Category Archives: Language

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:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Touch Of Gray

A Bar at the Folies-Bergère  by Edouard Manet, 1882.

It’s my birthday today. We’re planning a relatively quiet day with dinner at one of the great restaurants in New Orleans, Brigtsen’s. It’s located in an Uptown cottage, not far from the river. The service is great and the food is even better.

A note on the featured image. I’m such a Manet fan that I named a black female cat Manet. She was long-lived and lovable. We had a game that we played together wherein we compared artists. I’d ask “who do you like better, Picasso or Manet?” The answer was always the same: “Manet.” She lived to be twenty, dying in 2005 not long before Katrina. I’m glad she missed the upheaval and disruption of our nomadic evacuation. It’s hard to be a grande dame when you’re on the move.

It’s sad how few pictures we have of our pre-digital camera era cats. This is a good shot of Manet in her Dowager Empress period:

Holy lagniappe catblogging, Batman.

August 1st was the 75th anniversary of Jerry Garcia’s birth. I miss Jerry, which is why the Garcia-Hunter tune, Touch of Gray, is this week’s theme song. It was the Dead’s only genuine hit single, which is remarkable given their longevity and popularity.

We have two touches of gray for your listening pleasure: the  VH1 pop up video of their skeletony promo video and a live version from 7/4/1989 in Buffalo. Notice Jerry and keyboard player Brent Mydland touching their own gray hair before launching into the song. Oh well, a touch of gray, kind of suits you anyway. Literal but still swell. Brent died in 199o. I’ve often said that being the keyboard player in the Dead was much like being the drummer in Spinal Tap. I don’t believe in jinxes but this one has a kernel of truth.

Oh yeah, both videos were posted by someone who spelled gray with an E. So it goes.

Now that I’ve made y’all feel old and decrepit, let’s limp to the break.

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Scaramouch Meets Mooch The Minnie

There have been many punny musical references since Anthony Scaramucci’s debut behind the White House podium. His name sounds like Scaramouch, so his paisan Al Giordano tweeted this Queen reference:

Al wasn’t the only one with Bohemian Rhapsody on his mind. The Scaramucci appointment triggered a googling frenzy:

I’m always glad to see linguistic curiosity, especially when it’s pun related. Here’s the Merriam-Webster definition of Scaramouch:

  1. capitalized :  a stock character in the Italian commedia dell’arte that burlesques the Spanish don and is characterized by boastfulness and cowardliness

  2. a :  a cowardly buffoon

    b :  rascalscamp

From what we know of Mooch, this nails it. Before Trump was nominated, he spent a lot of time bashing him. Here’s an example from 2015:

“I don’t like the way he talks about women, I don’t like the way he talks about our friend Megyn Kelly, and you know what, the politicians don’t want to go at Trump because he’s got a big mouth and because [they’re] afraid he’s going to light them up on Fox News and all these other places,” he said. “But I’m not a politician. Bring it. You’re an inherited money dude from Queens County. Bring it, Donald.”

Mooch is now singing a different tune. After deleting some politically inconvenient tweets in the name of “transparency,” Scaramucci is the administration’s head cheerleader or is that leading sycophant? Typically, the communications director’s job is to get the president’s message out as opposed to relentlessly kissing his ample ass. Once again, Team Trump have defined the presidency downward. Some might call them downward facing dogs but I would never do such a thing…

Since we’re posting tweets, I think one from AM Joy regular Fernand Amandi sums up the Mooch effect quite well:

In musical terms: Scaramucci is the smooth jazz of liars, all surface sheen and no substance at all whereas Spicer unintentionally evoked memories of Spike Jones. I’ll miss Gum Spice but we should enjoy Mooch before the Insult Comedian wearies of his spotlight hogging ways and turns on him. He turns on everyone who isn’t blood. It’s the way of hereditary autocracies, which is why Trump seems to have a soft spot for Assad.

Let’s circle back to the post title. My mind turned to the Cab Calloway classic Minnie The Moocher because, well, Mooch is Minnie: he’s 5’8″ which is the same height as Gum Spice but the latter has a huge head and stocky fame, which makes him look mightier than Mooch. There’s probably a Mighty Mouse joke in there somewhere but I’ll pass for now. There’s no need to fear, I’ll get there eventually…

Scaramucci is your classic short, cocky New York Italian guy. If I were casting someone to play him, I’d bring Joe Pesci out of retirement, hand him a toupee and some hair gel.

Anyway, the last word goes to Cab Calloway:

Lost In Translation

Remember when I quoted Philip Roth as saying that Trump speaks Jerkish? His incontinent verbal diarrhea causes problems for interpreters on other continents as well:

When reports emerged of Trump’s justification for firing FBI director James Comey, interpreters in Japan were confronted with a tricky question: how to translate “nut job” in a way that would be suitable for broadcast.

They settled on henjin – a word more commonly used to describe an oddball or eccentric – having decided that the alternative, atama ga warui (stupid) was inappropriate for someone of Comey’s stature.

The outburst was the latest in a long line of comments, tweets and deviations from scripted speeches that interpreters in Tokyo concede have left them dumbfounded and struggling to retain their professional composure.

“It isn’t just his colloquialisms, but the demeaning way in which he talked about women, especially during the campaign, said Chikako Tsuruta, who regularly interprets broadcasts by US networks such as CNN, ABC and CBS.

The Japanese are exquisitely polite people except on their wilder teevee shows. I’m not surprised translating Jerkish poses problems for them.

The post title is, unlike the president*, no accident. It’s borrowed from the classic Sofia Coppola/Bill Murray film, which mostly takes place in a Tokyo hotel; not a Trump branded one, for that we can be thankful. The movie was released in 2003, so there’s no lonesome white man tweeting; for that we can be thankful.

Speaking of hotels, here’s an image that was projected on Trump’s DC joint last month:

I somehow missed that story but so much shit has hit the fan lately that I can’t always keep up. Better late than never.

Welcome back to the New Gilded Age where Jerkish is spoken. Leave your bribes at the front desk when you check in.

I’ll give 10cc the last word with a song as rudely  politically incorrect as the Insult Comedian himself.

The Americans Thread: The Penultimate Episode

I love the word penultimate as much as epistolary or eponymous and since I used those words earlier today, there was only one title for my recap of The World Council Of Churches.

The reason for that unwieldy, even bureaucratic, episode title is that the KGB secured Pastor Tim a sinecure in Argentina to get him out of the Jennings’ hair. I’m uncertain if it’s their real hair or one of their flotilla of wigs but, in any event, he’s out of it. And Paige is wigging out with glee.

Before taking our spoiler break, here’s a musical selection inspired by Phillip’s Brad the pilot persona. You know the guy who “adopted” Tuan. The pilot may be ready to drop the Vietnamese Kid if you catch my drift. More about that anon.

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I Wanna Rule The World

The Seventies English rock band 10cc were ahead of their time. For one thing, Lol Creme and Kevin Godley helped to develop the music video as an integral part of show business. For another, 10cc’s music and lyrics were quite visionary, especially I Wanna Rule The World. It imagines a wannabe dictator with the maturity and impulse control of a toddler. Sound familiar?

In the spirit of helpfulness for which I am known, I’d like to suggest I Wanna Rule The World as the official theme song for Team Trump’s foreign policy. If wars can have theme songs, why not a foreign policy of aggressive stupidity?

There are a helluva lot of lyrics, so we’ll begin with a Trump inspired video from last year. It’s chock-full-o-cartoons and other swell images.

Yeah, I know. They got the title slightly wrong. It’s okay by me: I paraphrased the lyrics in the Trump truck meme. So it goes.

I Wanna Rule The World is a very wordy song so, we’ll post the lyrics after the break.

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Sean Spicer’s Odyssey From Gum Spice To Malaprop Spice

I planned to call this post Gum Spice Is Gassed. No, not the kind of gas they used at the Holocaust Centers. I was referring to the fact that dignity wraith Sean Spicer appears to be used up and spit out like the Orbit gum he crams in his gob. He’s gassed. He’s done.

Gum Spice’s meltdown Tuesday was the worst since Presidents have had press secretaries dating back to 1929. He made Ron Ziegler look like JFK’s crack spokesdude, Pierre Salinger. You’ve all heard Spicer’s inanely incoherent contortions on Assad, Hitler, and chemical weapons. Subsequent explanations have only made matters worse.

The only way Spicer survives in his job is if Trump gets stubborn over the calls for his spokesman’s pinhead. The Insult Comedian likes to do his own firing, thank you yery much, or as he would say very, very, very, very, very, very much. I do wish he would vary his verys…

If you get a chance to see Rachel Maddow’s Tuesday segment on the Spicer incident, it’s must see teevee. It turns out that Gum Spice has a hard time speaking the language, which is odd given his chosen profession: political flack. He fucks up names: he keeps calling the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Trumbull. His name is Turnbull. T-U-R-N-B-U-L-L. I wonder if there are any flash cards left over at the White House from the Reagan years: they helped Ronnie, why not Seannie? Spicer also has an eerie inability to pronounce the name of the dictator he’s denouncing: Bashar al-Assad.

Since Spicer cannot pronounce, he should renounce his title as Press Secretary. End of Jesse Jackson/Johnnie Cochran moment. Public speaking *is* hard but that’s what he does for a living. Spicer needs a new First Draft nickname as well. I’ve been calling him Gum Spice in honor of his gum habit and my post about it, Sean Spicer Can Lie and Chew Gum at the Same Time. It turns out that I got the lying part right, but when it comes to speaking he’s hopeless. That’s why I am giving him an alternate First Draft nickname, Malaprop Spice. It may be the reason he gets shitcanned: the Insult Comedian is in charge of malaprops in this administration*, thank you very, very, very much.

Every time I think Team Trump cannot be more incompetent, they top themselves. That’s what happens when an entire administration* wings it. I may not be a prophet (with or without honor) but I wrote a piece about Trump in December, 2015 entitled Winging It With The Insult Comedian:

Trump’s tendency to spout off and utter unfiltered bullshit is the most alarming thing about his candidacy, not his ideology. The Insult Comedian has no ideology: the only thing he believes in is himself and the roar of the crowd. The last thing a country with the world’s largest military needs is a guy who wings it as the Oval One. Impulse control is a very important quality for any President to have. The Insult Comedian has none, he’s like the kid who eats all his Halloween candy in one sitting and wonders why he’s puking his guts out.

I stand by my prediction in that post that this would blow up in Trump’s face. I certainly was off in my timing but it’s happening as I write. Between lies and incompetence, the Trump administration* has no credibility left. The Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman argues that Trump has had five Syria policies and counting in the last two weeks. He’s absolutely right. It’s what happens when you’re winging it with the Insult Comedian.

Back to Malaprop Spice, the artist formerly known as Gum Spice. I almost feel sorry for him right now. Almost. He’s a beaten man. He’s licked…all over.

Rumor has it that the Trumpers want to hire Reagan’s White House spokesman, Larry Speakes, to replace the man who has gummed up the works. Speakes had the best name ever for someone in his position. He was never formally White House press secretary because Jim Brady continued to hold that title after being shot. Besides, it was more fun to call him White House spokesman, Larry Speakes.

The problem is that spokesman Speakes died in 2014. Perhaps Bannon, Jared, Ivanka, Kellyanne, and Reince can have a seance and bring back spokesman Speakes. I have spoken.

Repeat after me: if you cannot pronounce, you must renounce.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Promised Land

Marbotikin Dulda by Frank Stella.

We seem to have hit peak pollen this week in New Orleans. Achoo. As a result, I awaken each day with watery eyes and a runny nose. Achoo. It’s most unpleasant as is my daily sinus headache. The good news is that we’re supposed to have some rain to wash away the sticky yellow stuff. The bad news is that it won’t happen until later today when we have plans to attend a festival not far from Adrastos World HQ. Oh well, that’s what umbrellas are for.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or watching teevee with the Insult Comedian, you know that Chuck Berry died at the age of 90.  This week’s theme song, Promised Land, is my favorite Chuck Berry tune. I was introduced to it at the first Grateful Dead show I ever attended. It was a helluva opening number.

I have three versions for your entertainment: Berry’s original, the Band’s rollicking piano driven take from Moondog Matinee, and the Dead live in the Nutmeg State. It’s time to jet to the promised land, y’all.

I remain mystified as to why Chuck wanted to get out of Louisiana and go to Houston town. There’s no accounting for taste. Let’s ponder that as I insert the break, but not where the moon don’t shine.

Continue reading

Your President* Speaks: Trump Potpourri For $100, Alex

After a brief period of relative silence after his “Obama was mean to me” tweet, the Insult Comedian has been shooting his mouth off again.  We begin with this morning’s tweet storm via Parker Malloy:

It’s always good when someone else does the heavy-lifting by bringing Trump’s digital diarrhea together. We all know what he means by fake news: items he doesn’t like. If he doesn’t like them, they cannot be true. It’s the way his mind, such as it is, works when concocting a new word salad for the tweeter tube: add a few verys, too many exclamation points, and garnish with a dash of fake news.

A funnier recent tweet was his attack on Snoop Lion or is he Snoop Dogg again? I cannot keep up with Calvin Broadus’ stage names. I’m kind of surprised Trump doesn’t go on about Snoop’s fake names. There must be something sinister about not using the name Calvin. I bet British Intelligence is behind it or maybe the North Koreans. There’s bound to be a conspiracy. Bannon should get Roger Stone and Alex Jones on the Calvin conspiracy ASAP.

I, for one, wouldn’t have bothered to look at Snoop’s latest video prior to seeing this rant. It just makes Trump look small and petty, which is what he is. The news may be fake but Trump’s vindictiveness is not and I’m not lion about that…

Let’s turn away from the Tweeter Tube and move on to a quote from an interview the president* did with Tucker Carlson on Fox News. Carlson seems to have forsaken bow ties, which is a pity since I enjoyed calling him a bow-tie mothertucker.

“Well, you know, I love to read. Actually, I’m looking at a book, I’m reading a book, I’m trying to get started. Every time I do about a half a page, I get a phone call that there’s some emergency, this or that. But we’re going to see the home of Andrew Jackson today in Tennessee and I’m reading a book on Andrew Jackson. I love to read. I don’t get to read very much, Tucker, because I’m working very hard on lots of different things, including getting costs down. The costs of our country are out of control. But we have a lot of great things happening, we have a lot of tremendous things happening.” 

It’s nice that he interrupted his teevee watching to read about one of our craziest previous Presidents. Anyone think he’ll finish the book? I wonder which tome it is: Arthur Schlesinger? Jon Meacham? He said we was “looking” at it so maybe it’s this one:

It’s ironic that nice is one of the Insult Comedian’s favorite words. I guess it’s because it’s short and simple enough to be in what Philip Roth called Trump’s 77-word vocabulary. Roth not only reads books, he writes them without a ghost writer. Imagine that. See Donald read. Read, Donald, read.

Speaking of niceness, Trump continues to go back-and-forth on the subject of his predecessor. He’s gone from calling former President Obama “a bad and sick guy” to vouching for his niceness. Of course, that’s like calling Charlie Manson as a character witness. Here’s what the Insult Comedian said on Fox yesterday:

“He’s been very nice to me personally, but his people haven’t been nice,” Trump told Fox News’ Jesse Watters. “While he’s nice personally, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of nice things happening behind the scenes, and that’s unfortunate.”

This is a classic Trump formulation. He begins with a mild compliment and concludes with an insult. That’s why I call him the Insult Comedian.

Before the president* said that Obama was “very nice” he made a lame joke about him at his joint presser with German Chancellor Angela Merkel:

“As far as wiretapping, I guess, by this past administration, at least we have something in common perhaps.”

That’s a harmless jab by Trumpian standards, but it led to the dirtiest look ever given an Oval One by a visiting dignitary:

See Angela glare. Glare, Angela, glare.

That’s the opposite of a poker face. I cannot wait until Tracey Ullman give us her take on the Merkel-Trump confab. If you haven’t seen her Merkel, it’s to die for:

That concludes this edition of Your president* Speaks. I’d give you a reading assignment but I’m trying to keep costs down. Class dismissed.

Quotes Of The Day: Muslim Ban Edition

Things are not going well for the revised Trump Muslim travel ban. Two federal judges have ruled against it thus far. The opinion by Judge Derrick K. Watson in Hawaii was particularly scathing:

The illogic of the Government’s contentions is palpable. The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed. … It is undisputed, using the primary source upon which the Government itself relies, that these six countries have overwhelmingly Muslim populations that range from 90.7% to 99.8%. It would therefore be no paradigmatic leap to conclude that targeting these countries likewise targets Islam. Certainly, it would be inappropriate to conclude, as the Government does, that it does not.

It’s no surprise that Trumper bragging is one reason that the ban has lost in court. Ignoring Kellyanne Conway’s admonitions,  Judge Watson took the president’s* words literally in his ruling. Here are a few more choice excerpts:

The Government appropriately cautions that, in determining purpose, courts should not look into the ‘veiled psyche’ and ‘secret motives’ of government decision-makers and may not undertake a ‘judicial psychoanalysis of a drafter’s heart of hearts’.

The Government need not fear. The remarkable facts at issue here require no such impermissible inquiry.

For instance, there is nothing ‘veiled’ about this press release: ‘Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.’

Nor is there anything ‘secret’ about the Executive’s motive specific to the issuance of the Executive Order:

Rudolph Giuliani explained on television how the Executive Order came to be. He said: “When [Mr. Trump] first announced it, he said, ‘Muslim ban.’ He called me up. He said, ‘Put a commission together. Show me the right way to do it legally.’”

<SNIP>

In an interview on January 25, 2017, Mr. Trump discussed his plans to implement ‘extreme vetting’ of people seeking entry into the United States. He remarked: ‘[N]o, it’s not the Muslim ban. But it’s countries that have tremendous terror. . . . [I]t’s countries that people are going to come in and cause us tremendous problems.’ …

When signing the first Executive Order [No. 13,769], President Trump read the title, looked up, and said: ‘We all know what that means.’ President Trump said he was ‘establishing a new vetting measure to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America’, and that: ‘We don’t want them here.’

Words matter to thinking people like Judge Watson. In Philip Roth’s memorable phrase, the Insult Comedian may speak “jerkish” but his gibberish translated into English has gotten him into trouble. The Muslim ban word salad was overdressed and too vinegary even if the Brown House describes it as “watered down.”

I begin to wonder if they even care if the ban goes into effect: they’ve made their propaganda points and placated their feral, unneutered base. If they want it to happen, the Trump-Bannon regime would be well-advised to heed this message from our country’s past:

This is a preliminary victory but I, for one, am thrilled that Trumpian braggadocio sank this particular ship. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Trumper incompetence may yet save the Republic. Keep up the bad work, y’all.

UPDATE: Trump continues to shoot off his mouth:

“Remember this, I wasn’t thrilled that the lawyers all said, ‘Oh, let’s tailor it.’ This is a watered-down version of the first one,” he told the crowd. “This is a watered down version, and let me tell you something. I think we ought to go back to the first one and go all the way, which is what I wanted to do in the first place.”

Trump vowed to defend his order.

“This ruling makes us look weak. Which by the way, we no longer are, believe me. Just look at our borders. We are going to fight this terrible rule,” he said at the rally.

Thanks, Donald.

The Fog Of History: George Orwell On Trumpist Autocracy

I’ve avoided discussing all the 1984 references people are making because I’m a genuine admirer of George Orwell, especially the collected essays.  As you can see from the Time cover above, the last wave of Orwell chic took place, well, in 1984 when the Reaganites and Thatcherites tried to claim him. It was a poor fit: Eric Blair was a man of the left who had slowly moved to the social democratic left as he observed what was going on in *his* world. He chose the title 1984 for his oft-cited, little understood novel by simply flipping the last two digits. The book was about Stalin’s Soviet Union, not some dystopian future state, and Animal Farm was about the false egalitarianism of Leninism. He was a political writer, not a sci-fi guy.

Having said that, there are some quotes from 1984 that are applicable to life in 21st Century ‘Merica. Plus, I had a lot of fun quoting Sam Clemens and Henry Mencken not long ago, so why not Eric Blair? Obviously, Orwell wasn’t writing about Trumpist autocracy but these quote work quite well by analogy. In fact, Trump puts the anal in analogy.

The first quote reminds me of Steve Bannon’s admiration of  Tailgunner Joe McCarthy:

“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”

I thought of the next quote when reading about how Obamacare repeal is about freedom. You know, the freedom to die without medical care:

“War is peace. Freedom is slavery.  Ignorance is strength.”

Orwell, of course, was a fan of  Britain’s NHS. He knew that good health is freedom.

We’ve heard a lot about newspeak but what the Trumpers specialize in is doublethink.

“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”

I don’t know if the average Trumper understands the big words, but the concept is surely not alien to Spicy as he spews lies from his gum hole.

As a veteran of the Spanish Civil War-he fought alonsgide the far-left  POUM militia-Orwell even has advice for today’s resistance:

“Until they became conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.”

Unconsciouness seems to be a Trumper trait; that and believing whatever nonsense comes out of their dear leader’s big bazoo.

In one of his essays, Orwell warned the world about how history was being twisted.

The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history.

He specifically had Stalinist rewriting of history in mind. Did you know that everything good was invented by a Russian? Me neither, but that’s what they taught in schools in the USSR. It explains Putin’s national chauvinism rather well.

Finally, Orwell’s classic essay, Politics and the English Language, has been posted in its entirety online. Make sure you read it. Here’s how it concludes:

Since you don’t know what Fascism is, how can you struggle against Fascism? One need not swallow such absurdities as this, but one ought to recognise that the present political chaos is connected with the decay of language, and that one can probably bring about some improvement by starting at the verbal end. If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy. You cannot speak any of the necessary dialects, and when you make a stupid remark its stupidity will be obvious, even to yourself. Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one’s own habits, and from time to time one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and useless phrase — some jackboot, Achilles’ heel, hotbed, melting pot, acid test, veritable inferno, or other lump of verbal refuse — into the dustbin where it belongs.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Sick Day

The Grande Jatte Hibernators by Max Ernst

The Grande Jatte Hibernators by Max Ernst

I needed to rest my sore legs and feet after standing so much during Carnival but catching the stomach flu was not how I intended to do it. I’ll skip the details but suffice it to say that this is the longest I’ve sat up since Tuesday. I’m still afraid of eating so I’ll eat my words instead.

This week’s theme song, Sick Day by Fountains Of Wayne, was a no-brainer. A very good thing since my little gray cells aren’t firing on all cylinders as of yet:

I do have a few links to share this week, which is why I rose from my sick-bed. Also, I’m bored: sleeping all day like Oscar and Della isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, y’all.

Tweet Of The Week: I like signs. I like HuffPost senior politics editor Sam Stein. I like anti-Trump signs posted by Sam Stein:

Most people don’t have strong views about punctuation but I do; as does the author of our next piece. I’d give him a piece of advice except that I agree with him.

Satan’s Punctuation: I am on the record as being anti-exclamation point. The only good thing I can say about the Insult Comedian is that his overuse of them has led to a backlash against Satan’s punctuation. BBC Culture has an outstanding piece by Philip Cowell wherein he discusses the pernicious EP.

Along the same lines, legendary lizard lady Liprap made sure I saw this tweet by Houston Chronicle sportswriter Stephanie Stradley:

She’s a woman after my own heart. I seem to like Stephanies even if I never dated one. Of course, it’s been years since I dated at all. I guess I’m dating myself…

Let’s move on from Stephanies to one of my media crushes, Julia. Julia Ioffe:

Rootless Cosmopolitans: The State Department is in deep shit under the Trump-Bannon regime. They’re committed to “burning it down” thereby dumbing it down, which could lead to military options being first on the list as opposed to last. We saw that movie during the Bush-Cheney years and it didn’t end well. The brilliant and beautiful Julia Ioffe has the details at the Atlantic. 

Am I still allowed to issue such a compliment? I don’t want the people who attacked Steve Martin for making a similar comment about Carrie Fisher coming after me. Actually, I don’t give a shit: they’re trolls who attacked someone who knew her IRL and not just as Princess Leia. Fuck them and the tweet they rode in on.

Speaking of entitled people who want to burn it down:

The Feud: I originally planned to give up Susan Sarandon for Lent but I’m not Catholic so I won’t. Besides, the thought of her as Bette Davis and Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford is impossible to pass up. Sarandon’s status as an unrepentant Buster-n-Steiner means that I’ll have to root for Joan Crawford in the upcoming FX show and I’ve always been pro-Bette. But I am a Clint Eastwood fan despite his abominable politics. Now where did I put that empty chair?

That brings me to the point such as it is. In anticipation of the teevee show, Vulture reposted a fine 2016 article by Angelica Jade Bastien about the storied Davis-Crawford feud.

That concludes this edition of sick blogging. I hope I didn’t embarrass myself any more than I do every Saturday. Admittedly, that’s a low bar in an era when the president* is praised for not whipping out his tiny member and pounding it on the podium while addressing Congress.

Thanks to the Trump-Bannon regime’s version of white nationalism, anti-Semitism is fashionable in certain quarters. As a form of rebuttal or rebuke, I’m giving three famous Jews the last word. Zeppo also attended:

marx-bros-meme

 

Defending a Nazi Won’t Get You Into Free Speech Heaven

Angus Johnston, who you should be reading if you are not:

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Here’s why I’m not defending them.

I don’t care about them.

And I think most of the people who do, with the exception of true, TRUE civil libertarians like the fucking saints at the ACLU, are just showing off.

Here’s my problem with wanking all day on Twitter about if we should punch Nazis or not, if Milo should be allowed to yell incoherently and incite mobs to attack trans students on university campuses and whatever: I almost never see the “defend to the death your right to say it” absolutism being preached by anybody who’s not a straight white comfortable dude.

I would respect the argument that we should let Milo yell his yelling if that argument came from a trans student in actual physical danger from Milo’s idiot army. I would respect the argument that we shouldn’t punch Nazis if the argument came from someone who the Nazi thought was subhuman. If people who are gay, trans, Muslim, minority, poor, want to tell me that they will get in the street to support the right of total assholes to exhort others to exterminate them, then hand me a damn sign and show me where the pro-Nazi protest is.

What I will not listen to is one more person with zero skin in the game deploring the tone in the room.

Because that’s always what it comes down to, from the Internet Constitutional Lawyers who scold everyone else for applauding a protest that shut someone down. Some airy, detached examination of “the real issue” which is, naturally, the speaker’s making himself sound superior to those who get all uncouth and het up about their impending deaths in gas chambers.

It’s not that I don’t see the opportunity for academic debate, mind. Or for study. It’s that I don’t actually give a fuck right now about being scolded, not by people who are not in any kind of danger.

“Well, what would you say if it was YOUR campus homophobe protest that was being shut down, HUH? HUH!?” I would say the grown-ups are talking right now, hie your whitebread ass head to some sophomore college coffeehouse and see if the kids there will tolerate your snide shit because no one here cares.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Trouble In Mind

Woodruff Underground RR

The Underground Railroad by Hale Woodruff, 1942.

Another week, another mural as the featured image. Hale Woodruff is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice. If you don’t recognize Trump’s Frederick Douglass quote, I have failed as a blogger.

It has been a Krewe of Spank-centric week at Adrastos World HQ. We’ve been helping with the float, buying costume bits, and even went to a pizza-n-shirt-iron-on party. Bet you’ve never done that. We also drank beer. Bet you’ve done that.

This week’s theme song was selected with our politically chaotic moment in mind. I am mindful of the fact that Trouble In Mind was written in 1924 by jazz pianist Richard Jones. It has been recorded oodles of time by oodles of artists. I have selected worthy versions by Big Bill Broonzy, Nina Simone, and the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of the post only without the dirt or the band. That’s right, this post will be unbroken…

Emmett Till: Every social movement requires a spark. For the Civil Rights movement, the spark was provided by the lynching of Emmett Till in 1955. In fact, Jesse Jackson describes a conversation with Rosa Parks that confirms the importance of Emmett Till:

“I asked Miss Rosa Parks [in 1988] why didn’t she go to the back of the bus, given the threat that she could be hurt, pushed off the bus, and run over, because three other ladies did get up. She said she thought about going to the back of the bus. But then she thought about Emmett Till and she couldn’t do it.”

There’s a new book about the murder of Emmett Till wherein author Timothy Tyson got the woman who was allegedly the target of unwanted attention by Till to admit that nothing much really happened. Vanity Fair’s Sheila Weller has the details.

It’s abundantly clear that the Current Occupant has no knowledge of the Civil Rights movement or how important it is to many of us. It didn’t involve him directly so it’s off his radar screen. I suspect Trump and his dreadful, racist daddy regarded the movement as a nuisance. It made it harder for them to discriminate against black folks in their apartment buildings in the outer boroughs, after all. So it goes.

We go from the crime that inspired the Civil Rights movement to a look at how Hollywood is taking on the  Insult Comedian.

The New Culture War: We tend to think of Pats Buchanan and Robertson when we think about the culture war. Buchanan’s 1992 GOP convention speech scared the living shit out of middle-American and was a factor in Poppy Bush’s defeat. Thanks, Pat.

The culture war used to be a right-wing thing. It no longer is. The Guardian’s Stuart Jeffries takes a look at how Hollywood and others on the left are standing up to the Insult Comedian. My favorite bit involves the divine Julia Louis-Dreyfus:

At last Sunday’s Screen Actors Guild awards in Hollywood, barely anyone who got to the stage failed to denounce Donald Trump’s immigrant ban. Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, for instance, accepting her award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a comedy series with her portrayal of a (with all due respect) venal and useless president, said: “I am the daughter of an immigrant. My father fled religious persecution in Nazi-occupied France, and I am an American patriot … I love this country. I am horrified by its blemishes. This immigrant ban is a blemish, and it is un-American.”

Her speech came from the heart and was clearly not written by Selina Meyer’s staff. They would have found a way to fuck it up and elect Hugh Laurie President…

There’s already a backlash over comments like Julia’s and Meryl Streep’s but, frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. The rank hypocrisy on the right about celebrities in politics is breathtaking. The GOP elected an actor President, sent Gopher from The Love Boat and Sonny Bono to Congress, and now they complain about free speech from Julia and Meryl. As the Cowardly Lion would surely say, DA NOIVE.  I fed Siri that sentence and she had a nervous breakdown. It was most amusing.

Speaking of the culture wars, our next segment takes a look at cursing. Hmm, I wonder if we still have a fuck quota at First Draft.

Fucking Around: There’s a motherfucking good review at the New York Review of Books by Joan Acocella of two bloody buggery bollocky books about swearing. You should read the fucker. Fuckin’ A.

Speaking of people who got fucked over, here’s a look back at Grateful Dead’s 1970 arrest in New Orleans. They did not return to the Crescent City until 1988.

Busted Down On Bourbon Street: The Grateful Dead were “set up like a bowling pin” in New Orleans on January 31, 1970. The city fathers were terrified that hippies would overrun the city and interfere with their drinking. They simply could not have that.

There’s a fun look back at Live For Live Music.com. I can say fun because nothing much came of the bust except for semi-lurid headlines and this mug shot of a certain lead guitar player:

man_file_1055638_jerry-mugshot-1970

Notice that Jerry had the good sense to smile, not glower in his mugshot. Never let the bastards see you sweat.

I obviously have to post a version of Truckin’ at this juncture. This is a good ‘un complete with tight musicianship and sloppy vocals, both trademarks of the good old Grateful Dead:

Let’s move on to a sporadic Odds & Sods feature:

Separated At Birth? I added a question mark because I’m not 100% sure this works but it cracked me up when I saw it on the Tweeter Tube.

Instead of being leery of the idea, Leary responded without so much as a leer:

Just imagine it: Denis Leary in The Bowling Green Massacre. He really needs to wear Kellyanne Liar’s inauguration day outfit:

conway-meme

Let’s move from the ridiculous to the sublime.

Saturday Classic: I posted the Queen of Soul earlier, it’s time to listen to the King of Soul, Otis Redding. Note that the album begins with Ole Man Trouble. It has nothing to do with the Insult Comedian but we do have more than our share of trouble right now.

That’s it for this week. We’ll be back with more hijinks and shenanigans next week. Who better to have the last word than three Jokers? Heath, Jack, and Cesar beat the hell out of the joker in the White House. Figuratively, not literally.

jokers-memejpg

Philip Roth On Trumpism

Roth

There’s been a lot of chatter about dystopian novels of late. I cannot imagine why. I’ll save my take on 1984 for another time, but if you haven’t read Philip Roth’s 2004 novel The Plot Against America, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. In the book, Charles Lindbergh is nominated by the GOP in 1940 and defeats Franklin Roosevelt on a platform of  isolationism and appeasement with the help of Nazi Germany. In the real world, the Nazis were paying off prominent isolationist Senators who, despite the rhetoric, put America second and their wallets first. It all sounds painfully familiar, doesn’t it?

The 83-year-old Roth has retired from writing but shared his views about Trumpism via email with the New Yorker’s Judith Thurman. Below are some excerpts of their electronic epistolary exchange. Try saying that four times. Dare ya.

Roth wrote in the Times Book Review that “The Plot Against America” was not intended as a political roman à clef. Rather, he wanted to dramatize a series of what-ifs that never came to pass in America but were “somebody else’s reality”—i.e., that of the Jews of Europe. “All I do,” he wrote, “is to defatalize the past—if such a word exists—showing how it might have been different and might have happened here.”

Last week, Roth was asked, via e-mail, if it has happened here. He responded, “It is easier to comprehend the election of an imaginary President like Charles Lindbergh than an actual President like Donald Trump. Lindbergh, despite his Nazi sympathies and racist proclivities, was a great aviation hero who had displayed tremendous physical courage and aeronautical genius in crossing the Atlantic in 1927. He had character and he had substance and, along with Henry Ford, was, worldwide, the most famous American of his day. Trump is just a con artist. The relevant book about Trump’s American forebear is Herman Melville’s ‘The Confidence-Man,’ the darkly pessimistic, daringly inventive novel—Melville’s last—that could just as well have been called ‘The Art of the Scam.’ ”

It’s hard to argue that point. Trump has become the most successful flim-flam man in American history. In fact, his white nationalist regime has stolen our history and put it on a perilous path of putrid populism. I love the smell of alliteration in the morning.

Another quote from the great novelist:

“It isn’t Trump as a character, a human type—the real-estate type, the callow and callous killer capitalist—that outstrips the imagination. It is Trump as President of the United States.

“I was born in 1933,” he continued, “the year that F.D.R. was inaugurated. He was President until I was twelve years old. I’ve been a Roosevelt Democrat ever since. I found much that was alarming about being a citizen during the tenures of Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. But, whatever I may have seen as their limitations of character or intellect, neither was anything like as humanly impoverished as Trump is: ignorant of government, of history, of science, of philosophy, of art, incapable of expressing or recognizing subtlety or nuance, destitute of all decency, and wielding a vocabulary of seventy-seven words that is better called Jerkish than English.”

That’s a tremendous analysis of a very, very bad dude. Believe me.

I would love to hear Roth’s take on the brown eminence behind Trump, Steve Bannon. I’ve been shouting from the rooftops about Bannon since last summer. I’m glad people are finally taking notice of this sinister albeit rumpled figure. Trump is not only Putin’s useful idiot, he’s Bannon’s as well.

I’ll give Philip Roth the last word:

“My novel wasn’t written as a warning. I was just trying to imagine what it would have been like for a Jewish family like mine, in a Jewish community like Newark, had something even faintly like Nazi anti-Semitism befallen us in 1940, at the end of the most pointedly anti-Semitic decade in world history. I wanted to imagine how we would have fared, which meant I had first to invent an ominous American government that threatened us. As for how Trump threatens us, I would say that, like the anxious and fear-ridden families in my book, what is most terrifying is that he makes any and everything possible, including, of course, the nuclear catastrophe.”

 

Quote Of The Day: H.L. Mencken Edition

Mark my words, I had a lot of fun with last week’s Twain post so I decided to Menckenize First Draft. Henry Louis Mencken may not have created snark but he was one of its earliest masters. His politics were sort of a mishmash; one might call him a Jeffersonian libertarian conservative with a mean streak. He hated government. Actually, he hated everything except for beer.

Mencken would not be surprised by the advent of Donald Trump. He regarded most Americans as dolts and members of the booboise. He once memorably called the South: the Sahara of the Bozart, which is a swell pun on beaux arts. There is one quote, however, that stands out as being applicable to our troubled times:

As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

It’s hard to argue that point given that the Insult Comedian is about to begin his misrule. I know what you’re thinking, they elected a moron in 2000. But Bush was a genial moron whereas Trump is a moron who is proud of his assholery. There seems to be a pattern: morons lose the popular vote and eke out a win in the electoral college. So it goes.

Welcome to the New Gilded Age.