Category Archives: JOEY B SHARK

A Reader Writes In To Inquire

Democrats Vs. Republicans

After my last post a reader who stands in opposition to what I said asked me some questions that I thought would be better answered in todays post then a simple reply to just him. He raises some points that I often hear from those who stand in opposition to my point of view. We will begin with

Since (Biden) took office, Gas prices in suburban areas of (LOCATION REDACTED) have hit highs of $5 per gallon.

Yes they have. I wish Biden had the power to put a cap on how much oil producers can charge for a gallon of gas, but until the socialist dream is achieved he doesn’t. Nor has any president. EVER. If you are upset about five dollar a gallon gas then start getting mad at the real culprits, the oil companies. Personally I think it’s because they see we are coming to the end of the age of the internal combustion engine and are trying to get as much cashola as they can before no one wants and/or needs their product. But if you think five bucks is high, wait till they start using Hurricane Ida as an excuse to raise prices.

And you know they will.

Since he took office, ISIS which was rarely heard of the previous 4 years are claiming to be responsible for the afghan airport bombing which killed many US marines and citizens that have been left there before being evacuated before the US army was to let in the Taliban to take over.

First of all, it was not ISIS that was responsible for the Kabul airport bombing but rather ISIS-K which is an off shoot organization not controlled by ISIS. US citizens were killed in the attack but many more of the dead were Afghans. That’s not an excuse, just a statement of fact. Could it have been prevented? I don’t know, but I do know that a second attempt was prevented with a well placed drone strike. I’m sure you were applauding the bold and direct action that Biden took.

Before he took office it was thought that there might be control on the current situation at hand but reading articles on CNN which is pro Biden, it looks like this August is worse than last year August (although you’ll claim it’s all others faults).

What control are you talking about? Trump’s “peace talks” with the Taliban? Look, let me make it clear, we had no business being in Afghanistan and we certainly had no business being there for twenty years. Biden said enough is enough, we’re not wasting any more money or blood on a place with no strategic value to our country. And if you want to cry about terrorists being there please note my earlier comment about the drone strike as an example of how to take care of things.

The Taliban have no friends, only those who give them money to buzz around and annoy Western democracies. Let them run an unrunable country. When the time is right an opposition group will take to the hills, just as the Taliban did twenty years ago, and begin a guerilla war that will end with them marching into Kabul. But if you think that will bring about a peaceful, serene Afghanistan I’ll remind you that the Taliban will just take to the hills and begin another guerilla war.

Continue reading

Afghanistan: The Media Tantrum Continues

Image via learnin.grow.com

The MSM continues to pitch a fit about something that’s going about as well possible: the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. A retreat by a losing army is always chaotic. Repeat after me: our side lost the war.

As of this writing, over 80,000 people have been airlifted out of Kabul.

Thus far, there have been no American casualties since the Afghan government collapsed. None, zero, zilch.

The MSM’s accusations that Team Biden is detached from the reality on the ground amount to projection. Someone else is into projection and pitching fits until he gets his way:

I didn’t know that Garbage Pail Kids were around in 2016. It works in 2021 as well. Topps is the top as Cole Porter would have surely said at this point.

The MSM’s creepy attachment to Trump is behind the tantrum. It’s a sick S&M relationship. During the Trump regime, the MSM were the masochists, now they’re the sadists inflicting pain on Team Biden for not being like cruel, criminal, and cretinous Trumpers. It’s all summed up in this song by The Tubes:

Ouch.

One could even call the MSM Trump fetishists.

Speaking of great music from the 1970’s, this Kinks song sung from the perspective of a twisted headmaster who enjoys spanking students works as well.

Sometimes being old comes in handy.

I, for one, am appalled by this OTT display of displaced rage. The media’s clicks are down because the Kaiser of Chaos is no longer in office. They’ve opted to punish President Biden for something that was inevitable unless we stayed forever. Repeat after me: our side lost the war.

Don’t trust me, listen to a disabled Afghanistan veteran, Dan Berschinski:

When the twin towers fell, I was a high school senior deep in college applications. The United States Military Academy topped my list. Watching the devastation of Sept. 11, 2001, unfold, I knew the Army would be part of the response, though I figured that response would be over by the time I graduated from West Point. Never did I imagine that, eight years later, I would be leading soldiers in a war provoked by that one terrible day.

Yet lead them I did, across Afghanistan, witnessing horrors and enduring losses I still struggle to describe. What I saw there convinced me that the awful scenes we are now witnessing were inevitable — and that President Biden deserves credit for nonetheless braving the fallout to do the right thing by our troops.

I saw early warning signs as a U.S. Army infantry platoon leader on my first mission in Kandahar in 2009. In my very first conversation with a local, a shopkeeper told me: “Lieutenant, I met the previous American lieutenant 12 months prior, I will meet another American lieutenant in 12 months when you leave.” He did not like the Taliban, the shopkeeper told me, but it would be in Afghanistan long after I would — and so he had no choice but to deal with it.

It’s their country, not ours. It certainly doesn’t belong to the tantrum throwing American media who pine for worse times under the Impeached Insult Comedian. Think about that: they want things to be worse so they can have higher ratings and more clicks.

Even some of the military brass who oversaw our Afghan misadventure have seen the light:

Then-Vice President Joe Biden was right when he urged then-President Barack Obama to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen said Sunday, adding that the US could have left Afghanistan earlier.

“I thought we could turn it around, obviously, I was wrong,” Mullen, who served in both Democratic and Republican administrations, told ABC News on “This Week.”

Mullen also said that the US should have withdrawn its troops after the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in 2011.

Who are we going to listen to: the MSM and former Bush officials or Mike Mullen?

Joe Biden was right from the start.

Being loud does not make you right. Some of us learned that from the Trump regime. The MSM has not.

We all threw tantrums when we were children. My mother would let me cry it out, especially if it was an unreasonable tantrum. That’s all we can do with this ongoing tantrum by the MSM. Unfortunately, this tantrum will have unpleasant and even dire consequences.

If only it were possible to put the MSM into a time-out. They’ve clearly lost their minds. The last word is a chill pill from Steely Dan.

The Katrina-Kabul Connection

One reason I’m feeling so cantankerous of late is that it’s August. Everyone in New Orleans gets tetchy at this time of year as the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent Federal Flood approaches. It’s been 16 years since the most important moment of my life. You might not be reading this if not for that epic disaster. It’s why I became an internet writer or blogger as we used to call ourselves.

I’m struck by the similarity of the MSM’s coverage of Katrina’s aftermath and the collapse of the Afghan government. The words that come to mind are shrill, hyperbolic, and over the top. To watch CNN after the storm was to believe there was widespread looting, arson, and mayhem. The looped footage typically included people clinging to rooftops, stealing teevees, and images of the Beer Looter Dude. Over and over again.

In August and September of 2005, the MSM floated unsupported rumors of murders at evacuation sites such as the Super Dome and Convention Center. Over and over again.

I recall watching a reporter do a standup in front of some burning houses and proclaiming that the “Garden District is on fire.” It was not. The burning houses were on Napoleon Avenue, which is not in the Garden District. The looped footage and misattribution continued. Over and over again.

There *was* chaos in New Orleans after Katrina and the Federal Flood but it was not as widespread as the MSM coverage would have you believe. That coverage inspired my skepticism of all on-the-fly live reporting from a disaster area or war zone.

In 2021, the MSM is whipping up hysteria over events in Afghanistan by looping footage of children being lifted over razor wire and desperate people hanging onto airplanes. Over and over again.

There *is* some chaos after the fall of Kabul. Losing armies tend to collapse at the end of a losing war. Make no mistake about it: the side we backed lost this war. Much of the MSM, however, seems disinterested in reporting items such as this:

As always, Chris Wallace is willing to sail against the prevailing winds of his own network.

As for the lemmings of the MSM, they prefer headlines like the “Calamity Plane” headline in the feature image. It’s a good pun but an inaccurate headline.

Continue reading

Today on Tommy T’s obsession with the Freeperati – shart-term memory loss edition

Ok people – let’s get suited up and hit the airlock, shall we?

Of course, the Freeperati have been flooding the site with hundreds of posts about Afghanistan, and Joey B. Shark’s cowardice in cutting and running from the country that has (so far) crushed five different countries’ efforts to control it.

That is now.

This was then:

Donald Trump pulls two thousand troops out of Iraq and plans drawdown in Afghanistan in days amid bust-up with top commanders he accused of going to war to enrich defense contractors
Daily Mail ^ | 09/09/2020 | By NIKKI SCHWAB, SENIOR U.S. POLITICAL REPORTER FOR DAILYMAIL.COM and ASSOCIATED PRESS

Posted on 9/9/2020, 1:59:35 PM by SeekAndFind

The Trump administration announced Wednesday that more than 2,000 troops will be withdrawn from Iraq and the administration is looking to announce a drawdown in Afghanistan in coming days.

CENTCOM Commander Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. said the reduction will go from about 5,200 troops in Iraq to 3,000 and happen this month, which he said will ‘allow us to continue advising and assisting our Iraqi partners in rooting out the final remnants of ISIS in Iraq,’ according to CNN.

Reporters first caught wind of the president’s plan when a senior administration official discussed it with the press pool on Air Force One Tuesday night – and did so on the condition of anonymity.

The planned announcements come as the president has been trying to make the case that he has fulfilled the promises he made four years ago as he tries to secure a second term. Among them: pulling the U.S. out of ‘endless wars.’

1 posted on 9/9/2020, 1:59:35 PM by SeekAndFind
To: SeekAndFind

It’s hilarious when liberals get mad at Trump for not waging war.

5 posted on 9/9/2020, 2:04:51 PM by cdcdawg (Biden has dementia.)

Isn’t it just?

Also :

McConnell warns Trump against troop drawdown in Afghanistan
The Hill ^ | 11/16/2020 | Jordain Carney

Posted on 11/16/2020, 3:35:42 PM by lodi90

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) fired a warning shot Monday against withdrawing more U.S. troops from Afghanistan, even as the Pentagon is preparing an order to do so.

McConnell, speaking from the Senate floor, warned that only a “small minority” in Congress would support a rapid drawdown and warned that a rapid withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan “would hurt our allies and delight, delight, the people who wish us harm.”

“The consequences of a premature American exit would likely be even worse than President Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq back in 2011. … It would be reminiscent of the humiliating American departure from Saigon in 1975. We’d be abandoning our partners in Afghanistan,” McConnell said from the Senate floor.

**************************************************

The GOP Majority Leader compares POTUS to Obama and the Fall of Saigon?

 

If anybody was wondering which team McConnell plays for here is your answer. It certainly is not Team USA.

1 posted on 11/16/2020, 3:35:42 PM by lodi90

To: lodi90

It’s been 17 f***ing years there’s nothing premature about leaving now.

2 posted on 11/16/2020, 3:36:36 PM by mrmeyer (You can’t conquer a free man; the most you can do is kill him. Robert Heinlein)

To: lodi90

What kinda stupid do you have to be to call pulling troops out of a 17 year no-victory quagmire a “ hasty withdrawal?

13 posted on 11/16/2020, 3:47:33 PM by silverleaf (Age Takes a Toll: Please Have Exact Change.)

“Free Republic” stupid?
To: lodi90

Tell him sure Mitch and then after January reelection inauguration tell him to go f*ck himself

43 posted on 11/16/2020, 4:46:58 PM by Mr. K (No consequence of repealing obamacare is worse than obamacare itself)

Do you want to tell him, or shall I?

Anyway, I don’t have (or want) to show you the hundreds of posts from the last week castigating President Biden as a coward for getting us out of Afghanistan.

These mental defectives have the long-term memory of an avocado plant. Or a dog.

.

More below the fold :

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

The Ne(x)t War

Hacker at Computer

Everyone here at First Draft has been expounding on the events in Afghanistan this past week or so. If, dear reader, you are so inclined (and I highly recommend it) take a look at Cassandra’s post or Adrastos or my brother Michael, Michael F. All are excellent reads worthy of your time.

I am, like President Joey B. Shark, moving on.

I want to talk about the next war, mostly because it’s already underway.

In case you haven’t noticed, there are nearly constant attacks against Western citizens and companies via the internet. Just today T-Mobile had to admit they had been hacked to the tune of 40 million people having their personal info, including addresses and Social Security numbers, stolen. But they are not the only ones and are far from being the first. Hell, go back far enough and you might discover that this war has been going on longer than the one in Afghanistan.

And it’s not going to end any time soon.

One of the problems is that we first have to admit that it IS a war. You may think that these hacks are being done by some Incel in his parent’s basement as Donald Trump claimed about the DNC hack, but I’m here to tell you it’s pretty obvious that backdoor cyber attacks by individuals or even groups of non governmental individuals are unlikely. Contrary to the myth Hollywood has created, little Matthew Broderick can’t hack into NORAD from his Commodore 64. Nor can any of the individuals, fictional or not, who have tried to ransomware a hacked system. They may have started out as lone wolves, but as the targets became more complicated the individual pirate became a band of pirates and then, just like England in the age of Elizabeth, the pirates went to work for governments. These attacks are coming from well funded government led operations, the kind that, were they in the physical world, would be called guerilla warfare. So first we have to come to the realization that we are in a war and call it that, not cybercrime.

Power grids get hacked. Military computers get hacked. The systems controlling air traffic and even traffic lights get hacked. Elections get hacked. As Deep Throat would say (no not “follow the money”) who benefits? You are talking about a gradual even long term series of attacks on various but vital aspects of everyday life in the West. Tell me, what would cause more deaths, the bombing of one building or the sudden take down of the air traffic control system? 3000 people versus who knows how many of the average of 1.2 million people on flights at any given moment? Think about this, even the most Luddite, living off the grid, burying their money in cans out in the backyard, Survivalist nut case still has to drive a car. That becomes more difficult with no gas because the pipelines have been shut down and more dangerous because the traffic lights are completely turned off. Everyone would be affected. If you wanted to bring rioting and civil unrest to a country this would be the modern way of doing it. Especially if you have a coordinated fifth column of citizens living in the country who would be welcoming the arrival of your “peacekeepers” with rose petals and open arms, all covered live by their favorite faux news network.

Not to mention if you add in a natural disaster like an earthquake or an unchecked forest fire or a pandemic you could bring an entire nation to it’s knees without firing a single shot.

Continue reading

 I Won’t Forget

Our fearless leader has written 2 thorough and excellent pieces about the Afghanistan War and how we got where we are. If you haven’t read them, please do:  here and here. I have some thoughts, too.

There sure are a lot of familiar faces on the TeeVee over the last few days, blathering on about Afghanistan and tut-tutting over President Biden’s decision to get the hell out of, well, hell. They seem to think they have a blank slate for selling their snake oil. Well, I remember who they are and what they did.

In 1990, Iraq annexed Kuwait and we were supposed to feel it was justified because Kuwaiti women weren’t allowed to drive. Hey, it was going to be awesome! The US was going to beat back these sexist bullies and Kuwaiti women would be able to drive!

In reality there was no reason for the US to go to war with Iraq. But there was plenty of incentive for the Saudi-loving Bush family to protect their monster friends’ oilfields which were close enough for the invading Iraq army to take over. And so the propaganda machine took over. A DC public relations firm, Hill & Knowlton, funded by the Kuwaiti government, began pumping out disinformation to convince Congress to authorize war.

The nadir of the lying was the Congressional testimony of a nurse who said she saw Iraqi soldiers take babies out of incubators and throw them on the floor. This was all it took to convince Congress to go to war. The truth was that she was a member of the Kuwaiti royal family lying and playing a role. But the damage was done.

George H.W. Bush set a deadline of midnight January 16, 1991 for US demands to be met. On the evening of January 16 I attended an interfaith peace service at National Cathedral that culminated in a silent candlelit protest walk to the White House. Houses along Massachusetts Avenue had candles in their windows, and residents stood in their front yards holding candles in solidarity. Of course it didn’t work. But I won’t forget what happened.

The Iraq War was advanced by even more egregious lies and a news media drunk on ratings. Taking their cue from CNN’s non-stop coverage of the Gulf War, this time all of the networks threw in big time. And the Republicans had upped their propaganda approach:  instead of a Kuwaiti royal playacting to tug on the heartstrings of unsophisticated rubes, this time the government made sure reporters got to go play soldier, complete with flak jackets and Jeep rides with the troops. War was exciting! There were big guns!

I didn’t buy any of it. Just like in 1991, I wholly opposed this war because it was all fake news. I took a lot of crap for telling the truth then but the Iraq War was wrong. It was founded on lies related to the 9/11 attacks and it was sustained by media outlets who put profit over truth. And eventually the whole house of cards collapsed.

Now that Biden has taken the steps to end 30 fucking years of wars built on lies, fought by other people’s sons and daughters and designed to make money for people who are already obscenely wealthy, all sorts of stuck pigs are squealing. A bunch of cowards who won’t make their names public are whispering to reporters at the outlets that are the most complicit in repeating the propaganda of rich people with power—CNN, Politico, Axios—about how it’s not their fault. Multiple sources looking to cover their asses after they put their fingerprints all over the Afghanistan fiasco are now bleating self-interested lies to organizations that love to uncritically print pre-digested GOP talking points.

People who perpetuate lies are always angry when their lies are uncovered and they will scramble to drown out the truth by making more noise. I’ll let Jack Mirkinson have the last paragraph as he excoriates some of the worst people liberals made heroes by not thinking critically enough during the Trump years:

But too many in our media cannot seem to admit this, and too many outlets are rolling out the red carpet for the usual gallery of unrepentant hawks. In the Washington Post, Max Boot called the withdrawal “the worst U.S. foreign policy failure since the fall of Saigon in 1975,” which would be news to anyone with even a passing familiarity with the Iraq War, and wondered (yet again) why the U.S. couldn’t just keep troops in Afghanistan forever. NPR decided it was a good idea to ask John Bolton what he thought. In the Atlantic, Tom Nichols told readers, “Afghanistan is your fault,” castigating the American people for demanding an end to the war:

Biden was right, in the end, to bite the bullet and refuse to pass this conflict on to yet another president. His execution of this resolve, however, looks to be a tragic and shameful mess and will likely be a case study in policy schools for years to come. But there was no version of “Stop the forever war” that didn’t end with the fall of Kabul. We believed otherwise, as a nation, because we wanted to believe it. And because we had shopping to do and television to watch and arguments to be had on social media.

So Biden was right to end the war but Americans are still the villains because we care about shopping. Makes sense. Maybe what is happening is the fault of the people who have presided over this calamity for 20 years?

The last word goes to Depeche Mode:

Another Bright Shining Lie

I’ve often written that Watergate was my formative political experience. I hereby amend that to primary formative political experience. Recent events have reminded me that the Vietnam War also shaped my worldview. It’s the ultimate cautionary tale: wars should only be fought in the national interest and should not be entered into lightly. That was the original sin of the Afghanistan War: we intervened in a hurry without thinking things through. The bill finally came due in 2021.

My family was divided during the Vietnam conflict. My father was a hawk. My mother was a dove. She wasn’t crazy about the hippie protestors as they offended her Scandinavian sense of order and decorum, but she still quietly supported the anti-warriors.

I recall a fierce argument between my parents over one of mom’s bridge playing buddies. Betty was a Quaker and a pacifist. She strenuously objected to all wars but once Richard Nixon, who was raised a Quaker, was president she became an anti-war activist because of his blatant hypocrisy.

My memory is hazy, but I recall that Betty and her fellow Friends staged a sit-in at a military installation somewhere in the Bay Area. They were arrested. Betty was the spokesperson for the group and appeared on the local news. My father thought this was a bridge too far and demanded that my mother bar Betty from their home. He argued that it would be bad for her real estate business to associate with a radical peacenik. Mom stood her ground and refused to go along. Her dovish hippie wannabe son was proud of her.

That brings me to the post title. Last night, Lawrence O’Donnell opened The Last Word with a segment comparing Vietnam and Afghanistan. He lamented that his dream guests, David Halberstam and Neil Sheehan were no longer alive. They wrote the best two books about the American misadventure in Vietnam. Sheehan’s book, A Bright Shining Lie inspired the title of this post. I only steal from the best.

A Bright Shining Lie told the story of American counter-insurgency guru John Paul Vann who was a true believer in the Vietnam mission. Vann loved the country and its people and became frustrated with the military brass who saw them as pieces to be moved around as if in a game of Risk. Hence the featured image.

The bright shining lie told to the American people during Vietnam was that the war was winnable and worth the sacrifice. The same lies were repeated by the Bush-Cheney administration and their supporters in the media about Afghanistan and Iraq. In the aftermath of 9/11, the Washington Post and New York Times became cheerleaders and apologists for Team Bush’s mendacious war effort. The past is prologue as both news organizations dusted off their pom-poms and went into action over the Afghanistan mishigas without, of course, mentioning their complicity in the initiation of our endless wars. Why ruin a sensational story with the facts?

The collapse of the Afghan government and army confirms the truth of a phrase attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson: “”Events are in the saddle and ride mankind.”

That’s truer now than in Emerson’s day. They didn’t have to deal with hot takes on the Tweeter Tube.

Continue reading

The Inevitable Ending

19th Century Map Of Afghanistan.

The images from Afghanistan are terrible as is the media coverage. The MSM is venting its pent-up anger at the Biden administration for being dull and not as much fun to cover as the Trump regime. I wish I were making this up, but I am not.

I used a 19th Century map of Afghanistan to illustrate the folly of nation building in such a mountainous and primitive nation. The US is merely the latest foreign power to fail in Afghanistan. The British Empire and Tsarist Russia played the so-called Great Game over it for nearly a century; neither prevailed. In the 20th Century, the Soviet Union destroyed itself in its failed attempt to prop up an unpopular Communist government in Afghanistan.

As a history buff, I was always dubious of the American adventure in Afghanistan. It began as an exercise in revenge against Osama Bin Laden that morphed into nation building. It was mission creep at its creepiest.

History also teaches us that the most passionate side usually wins a Civil War. The late Afghan government resembled that of South Vietnam before the fall. It was corrupt, incompetent, and did not control most of the country. In both cases, American blood, treasure, and wishful thinking propped up feeble regimes. When that support was pulled, collapse was inevitable.

I am shocked that people are so shocked. A happy ending was never possible in Afghanistan. The only alternative was to muddle through as we had for the last 20 years. Were we supposed to keep doing the same thing for another 20 years? 50 years? A century?

President Obama was elected on a pledge to end the endless wars. He delivered in Iraq, but the chances of a Ba’ath Party restoration were slim. He was rolled by the military over an Afghan withdrawal because the Taliban were in the mountains shooting at the government. The Taliban are genuinely evil, BUT there are always rebels in the mountains shooting at the government in Afghanistan.

Joe Biden was among those on Team Obama who wanted to withdraw from Afghanistan early on. He had always doubted the wisdom of nation building in a tribal society, but lost that argument to Bob Gates, Hillary Clinton, and the military.

President Biden made the right decision 6 weeks ago. It was based on the best-case scenario: that the government could at least hold Kabul. Instead, the worst-case scenario, a rapid Taliban takeover has occurred. That illustrates the failure of 20 years of nation building, not an “intelligence failure.” Doing the right thing isn’t always easy. Biden should stick to his guns.

I heard Biden described as “naive” to withdraw from Afghanistan. Wrong. This was a cold-blooded, clear-eyed example of realpolitik. It *may* have served the national interest to be there 20 years ago, but the world has changed. This tragic ending was inevitable. The only way it could have been altered was to continue what Gore Vidal called “perpetual war for perpetual peace.”

Washington insiders are doing what they do best: playing the blame game. There’s a lot of blame to go around, but it was hubris to assume that the United States could succeed at something that every other great power had failed at. That was our approach in Vietnam, but we tried it again in Iraq and Afghanistan. We’re slow learners.

Both the blame game and the great game are exercises in futility, folly, and failure.

The last word goes to Todd Rundgren’s Utopia:

Not Everything Sucks: Progress In Washington

I just realized that I’d dropped the Not Everything Sucks flag. It was mostly Athenae’s banner, but I helped run it up the flagpole a few times. It’s time to pick the flag up and run with it or some such shit. Holy exhausted metaphor, Batman.

I have no illusions that last night’s cloture vote means that Congress will become less constipated BUT it’s a sign of progress. 17 Republican senators acted like politicians and voted to debate sending home the bacon. It shouldn’t be that hard but unrelenting obstructionism has been the name of the GOP game since the Turtle became their leader. He actually voted for cloture, which was unexpected. Mitch McConnell can still go fuck himself.

A swell subplot to yesterday’s vote was the fact that the Impeached Insult Comedian denounced Senate GOPers as cowards and RINOs as the negotiations intensified. It does not signal a break with that malevolent moron, but any progress is welcome however incremental.

People have forgotten what legislating looks like. It’s never pretty as it involves much posturing and some prevaricating. That’s why I don’t take seriously the Sinematic senator’s announcement that she’s not voting for the Democrats only infrastructure bill, neither does Josh Marshall:

I think this is best interpreted as Sinema throwing up a flag that she’s going to continue to preen and create drama for the purpose of building a reputation as an uber-‘moderate’ and generally have everyone kiss up to her. She wants to come out of this as the person who wasn’t totally down with Democratic priorities and shaved the numbers down, at least a bit. If she really wanted to stop the process she wouldn’t vote to let it begin, which she is. That tells you the story.

The flags are really flying today. Here’s some more from Josh:

Sinema meanwhile is a preening phony. She started out as a member of the Green party. Then she was a progressive Democrat. Now she’s an uber ‘centrist’. She’s a total phony and I doubt very much that she will be able to pull any of this off if she’s there alone without Manchin. Without Manchin, she’ll fold.

Sinema’s annoying antics are just part of the legislative game. One that we could live without.

In other good news, the Justice Department announced that it would NOT invoke executive privilege in the inquiry into misconduct by Trump DOJ officials after the election. That inquiry is being conducted by the Senate Judiciary Committee and another log was placed on that fire last night by a WaPo story about daily “perfect phone calls” from Trump to the Acting AG, Jeffrey Rosen. Stay tuned.

The DOJ also declined to defend Alabama wingnut Mo Brooks in the Swalwell Capitol riot lawsuit. Essentially, Brooks claimed that inciting a riot was part of his job description. DOJ disagreed. I can’t wait until he’s deposed by Swalwell’s lawyers. Stay tuned.

Finally, President Biden is expected to require federal employees to get jabbed. This common sense measure will make it easier for state governments and private sector employers to follow suit. Cassandra isn’t the only one tired of being held hostage.

That concludes this sprawling edition of Not Everything Sucks. I’m not spiking the ball, but incremental progress merits an incremental celebration. I’m not sure what that entails but it scans well.

Writing this post gave me two earworms: one inspired by the legislative gamesmanship (gamespeopleship?) and the other by more perfect phone calls by the Kaiser of Chaos. That’s why Bryan Ferry and Badfinger get the last word.

Sit Down And Mask Up

On Thursday, a woman undergoing breast cancer treatment at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, was sprayed with bear mace, physically assaulted, and verbally abused outside a cancer treatment center in West Hollywood, Los Angeles by far-right activists who were angry over the clinic’s mandatory mask policy. WTF?

Not to be outdone, an anti-mask protest this week in Albuquerque took a scary turn after a protester pointed a gun at a driver passing by. Oh and then there was this headline:  Billy Graham’s grandson Jonathan Lotz, son of Anne Graham Lotz, in hospital with COVID-19.  Here’s the kicker:  his spokespeople won’t say if he’s been vaccinated. And he’s a cancer survivor. I am a Christian and I try very hard to be a decent, compassionate person who doesn’t take joy in the physical suffering of people I don’t like, but these people are plucking my very last nerve.

I spent MONTHS unable to grocery shop or attend church or see friends because this subset of stupid, selfish dumbasses could not sacrifice for anyone else and repeatedly drove up the infection rate as soon as it started to come down. I missed Christmas with my family and didn’t get to visit with my 80+ year old parents.

I’ve had enough of these people. And evidently so has Joe Biden:

President Biden will announce Thursday that all federal employees will be required to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or face repeated testing mandates, a White House official said, a dramatic escalation of the administration’s effort to combat the spread of the delta variant.

I cannot tell you how much I approve of this move. We have waited long enough for these people to get up off their asses and get the jab. The carrot did not work. Bring out the stick.

I of course also realize that there is a subset of people who want to get the vaccine, but have child care issues, or no paid sick leave, and we as a nation should fix each of those issues to make it easier for those people to get vaccinated.

But the rest of them should start to be shunned by society. Don’t want to get vaccinated? You’ll have to wait to see that movie on demand in a few months. Or you can get takeout from the restaurant and eat it at home, away from the rest of us. Do you work in a public sector job? Time to get jabbed. Don’t want to? Go find another job.

I understand that the Trump cultists are pushing the anti-vaccine/mask stuff because they’re hoping that vaccinated liberals and other non-Trumpist voters will still catch Covid and die, but it’s increasingly clear that that’s not going to happen. Early on in the pandemic Jared Kushner was content to let Covid rip through blue states in the hope it would kill lots of liberals, and obviously the strategy hasn’t changed, even if the outcome has the GOP now cynically killing its own voters.

But the anti-vaccine/mask push could end up as an electoral loss for Republicans. As Josh Marshall noted:

To understand the politics, we need to take a different look at the numbers. We’re used to hearing the rather disappointing fact that even months into the vaccination drive and with surplus vaccines everywhere only just under half (49.1%) the US population is vaccinated. Epidemiologically, that’s bad news. But it looks different from an electoral perspective. 60% of adults (over 18) are vaccinated and fully 69% have received at least one dose. Shift our perspective in this way and you see that when you’re talking about the political nation, a big, verging on overwhelming majority are vaccinated. Among people over 65, the group that votes most consistently, 80% are vaccinated. Furthermore there is a lot of evidence that vaccination rates escalate with age. People in their forties are substantially more vaccinated than people in their twenties. So higher rates of vaccination align with propensity to vote.

I can’t think of more fitting poetic justice than the GOP losing the midterm elections because their chickens finally came home to roost. Stay safe out there.

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

Last week the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops took a step toward publicly humiliating President Biden by denying him Holy Communion. This action is short-sighted, mean-spirited, and stupid, which means it’s completely on brand for the USCCB.

It’s no secret that the deeply misogynistic Roman Catholic Church is opposed to abortion. I was raised Catholic and had the full anti-abortion indoctrination of grotesque photos of purportedly aborted fetuses (who knows if any of that stuff was real or fake—propagandists use whatever they have available to push their message).

After I was free of parochial education, I started thinking for myself. As an adult, I saw the issue of abortion—and pregnancy—differently than I did as a teenager. I thought about what decision I would make if I found myself pregnant. And I had empathy for women who had to make that decision.

(I know that the anti-choice people love to yell “ADOPTION!!” when discussing abortion, but the reality is that many women just cannot afford to carry a child to term. In addition to the medical appointments, being pregnant still can get a woman fired, or cost her a promotion. If there are complications, it may require her taking unpaid leave.)

I don’t know what Joe Biden thinks deep in his heart about abortion. But I do know that as a politician he is supposed to represent the people who elected him. The Pew Forum says that 55% of people in Delaware support abortion being legal in all or most cases. And Pew also says that 59% of Americans support abortion being legal in all or most cases. And given the makeup of the electorate who elected him, there is a clear mandate for him to support women’s reproductive rights. That’s his job.

It’s ironic that the big fear about JFK’s Catholicism was that he’d be controlled by Rome. And now we have a bunch of Catholic bishops trying to act as if they were Rome to control Biden. This crazy plan might have worked, except that the Vatican has already weighed in on this issue and told the USCCB to back off.

In the end, the USCCB won’t explicitly say that pro-choice politicians must be denied Holy Communion. That’s not how Pharisees work. They’re cowards who hide behind a wall of words which they then twist to suit their purposes.

Naturally the chance to flaunt misogyny under the guise of morality attracts a lot of fellow travelers, and conservative Catholics are out there making the most of it. And they’re being cowards about any challenges to their obvious hypocrisy:

Karen Tumulty is right—there is a monomaniacal focus on abortion, but no public shaming for Catholic politicians who gleefully support the death penalty, and the Vatican has been very clear about the stance of the RCC on that issue. (Also on display in that exchange—the typical shift to the demand of a public debate when a conservative “thinker” has been shown to be intellectually naked. Pharisees gonna Pharisee.)

Continue reading

The Geneva Sip and See

Photo via Reuters.

What a difference three years makes. My post about the infamous Putin-Trump post-summit press conference was called Straight To Helsinki. It gave everyone a sinking feeling as the wannabe dictator deferred to the real thing.

The Helsinki summit definitively established that the Kaiser of Chaos was a weak and stupid man who was submissive to Tsar Vlad. Somehow the message didn’t get through to Trump’s supporters who continue to believe he’s a tough guy because he’s a dick. In my experience, dickishness is a sign of weakness as well.

The Biden-Putin meeting was as much a sip and see as a summit. A sip and see is a Southern custom whereby parents invite their family and friends to meet a new baby. The Biden administration was 147 days old when the democrat met the dictator. Many expected Putin to slap the newborn around but his tone was somewhat subdued.

If the summit was a sip and see, Putin was the cranky uncle nobody much likes but who had to be invited. He wanted to be there to show off his country’s only current claim to power: the nuclear arsenal built by the red tsars who preceded him. Otherwise, Putin’s Russia is a basket case: its economy is the same size as that of Texas. The rub is that Texas’ population is 29 million and Russia’s is 144 million.

Team Biden’s refusal to hold a joint press conference, as is customary after such meetings, was a wise one. Putin was inside at what looked more like a bunker than a ballroom. Biden appeared outside with Lake Geneva as his backdrop. It was a photo-op worthy of Team Reagan in the heyday of teevee news.

The dictator’s tone was gloomy as he fended off questions from the Western media. He seemed to view the summit as a Russian novel as indicated by this statement: “There is no happiness in life.”

The democrat’s tone was realistic. Biden wanted the meeting so Putin would know that he was serious about human rights and Russian misconduct. He has no illusions about who and what Putin is despite this exchange with a CNN reporter at the end of the presser:

   Why are you so confident he’ll change his behavior, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m not confident he’ll change his behavior.  Where the hell — what do you do all the time?  When did I say I was confident?  I said —

Q    You said in the next six months you’ll be able to determine —

THE PRESIDENT:  I said — what I said was — let’s get it straight.  I said: What will change their behavior is if the rest of world reacts to them and it diminishes their standing in the world.  I’m not confident of anything; I’m just stating a fact.

   But given his past behavior has not changed and, in that press conference, after sitting down with you for several hours, he denied any involvement in cyberattacks; he downplayed human rights abuses; he even refused to say Aleksey Navalny’s name.  So how does that account to a constructive meeting, as President — President Putin framed it?

THE PRESIDENT:  If you don’t understand that, you’re in the wrong business.

President Biden was vexed by this exchange with good reason. He was misquoted and “constructive” is diplo-speak for a meeting that did not blow up. The Geneva Sip and See was neither a roaring success nor a total flop. It was a constructive meeting.

The end of the press conference reminded me of how different summitry is in the 21st Century. In the 1980’s the Big 3 news anchors were NBC’s Tom Brokaw, ABC’s Peter Jennings, and CBS’ Dan Rather. They personally covered all the Reagan-Gorbachev summits. Most people can’t even name the network anchors in 2021 because the media landscape is so radically different. The only thing that’s comparable is the photo-op staged by Team Biden.

Because of the Onion’s depiction of then Vice President Biden as a wild-and-crazy guy, people tend to forget his foreign policy chops. He was chairman of the foreign relations committee as well as John Kerry’s secretary of state in waiting in 2004.

Foreign policy is Joe’s jam: he’s a seasoned pro as opposed to his predecessor who kissed up to dictators and kicked down to democrats. What a difference three years makes.

The MSM often describes Team Biden as boring and criticizes them for not immediately dealing with all the wreckage left behind by Team Trump. As Joey B Shark himself would say, “Come on, man, it’s only been 148 days.”

Tea For Two strikes me as the perfect theme song for the Geneva Sip and See. The last word goes to Oscar Peterson:

Have I mentioned lately how much I love Oscar Peterson?

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – “Big Dumb Idiot” edition

Yet another quiet week in Freeperville, y’all. It’s like reading a transcript of the conversation on a Dallas Cowboys transport bus after they’ve lost yet another game – mostly quiet sulking.

Except, of course, for this –

FANATICS: THE DEEP END (Guess who the fanatics are)
Vice TV ^ | 5/29/2021 | ViceTV

Posted on 5/28/2021, 7:36:34 PM by Oshkalaboomboom

Alice Hines goes all in on a journey to the outer limits of obsession.

Season 1 Episode 1: “QAnon”

Alice investigates what causes people to think that storming the U.S. Capitol seemed like a good idea. What draws people to the cult of QAnon?

************************************************

Alice works for Vice TV and the New York Times. This is TV in the Biden Era. If it makes Trump supporters look bad, it’s gotta be good.
1 posted on 5/28/2021, 7:36:34 PM by Oshkalaboomboom
Of course, pretty much everything about Trump supporters makes them look bad, so that’s some low-hanging fruit for sure.
To: Oshkalaboomboom
Some who appear to support President Trump are also trying their hardest to drive rational supporters away from him with crazy conspiracy theories, wrong medical advice, name calling, false accusations and demands for sane people to go away.

Or in other words, any day on Free Republic ending in an “y”

The left is taking that gift and running with it.

2 posted on 5/28/2021, 7:44:20 PM by familyop (Natural born slaves are easily led to distrust and hate their intellectual benefactors.)

Why, thenk yew. I do my best.
And then :
To: familyop
I think Trump is a big, dumb idiot,

.

.

How dare you insult big dumb idiots by comparing them to The Darnold?  And here, especially. Prepare for incoming fire!

 

but 95% percent of the Crazy conspiracies, bad Medical advice, false accusations and other things he never said were Rupars, taken or edited out of context by a dishonest media.

Bush/Romney republicans are even BIGGER idiots, because they think the media is their friend.

4 posted on 5/28/2021, 7:53:59 PM by UNGN

Sight!  Range! FIRE!!
To: UNGN
I think Trump is a big, dumb idiot
So, you’re a bigger billionaire

….who declares bankruptcy six times, and is working on his seventh.  And does that mean that Bill Gates would make a better President?

and you’ve been a better President than him?

Chester A. Arthur was a fucking better President than him.  He lost his second-term bid, too.

 

Any other lifetime achievements you’ve beat him at?

16 posted on 5/28/2021, 9:45:39 PM by BipolarBob (This is my chainsaw. There are many like it but this one is mine.)

Depends on how many women he’s grabbed by the pussy, I guess.
I’ve been watching Freepers slowly awaken to the fact that they were conned.  It’s like Orange Julius realizing he lost the election, but in ultra slow-motion.
.
.
More after the break!

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Long Time Gone

“It’s been a long time coming. It’s going to be a long time gone.”

David Crosby, 1969

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Timing is everything in both politics and life. This is Joe Biden’s time. He proved it again last night.

It was a conversational speech that was somehow still inspirational. It was full of the sort of bold policy prescriptions that Democrats haven’t offered since Fritz Mondale lost 49 states to Ronald Reagan. 1984 was the year Democrats lost their nerve. 2021 seems to be the year in which they’ve recaptured it.

It’s been a long time coming, it’s been a long time gone. I cleaned up the grammar of the classic CSN song by David Crosby. I might like Westerns as a movie genre, but I’m not big on dropped Gs. I leave that to sidekicks like Ward Bond, Andy Devine, and Walter Brennan; all of whom, I might add, were members of the proto-Dingbat Right.

It’s time for our de facto theme song:

David Crosby may be an asshole, but he’s a talented asshole. Before Biden spoke MSNBC’s Joy Reid said that “Joe Biden is like Lyndon Johnson without the swearing.” Say what? Remember: “This is a big fucking deal.”

Joe Biden also swears, but unlike Lyndon Johnson he’s a nice guy, not an asshole. If Biden were a member of CSNY, he’d be nice guy Graham Nash. LBJ was like Crosby: a talented dick, but a dick nonetheless.

Since I’m casting politicians as members of CSNY, I see Bernie Sanders as Neil Young: fundamentally an outsider but when he works with others the results can be remarkable. We’re seeing Team Player Bernie in 2021 much to the chagrin of some on the Hipster Twitter Left. I’ve always thought that Senator Sanders was better than the worst of his supporters and he’s proving that this year. Thank you, sir.

That was an epic tangent. What can I tell you? My specialty as an internet pundit is digressive tangents. I believe in playing to my strengths.

“Speak out, you got to speak out against the madness
You got to speak your mind if you dare.”

That’s what President Biden did when he addressed the Dipshit Insurrection and the madness of the Trump regime. He didn’t have to mention the Kaiser of Chaos by name. We all knew who he was talking about.

One of the most effective parts of the speech was when the president linked his ambitious plans to expand the safety net to the fate of democracy itself. It evoked the founder of the American welfare state: Franklin Delano Roosevelt. FDR, too, spoke in a conversational tone as he advocated radical change in his Fireside Chats.

FDR used the necessity for massive wartime spending as a tool to achieve economic justice after the war. The GI Bill Of Rights is one of FDR’s least discussed accomplishments, but one of his most important. It helped educate a generation who had served their country. It was a well-deserved reward for defeating fascism abroad. Biden is intent on defeating it at home.

“Turn turn any corner
Hear you must hear what the people say
You know there’s something that’s going on around here
The surely, surely, surely won’t stand the light of day, no.”

Any long Biden speech is something of an adventure. His lifelong battle with a stutter sometimes gets the best of him. But when Biden gets stuck on a word, he moves on without missing a beat.

What you see is what you get with Joe Biden. Like Harry Truman, he served under a hyper articulate president. Unlike Truman, the vice presidency prepared him for this moment. Barack Obama wasn’t as good a president as FDR (who was?) but he treated his Veep with respect. We’re reaping the benefits of that relationship in 2021.

My original title for this post was Give Me That Old Time (Democratic) Religion. I kept thinking of Biden’s fellow Veeps: Hubert Humphrey and Fritz Mondale; both of whom would recognize their ideals and policy ideas in Biden’s speech, especially the passage about the right of labor unions to organize. To paraphrase Paul McCartney, it’s time to get back to where we once belonged.

In his farewell letter to former staffers, Mondale wrote: “Together we have accomplished so much and I know you will keep up the good fight.  Joe in the White House certainly helps.”

It certainly does. I was cautiously optimistic that Joe Biden would rise to the occasion as president, but he has exceeded my expectations. It was imperative; for as Crosby wrote back in 1969:

“But you know
The darkest hour
Is always, always just before the dawn.”

That’s what it felt like before Joe Biden’s inauguration. His predecessor was as phony as his laughable claims to be a man of the people. Joe Biden is the real deal: What you see is what you get.

The last word goes to The Dramatics:

Soak The Fat Boys & Spread It Out Thin

Hack Looks Askance At Hick Schtick.

Repeat after me: Soak The Fat Boys & Spread It Out Thin.

Thus spake Willie Stark in Robert Rossen’s brilliant film adaptation of Robert Penn Warren’s All The King’s Men. The line was adapted from advice Willie’s fixer Jack Burden gave him in the book after Willie delivered a dull speech:

“Just tell ’em you’re gonna soak the fat boys and forget the rest of the tax stuff…Willie, make ’em cry, make ’em laugh, make ’em mad, even mad at you. Stir them up and they’ll love it and come back for more, but, for heaven’s sakes, don’t try to improve their minds.”

I realize that sounds like something that pardoned felon Steve Bannon would have said to the Impeached Insult Comedian, but it’s sound advice for any politician even an honest one like Joe Biden. It certainly fits the time we live in:

Quite literally, the super-rich got richer, and the poor got poorer during the pandemic.

Repeat after me: Soak The Fat Boys & Spread It Out Thin.

One way to do this is to enact the Biden administration’s increase in corporate taxes. Another more satisfying way is to enact the Wealth Tax proposed by Senator Professor Elizabeth Warren. It will make the fat boys squeal like the pigs they are.

But will the Emperor of the Senate Joe Manchin support such a surtax? He’s from one of the poorest states in the Union but raising taxes became heresy for Blue Dogs after Mondale was blown out in the 1984 election and reinforced by the Gingrich wave election in 1994.

in 1984, Fritz Mondale made it a point of honesty in his acceptance speech:

‘Mr. Reagan will raise taxes and so will I. He won’t tell you. I just did.’

When I searched for the exact quote, it turned up articles warning Democrats not to raise taxes. All were written before the boom, bust, and boom of the pandemic.

Income inequality began its rise in the Reagan era, and exploded last year. Since the right no longer has an appealing salesman like Ronald Reagan, that makes it time to:

Biden’s infrastructure bill *should* be enormously popular. We can all cite crumbling infrastructure in our states and communities. In New Orleans, the greatest infrastructure need involves our water system. The vast majority of the pipes are over 100 years old. They burst with alarming regularity, which leads to frequent boil water orders. The city needs federal money to replace the system. It will take many years, but we need to get going as soon as possible.

I, for one, am relieved that Mitch McConnell has declared his entire caucus against the American Jobs Act. That means there will be no bad faith negotiations with Republicans as Leader Schumer plans to use the filibuster proof reconciliation process again. As with the COVID relief plan, I consider McConnell’s move to be cynical: GOPers will pop up to support projects if the bill passes.

It’s up to Democrats to find middle ground between AOC and the Man of La Manchin. It may sound hard but it’s easier than getting libertarian creeps like Aqua Buddha to agree to a spending proposal that’s guaranteed to attack income equality while improving roads, bridges, and the like across the country. It’s ironic that the original proponent of internal improvements, Henry Clay, hailed from Kentucky given the Turtle and Aqua Buddha’s posturing but he was a Whig, they’re Trumpified Republicans.

The Republican attack on the COVID relief plan was muted because they knew their states would benefit. I expect the same dynamic to play out here. Besides, the faux populism of Trump has seeded the ground for more government spending. Infrastructure week may have been a running joke under Trump, but President Biden hopes to make every week infrastructure week.

Willie Stark was famously based on Huey P. Long who was a blowhard with authoritarian tendencies, but he was big on infrastructure before it was called that. He talked a lot of rubbish, but delivered massive projects throughout the Gret Stet of Louisiana.

Joe Biden seems an unlikely heir to Long but the mere fact that he’s regarded as a moderate helped pass the first huge spending bill and will help pass the next spending bill if the Man of La Manchin allows it. He should follow the example of former West Virginia Senators such as Jennings, Byrd, and Rockefeller and take the money and run.

Make it so, Joe, make it so.

Soak the fat boys by passing a wealth surtax and/or corporate tax hikes, then spread it out thin by passing the American Jobs act.

The last word goes to the Steve Miller Band:

 

Finding Light In The Darkness

On the 50th day of his administration, President Biden delivered his first prime time speech and delivered on his promise to sign a COVID relief package into law. Anyone who knows anything about the legislative process, knows that this is a remarkable accomplishment. Complex bills such as this typically take much longer to reach the president’s desk. Kudos to Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer for making this possible.

The speech was a strong one. It was vintage Joe Biden complete with Truman-like plain speaking and soaring Humphrey-esque rhetoric. Unlike Biden, Hubert Humphrey’s timing was off, but he remains the American politician most like President Biden. That’s high praise indeed: HHH was the best president we never had. Joe Biden has a shot to be one of the best. As the man himself would say, “that’s not hyperbole.”

In addition to plugging his achievements, Biden displayed the sort of humility that his predecessor was incapable of. Joe Biden is all about we, former President* Pennywise is all about me.

The President warned us that beating the pandemic won’t be easy but that if we stick together, life will return to something approaching normality by Independence Day. Given the amount of vaccine in the pipeline, I think he’s right.

It’s refreshing to see the return of the can-do attitude that reflects America at its best. Happy Warriors are back in style. Whiny Impeached Insult Comedians are out.

I took the post title from one of the soaring passages of Biden’s speech:

Finding light in the darkness is a very American thing to do. In fact, it may be the most American thing we do, and that’s what we’ve done. We’ve seen frontline and essential workers risking their lives, sometimes losing them, to save and help others. Researchers and scientists racing for a vaccine. And so many of you, as Hemingway wrote, being strong in all the broken places. I know it’s been hard. I truly know.

It’s been one year since an international pandemic was declared. It shouldn’t be odd to have a president who cares if we live or die: Donald Trump did not, Joe Biden does. As the man himself would say, “that’s a big fucking deal.”

Americans are a restless, impatient people. We’ve seen that time and time again in the last year. Patience is called for as we round the homestretch and head towards the finish line. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, let’s not blow it America.

Finally, I’m tired of people damning Joe Biden with faint praise. As I said on inauguration day, this is his time. Who cares if he wasn’t your first choice in 2020? Politics is about helping people, not pleasing the cool kids of the Twitter left. Joe Biden has moved left with his party. Hopefully, we can nudge the nation in the same direction. We’re off to a helluva good start.

The last word goes to George Harrison and Leon Russell with Beware of Darkness:

 

Things Are Looking Up

I made a Magritte joke this morning in my album cover art post. This time it’s a sight gag: the featured image is a Magritte painting called The Therapist, which is, in turn, a joke on the surrealist movement’s passion for psychologically provocative images. And some think Francophones have no sense of humor.

The lockdown phase of the pandemic began a year ago. It’s been tough. We’ve all despaired and been distressed. Things began to improve with the presidential election. There was a major setback with the Dipshit Insurrection, but things got better after the inauguration.

In my last 13th Ward Rambler column for the Bayou Brief I declared February to be the 14th Month Of 2020. That’s NOT how I feel about March 2021. It feels like a new era has begun. In the immortal words of the Brothers Gershwin, Things Are Looking Up.

The first verse of that song says it all:

If I should suddenly start to sing
Or stand on my head or do anything
Don’t think that I’ve lost my senses
It’s just that my happiness finally commences
The long long years of dull despair
Are vanishing into thin air
And it suddenly seems that I’ve
Become the luckiest man alive

Congress is on the verge of passing the most important piece of progressive legislation since the ACA in 2010. I would argue that it’s even more important because it was done without giving an inch to Republican “moderates” who sought to water it down. The MSM is obsessed with that point but they’re wrong. History will see that as a footnote and a minor one indeed. In the immortal words of Joey B. Shark, “This is a big fucking deal.”

I’m hoping that the COVID relief bill is a sign that Democrats have got their mojo back. The dual Reagan landslides in 1980 and 1984 were traumatic. They were really based on Reagan’s persona and extraordinary communication skills, but Democrats care about policy, so they convinced themselves it was about the prose of governing, not the poetry of campaigning. Are we still allowed to quote Mario Cuomo despite his jerk son’s malakatude?

Ronald Reagan was fundamentally a salesman. He gave his party the gift of messaging; something they still excel at, which can’t always be said for Democrats. Our mojo may be back, but our branding remains shaky. Repeat after me: The label on the package is just as important as the contents.

And now for a brief musical interlude:

In other optimistic news, things are looking up on the COVID front. It helps to have an administration that believes in government.  Team Trump dropped the ball on handling the pandemic, but Team Biden has recovered the fumble and done a helluva job at getting the vaccines out there.

The several states are ramping up their vaccination efforts thanks to the administration’s hard work on distributing the vaccine and ensuring adequate supplies. The Merck-Johnson & Johnson agreement is another big fucking deal. It shouldn’t be smercked at…

On the personal front, I got my first haircut in a year last weekend. Not much grows on top but the back gets bushy and curly. Who the hell wants this guy on the back of their head:

I don’t have that shocking contraption on my head. It was the weirdest GIF I could find so I went there. Poor Curly. I bet it was Moe’s fault.

Back to the real world. I’m getting vaccinated at the Morial Convention Center on Saturday. I qualified under the Gret Stet’s phase-2 guidelines since I’m old and overweight. Not long after I made my appointment, the governor loosened the requirements since the vaccine is flowing like wine. I’m not sure what that means, but it’s better than spilling it:

Now that there’s adequate supply, the several states should jab anything that moves. It should be like Word War II era draft boards who inducted anyone that could stand up even if Mr. Potter rejected Slacker George Bailey.

We need to vaccinate 75% of the population before things can get back to Gamalian normalcy. We’re finally on our way but there will likely be speed bumps ahead. Shorter Adrastos: DON’T SPIKE THE BALL.

One more quote from Ira Gershwin:

Bitter was my cup
But no more shall I be the mourner
For I’ve certainly turned the corner
Oh, things are looking up

The last word goes to dueling divas: Billie was a bit subdued whereas Ella was exuberant. I’m somewhere in between.

I Read The Daily News Today, Oh Boy

We move from the elegiac tone of Cassandra’s post to the sarcastic tone of the New York Daily News front page this morning:

The Kaiser of Chaos wrong? Always.

For those who missed President Biden’s moving speech marking this grim milestone, here it is:

Biden is the best mourner-in-chief since Bill Clinton. Nobody does empathy better than Joe Biden. That’s why it’s his time.

The last word goes to The Beatles:

Happiness Is A Thing Called Joe

I was always baffled by articles that claimed that the previous president* was difficult to satirize. Say what? The Impeached Insult Comedian, his corrupt cronies, and awful family were low hanging fruit who often provided their own punch lines. Punditry is much harder when you’re in broad support of an administration. That’s where I find myself right now. To paraphrase the Arlen-Harburg song that gives this post its title, happiness is a thing called Adrastos.

The Biden administration is off to a fast start. With the stroke of a pen, the new president has undone some of the worst things done by his predecessor. That’s the problem with using executive orders, they can be undone rather quickly, which has led conservative pundits to decry Biden’s so-called rule by decree. Funny thing that Trump’s reliance on executive orders never bothered them.

It’s time to praise the new asterisk-free president for dumping so many Trump policies so quickly. Gone are:

  • The Muslim ban.
  • Team Trump’s fuckery with the census.
  • The 1776 commission.
  • The Keystone XL pipeline.
  • The withdrawal from the WHO and Paris climate accord.
  • The ban on transgender folks serving in the military.
  • The ban on funding for international nonprofit groups that perform or promote abortions.
  • The order separating families at the border.

They’re gone, gone away:

The devil is in the details on many of these issues, but the White House has gone from being a nest of intrigue to a beehive of activity. Another day, another mixed metaphor.

Joe Biden has only been president for 15 days, but he’s accomplished a great deal. We now have a national COVID strategy. Imagine that. Team Trump had taken us back to the laissez faire days of Herbert Hoover with its stress on a state and local response to the pandemic. That led to chaos. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos.

The most encouraging signs have been in the president’s dealings with Congress. Many expected him to roll over and seek bipartisanship for its own sake. That was not how I read his stress on unity, which to Senate Republicans means letting them set the agenda with faux compromises.

Biden politely listened to proposals advanced by ten Senate GOPers and just as politely rejected them. This has led to considerable whining on their part about how Biden’s mean old staff won’t let him compromise. Kudos to chief meanie Ron Klain. He was there when Republicans led President Obama down the primrose path of faux compromise before leaving him at the altar with no GOP votes for the ACA. I’m glad they’re not repeating those mistakes.

The media coverage of the budget reconciliation process is driving me crazy. It does not mean that Democrats are going it alone. It means that they’re using reconciliation as a way to avoid a filibuster. Republican senators are free to vote for the COVID relief package, which is popular with voters. If only they would show some gumption and stop marching in lockstep with Mitch McConnell, but we know they won’t. Sycophancy is what they do best.

I’m in broad agreement with the goals of the Biden administration. There will be times when I disagree about means, but they’ve moved quickly to undo the worst excesses of Trumpism. American politics often works in 40-year cycles. Trumpism was the last gasp of Reaganism. The GOP went from a party with an appealing leader selling appalling policies to an appalling leader selling himself as the sole solution to the country’s problems.

It’s Joe Biden’s time to clean up the mess left behind by his predecessor. It won’t be easy but he’s the right man for the job. His age has gone from being a liability to an asset. The older you get the less you care about the conventional wisdom. Joey B. Shark is out of fucks to give and he doesn’t care who knows it.

Happiness truly is a thing called Joe. The last word goes to Ella Fitzgerald:

Jab Jabber

Hands by Max Ernst.

When I say jab, I don’t mean Jabberwocky, Jabba the Hutt, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, or a punch. Jab is what the Brits call a shot in the arm administered by a medical professional. That’s right, this long punny intro leads to a post about our hope to vaccinate our way out of the pandemic.

COVID is the David Bowie of viruses. It keeps morphing and changing like crazy. Scientists are cautiously optimistic that the various vaccines can keep up with the virus, but I have the jab jitters as we move from the Ziggy Stardust phase of the virus to the Thin White Duke phase. The good news is that Bowie lived a long life, the bad news is that we’re stuck by analogy in his most decadent phase: the mid-1970’s.

It’s unclear how well the Bowie analogy holds up but what is clear is that the Trump Regime like its leader was not big on planning. Team Biden is left with a mess that requires their immediate attention. It’s one of many. I think there will be days where President Biden will say to his estimable chief of staff Ron Klain, “Remind me why I wanted this job again.”

The good news is that Joe Biden is not a quitter. In fact, he’s a tougher sumbitch than given credit for.  This toughness is epitomized by a man with a serious stutter going into a line of work that requires public speaking. You can still see him struggle with his stutter then overcome it by force of will. This is not a man easily deterred by setbacks. It’s just what the doctor ordered at the end of the Trump error.

The headline on an article by TPM’s Josh Kovensky says it all: How Trump Left The Country With No Real Vaccine Distribution Plan. Make sure you read the whole damn thing. You’ll alternate between moments of schadenfreude and worry about how we’ll get out of this mess. Mercifully, Team Biden is imbued with the can-do spirit that America was known for before wallowing in white Trumper angst for four years.

Under the previous administration, we were neck deep in shit and sinking fast, but help is not only on the way it’s here.

The last word goes to David Bowie with a song that name checks the Thin White Duke: