Category Archives: Language

Civility Rights

Be polite while we kill you.

Be polite while we erase you.

Be polite while we cage you.

Be polite while we shoot you.

Be polite while we fire you.

Be polite while you’re less than.

Be polite while you’re ground under.

Be polite while you let us walk all over you. Kiss the foot that kicks you. Thank us for our scorn. Be polite. Be polite. Be polite.

Above all, be polite.

Don’t talk about politics. Don’t talk about war. Don’t talk about race. Don’t talk about the inherent inhumanity of ripping children from their mothers’ arms, about drone-bombing villages whose names you don’t even know, about paying someone $8 an hour to scrub toilets and calling it a good job. Don’t talk about local races, national races, international relations, sexual harassment, rape culture, gun control, climate change, factory farms. Don’t talk about where your kids go to school and how they get there and how it gets harder every day to raise them as people with compassion and grace when the voices that are raised up to the halls of power are calling down every day in hatred. Don’t talk about any of that.

Shh. Shut up. Everyone’s looking. Be polite.

Polite protects power. Polite and nice are unquestionably good and good is just as we are meant to be and good needs no defense. There’s no defense for their monstrosity. There’s no defense for the lies they tell and there’s no defense for the truth, either. Someone sent out a memo yesterday, the day before: several thousand poor and starving people are going to walk into your country and take what’s yours so you’d better vote for Republicans, because we’ll build a wall to keep them out.

Several million poor people are living in your country and they’re taking what’s yours so we’ll cut your taxes to stop them.

Just over a million people are living their lives out loud for the first time and it freaks you right out so we’ll write a law to wipe them out of existence.

Oh, you don’t like that? You object? You protest?

We’ll laugh at you, we’ll threaten you, we’ll fight you, we’ll kill you.

You fight back? You speak out? You stand up? How dare you.

Can’t have that. We’ll tell you to be polite. Everyone agrees it’s too loud and mean in here these days. Everyone agrees it’s colder than it used to be out there. Everyone agrees our country is divided. Became divided. The political divide, it deepens every day, because of this incivility.

Power is always civil. Power deserves courtesy, deference, respect. It wears a suit when it puts your daughter in a cage. It wears a uniform when it shoots your son. It’s never messy when it closes down your library; after all, it’s not like power burned those books, right? It has a prepared statement to e-mail to the press, blow-dried shiny hair, a podium to stand behind. It sincerely regrets. It wishes this could have gone another way. It tells you this can’t be helped. It’s so clean.

You’re the messy one. Yelling. Hair all wild, eyes wide, top of your lungs. Who do you think you are? What do you think you’re doing? Who is all of this shouting supposed to convince, anyway? Who is the audience for it? What is the BRAND?

If you really want to make a difference, you should sit on a stage next to the monster, calmly debate him for an audience of journalists and lobbyists and hobbyists at being human. Their opinions REALLY matter. They’re thought leaders leading thoughts. They get their op-eds published, in the name of “free speech.” Your speech should be just as free. You should sit next to the monster in the exact same chair as him, so we can judge his suit against your hoodie with the rude slogan, and find you wanting, if in no other way than appearance.

Don’t like it? Don’t think it’s fair? That’s the way the world works, kiddo. Sarah Huckabee Sanders had a right to that cheese plate. You risk turning everyone against you by standing on the public street.

With your rude T-shirt declaring your rights, human rights.

With your sign.

That says, please don’t kill me.

A.

The Buzz Word Election

Buzz words are nothing new in American politics. They’re as old as the Republic itself. The Jeffersonians called John Adams a royalist tool of the English crown.The Federalists, in turn, called Jefferson a Jacobin tool of the French revolutionary rabble. And on and on and on.

The malevolent spirit of the Insult Comedian looms large over the 2018 campaign. Until recently, GOPers claimed that they’d run a campaign on taxes and the economy, which is straight out of the Reaganite playbook. That barely made a dent in the wall of noise and scandal surrounding the leader of their party. Even the author of the House tax cut, Pete Roskam, who is in a tough race, isn’t talking about it. Why? The majority of the country knows it benefits the 1% and nobody else. Besides, the Obama recovery seems poised to become the Trump recession. Trade wars are not easy to win.

When you’re losing, what do you do? Smear your opponents and resort to scare tactics no matter how preposterous. The Insult Comedian has laid the groundwork for the dumber elements of the Republican base to believe almost anything. That’s where buzz words come in handy. Besides, it’s 2 weeks until Halloween. Tick tock, motherfuckers.

In the Arizona Senate race, decorated veteran Martha McSally is running an aughties throwback campaign against her Democratic opponent Krysten Sinema:

Arizona Republican Martha McSally accused her Democratic opponent Kyrsten Sinema of once advocating for “treason” on Monday, calling out her rival’s old comments during the pair’s sole debate to fill the state’s open Senate seat.

“You said it was okay for Americans to join the Taliban to fight against us,” McSally said, raising her voice and pointing emphatically at Sinema, who stood about 10 feet away, as the debate neared its conclusion, referencing a 2003 radio interview. “I will ask right now whether you’re going to apologize to the veterans and me for saying it is okay — it is treason!”

Is it 2002 again? It sure sounds like it to me.  A reminder that there’s a dark side to the current warm and cuddly image being painted (pun intended, it always is) of George W. Bush. His favorite buzz words were “treason” and “soft on terror.” He learned scare tactics at his father’s knee during the 1988 mudbath. It’s not just Trump, y’all. It’s not just Trump.

McSally has resorted to scare tactics because she’s trailing in the polls. In Texas, Ted Cruz has been pulling ahead of Beto O’Rourke but buzz words are his thing. The two candidates debated last night and the non-asshole from El Paso barely got a word in edgewise as Slate’s Jim Newell pointed out this morning:

But I shouldn’t mock: Cruz is leading O’Rourke consistently by five to ten points in the many, many Texas polls that have come out in recent weeks, indicating that his strategy of casting O’Rourke as a far-left extremist in a center-right state is working. He stuck to it on Tuesday night, suffocating O’Rourke with so many allegations to respond to that he barely had the oxygen to tear Cruz apart.

By his closing statement, Cruz had successfully drawn his lines. If O’Rourke had his way, you wouldn’t be able to open your eyes in Texas without seeing an illegal immigrant having a partial-birth abortion. The economy would be in ruins as Democrats, led by Chairman O’Rourke, seized control to turn the nation into a bankrupt welfare factory—for illegal immigrants. Judges, with alarming word-per-minute speeds, would be typing radical left-wing regulations to ration health care and obliterate business. Border walls would come down, allowing the forces of Juarez to conquer El Paso and march to the east. Police? Forget about ’em. Banned.

“Do we choose fear,” Cruz concluded, “or do we choose hope?”

“I believe in hope.”

Tailgunner Ted’s rhetoric is smarmy, cynical, and self-contradictory. BUT he’s an effective debater and Texans have been programmed to believe this nonsense from birth. If he were so inclined, Beto could cite liberal Texans such as Sam Rayburn and Lyndon Johnson but his campaign seems focused on proving that Beto is cool. Look: he skateboards, was in a rock band, and quotes the Clash. Kewl. I don’t think Hispanic voters give a rat’s ass about how cool Beto is, which is why he’s underperforming in that vital demographic.

Here’s the deal: I like Beto. I think he’s an excellent campaigner but his team has focused on bragging about fundraising, yard signs, crowd sizes, and how cool he is. Repeat after me: yard signs don’t vote.

I think Texas will continue to be a Democratic white whale. I hope I’m wrong, but the election seems to be slipping away from Team Beto. The upcoming Trump-Cruz rally may prove to be the last nail in Beto’s very cool coffin. Texas seems poised to choose the Tailgunner over the Skateboarder.

It’s time for national Democrats to focus on other races including that of the uncool but competent Florida Senator Bill Nelson who is fighting off a challenge from Governor Rat Boy. The  good news is that Andrew Gillum’s bid to succeed Scott is generating buzz and he and Nelson should be able to help one another. Synergy is what a corporate puke would call the combination of the moderate white guy and the progressive black guy.  I call it political magic.

I remain cautiously optimistic about the House. I think that Republican voter fuckery and a decade of egregious Gerrymandering will keep our gains to between 25 and 45 seats. But  righteous indignation among women voters and the many gifted Democratic women running for office could change that. But voters will have to wade through a muck of Republican lies and buzz words. Let’s hope thebuzz words don’t sting too badly.

At the risk of being repetitive, Harold Lloyd in Safety Last gets the last word:

I am guilty of using my last word mantra as a buzz word. I think we need some inspirational music. Ain’t nothing more inspirational than the Boss:

Quote Of The Day: Invective Edition

I rarely quote conservative pundits but I’m making an exception in this case. It comes from a colloquy between NYT columnists Gail Collins and Brett Stephens. The never-Trump conservative turns out to like Beto O’Rourke and despise Ted Cruz:

Because he’s like a serpent covered in Vaseline. Because he treats the American people like two-bit suckers in 10-gallon hats. Because he sucks up to the guy who insulted his wife — by retweet, no less. Because of his phony piety and even phonier principles. Because I see him as the spiritual love child of the 1980s televangelist Jimmy Swaggart and Jack Nicholson’s character in “The Shining.” Because his ethics are purely situational. Because he makes Donald Trump look like a human being by comparison. Because “New York values.” Because his fellow politicians detest him, and that’s just among Republicans. Because he never got over being the smartest kid in eighth grade. Because he’s conniving enough to try to put one over you, but not perceptive enough to realize that you see right through him. Because he’s the type of man who would sell his family into slavery if that’s what it took to get elected. And that he would use said slavery as a sob story to get himself re-elected.

Otherwise, you might say I’m his No. 1 fan.

Tell us how you really feel, Brett.

A serpent covered in Vaseline? I might have to steal that line. I’m also considering stealing the theatrical joke in this tweet:

I’m also terribly fond of Travesties; the Stoppard play wherein Lenin meets Tristan Tzara the daddy of Dada. It contains a line I’ve often swiped over the years: “My art belongs to Dada.”

First Draft Potpourri: Of Quislings & McCarthyites

I haven’t done a potpourri post for quite some time. The events of last weekend were stinky enough to revive this malodorous blogging tradition. The only kind of potpourri I like is the Jeopardy category, which is odorless since William Castle’s Smell-O-Vision process never caught on.

We begin with the artist formerly known as Rudy Noun Verb 9/11 Giuliani whose appearance on Chucklehead Todd’s teevee show created quite a stir.

Truth Isn’t Truth: Rudy Giuliani has turned into a giant gaffe machine. His latest soundbite echoed across the internet yesterday. Josh Marshall was present at the creation and captured the moment in its sublime newspeaky mendacity:

Rudy has tried to clean up his own mess but the original quote has the ring of authenticity. The Trumpers believe that there’s no such thing as objective truth and that they can say or do anything as long as it gets their dear leader out of trouble.

A reminder that the term truthiness was coined by Stephen Colbert during the Bush-Cheney administration. They may have had better manners than the Trumpers but equaled them in mendacity. Remember that the next time a former Bushie compares Trump unfavorably to W.

Let’s close out this segment with a tune posted on Twitter by my main man Monkeyfister:

Deanmania: I’m an unabashed fan of Watergate whistleblower John Dean. I’ve read most of his books and find his comments on current events incisive, insightful and other I-words. Apparently, Michael Cohen’s mouthpiece Lanny Davis is a Dean fan as well:

“I reached out to my old friend John Dean because of what he went through with Watergate, and I saw some parallels to what Michael Cohen is experiencing. I wanted to gain from John’s wisdom,” Davis told POLITICO.

“I certainly don’t want to raise expectations that Mr. Cohen has anything like the level of deep involvement and detailed knowledge that John Dean had in the Nixon White House as a witness to Nixon’s crimes, but I did see some similarities and wanted to learn from what John went through.”

Dean’s role seems to be that of informal adviser/whistleblower whisperer. If anyone can fix the Fixer, it’s Dean who was in a similar fix 45 years ago.

Here’s where McCarthyism fits into our Deanmania narrative, a series of angry tweets from Trumpberius:

Ironies about in the Insult Comedian’s Sunday tirade. First, calling John Dean a rat means the Kaiser of Chaos identifies with Tricky Dick. You know, the guy who resigned the presidency in disgrace 44 years ago. Second, Trump’s self-described mentor was Tailgunner Joe’s right-hand man, Roy Cohn. I’ve already covered that bit of sleazy ground in a 2016 post, Oy, Such A Mentor. The president* is engaging in projection yet again. As I pointed out in a 2018 post, Exhuming McCarthy, Trumpism is the new McCarthyism.

Let’s move on to a segment wherein I don’t link to my old posts but instead urge the revival of  a venerable term for traitor. Here’s a visual cue:

The Quisling Revival: I have watched in awe former CIA Director John Brennan’s attacks on Trump’s role as Putin’s Puppet. Brennan has decided to leave it all on the field in his effort to tell the truth about the First Liar. I have a suggestion for Mr. Brennan of something to call his unworthy adversary: a name that is synonymous with treachery and treason, Quisling who is depicted above side-by-side with his modern counterpart.

Vidkun Quisling was the Norwegian Fascist who sold out his country by facilitating the Nazi invasion in 1940. His reward was to become the Norwegian Fuhrer or so he thought. Instead, this delusional collaboraor became Hitler’s puppet who was expected to follow orders. Sound familiar? Quisling was tried and executed for treason in 1945.

Winston Churchill and the British press used the term Quisling as an epithet during World War II and I think the resistance should do likewise in 2018. Heeeere’s Winston:

A vile race of Quislings? Sounds like your basic Trump apologist to me.

Finally, on a lighter note, Dr. A and I attended a party “celebrating” Sharknado 6: It’s About Time. The party was thrown by our friend Will who has been Sharknado “obsessed” for years. He hosted Sharknado fests at his former business, Pizza Nola, for many years. The last Sharknado waltz took place at the Howlin’ Wolf and featured this cake:

The movie, of course, was dreadful. It was the first time I’d sat through one of these fakakta movies and I only survived by heckling/riffing. I realized that the final Sharknado featured no less than 5 Celebrity Apprentice contestants; proof positive that we’ve died and gone to hell.

The last word goes to (who else?) Tim Finn and Split Enz:

Civility Is Overrated

Anyone with a pulse should recognize that we’re going through another IOKIYAR moment. Republicans and their allies in the MSM as well as some spineless liberal pundits are lecturing us about manners and civility. It’s particularly rich when the party in power is led by the crudest and rudest president* since Andrew Johnson. We’re being told that manners are for Democrats and that it’s RUDER for Sarah Huckabee Sanders to be refused service in an eatery than for the Trump regime to imprison children. Once again: IOKIYAR.

I, for one, refuse to be lectured by the followers of a president* who sucks up to dictators while attacking our friends and allies. The rationale for tariffs against the best neighbor in the world, Canada, is national security. Justin Trudeau is a threat to our national security? Imagine if Barack Obama had insulted Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper in this manner when they were both in office. The outrage on the right would have exceeded Tan Suitgate. Once again: IOKIYAR.

The Insult Comedian’s persistent racism has inspired his supporters to go after religious, ethnic, and racial minorities. It’s become commonplace to hear of insults being thrown at people of color but when Maxine Waters attacks Donald Trump that’s out-of-bounds incivility. Once again: IOKIYAR.

Some intrepid soul on twitter dug up an article detailing how Paul Ryan celebrated a baker who refused to serve Joe Biden during the 2012 election.  The same Paul Ryan is lecturing us about civility. All hail the Miss Manners of Wisconsin. Once again: IOKIYAR.

Then there’s former Nixon and Reagan aide David Gergen who I thought had been put out to pasture long ago,

Since rampant both-siderism has broken out, I have an example from each side back then. On the right, Bull Connor sicced dogs on children protesting for civil rights in Birmingham, Alabama. On the left, a favorite chant of anti-war protesters was: “Hey, hey, LBJ. How many kids did you kill today?”

Sounds like incivility to me, but what do I know? I didn’t write dog-whistle laden speeches for Tricky Dick, which somehow makes Gergen an expert on civility.

I am in favor of civility in the abstract. I used to be able to discuss politics with conservative friends and relations without drawing blood. That started eroding when Bush the younger was president and ground to a full-stop when those folks wouldn’t admit racism was a factor in Obama derangement syndrome on the right.

There’s been plenty of incivility from the right in my lifetime. Those of us who opposed the Iraq War were accused of siding with terrorists and opposing the troops. The same bunch wants us to be civil in the face of children being torn apart from their parents; a policy that even Laura Bush finds rude. As they say across the pond, BOLLOCKS.

The MSM, Republicans, and their fellow travelers among the liberal punditocracy are using the word civility as a wet blanket to smother dissent. Genuine civility is based on mutual respect as opposed to unilateral verbal disarmament.

I think Amanda Marcotte summed it up nicely on the tweeter tube:

Civility is overrated. I’ll take honesty over hypocritical “niceness” any day.

Repeat after me: IOKIYAR.

Malaka Of The Week: Mo Brooks

Since November, 2016, one of the MSM’s favorite words is unprecedented. Everything is unprecedented. It’s hard to argue that a president* making foreign policy pronouncements on twitter while watching Fox News is NOT unprecedented. It is. It is also aberrant and a textbook example of malakatude.

I’m going to do something unprecedented myself: First Draft’s first two-time malaka of the week. In the past, I’ve avoided repeat offenders because there’s enough malakatude to go around without plowing the same furrow again. But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do and that is why Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks is malaka of the week.

Mo Brooks first wore the malakatude crown of shame on June 8, 2014 for some inflammatory and downright idiotic white nationalist rantings. Brooks puts the Mo in Moron. In 2014, Malaka Mo claimed Democrats were waging a “war on whites” because of their uppity president and such.

Since then, Mo finished third in the 2017 GOP Senate primary behind Judge Pervert and Luther Strange. He was only the second craziest candidate in the race. Go figure.

In 2018, we’re getting Mo of the same nonsense as Brooks claims that assassination threats are the reason so many House GOPers are retiring:

“One of the things that’s concerning me is the assassination risk may become a factor,” he said.

Brooks referred to the fact many members of the Republican baseball team are retiring, including Sen. Jeff Flake and Reps. Ryan Costello, Pat Meehan, Dennis Ross and Tom Rooney.

“You have to wonder with that kind of disproportionate retirement number whether what happened in June played a factor,” he said.

So, it’s not scandal or the fact that they’re sure losers in the fall? It’s the Scalise shooting? Does Darrell Issa know about this? Since Mo is running for re-election, I guess that makes him one of the brave ones. Of course, he represents Alabama’s 5th district where white Democrats are rare and you can’t shake a stick without hitting a neo-Klansman. Mo is one brave motherfucker as well as a tribune of malakatude.

My favorite bit of this imbecilic rant is when Mo makes a vague Chinese Cultural Revolution reference without showing any signs that he knows what a Maoist really is:

He also said the “socialist Bernie Sanders wing of society” was pushing for a revolution that would lead to Maoist level of violence.

“There are a growing number of leftists who believe the way to resolve this is not at the ballot box but through threats and sometimes through violence and assassinations,” he said.

Other than social media keyboard warriors, I’m unaware of anyone advocating violent revolution or tooling up to become a 21st Century Gang of Four. The idea of past malaka of the week Jeff Weaver, Nina Turner and cohort donning Mao shirts and waving the little red book at Our Revolution rallies makes me chortle, titter, and even guffaw.

Since Malaka Mo is trotting out the Maoist straw man, it’s time to trot out some good old-fashioned ChiCom rhetoric and call Mo a running dog of the imperialist Trumpist dynasty.

It seems as if Mo is starting a Congressional GOP baseball team conspiracy theory. They’re all retiring because the Mau Mau Maoists are out to get them, which makes this some kind of Obama-Gang of Four conspiracy. Does Alex Jones know about this? He might, however, confuse them with the British rock band of that name. He could always ask his pal Billy Corgan to clarify matters.

It turns out that Malaka Mo is one of the GOP baseball team’s “coaches.” Why does a pickup baseball team need coaches? Is Mo teaching them the spitball? He’s good at scuffing up the truth, after all. Coach Mo conjures up images of Coach, Sam Malone’s lovably dim sidekick/bartender on the early seasons of Cheers. Mo Brooks is his evil twin but every bit as dim. I guess I shouldn’t use the word dim or Malaka Mo will think I’m talking about dim sum, which could make me a Maoist or some such shit. Mmm, dim sum.

Congressman Brooks continues to put the Mo into Moron with his bizarre ideas and convoluted thinking. Republican Congresscritters are retiring because they think they’ll lose their seats and control of the House. Fear of violence is just another lame excuse. And that is why Mo Brooks is malaka of the week.

Unsolicited Tea for the Tillerson

Image by Michael F.

First of all, I know that tea is slang for gossip, I watch, to my everlasting shame, the Real Housewives of Atlanta, after all. I’m seeking to expand the word’s meaning to include advice. Anybody buying that? I just want to fit it into my running Tea for the Tillerson joke.

Second, I’d like to thank my colleague and fellow Gret Steter Michael F for letting me use his image. I’m the world’s worst photoshopper so I gave it up in favor of memes years ago.

Michael and I discussed the irony of having *any* sympathy for the former Exxon-Mobil CEO. It’s the whole “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” thing writ large. I don’t have a lot of sympathy, just enough to fit into an album cover sized teacup.

Here’s my unsolicited advice for Rex: spill all the tea you have on Trumpy and spill it loud, proud, and immediately. You’re richer than God so you don’t have to wait to put it in a book: DO IT NOW. It’s a way to restore your good name post Rexit. Burn it down.

Think about it, Rex: before your trip to Trumplandia, the headline on your obit would have been “Former Exxon-Mobil CEO dies.” Right now it would be “Weak Secretary of State fired by President he called a fucking moron dies.” Is that how you want to be remembered? Another dutiful lamb to the Trump slaughter? The latest dignity wraith humiliated? What more can the fucker do to you? He’s already destroyed your reputation, so it’s time to fight back. Do the Sunday shows and fry the unfit fucker. It’s your patriotic duty, and it would be fun to burn it down. Make Rexit matter.

The last word goes to Los Lobos:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Heart Of Gold

Tree Of Life by Gustav Klimt.

The weather is playing tricks on us. We’re having February weather in March. That’s fine with me. It beats the hell out of an early New Orleans summer. But the cool temperatures have brought the pollen that torments me in the Spring. Achoo.

In local news, the Mississippi River is on the rise, so it’s time to open the Bonnet Carre Spillway to divert river water into Lake Pontchartrain to prevent flooding. It has me pondering the way folks in South Louisiana pronounce French words. We’re usually off but as not badly as with the Spillway: the local media insist on saying Bonny Carry. That sounds like a blue-haired old lady up river in Duluth. It drives me nuts, y’all. I feel like taking a stroll up Charters (Chartres) Street.

This week’s theme songs are inspired by the layers of golden pollen that are everywhere in Uptown New Orleans. Achoo. Neil Young’s Heart Of Gold was the first of many sonic departures he was to take in his career. It worked: it was Neil’s first big solo hit.

Ray Davies has told two stories about the Kinks’ Heart Of Gold. One is that it was inspired by the birth of his daughter. The other story is that it was inspired by Princess Ann telling some photographers to “naff off.” Only Ray knows for sure. If you asked him, I suspect he’d come up with a third story.

I love Ray’s chorus:

Underneath that rude exterior,
There’s got to be a heart of gold.
Underneath that hard exterior,
Is a little girl waiting to be told,
You’ve got a heart of gold.
She’s got a heart of gold.

Let’s take our rude and hard exteriors and jump to the break. “Watch out, don’t get caught in the crossfire.”

Continue reading

That’s Why I Call Him The Kaiser Of Chaos

The word of the week in the MSM was chaos. I’ve been calling Trump the Kaiser of Chaos since last July so I guess I’m ahead of the curve. It’s not much to brag about given how many pundits and news writers are still waiting for the president* to grow in office or pivot. He shows no signs of either and seems to be shrinking the office’s stature, especially in foreign affairs.

Last week, the Kaiser of Chaos declared a trade war on steel producers thinking it was against China when it would impact friendly countries such as Germany and Australia. He also see-sawed between pro-gun control lawmakers and the NRA. It’s classic Trump: he sides with the last person he speaks to and the NRA’s lobbyist was there last. It continues to amaze me that he has an image as a tough guy when he caves at the slightest opposition from his party or the interest groups who finance it. It reminds me of an old baseball aphorism I first learned in Jim Bouton’s Ball Four: He’s has an alligator mouth and a hummingbird ass.

It was also the week that extent of Slumlord Jared Kushner’s corruption went public. Bigly. While I’m not shocked that he’s used his proximity to the president* to save his financial ass, the blatancy of these efforts surprised me. The Javanka-Kelly war was another thing that led the MSM to call chaos on Team Trump. It looks as if the kids may be losing to the asshole Marine general. I think it helps that Kelly is as big of a bigot as the boss. Believe me.

Trump spoke at the Gridiron dinner in Washington last weekend. He trotted out his Insult Comedian persona but stepped on the jokes with lame, incoherent ad-libs. Here’s one about outgoing New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu:

“And I know Mayor Mitch Landrieu feels right at home in Washington coming from Louisiana. I love Louisiana. … Not too bad right? Not bad Mitch! … It’s a beautiful swamp. I like that swamp. … That’s a much more legitimate swamp. But I have to say Mitch, that while you’re here in Washington, only one request. … They already hit him on the statues. I was going to say, ‘Don’t touch our statues.’ But they’ve already hit you three times on the statues. … But Mitch you did a good job tonight and honestly I love the way you finished. … I really did. I thought it was very appropriate. … Thank you.”

A swamp and statue joke from the leading swamp thing in Washington? Draining the swamp seems to be the ultimate lost cause.

A note on my use of the word Kaiser. It started back in the days of my eponymous blog. Then New Orleans Mayor C Ray Nagin had just appointed a windbag named Ed Blakely as recovery director. The local press insisted on calling him the Katrina Tsar. I offered Katrina Kaiser as a more alliterative alternative but it never caught on. That’s when my war on the word Tsar began It’s been a losing battle but I’ve enjoyed pointing out that Tsar and Kaiser are both rooted in Caesar. And both the last Tsar and Kaiser were world-class incompetents and losers. One of them, however, survived to a cranky old age in the Netherlands. I wonder if the Kaiser of Chaos has a golf course there?

Finally, I had some fun with the featured image. On one side, the Kaiser of Chaos with a dead nutria pelt atop his head. On the other side, Kaiser Wilhelm II with a pickelhaube atop his head and a dead animal pelt serving as a furry sash of sorts. Kaisers are kooky in a way that Tsars never are.

Words Matter

The word treason is being thrown around rather freely of late. It is a very specific crime. In fact, it is the only crime that is defined in the Constitution:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

An additional definition is offered in the constitutional dictionary:

treason n the offense of attempting to overthrow the government of one’s country or of assisting its enemies in war.

At the risk of sounding pedantic, Team Trump has skirted around the edges of treasonous behavior but has not committed the offense itself. We’re not at war with Russia and while conspiring with them to alter election results is an extremely serious crime, it’s not treason. There are other laws on the books and they’ve broken many of them. For one thing, the entire administration is a rolling (reeling?) RICO violation. And RICO is some serious shit.

Why does this matter? Words matter, that’s why. Words are the weapon of choice in a democracy. In fighting a corrupt, mendacious, and authoritarian government, it’s tempting to fight fire with fire. But the reality of what the Trumpers have done is so bad (to use the Insult Comedian’s favorite word) that hyperbole is unnecessary. Words matter.

I firmly believe that you fight lies with the truth, not exaggeration or hyperbole.  The facts are damning enough, gilding the Trumper lily to heighten drama is tempting but gets in the way of exposing their manifest and manifold malefactions. The truth is dramatic enough and will send many of this president’s* men to prison. Truth trumped (pun intended, it always is) Nixon’s lies and it will eventually take Trump down. Words matter.

The most important word in the political lexicon right now is ELECTIONS. One thing that politicians understand is the power of the ballot box. It’s why GOPers have worked so hard to make it difficult to vote. They only want the *right* people to vote. That’s why the resistance’s focus should be on registering voters and getting them to the polls. That’s how you send politicians a message, by voting them out.

Words matter. Use them wisely and well.

I’m old enough to remember when conservative Republicans stood with Eastern European dissidents against totalitarian communism. Now they stand with a former KGB agent whose goal in life is to avenge the “humiliation” of the Soviet Union. That’s why the last word goes to the late Vaclav Havel who knew something about defeating the big lie with truth.

 

Hush Money

I’ve never seen the movie depicted above. I assume that it’s about blackmail. The phrase hush money is a venerable one, dating as far back as 1709. And no I was not the original coiner…

The first time I heard the term was after transcripts of the expletive deleted  Watergate tapes were released. Tricky Dick’s potty mouth was one reason his popularity plummeted.

I’ve had hush money on my mind ever since the Stormy Daniels story came out of the cake. I remain gobsmacked that this story hasn’t had silk stockinged legs. It’s got it all: sex, lies, and pay-offs. The problem is that there are so many scandals that the MSM is less interested in pursuing this president’s* tiny penis. After all, he’s got a big mouth that keeps saying stupid shit. So much so that the Guardian’s Steve Bell depicts him thusly:

That’s right, Trump the Talking Terlet. Btw, Bell depicted former British PM John Major as wearing his underpants on top of his trousers and David Cameron as encased in a condom. Good times.

Back to the Insult Comedian. His big bazoo is the gift that keeps on giving, which is why I’ve come to the conclusion that the person who should be paid hush money is the president* himself. This is the guy who told Lester Holt why he *really* shitcanned Comey and volunteered to testify under oath. Dumbass. You’re the president*, not just a sleazy real estate developer: your words matter, dipshit. That’s the problem with being a serial prevaricator. It’s hard to keep the lies straight.

I have some unsolicited advice for Ty Cobb and John Dowd. The only way to shut your client up is to bribe him. He loves taking bribes; in fact, he lives to take them. He’s the grifter-in-chief, after all. Sure, the hush money will only work for a while but a few moments of Trumpian silence could be golden. Believe me.

Shithead Says Shithole

Today on President’s* say the darndest things:

President Donald Trump on Thursday asked lawmakers why the United States allows people to immigrate “from shithole countries” like Haiti and African countries, the Washington Post reported.

The Washington Post reported, citing two unnamed sources briefed on Trump’s meeting with lawmakers, that Trump asked, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

According to the report, Trump made the remark in reference to Haiti and African countries, and then suggested the United States should allow more immigrants from countries like Norway instead. Trump met with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg on Wednesday.

The MSM is having the vapors right now over having to say shithole. That’s half the fun of this latest flow of rascist diarrhea from the Insult Comedian. We already knew that he hates people of color and thinks African is full of cannibals like in cheesy old B-movies. All in all it’s just another brick in the wall.

Past potty-mouthed presidents had the good sense not to curse in big meetings, and their staffs were loyal and did not leak stories wherein presidents used what the failing NYT would call “off-color language.” We didn’t know what a foul mouth Tricky Dick had until the White House Tapes were full of expletives deleted to my unexpurgated delight. Truman and LBJ were known to swear like sailors too. It’s not the language, it’s the unvarnished bigotry.

As to the Norwegian  comments.  (ICYMI, I’m half-Norwegian: my darling mother was one of them very white white people.) Has Trump ever had Norwegian food? Lutefisk and Pickled Herring should be banned from the country. Ack. Barf.

I think it’s time to have a cuisine test: only immigrants from countries with good food can be admitted. It’s one way to keep Nigel Farage from immigrating.

It’s just another day in Trumpworld where Shitheads say shit like shithole everyday.

Button Button Who’s Got The Button?

I was buttonholed by some friends yesterday. They asked me who’s got the nuclear button and instead of telling them to button their lips I decided to be forthright. In a word, nobody:

The image of a leader with a finger on a button — a trigger capable of launching a world-ending strike — has for decades symbolized the speed with which a nuclear weapon could be launched, and the unchecked power of the person doing the pushing.

There is only one problem: There is no button.

William Safire, the former New York Times columnist and presidential speechwriter, tracked the origin of the phrase “finger on the button” to panic buttons found in World War II-era bombers. A pilot could ring a bell to signal that other crew members should jump from the plane because it had been damaged extensively. But the buttons were often triggered prematurely or unnecessarily by jittery pilots.

The expression is commonly used to mean “ready to launch an atomic war,” but the writer added in “Safire’s Political Dictionary” that it is also a “scare phrase used in attacking candidates” during presidential elections.

Donald Trump has reason to be jittery. The Mueller Probe is closing in, his first year in office has been characterized by record unpopularity, which is why he decided to whip out his tiny member and engage in a bit of dick waving with the North Korean kid with the bad haircut. Bad hair is something these two bozos have in common.

Once upon a time in America, loose talk about nukes was enough to cost one a presidential election. Ask Barry Goldwater; of course, you’d have to dig him up. Never mind.

George Wallace made the  mistake of putting retired Air Force chief of staff Curtis LeMay on the ticket in 1968. LeMay was so prone to loose nuke talk that the character of General Buck Turgidson in Dr. Strangelove was based on him. Here’s one of LeMay’s greatest hits:

I think there are many times when it would be most efficient to use nuclear weapons. However, the public opinion in this country and throughout the world throw up their hands in horror when you mention nuclear weapons, just because of the propaganda that’s been fed to them.

LeMay actually believed his own rhetoric. Trump just does it to distract attention from the Kremlingate scandal.

Speaking of bad hair, there’s a hair-raising hair joke told by George C. Scott in Dr. Strangelove:

I’d like to close with some unsolicited advice for Trumpy: button your lip about the nuclear button.

Fake News Happens Because of YOU, Kids!

Learn to diagram sentences properly because SLJKFL’SKJDFDL;KFSJARGLEBLARGE: 

The ancestral lineage of fake news is easy to trace. It winds back through the birther movement and Benghazi, as a tool for weakening political opponents. It filtered through Sarah Palin, who never said she could see Russia from her house, and Al Gore, who never said he invented the internet — myths that hardened into seeming truths due to repeated retelling. It has silly origins, as networks begged us to believe that reality TV was real. It had sinister origins, as W. begged us to believe that weapons of mass destruction existed in Iraq.

Okay, so at least we’re admitting this predates Trump and Russia, and that someone profits from political division. Don’t love the “both sides” business, but Sarah did get a raw deal on that one considering how much stupid shit she ACTUALLY said.

We are at this point in the column the optimist who jumped off a building. So far, so good.

Yet the origin of fake news, as it applies to modern times, is not important. What’s important is the acceptance of fake news. How did we go from a nation of skeptics to a nation of carp, blindly slurping up every bit of rot that wafted to the bottom of the lagoon?

There might be no better place to start searching for answers than in the English classrooms of our public schools, which in the latter half of the 20th century bought into the idea of descriptive linguistics, or the notion that rules were overrated.

There’s the crash.

Let’s not talk about Rupert Murdoch’s money or the benefits to the wealthy that result. Let’s talk about what public school kids learn in English class!

Language evolves, the thinking went, so instead of fighting it, why not roll with it?

This gave teachers permission, of sorts, to avoid the hard work of beating proper English into the skulls of balky kids.

Diagramming sentences became passé, and the finer points of the language were lost as students were basically allowed to make it up as they went along.

I’m … not sure you can go from the passing of the diagrammed sentence in public school to W’s weapons of mass destruction bullshit, given that W and almost every TV personality who reported on him in any significant way was a private school kid.

In some ways I understand where this dude is going but knowledge of dangling modifiers and incorrectly placed prepositions can’t replace a finely tuned bullshit detector.

Yet in English classes, the resulting lack of intellectual discipline and critical thinking has startling similarities to the sloppy thought that has elevated fake news from a strategic political endeavor to a big-box store of wholesale lunacy. “Efforting” might not be a real word, but it doesn’t matter because everyone will know what it means; Hillary might not have actually had a disloyal campaign aide killed, but it doesn’t matter because everyone knows that’s the way the Clintons operate.

Oh for God’s sake. These aren’t abstractions. People don’t believe “fake news” because language is evolving. They believe “fake news” because regressive segregationist propaganda tools harnessed the recognizable language and conventions of objective journalism in order to turn the electorate against Democrats and moderate Republicans, whip up fears about black crime and immigration, and aim reasonable concerns about violence — that would otherwise be directed at the NRA — at the owner of your neighborhood falafel stand.

The real mystery isn’t why people believe fake news. It’s why we reserve our greatest contempt for the buyers of bullshit and not the sellers. Your dumb second cousin Pete thinks Hillary invented AIDS and that’s not okay for Pete, but when we’re done critiquing Pete’s grammar can we maybe talk about who got paid to make Pete believe what he believes?

Those English teachers who come under so much criticism here? They’re teaching to GOP-mandated tests and filling out assessment forms while their budgets are being slashed and they’re buying their own paper and fundraising for chairs and the next town over just shot down a tax increase of half a percent to pay for heating the building because a charter-funded ad campaign told them teaching kids to read shouldn’t cost more than a large Diet Coke at McDonald’s.

Why don’t you diagram that.

Via Forward Falcon.

A.

Seven Dirty Words, 2017

George Carlin has ascended to satire heaven (he may have opted for hell because “heaven is a place where nothing ever happens”) but his spirit lives on in 2017; inadvertently at least. You may recall Carlin’s classic routine Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television. I’ll put the video up at the end of the post, but here’s the list:

  • Shit
  • Piss
  • Fuck
  • Cunt
  • Cocksucker
  • Motherfucker
  • Tits

Always eager to assist the world of satire, the Trump administration has come up with a list of Seven Words The CDC Can Never Say. That’s Centers for Disease Control, which makes this some serious shit. Here’s the list memed:

It’s a list could only offend a Republican anti-science warrior. You know, the kind of stupid motherfucker who waves a fetus doll around outside Planned Parenthood. These cocksuckers (said in the Deadwood sense of the word) deserve to have the fucking shit kicked out of them until they piss their pants.

I am grateful to whoever at the CDC leaked a list so stupid that it could have been devised by Donald Trump Jr. No cookie for you or your shithead friend Tailgunner Ted, asswipe:

I will endeavour (not in the Baby Morse sense of the word) to write a sentence about that image using the words the CDC is supposed to ban:

I wonder if there’s science-based or evidence-based proof that Junior was dropped on his head by a transgender nanny before or after he was a fetus; if so, it could explain his entitlement and hatred of diversity and vulnerable populations.

Whatever you do, please do not diagram that sentence; even Faulkner would think I was a long-winded motherfucker, scare the piss out of me, and insert a copy of the Carlin list where the moon don’t shine. I live in fear of paper cuts, y’all.

Back to the Seven Words The CDC Can Never Say. There has been major push back from the medical and scientific community. The CDC director even took to the Insult Comedian’s favorite medium:

It’s a pity that she didn’t tweet this out instead:

Jesus tits. What stupid cunt came up with the seven dirty words, 2017 list? They’re moronic motherfuckers and shit-eating, piss-drinking cocksuckers. They can fuck off.

I didn’t count the characters but I think it’s under 280. Who fucking cares? All I care about is the English language and the ability of medical professionals to do their jobs without being censored by the anti-science warriors of the GOP. They should piss off and return to fighting the war against Christmas.

As promised, George Carlin gets the last word with a 1978 variation on the Seven Dirty Words theme:

Fuckin’ A.

Melancholia

I woke up feeling sad this morning. We’ve had a cold snap and along with a 40 degree temperature drop-off in a 24 hour period, it’s been gloomy and rainy. It was pitch black when I first stirred and the space heater was purring in the bedroom. I didn’t feel like getting out of bed but I did albeit slowly and hesitantly.

The word depressed is over used in the 21st Century. I’m not depressed: I’m melancholy, which is a word that needs reviving. It’s on my list, just like a kiss is on Daryl Hall’s list. I have not, however, seen the Lars von Trier film of that name. Not sure that I want to trier out at this point in time…

In addition to nothing but gray skies (to paraphrase Irving Berlin) another reason for my melancholia is the departure from the arena of John Conyers and Al Franken. I understand that the venerable Civil Rights icon had to go but I’m still sad about it. Social media is full of people who know nothing about Conyers and his lifetime of achievement in and out of Congress. In fact, one person I follow on twitter blasted Conyers and in her next missive celebrated Rosa Parks. Rosa Parks was a member of John Conyers’ staff from 1964 to 1988. Conyers, like most of us, is complicated and his life should be placed in context. Some nuance is required.

I’m also sad that Al Franken has announced his plans to resign his Senate seat “in the coming weeks.” He’s made me laugh for many years and has been a good and thoughtful Senator. Once some thirty of his Democratic colleagues called for his resignation, it was time for him to go. But I’m still sad about it because his offenses are loutish at worst, and not comparable to the Weinsteins, Trumps, and Moores of the world. A slap on the butt is not the same thing as dating underage girls. Some nuance is required.

We need to devise a spectrum of misbehavior when dealing with our allies in particular. There are obviously things that require banishment and others admonishment. I’m not sure how to come up with such a spectrum but we need to differentiate the clumsy pass from sexual assault and worse. The latter term is maddeningly vague: simple assault is any unwanted touching by another person. It’s being used as an all-encompassing term when some specificity and nuance is required.

I hope that Senate Democrats are acting strategically, not tactically. But they have a long track record of focusing on short-term goals instead of the big picture. Like Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick, I’m concerned about the effects of unilateral disarmament:

Who knows why the GOP has lost its last ethical moorings? But this is a perfectly transactional moment in governance, and what we get in exchange for being good and moral right now is nothing. I’m not saying we should hit pause on #MeToo, or direct any less fury at sexual predators in their every manifestation. But we should understand that while we know that our good faith and reasonableness are virtues, we currently live in a world where it’s also a handicap.

Unilateral disarmament is tantamount to arming the other side. That may be a trade worth making in some cases. But it’s worth at least acknowledging that this is the current calculus. It’s no longer that when they go low, we get to go high. They are  permanently living underground. How long can we afford to keep living in the clouds?

I’ve been reluctant to weigh in on this topic because I’m a middle-aged white dude whose ethnic culture is a touchy-feely one. Once again, I believe some nuance is required whereas the public discussion has been all black and white without much attention to the gray areas. We have to figure it out before it comes back to bite us in the ass. If we’re going to discard valued allies there had better be a damn good reason for it, especially when Donald Trump remains in office.

All of this is reason for melancholia. And the sun is still obscured by clouds. The last word goes to  a sad song from The Band songbook complete with the appropriate line “and the sun don’t shine any more…”

 

Judge Pervert’s Ten Commandments Of Love

Athenae wrote a brilliant piece yesterday about the moral, ethical, and personal aspects of the latest Roy Moore scandal. She nailed it completely so I’m going to focus on the political, legal, and semantic aspects of this shitstorm.

I’m going to try something different and do it in a way the defrocked (derobed?) judge might appreciate if it weren’t aimed at him. Moore came to national attention by placing the Ten Commandments monument seen above at the Alabama Supreme Court. He’s obsessed with the Ten Commandments even if he violates many of them, so I came up with Judge Pervert’s Ten Commandments of Love. I know I should put quotes around the word love but I don’t want to come off all air quotey like an Alabama sorority girl: they’re too old for Ole Roy, after all. Besides, love has nothing to do with Roy Moore aka Judge Pervert.

FIRST COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt vote for Doug Jones.

The easiest way to keep Judge Pervert out of the Senate is for Alabamians to vote for his Democratic opponent. Jones is a distinguished lawyer and seems to be squeaky clean. Judge Pervert is neither. Unfortunately, many white Alabamians think voting for a Democrat is akin to supporting a member of the Satanic-Communist party.

Suburban voters should think twice before sending this embarrassment on two legs to represent them in the Senate. It’s a special election: the seat is up again in 2020.

Moore is still the favorite as of now but Doug Jones has a fighting chance,

The next commandment is directed at Senate Republicans if the pervert wins.

SECOND COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt not let Judge Pervert keep his seat.

Seating a Senator is a pro forma act and a past supreme court case involving Adam Clayton Powell established that Congress must seat even corrupt members. BUT there is no provision or precedent barring the Senate from expelling an odious solon. I direct you to an excellent op-ed in the failing NYT by a law professor at the University of Alabama.

Senate Democrats should do whatever they can to force a vote on expelling Judge Pervert. It would likely lose BUT it puts GOPers on the record on the Moore issue. Imagine the attack ads: “They voted to seat a pervert. Whatever happened to the party of family values?” Politically, it’s a win-win situation.

THIRD COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt remember that Roy Moore was unfit for office *before* the WaPo sexpose.

Roy Moore is a judge who was defrocked for defying SCOTUS. He led an effort to preserve a pro-school segregation clause in the Alabama state constitution. Moore’s rap sheet on important issues is so extensive that I’m not going into details. Suffice it to say that he’s to the right of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions. He’s an extremist, not a conservative.

FOURTH COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt remember that Alabama is a corrupt, one party state.

Alabama Republicans are divided on Roy Moore who is financially, as well as morally, corrupt. The peckerwoods and wool hats are supporting their fellow asshole extremist. Business GOPers are queasy over his candidacy but they supported Luther Strange who was up to his eyeballs in the weird sex scandal involving former Governor Bob Bentley. One party states breed corruption and produce unfit politicians.

FIFTH COMMANDMENT:  Thou shalt honor and believe the victims of perverts, rapists, and sexual harassers.

Our society is programmed to look away from allegations of gross sexual misconduct, especially when the accused is an authority figure. Clarence Thomas is a Supreme despite Anita Hill’s compelling testimony against him. BUT the timing for Roy Moore couldn’t be worse. It comes on the heels of the exposure of so many powerful men as pervy assholes. It will be interesting to see if Moore survives it like Trump or is somehow recast like Kevin Spacey. I doubt if Christopher Plummer would be willing to play Judge Pervert.

I originally planned to go all Slate contrarian on the use of the term pedophile to describe Roy Moore. The word’s clinical definition involves an attraction to pre-pubescent children, which is not Roy Moore’s thing. BUT the correct clinical term for an attraction to mid to late adolescents is ephebophilia. It’s a mouthful and on the unpronounceable side, so I’m not going to be a semantic pedant in this instance. The word pedophile is clear and pronounceable so have at it. Judge Pervert deserves no mercy, semantic or otherwise.

SIXTH COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt be prepared for more shoes to drop.

A former colleague of Judge Pervert had this to say yesterday on CNN:

“It was common knowledge that Roy dated high school girls, everyone we knew thought it was weird,” former deputy district attorney Teresa Jones told CNN in comments aired Saturday. “We wondered why someone his age would hang out at high school football games and the mall … but you really wouldn’t say anything to someone like that.”

Holy Ephebophilia, Batman.

SEVENTH COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt remember that the publicly pious tend to be hypocrites.

Judge Pervert is the biblebanger’s biblebanger. He’s forever moralizing and sermonizing. Never trust a sanctimonious evangelical. They all have dark secrets and plans for their public redemption. Biblethumpers are big on forgiving those who agree with them. They love repentant sinners as long as they’re against abortion and gay marriage.

EIGHTH COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt heed the words of Doctor/Governor Dean:

Praise be unto the former party chairman who tweeteth the truth. Moore is already running against the Bezos/Amazon/Washington Post.

Hell, they’d think people from New Orleans were carpetbaggers let alone people from the North. They need scalawags who speak their own language, y’all.

NINTH COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt separate Sean Hannity from his advertisers.

Judge Pervert turned to the Fox News meathead in his time of woe. Hannity seems to have coached him to say the expedient thing and deny that he was interested in  teenyboppers. This has increased the pressure on Hannity’s advertisers. It’s fun to watch the Fox News meathead squirm. Squirm, Sean, squirm.

TENTH COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt give the last word to the pop song that inspired the post title.

There are some swell versions out there. Here are three of them. I suspect Roy Moore thinks this song is blasphemous. Fuck you, Roy.

 

 

Flaking Out

I briefly considered calling this post Republicans in Disarray. It has the virtue of counter punching against years of Democrats in Disarray type headlines. It’s also true. Then I came to my senses, stuck to my punny guns, and went with Flaking Out, which has the virtue of sounding like the Bravo  reality teevee show, Flipping Out,  featuring the antics of another Jeff, designer/house flipper Jeff Lewis.  Of course, flipping out is what Donald Trump does whereas the junior senator from Arizona just flaked out on the people he should be leading into battle: Republicans who still have a semblance of common decency.

When historians ponder why members of his own party let the Insult Comedian get away with his shit, they’ll also wonder why his most prominent senatorial critics have punworthy names: Corker and Flake. I know I’m pondering it while trying not to be a ponderous pundit.

I’m somewhere in the middle on the Jeff Flake/Bob Corker question. Unlike some in the MSM, I don’t view either as “heroes” for standing up to a president* of their own party. I’m also not as hard on them as my publisher and others on the left, notably Rude Pundit and Charlie Pierce. I think it’s important for GOPers to call Trump on his shit regardless of their voting records. Remember: Trump does not care about substance so attacks on his  persona and style, or lack thereof, are infinitely more wounding that attacking his shifting views on taxes, health care, and Bob Corker’s height or lack thereof.

Flake’s speech to the senate was excellent but it would have been more effective if he planned to run for re-election, especially as an independent. His colleague Lisa Murkowski did so after losing in the primary to a teabagger in 2010. The Alaska Senator isn’t as eloquent as Flake but she was rewarded for her stand against extremists in her own party. Grit and determination matter. Jeff Flake lacked those qualities in handing a temporary victory to Trump and Bannon.

In fairness, Flake looks like a gone pecan right now BUT there’s over a year to the 2018 general election and an anti-Trump conservative might look appealing to Arizona voters by then. If standing against Trumpism and white nationalism is as important to Flake as he says it is, he should be willing to stand for re-election against long odds. Now that’s heroic.

One significant difference between Flake and Corker is to the former’s credit. Flake refused to endorse Trump in 2016 whereas Corker drank the orange Kool-Aid and campaigned with the Insult Comedian. It’s one reason I’m more critical of the Tennessean than the Arizonan. I do, however, believe that converts to the anti-Trump cause should be welcomed. We need all the help we can get in alerting people to the perils of having a deranged president* with his  tiny finger on the nuclear trigger.

The reason for my relative indulgence of dissident Republican is rooted in my formative political experience: Watergate. I know what you’re thinking, there he goes again. The reason Nixon was driven from office is that elected officials in his party turned against him. It was a slow process but it was devastating as the Republican dominoes tumbled; culminating in the Senate and House GOP leaders, Hugh Scott and John Rhodes, and 1964 nominee Barry Goldwater telling Tricky the jig was up in August, 1974. The latter two were Arizonans who showed courage in bucking a president who they owed politically. It should be easier to break with Trump but at this point in time Jeff Flake, who still opposes impeachment, is showing more profile than courage. He still has more balls than Trump’s chief enabler Speaker Ryan.

Unless more Congressional GOPers grow a pair, it will take a Democratic takeover of the House for an impeachment process to commence as I believe it should. Even if they lose their majority, Senate Republicans will be crucial to removing a corrupt, stupid, and deranged president* from office. The reason Bill Clinton survived impeachment is that he held Democrats whereas Nixon’s GOP support melted like an ice-cube in the Louisiana summer.

That’s why I look at the big picture and believe in encouraging Republican office holders when they break with Trump. The stakes are high: Trump shows signs of bumbling into war with both Iran and North Korea. The latter would be a catastrophe for our friends in the Republic of Korea and Japan. And war in the Middle East is folly as we’ve learned to our eternal regret.

Stop the madness.

The Art Of The Schlemiel

Remember Donald Trump campaigning as the greatest deal maker in human history? Gullible GOPers and Feral Trumpers alike thought that he’d drive a hard bargain. Once again, they were wrong. The Insult Comedian took the first deal offered to him by Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. There was no back-and-forth, no negotiations whatsoever. He didn’t even haggle or allow his Congressional “allies” to have any input. There’s no doubt that the inexperienced Trump was played by the wily Pelosi and the underestimated Schumer. The question is why and as always in Washington there are competing stories.

The Trump administration put its mendacious spin machine into high gear after the meeting. They told Timespeeps Haberman and Thrush that it was a pre-planned stratagem. To say that I’m skeptical is an understatement. Trump’s entire life has been a series of improvisations. One would think that a reporter with a birdie name name would understand that Trump was winging it. In addition to his giant ego, Trump is all id. In fact, he puts the id in idiot.

Josh Marshall wonders if was all about revenge and proving his dominance over Chinless Mitch and the Zombie Eyed Granny Starver:

But the political or ideological manifestations are secondary to the personal one. Trump needs to dominate people. Clearly Trump felt that McConnell and Ryan are not serving him well enough or loyally enough or both. So he lashed out or tried to damage them.

<SNIP>

It’s not clear to me whether Trump doesn’t realize that he hurt himself as much as he did Ryan and McConnell or whether he does realize it and simply doesn’t care. The core take remains the same. Trump’s core personal drive is the need to dominate. It’s been clear for weeks that he feels routinely betrayed by these two men. They don’t produce for him. They embarrass. They fail to defend him. The need to dominate runs deeper than any policy agenda or ideological ambition. People who are driven by the need to dominate are also often self-destructive. None of this is surprising.

I think Josh is on to something but there’s a simpler explanation for Trump’s bridge burning with Republicans and movement conservative types. Underneath the bluster, he knows he’s in over his head and going down because of Russia scandal. He’s grasping at any short-term advantage he can think of. Tormenting McConnell and Ryan is merely a bully bonus. If he’s going to be a loser, he wants to take the rest of them down with him. Just call him the Arsonist In Chief.

Another possible explanation is even simpler. That he *is* a schlemiel: a stupid, awkward, or unlucky person. He’s a bungler who thinks he’s a master of the universe. The only thing Trump has mastered in his time as president* is the art of the schlemiel.

Lost Causers Fester In Charlottesville

I’ve spent a lot of time in Charlottesville over the years. It’s a lovely college town with a population of 45K when the University of Virginia isn’t in session. Dr. A spent her formative years in Staunton 45 miles away, and studied and worked in Charlottesville. We know and love the place. We still have friends there including Parenthetical who wrote a guest post about the May warmup demonstration aka the Klanbake.

Charlottesville is not your typical “moonlight and magnolias” Southern college town. UVA alums think of their school as a Southern outpost of the Ivy League and the town is full of preppies, not bubbas. But just like ANYWHERE in America, there are bigots, xenophobes, and racists nearby. Never forget that one of the ugliest fights over school desegregation took place in liberal Boston. And the president* who gave a green light to the self-styled alt-right is from liberal New York. It may be trite to say it but racism and bigotry are an American, not Southern, problem. It’s everywhere.

About the post title. I’ve mostly used the labels Lost Causers and Lost Cause Fest to describe the anti-monument removal protesters in New Orleans. Since Richard Spencer is not tied to my city (David Dukkke must be slipping), we saw less neo-Nazi shit here but who are bigger losers in history than the Nazis? The Lost Cause label fits them and will remain affixed to their odious cause here at First Draft.

I’m a writer so words mean a great deal to me. I remain conflicted as to what exactly to call the self-styled alt right. I lean in the direct of calling them white nationalists as a way of linking them to the right-wing nationalist movements in Europe. I tend to prefer the label neo-Nazis to just plain Nazis because the latter word is tied to a specific time, place, and people. I am not, however, going to quibble over those terms: a Fascist is a Fascist is a Fascist.

It’s obvious that the right-wing extremist groups who gathered in Charlottesville hope to replicate the Nazi vs. Communist street thuggery that preceded the Nazi takeover of Germany. The anti-fa folks are playing into their hands but it’s hard to argue with someone who defends themselves. Tension in Charlottesville was exacerbated by Virginia’s status as an open carry state. While I think that’s madness, there is a way to reduce the level of thuggery at future demonstrations in open carry states. Many of the neo-Nazi, unmasked Klan types were carrying riot shields, helmets, and billy clubs or baseball bats. Those items can be proscribed in the permitting process thereby allowing the cops to remove a person possessing them from the scene of the future crime. Legislative action would be better but I’m not holding my breath.

I was at a birthday party for a good friend on Saturday night. There was much talk about Charlottesville and the Insult Comedian’s non-statement about the neo-Nazi riot. As Athenae pointed out yesterday, there aren’t MANY SIDES to this issue. It’s a choice between fundamental human decency and hate. I’d like to focus on another side of Trump’s poorly delivered and half-assed remarks:

My administration is restoring the sacred bonds of loyalty between this nation and its citizens, but our citizens must also restore the bonds of trust and loyalty between one another. We must love each other, respect each other, and cherish our history and our future together. So important. We have to respect each other. Ideally, we have to love each other.

On the surface this sound okay because he talks about love, trust, and loyalty. The key phrase is in bold face: this is whoever wrote the remarks (my money is on Miller) way of signalling to the Lost Causers that Trump is on their side. This march was allegedly about keeping a monument to Robert E. Lee and cherishing history as seen by Richard Spencer and erstwhile Gret Stet Fuhrer David Dukkke. It’s certainly how they understood his remarks as historian Rick Perlstein pointed out on his Facebook feed:

I let Rick read the Daily Stormer so we didn’t have to.

It’s telling that a president* who is willing to attack gold star families, disabled reporters, Kim Jong-un, and Chinless Mitch by name is unwilling to call out neo-Nazis and Lost Cause racists. Why? They’re part of his base. Even if Trump is forced into naming names, it will be grudging, half-hearted, and meaningless. We know where he stands. He’s one of them.

It’s time for some comic relief. One of the twitter feeds I’ve been enjoying of late is Yes, You’re Racist. This particular exchange made me laugh on a rather grim weekend:

The picture of that slack-jawed preppie moron led to this bon mot by one of my favorite people on the tweeter tube, me:

Mosley was, of course, the leader of the pre-World War II British Union of Fascists. I half way expected to see the banner of his party waved in Charlottesville last weekend:

If you see the flag at future Lost Cause Fest events, you know what it is.

The best thing I’ve read about the events in Charlottesville came from Slate’s Dahlia Lithiwck who lives there. Here’s how she finished her piece:

The Nazis may come to town, terrorize and threaten people with guns, even brutally murder a young woman. This president may fail to condemn it. But all right-thinking Americans will recoil in horror. And white supremacists will be replaced. There is no room for them here. On Saturday they were relegated to parking at the shopping mall and walking miles in the hot sun, in their sad supervillain Comic-Con outfits. Today they are already slinking back to their own homes, where they are also being replaced, by history, by moral justice, and by our children, who are growing up exactly where they belong, at home, irreplaceable, sacred, and, especially today, brave.

I should give Dahlia the last word but I want to circle back to the featured image of Captain American punching Hitler. I am not an advocate of violence but Nazi punching strikes me (pun intended, it always is) as the least bad and most understandable form of violence. People who attend a rally packing heat below their absurd tiki torches deserve mockery and the odd punch. I’ll stick to the former but I’m beyond sermonizing about the latter.

The last word is part of my continuing effort to prove that there’s a Kinks song for every situation. This song is about Captain America asking for help in a troubled time:

I remember, when you were down
And you needed a helping hand
I came to feed you
But now that I need you
You won’t give me a second glance
Now I’m calling all citizens from all over the world
This is Captain America calling
I bailed you out when you were down on your knees
So will you catch me now I’m falling

The song was written for 1979’s Low Budget album but rings truer than ever: