. And when parents are scared and anxious their kids get scared and anxious and that’s one thing parents don’t forget easily, especially when it comes time to put that x next to a name on a ballot.

It would be so easy for you to do it. “Hey, you know what, we got conned. We thought he’d be a breath of fresh air, coming in and draining the swamp, but it turns out he’s nothing but a game show carny and we’re glad to see him go”.  Let his most vociferous champions throw their crap at you like apes in a cage, it won’t matter because they themselves will no longer matter. Their fifteen minutes are up. The funniest part of this is that of all things he was the one who handed you the perfect “we’re all gonna work together” issue — $2000 stimulus checks. Send everybody that check and then go one better. We know Biden’s coming in with a national mask mandate. Declare the pandemic to have jumped the fire line, desperate measures need to be taken, masks for all. This isn’t taking away your freedom, it’s giving you a fighting chance against a microscopic killer until everyone gets the vaccine.  If Trump says anything Republicans could turn this into the political equivalent of “new phone, who dis?”

You will have carefully wrapped him, his family, his Proud Boys, all up in plastic, carefully place them in the garbage, made sure all your neighbors know to be aware of the potential stink, secured the lid, and sent him to the garbage heap of history. Hell you might even get some Democrats to vote for you next time.

(To Democrats, that last line was just a tease to Republican leadership, a trail of Reese’s Pieces to coax them out into the world of reality.)

Shapiro Out.

Guest Post: A Yat In Queen Isabella’s Court

Life throws you curveballs sometimes. Yesterday, I gave longtime reader and online friend Paul McMahon aka Paul McRambles a shout-out in my Trump Green Acres reboot post. We had a tweet exchange, which resulted in my offering to post some of his writing if it met my admittedly low standards. This piece passed with flying colors whatever the hell that means.

Paul is a fellow old-ish fart. He’s about to embark on a great new adventure by moving from New Orleans to Seville, Spain.


 A Yat In Queen Isabella’s Court by Paul McMahon

I’m a Yat. For the uninitiated, a Yat is a New Orleans colloquialism that pokes fun at our accent, and our unique vocabulary. A common form of greeting to a neighbor in NO is to say, “Hey, where you at?”, which begs the notion that since that person is in your line of sight, you obviously know exactly where they are located. In an effort at conserving energy, this entreaty is often shortened to the monosyllabic, “Y’at”. Native New Orleanians are therefore commonly, and proudly, referred to as Yats. Future submissions by yours truly will elucidate on other quaint New Orleans’ contributions to Webster’s, such as “neutral ground” and “makin’ groceries”.

Yats are an endangered species this day. What makes New Orleans unique amongst its sister cities in the lower 48 is its fight against the tide of modernism. If nothing else, we are a homage to the art of antiquities. We relish our century plus old housing stock; our neighborhood bars and restaurants are the lynchpin of our daily lives; our favorite mode of public transportation is a streetcar. But these things are under attack in post-Katrina NO, and the rate at which they are disappearing from our lives has accelerated in the wake of Covid-19. In the aftermath of the federal flood (NO residents often refer to Katrina as being this, since it was the failure of the federally built levee system that caused the massive loss of property and lives), people from across the country came to NO in the valiant effort to help us rebuild. While their selfless acts of heroism are still wildly applauded, many have chosen to stay in this city and have also sought to change the very fiber of what they were trying to salvage. Corner bars, music clubs and restaurants are now besieged by numerous attacks from neighborhood groups, using city ordinances restricting noise, trash, and parking as their weapons. Streetcars routes are being challenged since the new New Orleanians claim that they add to traffic snarls, due to their relatively slow speed, and numerous stops. Hey, the poor who rely upon it as a form of public transit, can always walk…

Even our world-renowned cuisine is not safe. Po-Boy shops (the iconic NO gift to the sandwich world) are fewer in number and are being replaced by that paean to world dominance, the Starbucks store. Gumbo is now being “reconstructed” by the surge of nouveau chefs who have infested our area, with such novelty ingredients as kale, and environmentally sourced salmon, in lieu of okra and oysters.

Even our housing stock is under attack. Many of our venerable neighborhoods are now inhabited by a form of nouveau rich, who turn a blind eye, and a non-response, when we pass them on the sidewalks and ask, “Y’at”. Their infestation has further accelerated the rise in local property taxes, given their willingness to pay top dollar for our houses, and the domino impact that has on tax assessments on the surrounding abodes. Our own monthly housing note increased by over $600, due to such a re-assessment.

Yeah, I know, I’m the archetypical old man, sitting in a rocking chair on my front porch, and yelling at the youngsters to get the fuck off my lawn. Well, I don’t have a lawn. But I do have a sense of something that has grabbed my city by its neck and is not going to release its grip until it has strangled out all of the uniqueness of this city and resurrected it in the new version 2.0 of Portland, Austin, Aspen, or whatever other yuppie hell they can conceive.

So, what is a poor, or Yat, boy to do?!? Well, we loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly………Seville, that is. Yep, we are moving to Spain. Ms. Pmac, the pups, and me have our visas, and a lease on an apartment in the heart of the city. Unlike me, Ms. Pmac managed to amass a huge savings and has gifted me with the opportunity to retire now, instead of fulfilling my life goal of still generating a W-2 by working as a greeter at Wal-Mart at the age of 85.

Why did we pick Seville to suffer from our presence? We spent a month in Spain 2019, and fell in love with the country, especially Seville. The pace of life, the friendliness, the embrace by the locals of its history all reminded us of……. New Orleans?!?

Only my wife and I would decide to start life anew in our 60s, by traveling halfway across the planet to find what we once had. But it’s an adventure. And a life of retirement that consists of slippers and a pipe are not what I have ever yearned for, even in old New Orleans.

Adios for now, amigos. I’ll keep you apprised as to what unfolds. I’m nervous and excited. And, for me, that is what life should be.

Guest Post: The Price Of Reading The Room Is Free

My friend Ryne Hancock is back. He brings his feud with what used to be called “limousine liberals” to First Draft. They’re the same people Athenae calls purity ponies. In this instance, they’re mostly white middle to upper middle class post-Katrina transplants who live in downtown New Orleans. Their elitism bugs the living shit out of Ryne who is a young Black man from Memphis, Tennessee.

It’s time for me to step aside and present Ryne’s  righteous rant.


The Price Of Reading The Room Is Free by Ryne Hancock

For months, one of the people that lived in my complex was a cougar that arrived from the Florida Panhandle. Tan and somewhat attractive, I figured she would be a cool person to be neighbors with, as opposed to the old black guy that constantly talks to himself in my building.

Instead it was anything but.

From the moment she arrived she complained about everything. In fact, when the hotels were filled with evacuees from Lake Charles, she complained about their attitudes.

There was also the time she got a job working at Tulane University and immediately demanded that she get better hours three weeks into getting the job.

The powers that be at the university then rewarded her with a 5 pm-2 am shift.

This line of thinking could be applied to people like the Justice Democrats and Sunshine Movement.

Much like my former neighbor, they use all their energy to complain when things don’t go their way, especially when all throughout the process they refused to get on board with endorsing Biden as well as run purity tests on everyone that didn’t conform to their beliefs.

They’re that relative who complains about you serving Chek soft drinks instead of Coca Cola. That relative who gets mad with people drinking Miller Lite and not craft beers.

“Oh you’re not drinking craft beer? How very poor of you!!!”

Criticize their God and Savior Bernie Sanders and the DSA, whose local chapter is basically 80% of the comedy community in New Orleans, and you get a lot of terms such as “sellout” & “corporate democrat” hurled your way.

And god help you if you criticize AOC, which if we’re being real, is basically every annoying gentrifier in the Maringy or Bywater, you’re labeled as a racist or even worse, a misogynist.

That’s the whole sum of the Justice Democrats and Sunshine Movement.

Instead of reading the room and picking justified fights (translation: the GOP) they’re taking credit for delivering the White House to Biden and managing to shitcan on Biden.

“We voted for you so do our bidding,” they’re screaming from the mountaintops.

First, you didn’t do shit. Your little performative progressive movement shitcanned on Biden & Kamala. And when it became apparent, he was going to be the nominee, you became brave by saying “Settle For Biden”.

Secondly, black women, the most loyal base in the Democratic Party, delivered the White House to Biden, not a bunch of latte-sipping performative allies that are focused more on making headlines than actually picking justifiable fights.

And lastly, if it weren’t for your movement, Mississippi would have been governed by Jim Hood. Alabama would have been governed by Walt Maddox. Florida could have had Andrew Gillium as governor.

But because of your movement and the buzzwords that come with it, those states have shoddy executive leadership.

Don’t get me wrong, the Democratic Party does need some fixing. It’s not perfect.

But the constant shitcanning a party that you allegedly belong to is not going to help your movement or this country in the long run.

Guest Post: Ryne Hancock On Elections Past & Present

Guest blogger Ryne Hancock tells us how he spent Election Night in 2016. It was in a club in New Orleans with a bunch of comedians. The evening was anything but funny.


Don’t Let “They” & Complacency Win by Ryne Hancock

Long before Chris Trew’s creepy behavior sank him and his comedy club on St. Claude, a group of local comedians, including myself, gathered to watch the results of the 2016 election.

Adding to the intrigue was the fact that we were celebrating Kaitlin Marone’s appearance on the ballot for United States Senate, something that was commemorated with a sign from Jessica Hong that read “We Didn’t Do It!!!!”

From the onset, I figured that the sign was about Marone’s campaign (as I recall she got over 4,000 votes) and not the presidential election. Like most of everyone and their dog, I figured Clinton would eke out a narrow victory in the electoral college with maybe 280 or so votes and we wouldn’t have to be annoyed by that orange turd.

Then shit happened.

What was supposed to be a celebration became a tragic day for democracy. Instead of electing the most qualified person ever to the highest office in the land, this country decided to elect a dribbling idiot.

You can sift through all the reasons why the orange idiot won, most notably the bullshit about both candidates being the same or the fact that the most qualified candidate ever didn’t represent true white womanhood, but the facts remain bare for all to see.

We as a country got too comfortable with the fact that the 2016 election was in the bag.

This time around, we can’t get tired.

We can’t get complacent.

It’s just like what I told a friend of mine that owns a business on Magazine Street.

“They want you to be tired. They want you to give up. Don’t fucking get tired. It’s weary now but morning will come. It eventually comes.”

That’s my message to you guys that haven’t voted yet.

Don’t let “they” win.

Because that’s what “they” want.

Stay in line, mail your ballots, run the fucking score up to fight for the soul of this country.

Because in the end, the morning comes.

And my lord, what a morning it will be.

Guest Post: The All-Time, No-World Series Starting Nine

Tommy T is on the mend and still not quite up to doing that voodoo that he does so well.

For the second consecutive week, we have a guest post by Ryne Hancock. This time, he’s talking baseball.


The All-Time, No-World Series Starting Nine by Ryne Hancock

One thing my friend Peter and I bond over is our love of baseball history (in fact I had floated around the idea of a podcast that focused on baseball history before the Great Pause). Despite the fact that I’m a diehard Cardinals fan and the fact that Peter’s Giants have beaten us three times in the postseason in my lifetime, we can both say that we’ve seen our teams reach the Fall Classic in our lifetimes.

With baseball playoffs in high gear, I thought about a starting nine of players that never saw their talents showcased in the Fall Classic. While I’m pretty certain that you, the reader, have different opinions on who should be on this list, I encourage you to leave comments in the comment section on who I left off.

 OF Dale Murphy:  Sandwiched between Hank Aaron & Chipper Jones, Dale Murphy was the only reason why most people during the 1980’s gave a damn about the Braves. In 15 years with the Braves, Murphy won two MVPs and led the Braves to the 1982 NL West title, where they would lose to the Cardinals in the NLCS. After that season, the Braves would have one more winning season during his time in Atlanta, an 88-win season in 1983. Despite the fact that he put up numbers that were Hall of Fame worthy, Murphy’s name isn’t etched in the annals among the immortals in Cooperstown.

OF Ken Griffey Jr. The greatest tragedy in baseball history was not the Indians choking away a 3-1 lead to the Chicago Cubs and extending the misery of the Cub fans, but kids of a certain generation never got to see Ken Griffey belt a home run with that sweet swing or rob someone of a home run in the World Series. The closest Griffey ever got to the Fall Classic was in 1995, when they beat the vaunted Yankees (more on one of their players later on) to reach the ALCS. Another postseason appearance followed two years later that ended in the ALDS with the Mariners, which would be the last one for Griffey until 2008 when he played on the White Sox.

I thought about that the other day when I was watching a softball game at the Fly when I had a conversation with a 14-year-old kid about Mike Trout and how the Angels were wasting his prime.

“Kid, when I was your age,” I told him, “we didn’t see Griffey in the World Series. You’re getting that with Trout”.

OF Vlad Guerrero: There were a bunch of names that stood out for me for the rightfield position. Of the four names I had (Andre Dawson, Vlad Guerrero, Sammy Sosa, Juan Gonzalez) the one that stuck out for me was Vlad Guerrero.

Of all the players I grew up watching, no one hit the ball more violently than Guerrero, especially balls that were out of the strike zone. Despite all the success the Angels had during that time, with five division titles in six years, Guerrero could never reach the Fall Classic.

3B Ron Santo: Kids of a certain generation in Chicago saw the primes of Gale Sayers, Dick Butkus, Ernie Banks, & the third baseman on this team, Ron Santo, squandered like an Atlanta Falcons lead in the Super Bowl.

A key cog in the Cubs’ resurgence in the 1960’s, Santo didn’t get a chance to sniff a winning season until 1967, when the Cubs finished third behind my Cardinals, who of course won the World Series that year. In 1969, the first year of divisional play, the Cubs looked primed to reach the playoffs and possibly the World Series when thanks to the managerial malpractice of Leo Durocher and the fact that Wrigley didn’t have night games, the Cubs squandered an eight-game lead in the new National League East to the New York Mets.

The Cubs wouldn’t reach the playoffs until 1984.

SS Ernie Banks: When the Cubs won four years ago, the first person that came to my mind was Ernie Banks. In 1958 & 59 Banks won the National League MVP when the Cubs finished fifth and seventh, respectively. It wasn’t until his 11th season in which the Cubs had a winning record, when the Cubs finished 82-80.

Banks had to deal with not only racism, but also an eccentric owner that was more focused on the ballpark than fielding a competent team. He saw the dregs of a pennant race late in his career, but never got a chance to see the Fall Classic.

Just think how things would have been had he had a competent front office.

2B Ryne Sandberg: Despite my fandom for the Cardinals, I was named for Ryne Sandberg. Long before Sosa made his sojourn to the North Side, Sandberg was the face of the Cubs. Fifteen years after their collapse in 1969, the Cubs reached the playoffs for the first time since 1945 when they won the National League East. Another trip would follow in 1989 as they won the division by six games over the New York Mets.

Unfortunately, those two trips would be the closest Sandberg would get to the Fall Classic. In 1984, the Cubs would blow a 2-1 lead to the Padres and five years later, the Giants behind the bat of Will Clark would derail pennant hopes for the Cubs.

1B Don Mattingly: Similar to Dale Murphy in Atlanta, Mattingly was the gap between Reggie Jackson and Derek Jeter. Despite putting up solid numbers during his time in the Bronx, Mattingly could never showcase his talents in the World Series. Many baseball scholars suggest that had the 1994 strike not happened, the Yankees would have probably made the postseason.

P Jim Bunning: Lost in the shuffle of great pitchers in the 1960’s and long before he became a quack politician, Jim Bunning was one of the best pitchers in baseball. In a 17-year career, most notably with the Tigers and the Phillies, Bunning led the American League in wins once and strikeouts three times. During his time in Detroit, Bunning got close to the World Series once, playing on the 1961 team that won 101 games and finished second behind the Yankees. In Philadelphia, he played on the 1964 team that collapsed down the stretch and lost the pennant to the Cardinals.

C Joe Mauer: In a perfect world Joe Mauer is like Kent Hrbek, a local kid who made good by playing for the local baseball team and won two world championships.

Despite being the face of the Twins for over a decade, Mauer didn’t have the same luck in the postseason as Hrbek. In five trips to the postseason, Mauer never won a postseason series.