Category Archives: Law/Justice

We have no good way to talk about this and we never have

We have no good way to talk about this and we never have.

As a good friend and feminist scholar told me when the Weinstein scandal broke, “This isn’t about sex. It’s about power. That’s why we can’t talk about it.”

And yet it is the sex that draws the attention as we discuss the imbalance of power, so the two remain inextricably linked, creating problems as we continue to have these revelations of misconduct come to light.

The latest name added to the list of groping, rubbing, jerking, fondling, grabbing and forcing is Sen. Al Franken. Leeann Tweeden came forth on Thursday with allegations of Franken groping and sexually abusing her during a USO stint. Photographic evidence and Franken’s own apology clearly supported those charges of misconduct, leading to some of the most awkward public arguments on a subject like this since Todd Akin introduced us all to the concept of “legitimate rape.”

To clarify and codify the general issue, we should consider two questions and their unequivocal answers:

Were all of the victims of Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Donald Trump, Roy Moore, Louis C.K., Al Franken and others diminished and violated by people of power?

Yes.

Have we, as a society and in many cases individuals, for too long engaged in victim blaming and illegitimate parsing of disgusting behavior like this?

Yes.

Taking these two answers as clear and definitive, we now lock this discussion into an awkward position for people who will have to answer for these actions and the people who support them.

The questions will come in droves:

“Is what Moore or Franken did rape or sexual assault or sexual misconduct or what?”

“Does the “law and order” morality of Moore make it somehow worse than what Weinstein or Franken did because, hey, they’re liberal hedonists anyway?”

“Is it worse what Spacey did to young boys or what Moore did to young girls?”

“Should Franken be forced out for one incident while Moore’s accusers are multiplying like tribbles?”

What so many people are awkwardly groping for is some sort of “sex crime conversion chart” in which one boob-grab equals two ass-pats or one photo equals three teen accusers and one signed yearbook or something. We have finally started coming to the necessary conclusion that shitty behavior is shitty behavior, but people with myriad agendas want to create a hierarchy out of these behaviors, as if hierarchy itself weren’t the reason these messes exist in the first place.

It doesn’t work that way because it’s not about sex. It’s about power.

The only demarcation reasonable people could draw is the one between adults and children. There’s a reason you can peruse 10,000 nude photos of people age 18 and older without a legal problem, but your ass will be in the joint if you own one such image of someone under that age. Society and law have dictated a bright line for most conduct involving children and to cross that line is to engage in the unforgivable.

To that end, and only that end, could a few of these acts be viewed as somehow worse than some of the others. Regardless, each and every case involved a man with power over someone he perceived as lesser and he used that to his advantage to demean and diminish that person.

Why can’t we see this? For two simple reasons:

  1. We are seeing a wide swath of accusations that range from things that “everybody” could agree are horrible and evil to well… what? If the Al Franken “grope” photo is as bad as Roy Moore trying to bone the “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret” demographic, how many men might have to look really hard at themselves? That time they got handsy at the company party? That time they catcalled a co-worker? That time they tried to “impress” the intern? How much of that happened and how does it feel to be lumped in with the Roy Moores, Anthony Weiners, Louis C.K.s and Harvey Weinsteins? The “I would never do something that despicable” becomes, “Actually you already did.”
  2. To see it, we have to talk about it and we have no good way to talk about this and we never have.

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.

 

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Don’t Get Around Much Anymore

Orestes by Willem de Kooning.

It’s been a weird week in New Orleans. I know, this is a weird place so why is that surprising? It’s not but I had a deeply strange encounter with a City Council candidate who I do not plan to vote for. Here’s how I described it at Zuckerville:

Seth Bloom is the candidate I mentioned last week in this space.  One of his opponents said this about him:

Having the temperament to work with the rest of the councilmembers is of the utmost importance – nothing passes the City Council without a minimum of four votes. Seth Bloom has habitually displayed a lack of self-restraint, professionalism, respect, and sincerity as he has campaigned for another public office. I am convinced that Seth Bloom is volatile, hostile, and vindictive – the residents of District B deserve better. The City of New Orleans deserves better.

BURN.

The good news is that his run-off opponent, Jay Banks, is qualified, famous for being nice, and was King Zulu in 2016. How you like dem coconuts, Bloomy?

Speaking of the 2017 New Orleans run-off election, my latest column on the increasingly bat shit crazy mayor’s race is up at the Bayou Brief: An Uncanny Mess.

I’ve been feeling a bit anti-social of late. That’s one reason I selected Don’t Get Around Much Anymore as this week’s theme song, but mostly because it’s a fucking great song. It was written in 1940 as an instrumental by Duke Ellington. The original title was Never No Lament:

Bob Russell’s lyrics were added two years later. I’m glad they changed the title: Never No Lament doesn’t sound like a hit to me.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure. First, the Ink Spots’ mega-hit version.  Second, the Duke and Louis Armstrong from what many call their genius sessions. Immodest but true. Finally, my favorite version. It was arranged by Billy May for the great Nat King Cole.

There’s nothing quite as good as jazz Nat even though lush string pop Nate is pretty swell as well. Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s jump to the break.

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Putting The Dope In Papadopoulos

The first time I wrote about my disgraced countryman, I gave y’all a pronounciation tutorial: DOUGH, NOT DOP. A reader comment improved this lesson in linguistics. Repeat after me: DOPE, NOT DOP. That’s right, Georgie puts the dope in Papadopoulos.

In case you’re wondering about the featured image, allow me to indulge in some self-quotation from the same post:

… the most popular mass market cookies in Greece during the dictatorship were made by the Papadopoulous bakery. Greeks who disliked the junta were prone to say in a loud voice “I don’t like Papadopoulous” before lowering their voice and whispering “biscota” aka biscuits aka cookies.

They’re still around and even sold on Amazon. I wonder if one can buy a used Greek dictator named George Papadopoulos there? Probably not, as far as I know Jeff Bezos isn’t a resurrection man who traffics in corpses. He’s no Boris Karloff, y’all:

Now that I’ve made an old horror movie reference, let’s return to the horrors of George Papadopoulos: Incompetent Con Man.

There’s a fabulous piece at TPM by Tierney Sneed about Georgie’s whereabouts during the 2016 campaign and the early days of the misadministration. Georgie flitted hither and yon. He was here, there, and everywhere but on the campaign trail. It’s unclear what he accomplished but he was a busy boy.

Georgie spent a good deal of time schmoozing Greek politicians and Greek-Americans. He told them what they wanted to hear: that he had Trump’s ear and that Cyrpus and other issues of Hellenic import were, uh, important to the Insult Comedian. In short, Georgie is a flim flam man whose main interest is power, not money. Now he has neither.

The Papadopoulos biscuit people bake a wide range of products. I think Georgie might be in need of these as he contemplates testifying and being cross-examined by defense lawyers:

Just remember, Georgie, if you lie on the witness stand, no cookie for you.

Quote Of The Day: Rick Wilson On Carter Page

I’ve taken to following some renegade anti-Trump Republicans on the tweeter tube. My favorite is a political consultant with an acid wit, Rick Wilson. He has a way with invective that’s somewhat reminiscent of Hunter Thompson. It’s on full display in his beastly columns at the Daily Beast as well as on twitter. The man is a beast in either 140 or 280 characters.

Wilson’s latest bestial column is about American Doofus, ex-Trump adviser, and future federal inmate, Carter Page. A man so out there that he testified before Congress without a lawyer present. That’s a bad idea for someone who is up to his neck in the Trump-Russia mishigas.

Here’s the first ‘graph of Wilson’s piece. It’s a doozy:

Watching Carter Page immolate himself and incriminate a half dozen of his colleagues from the Trump-Putin 2016 campaign has been a strange, almost guilty pleasure. Profoundly disconnected, socially awkward, and reeking of late-stage virginity, he gives off the creepy Uncanny Valley vibe of a rogue, possibly murderous android or of a man with a too-extensive knowledge of human taxidermy and a soundproofed van.

Page *does* have a certain Norman Bates vibe. Has anyone looked in his basement? Of course, Norman had a full head of hair in both his Tony Perkins and Freddie Highmore incarnations whereas Page would have been the target of baldy jokes in a less enlightened age. Who am I kidding? The Insult Comedian watches teevee at 1600 Pennsylvania. I need to get in touch with my inner Morey Amsterdam

The most important thing about Page’s rambling, discursive, and downright weird testimony is how much of the Steele Dossier he confirmed. Maybe the thing *is* worth the $12 million that Trump claims was paid for it.

Am I the only one who finds Page’s choice of primary  teevee interlocutor strange? Chris Hayes is one of Bernie Sanders’ little media friends, so why on earth does Weird Carter pop up on his show so often? Other than the fact that they’re both on the dweeby side, it beats the hell outta me.

All that talk of beasts gave me a benign earworm:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Positively 4th Street

Night View of the Brooklyn Bridge by Joseph Stella.

I learned how important my home internet connection is to me this week. It was not a shocker even if Halloween fell on Tuesday. We had a record number of trick or treaters including the cutest cop I’ve ever seen. She let Dr. A photograph him without breaking out the cuffs:

What an arresting image.

This will be a somewhat abbreviated Saturday post since I didn’t throw it together until Friday morning. It’s usually an involved, gradual, and carefully assembled process even if it appears slapdash to the casual observer. It’s slapstick, not slapdash.

I spent part of my week writing a Bayou Brief column on the increasingly bat shit crazy New Orleans mayoral contest. I didn’t submit it until Thursday because I had to hyperlink the living shit out of it. I’ll link to it here when it goes live. Speaking of the run-off election, there was an astonishing takedown in the District B city council run-off. The third place finisher, Timothy David Ray, was so pissed off at the leader, Seth Bloom, that he not only endorsed the other candidate, Jay Banks, he scorched Bloom. Burn, Bloomy, burn.

Speaking of epic takedowns,  this week’s theme song was written and recorded by Bob Dylan in 1965. I was worried that he’d sing it in Stockholm in lieu of a speech. Fortunately, he did not attend the Nobel Prize ceremony. I’m posting Positively 4th Street as a pretext to play more Byrds. Listening incessantly to Tom Petty eventually leads to the Byrds and Roger McGuinn.

A quick note about the featured image. It comes from Joseph Stella’s impressionist phase. He returned to the Brooklyn Bridge as a subject many times over the years. I  hate bridges, which is ironic given that I grew up in an area full of them and now live in New Orleans. I white knuckle every time I cross a bridge. On one visit to New York City, the friend with whom I was staying asked if I wanted to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. I gave him a withering look and the moment passed.

I’m skipping the break this week. I do not feel like jumping, especially after contemplating bridges.

We begin our second act with one of my favorite stolen features.

Separated At Birth: Sarah Huckabee Sanders is the worst White House press secretary since the days of Ron Ziegler. She makes Ziegler look honest and in the loop and makes Ari Fleischer look charming. Ugh.

The picture below crossed my Facebook timeline. It compares and contrasts Huck’s horrible spawn with Jackie Coogan as Uncle Fester on teevee’s Addams Family.

I think Jackie was cuter but the raised eyebrow and facial expression are eerily similar.

Saturday GIF Horse: While we’re on the topic of Uncle Fester, here’s his most famous stunt:

Tabloid Front Page Of The Week: I’ve never been a Smashing Pumpkins fan but I am a fan of the New York Daily News and its smashing front pages. This Halloween edition is a classic:

I wonder if Billy Corgan and his buddy Alex Jones have discussed this front page…

Tweet Of The Week: I retweeted this image of Sebastian Gorka, David Clarke, and Sean Hannity with a clever caption but the picture didn’t show on my tweet. Time for a re-take.

THE THREE HORSE’S ASSES OF THE APOCALYPSE.

Sorry for shouting but sometimes you gotta be loud to get your point across. It’s the only thing Fox News Meathead Sean Hannity and I agree on.

I mentioned I’d been in a Byrds phase, here’s the evidence.

Saturday Classic: Younger Than Yesterday is among the Byrds finest albums. It has one of David Crosby’s best song, Everybody’s Been Burned, and his absolute worst, Mind Gardens.  I used the former as a Saturday post theme song last year, as to the latter UGH.

Crosby was fired for being a raging, gaping asshole when the band commenced recording their next album. It obviously worked out for him as he became the C in CSN.

That’s it for now. My regular features will be back in full force next week. One reason that I was frustrated by the modem death is that Dr. A and I had watched the first 6 episodes of Stranger Things 2 and then it was nerdus interruptus. We finished it Thursday night. It’s swell. That’s why I’m giving the boys from Hawkins the last bat word.

Missing In Inaction

When it comes to writing, I’m a creature of habit, so writing a post on my iPhone is a first for me. I prefer sitting in my study at my desktop when composing. I wish I could write on a laptop at a cafe but I cannot. So it goes.

Our modem died on Sunday. Even worse we were six episodes in to Stranger Things 2. The nerd squad’s exploits will have to await the arrival of the new modem. So it goes.

Being unable to write on Indictment Monday came close to killing me. One of my countrymen is the first known witness for the prosecution? My late father would have denied his Greekness and claimed he was adopted. I considered it but then I saw a picture of Papadopoulos and knew he was one of us. Oh well, what can ya do? Not a damn thing.

It looks as if some of my regular features will go by the wayside this week. But I have a lot to say about the Mueller probe and plan to do so when I’m not typing with one finger on this tiny keyboard. There should be some sort of Saturday Odds & Sods since I hate to be irregular with my weekend regulars.

One more thing: Fuck the Dodgers. Ah, that felt good.

 

Don’t Watch Mueller

Mueller’s not here to save us.

He’s not here to overturn the election. He’s not here to hand back the spine the GOP willingly ripped out of its party and tossed into the landfill of history.

He’s not gonna fix this, for the very simple reason that this isn’t how it got broke.

America didn’t get broke because Donald Trump is up to his eyeballs in Russian mob money.

America got broke because Republicans decided to take over the country 20 years ago and Democrats, with the exception of Howard Dean First of His Name, mostly said okay as long as we can keep our committee chairmanships. America got broke because keeping our powder dry and not looking like filthy hippies was more important than standing up for Americans and American values.

“We’ll give you the blanket ability to wage war across the globe however you see fit, grant retroactive immunity to anyone who spies on anyone,” Congress said, “and by the way here is a tax cut or two because we, also, love ‘business,’ but for God’s sake stop calling us commie traitor pedophiles on Fox News.”

That’s worked out well.

America got broke because we decided to fetishize “taxpayer money” over “American lives.” Mueller isn’t here to fix that.

I’d never tell anyone not to pop popcorn and champagne right now. I’m not saying we shouldn’t celebrate criminals and traitors — especially ones this dumb — turning on each other and going to jail. The members of this administration that aren’t going to die in federal prison will die in WitSec under the names of Pete and Martha, a nice couple in southeastern Utah who have four beagles and always bring salad to the church picnic. That’s something to cheer for. One less scumbag on the street always is.

But the GOP can turn around and do this to us again tomorrow if they keep the statehouses and Congress and the way I know that is that they’ve done it before. Richard Nixon should have been the end of this party but here we are again, with a bunch of dumb bagmen fighting over who is the biggest butthole. Roger Stone’s even here.

We keep letting them back up because we think law enforcement, the goddamn FBI, is here to save us. I’ll give you a minute to stop laughing but then you’d better get back to figuring out who represents you in your state legislature and if it’s a Republican figuring out how you can change that.

Don’t watch.

Don’t sit.

Don’t wait.

Keep going.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Goodbye Pork Pie Hat

Swing Landscape by Stuart Davis.

We finally had a chilly day this week. New Orleanians tend to overdress when it cools off so there were many coats, sweaters, and scarves about town. This cold-ish snap is another example of how extreme the weather has been this year: the first cold weather doesn’t usually arrive until around Thanksgiving. I am opposed to turning on the central heat until November but dragged out the space heaters. It warmed up yesterday, but it’s going to be cold today. We’re back on the autumnal weather yo-yo. So it goes.

The big local story is the precipitous fall of celebrity chef John Besh. Picayune restaurant critic Brett Anderson spent 8 months investigating charges of sexual harassment in Besh’s empire. The story landed last weekend and Besh has resigned from his company and lost two casino based locations. I’d heard that he was a hound and a creep but hadn’t heard how systematic the problem was. The timing couldn’t have been worse for Besh since it followed the Weinstein revelations.  I am trying out a new word to describe the outing of sexual harassers: Beshed. It probably won’t catch on but if it does, you heard it here first.

Another big local news story popped up as I was Oddsing and Sodsing. It’s a flap involving  mayoral frontrunner LaToya Cantrell, her use of city credit cards, and the heavy-handed intervention of District Attorney Leon Cannizzarro who is supporting her opponent. So much for that campaign being dull. It’s New Orleans politics in all its seedy glory but I’m going to save it for the Bayou Brief. I’ll let y’all know when my column drops. I’m uncertain if it will be Ionic, Doric, or Corinthian. Corinthian leather?

Now that I’ve incited the wrath of Khan, let’s move on to this week’s theme song. It was composed by Charles Mingus in honor of his friend the great jazz sax player, Lester (Prez) Young.

Here are three versions for your enjoyment. First, Charlie’s original instrumental followed by Joni Mitchell who added lyrics for her Mingus album in 1979. Finally, a guitar driven version by Jeff Beck from his Wired album:

Now that we’ve tipped our pork pie hat to the great Lester Young, it’s time to say goodbye and jump to the break or something like that. Sometimes I even confuse myself.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Some Fantastic Place

Early Sunday Morning by Edward Hopper.

I suppose you won’t be surprised that I’m not up for a full-blown Saturday post. It’s been a difficult week at Adrastos World HQ, which has left me too pooped to pun.

I should mention that a tropical system, Nate, is headed to the Gulf Coast. The good news is that it’s no Harvey, Irma, or Maria. It’s going to be a fast and dry system and it’s trending eastward as of this writing.  In the immortal words of Pete Townshend: it’s Going Mobile. The bad news is that we may lose power even if we’re just sideswiped. If I’m scarce next week, that will be why.

We’ve had a bit of fun this week because my 4-year-old de facto nephew is also named Nate. I was hoping that this would be the only Nate we’d encounter this weekend:

That’s why I call him Food Face Nate.

Speaking of messy and sticky situations, former New Orleans Congressman Dollar Bill Jefferson is about to be released from prison after 5 years. 7 of 10 corruption charges against him have been thrown out because he was convicted under the same law that the Supremes ruled portions of unconstitutional in the Bob McDonnell case. There will be a re-sentencing hearing at some point, but if his lawyers are any good, Dollar Bill may end up being sentenced to time served. Stay tuned.

Even abbreviated Saturday posts deserve a theme song. Some Fantastic Place was written by Difford and Tilbrook in honor of a close  friend who had died. It could be called Squeeze Goes To Church:

While we’re on the subject of mortality, this funereal Jayhawks song was originally titled Old Woman Of Red Clay. It features Heartbreaker Benmont Tench on keyboards:

One more morbid song. This Garica-Hunter tune is narrated by a man on his death-bed:

That’s it for this week’s truncated and morose edition of Odds & Sods. Things should be back to semi-normal next week. The last bat word goes to Della Street:

Still Comfortably Numb Revisited

It’s happened again; another atrocity. This time it’s a mass shooting in Las Vegas by a wealthy retired accountant of all people. The depressing mass shooting ritual continues with a new president* who mindlessly parrots the platitudes that his party utters after each horrific mass murder. I have my own personal mass shooting ritual: revisiting a post I wrote after the San Bernardino shootings in December, 2015 because we’re Still Comfortably Numb: 

In my first month at First Draft in 2009, I revisited  a post I wrote for my eponymous blog on July 13, 2006. It was one of my rare lucid moments as a blogger as I compared post-K New Orleans to the grand finale of Great Expectations. I borrowed the title from Pink Floyd, Comfortably Numb. It struck me this morning that this theme was eerily applicable to the seemingly endless string of mass shootings we’ve had this year. Here’s a sample of the 2006 post:

Syd Barrett’s death got me thinking in Pink Floyd song titles. A scary concept, I know. Careful With That Axe, Eugene didn’t fit the situation here in NOLA but one title nailed it: Comfortably Numb from The Wall. Comfortably numb describes the state of our political, judicial and socio-economic systems here pre-K. We were muddling through at all levels but as long as we were comfortable, we were numb.

Then came Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent federal flood, which, by analogy, was to New Orleans what the last part of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens was to Pip the hero of the novel. Pip had always thought that the bitter recluse Miss Havisham had been his financial benefactor. He was wrong. His real patron was Magwich, an escaped convict turned magnate whom Pip had helped while a child.

<snip>

How does this apply to NOLA? Miss Havisham is a perfect symbol of the city. For years, we allowed our city to rot and decay and instead of trying to do something about it, we turned to drama, drugs, booze, food and apathy. If I had a hundred dollar bill for every time I’ve heard “you can’t change fill in the blank it’s New Orleans,” I’d be as rich as Pip’s portly solicitor, Mr. Jaggers. I’ve heard that line applied to government, litter, crime, you name it; it’s the catchall excuse. The city and its people were all comfortably numb.

That’s where we find ourselves in regard to mass shootings in our country: we’re comfortably numb. They happen so often that they’ve become routine. President Obama urges us to not treat them as such, and he’s right as a matter of policy, but it’s human nature to seek a safe haven.  Being comfortably numb helps ease the horror of events like the San Bernardino massacre.

One worrisome thing that happens after each of these dreadful event is the ritualistic response of various segments of society. As Athenae so eloquently pointed out last night, Republican politicians make a ritual of calling for prayers for the victims. The NRA, and the people who value the abstraction that is the Second Amendment, talk about mental illness and how much safer the world would be if all the good guys were armed to the teeth. Right thinking people who *want* to do something to stop the carnage advocate new gun control measures, which are automatically rejected by the Second Amendment purists and nothing happens. This post-massacre ritual/routine is the clearest indication that we’re still comfortably numb.

Another worrisome thing is how easy it is to divide mass shootings into genres as if they were movies. The slaughter in Southern California *could* be slotted into the workplace massacre genre also known as “going postal.” Since the perpetrators were Muslims with Arab names, the flying banshees of the Right *assume* that it’s Daesh/ISIL/Al-Qaeda related terrorism. We simply do not know the motives of the shooters at this point. We *do* know that it doesn’t fit into the following mass shooting genres: schools, health care clinics, shopping malls, fast food eateries; the variations seem to be horrifically endless. It’s no wonder that people want to crawl in bed and hide under the covers. It’s why we remain either comfortably or uncomfortably numb after each of these attacks.

I’m like everybody else: I just want the slaughter to stop. It’s clearly ridiculous for civilians to have military-style assault weapons, but in a country where a police union has advocated armed football fans such a reasonable goal seems unobtainable. One thing that would help the national discourse on this subject is for us to stop reacting ritualistically and stop slotting the shootings into genres. No wonder we’re comfortably numb: we can pigeonhole the latest atrocity and move on.

David Chase used a Roger Waters-Van Morrison version of Comfortably Numb as the soundtrack for the worst thing Tony ever did on The Sopranos: using a car wreck as an excuse to murder Christopher Moltisanti. Christopher popped the soundtrack of Scorsese’s The Departed into the CD player, which triggered the accident and Tony’s actions. After killing Christopher, Tony resorted to a string of rationalizations as to why it was the right gangster thing to do. He was never quite the same thereafter: becoming an even darker and more ruthless character as well as-you guessed it-comfortably numb. Let’s hope that life doesn’t imitate The Sopranos in this instance and we can move past our numbness in a constructive manner. I am, however, not optimistic. We’re all still comfortably numb.

Malaka Of The Week: Frank Scurlock

Photo via WDSU.

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

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

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

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

<SNIP>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo via The New Orleans Advocate.

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

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

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

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

Photo by Roberta LeGrand.

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

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

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

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

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

First Draft Potpourri: Why Not Madman Across The Water?

Remember when weekends used to be relatively quiet and people could focus on sports and other leisure activities, not national politics? It wasn’t that long ago. Although in my case the change might be a good thing: my San Francisco Giants are having their worst season since the 1980’s, LSU was blown out in Starksville, Ms of all places, and Saints fans are ready to wear bags after yesterday’s thumping at the hands of the Patriots. Perhaps I should skip the sporting lamentations and get down to it

Rocket Man? One of the reasons I nicknamed Donald Trump the Insult Comedian is his propensity to nickname his enemies. He’s not that good at it: Low Energy Jeb, Lyin’ Ted, and Crooked Hillary are uninspired but serviceable. He’s no threat to me or Charlie Pierce or my friend Dakinikat at  Sky Dancing who calls Trump, Kremlin Caligula. Of course, John Hurt as Caligula was much better looking and I shudder to think of Donald dancing in drag:

The Insult Comedian decided to take his empire of shtick abroad by nicknaming his fellow lunatic leader, Kim Jong Un:

I bet the South Korean President is over the moon after that call and subsequent tweet. I wonder if they discussed the local milk people as well or whether that topic is reserved for Aussie PM Malcolm Turnbull? I’m sure Malcolm would be willing to share: he’s used to being in the middle…

Trump clearly think he’s being clever, but nicknaming a crazy man with nukes is unwise. Like the Kaiser of Chaos himself, Kim Jong Un is not known for his ability to take a joke. Remember the shitstorm over the James Franco-Seth Rogen movie The Interview? Like Trump or any other bully, Rocket Man can dish it out but not take it. I’m concerned that Trump will follow-up the Kim Jong Un dubbing by posting this infamous version of the John-Maupin hit:

I suppose we should be grateful that Trump didn’t nickname Kim Jong Un after another Elton John song even if that would have been wittier:

We don’t want Rocket Man to Burn Down The Mission, after all.

Ty Cobb Slides Into Trouble: The MSM keeps telling us that Trump mouthpiece Ty Cobb is somehow related to the baseball hall of famer of that name. They never bother to explain the consanguinity. It’s starting to feel like my father’s tales of being related to scads of prominent Greek-Americans but I digress.

It seems that Cobb the lawyer *does* have some qualities often ascribed to the Detroit Tiger great, he’s hyper aggressive and has a big mouth:

The friction escalated in recent days after Mr. Cobb was overheard by a reporter for The New York Times discussing the dispute during a lunchtime conversation at a popular Washington steakhouse. Mr. Cobb was heard talking about a White House lawyer he deemed “a McGahn spy” and saying Mr. McGahn had “a couple documents locked in a safe” that he seemed to suggest he wanted access to. He also mentioned a colleague whom he blamed for “some of these earlier leaks,” and who he said “tried to push Jared out,” meaning Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, who has been a previous source of dispute for the legal team.

 After The Times contacted the White House about the situation, Mr. McGahn privately erupted at Mr. Cobb, according to people informed about the confrontation who asked not to be named describing internal matters. John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, sharply reprimanded Mr. Cobb for his indiscretion, the people said.

Mr. Cobb sought to defuse the conflict in an interview over the weekend, praising Mr. McGahn as a superb lawyer. “He has been very helpful to me, and whenever we have differences of opinion, we have been able to work them out professionally and reach consensus,” Mr. Cobb said. “We have different roles. He has a much fuller plate. But we’re both devoted to this White House and getting as much done on behalf of the presidency as possible.”

Ty Cobb, Esquire is better known for his exuberant mustache than sharpening his spikes, but he clearly has a sharp tongue. And like the ballplayer, he feuds with his “teammates.” I love stories of disarray at the Trump White House, especially when they make it apparent that the “Kelly discipline effect” is having limited impact. Keep up the good work, y’all.

Here’s the Original Ty Cobb “sliding” into home plate. Looks more like a kick to me. Dan McGhan better watch out.

The Trump-Russia scandal seems to be heating up again. It’s time for another dose of dossier dish.

The Not-So Dodgy Dossier: The original dodgy dossier was assembled by British intelligence to help Tony Blair sell the Iraq War to a wary Labour Party and a skeptical public. Many people thought that the dossier former British spook Christopher Steele assembled about the Trump-Russia mishigas was equally dodgy. One reason for  that was the incessant, infantile focus on the so-called pee tape by the twits of twitter.

There was an excellent piece on the Steele dossier last week in Slate by former American spook John Sipher. Sipher argues that much of the dossier has already been verified and that Steele is a credible person.

Given his name, I was relieved that the Sipher piece wasn’t written in cipher. I hope Sipher’s meticulous analysis will help dampen down the golden showers chatter amongst the resistance.  Toilet humor is for lame bro comedies and elementary school kids. It should be flushed by adults.

Ron Ziegler In A Frock

I don’t think many of our readers are old enough to have had the Ron Ziegler experience. Ziegler was, of course, Tricky Dick’s press secretary. He combined ignorance and arrogance in his dealings with the White House press corps. He was never (at the risk of sounding like Poppy Bush) in the loop and said many loopy things: my personal favorite was when he declared  his previous comments about the Watergate burglary “inoperative.”

Sarah Huckabee Sanders (hereinafter Huck’s Horrible Spawn) is well on her way to becoming the most hated White House press secretary since Ziegler; even the dread Ari Fleischer had his supporters. Huck’s Horrible Spawn clearly knows nothing about what’s going on in the White House she pretends to speak for. Today she urged ESPN to fire Jemele Hill for criticizing her boss on the sacred tweeter tube. Apparently, Trump is the only one who can fire off insulting tweets. So much for free speech.

Huck’s Horrible Spawn also dusted off her non-existent law degree and proclaimed James Comey a criminal. This is simultaneously ludicrous and menacing. The White House is threatening its opponents with jail or, in the case, of Ms. Hill, loss of her livelihood. This is a classic authoritarian move, which is why I originally called this post Creeping Authoritarianism. The image of  Ron Ziegler in a frock is much funnier. And we need all the comic relief we can get in the Trump era.

There’s one good thing in Huck’s Horrible Spawn being Ron Ziegler in a Frock. Like the Z-Man she knows nothing, bupkis, zilch about the scandals that are hanging over the White House. She may not even need to lawyer up or testify before Congress about her non-existent knowledge. It’s good to be out of the loop and in over your head.

I don’t have a picture of Ron Ziegler in a frock but I found a picture of him with Elvis Presley. That will  have to do.

 

 

 

This Is Massive

While we’ve all been focused on what’s happening in Southeast Texas, Politico’s Josh Sawsey broke a momentous story last night:

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is working with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on its investigation into Paul Manafort and his financial transactions, according to several people familiar with the matter.

The cooperation is the latest indication that the federal probe into President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman is intensifying. It also could potentially provide Mueller with additional leverage to get Manafort to cooperate in the larger investigation into Trump’s campaign, as Trump does not have pardon power over state crimes.

The two teams have shared evidence and talked frequently in recent weeks about a potential case, these people said. One of the people familiar with progress on the case said both Mueller’s and Schneiderman’s teams have collected evidence on financial crimes, including potential money laundering.

It’s no secret that federal and state authorities often engage in turf battles over investigations. I’m thrilled to learn that’s not the case in this important investigation of egregious white-collar criminality. Donald Trump is not just an asshole white nationalist, he’s a criminal who associates with other criminals from both the Italian-American and Russian mobs.

Speaking of criminal associates, I somehow missed the story from late July:

President Trump’s nominee to lead the Justice Department’s criminal division, Brian A. Benczkowski, said on Tuesday that he helped Russia’s Alfa Bank investigate whether its computer servers contacted the Trump Organization.

Mr. Benczkowski had told the Senate Judiciary Committee last week that he represented Alfa Bank, which is one of Russia’s largest financial institutions and whose owners have ties to President Vladimir V. Putin.

On Tuesday, as Mr. Benczkowski came before the panel for his confirmation hearing, he acknowledged that his work for Alfa Bank directly touched on suspicions related to the bank in connection with the Trump-Russia affair.

 Is there anyone  in the Trump administration* without ties to the Russians? They seem rather hard to find. Benczkowski has not and should not be confirmed. Do they have a job lined up for Felix Sater next?

The news about the Mueller-Schneiderman compact (I know there’s nothing formal but I like how that sounds) may lead to renewed speculation that the Insult Comedian will try to fire Mueller. I don’t think that will happen: it’s apparent that one of Kelly’s conditions for taking the Chief of Staff job was that the president* keep his tiny hands off the Mueller probe. Kelly, however, is unable to prevent Trump from acting so guilty. Of course, he *is* guilty.

The last word goes to the late Paul Hester with a tune he wrote for Split Enz:

The Unpardonable Arpaio Pardon

I wanted to add my two cents worth to the Arpaio pardon discussion. Everything about it smells worse than a post-Katrina refrigerator. The president* did not allow the pardon process to unfold or even consult with the Justice Department before issuing it. I suspect someone told him that he *had* to do that, which means he did the opposite. Although there are times when he acts like a petulant toddler, part of Trump is an eternal teenager forever rebelling against authority even when he *is* the authority. I believe the proper term is arrested adolescence. Tom Petty would surely call him a rebel without a clue.

The MSM has underplayed the extent of Arpaio’s offenses against human decency and proper police conduct. He ran his jail like a medieval warlord, using various forms of torture and neglect against the prisoners. Like the Insult Comedian, he believes in “roughing up criminals” including those who are awaiting trial and thereby presumed innocent. The president* has told the world that he considers police brutality to be proper procedure. The Arpaio pardon reinforces that message as well as telling bigots that hatred is cool as long as you support Trump. It’s a new variation on the IOKIYAR theme: IOKIYAT or it’s okay if you’re a Trumper.

The most worrisome aspect of the Arpaio pardon is the precedent it sets for the Russia scandal.  It’s increasingly apparent that Trump plans to pardon his way out of legal jeopardy. The Arpaio pardon is a dress rehearsal for the main eventski. The potential of a wave of pardons will oblige Team Mueller to modify their tactics BUT it will not end the investigation. If Manafort, Kushner, and company accept pardons, they can still be compelled to testify. And they will not be able to take the Fifth because of the pardon. They will have to testify truthfully or face *other* charges because prospective pardons are flat-out illegal. Another round of pardons would add to the list of impeachable offenses, which is longer than Kevin Durant’s arms. Holy wingspan, Batman.

Acceptance of a pardon is an admission of guilt as much as the Arpaios and Nixons of the world would disagree. Russia scandal pardons would only serve to make Trump look even guiltier that does already. Bigly.

I’m uncertain if I’ve ever given Jimi Hendrix the last word but there’s no time like the present.

First Draft Potpourri: Arpaio To Play Edition

I just have a few items for a hot-steamy-n-cloudy Thursday. Of course, it’s August in New Orleans so it’s always hot-n-steamy, hot-n-nasty even:

The focus of this edition is a man who never eats humble pie. I think you know who I’m talking about: the Insult Comedian.

Arpaio To Play: To be blunt, former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is a racist piece of shit. He was finally voted out by Phoenician voters last fall. Yeah, they actually call themselves that. I guess Phoenixers was too negative and Phoenixons sounds too much like a certain former president.

Trump’s pals at CNN broke the story that the administration* is preparing the paperwork if the Lost Causer In Chief pardons his fellow racist:

An administration official said the White House has also prepared talking points to send to surrogates after he is pardoned.
One of the talking points is that Arpaio served his country for 50 years in the military, the Drug Enforcement Administration and as Arizona’s Maricopa County sheriff, and that it is not appropriate to send him to prison for “enforcing the law” and “working to keep people safe.”
Arpaio, an early Trump supporter, was found guilty last month of criminal contempt for disregarding a court order in a racial profiling case. He is scheduled to be sentenced on October 5.
Though the timing remains unclear, the President alluded that he would soon pardon Arpaio during his rally in Phoenix, Arizona, Tuesday night.
“I won’t do it tonight because I don’t want to cause any controversy,” Trump said, after Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said he would “inflame passions” if he did so. “I’ll make a prediction,” Trump added. “I think he’s going to be just fine.”

Dig the line about avoiding controversy in a speech that had the president* frothing at the mouth like a rabid dog. It’s a pity that he can’t be quarantined so he can catch up on his teevee watching.

The signal that Trump would send to the nation if he pardoned Arpaio is clear: bigotry is “beautifu”l as long you support me. Trump kept referring to Arpaio in his speech as “Sheriff Joe” as if he were Andy Taylor of teevee’s Mayberry. Arpaio is more like Judge Roy Bean. He’s a nasty piece of work who should not be pardoned so, of course, Trump will do it. It’s who and what he is.

Quote Of The Day: The Guardian  spoke to some Trumpers outside the Phoenix rally. The money quote comes from wignut Arizona State Senator, Sylvia Allen:

Trump is a breath of fresh air. He’s totally not a political person. He’s a businessman: he’s anti-left, he’s anti-PC, he’s anti-stupid.

The Insult Comedian is anti-stupid? That’s the stupidest damn thing I’ve heard in quite some time. Ms. Allen should look in the mirror if she wants to see stupid.

I’m sick of the endless pulse-taking of the baser members of Trump’s base. There’s a rock solid 25% who aren’t embarrassed by his demented antics and bigoted policies. I’m tired of hearing about the hardcore deplorables. Doesn’t the MSM owe Hillary an apology for raking her over the coals about the basket of deplorables comment? She was right and they were wrong. Chris Cillizza should be made to scrub the toilets at Hill-n-Bill’s crib; without a brush like Ken Shabby in this classic Python sketch:

Tweet Of The Day:  Speaking of the Clintons, Chelsea spoke out against mockery at the expense of Barron Trump:

The offending tweet was deleted but it echoed an article at Tucker Carlson’s joint criticizing the kid for wearing a t-shirt and shorts. How dare he dress like a tween? The nerve.

Good on ya, Chelsea. I remember when Rushbo went after you for looking like a gawky kid when you were one. Empathy is an excellent quality. It’s a pity that Barron’s father doesn’t have it but, unlike his adult siblings, the kid is a non-combatant. Leave him the fuck alone.

Trump Theme Song Time: Watching the Primal Screamer In Chief’s Phoenix pity party, it occurred to me that Warren Zevon’s Poor Poor Pitiful Me would be a great Trump theme song. The narrator is a cad much like the grubby pussygrabbing president*.

I may get around to writing some new lyrics but the chorus is easy: “Poor poor pitiful me. CNN won’t let me be. Lord have mercy on me. Woe is me.”

Guess who gets the last word?

 

 

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:

How We Got Here

Whet has a fantastic history lesson for all those MAH GRANDPAPPY JUST TOOK A CHICKEN TO THE DOCTOR TO PAY bleaters out there. Most likely Gramps didn’t go to the doctor at all, even if there was a spare chicken around.

A.

What They Live On

Been saying for a while that Trump isn’t complicated. He’s hit on a line — white resentment — that sells, and he’ll keep selling it until it doesn’t work anymore: 

The condemnations began soon after Trump’s speech to law enforcement officers in Brentwood, New York, Friday, aimed at bolstering local police efforts to combat a spike in violence attributed to the Marasalvatrucha, or MS-13, gang.

“When you see these towns and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in, rough, I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice,'” the president told the officers assembled at Suffolk County Community College.

“Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head – you know, the way you put their hand over – like, ‘Don’t hit their head’ and they’ve just killed somebody. ‘Don’t hit their head,'” he added. “I said, ‘You can take the hand away, OK?'”

That a crime wave is not caused by cops making sure a suspect doesn’t bash his head on the car hood is obvious, natch, and every police department rushed out to Twitter to be all NOT US WE’RE NOT LIKE THAT NO NO NO. Which was nice, except that there are by far more allegations of excessive force than there are of excessive kindness: 

In a statement given to People’s Law Office attorney Flint Taylor last spring, Holmes said he was taken to an Area Two interrogation room, where detectives put a plastic bag over his head. Holmes said that after he bit through the bag in order to breathe, Burge put a second bag over the first. Holmes told Taylor that he remembered hearing a crank turning and Burge saying, “You going to talk, nigger, you going to talk.”

“It feel like a thousand needles going through my body,” Holmes said. “And then after that, it just feel like, you know–it feel like something just burning me from inside, and um, I shook, I gritted, I hollered, then I passed out. . . . They put the bag back on me, took me through the same thing again. They did that I don’t know how many times. . . . I said to myself, ‘Man, he trying to kill me.’ And I thought I was dead because all I could see was blackness, and I said, ‘Man, this is it. I’m gone.’ When I looked up, they brought me back again. Burge was the one that was . . . bringing me back. Every time I come to, he be the one standing over me.

“But the point is, when you see police doing you like this here and there’s nobody there to help you, you like, ‘Man, is this real?’ You know it can’t be real. . . . But then you realize it ain’t no dream state because you started feeling this pain, just like somebody stabbing you in your heart, you know, and you fixing to die, but you won’t die. You just still there. . . . Ain’t nothing like it. It’s just like, you know, just diving in some water that’s ice-cold and it hits you at one time and it take your breath away and you get pain. It freezes you up. It’s just like somebody just cut away everything that’s inside you and there’s nothing to hold you back. . . . When they got through with me, I didn’t care what it was–if they said I killed Bob or the president or anybody, I would say, ‘Yeah, how do you want me to say this? This the way I did it? Yeah, this the way I did it.’ . . .

“When I tried to tell people that they did me like this, ain’t nobody want to listen to me. When I go to the parole board, I tell them the same thing. They look at me like, you know, ‘You got jailhouse slick.'”

Trump’s talk of empowering cops to go beat the shit out of bad guys isn’t new, of course, that’s what being the “law and order” candidate and shitting all over Chicago was always about. His natural audience is people who picture the city as a teeming mass of minority criminals ready to rise up and murder nice white families downtown for their annual matinee.

At best, he’s an old racist shithead who, like many people his age, grew up on a steady diet of crime shows set in NYC. You know what’s on TV all day if you’re not watching Fox? Law and Order. Some channel is running a marathon at all times.

His supporters watched a lot of America’s Most Wanted, and they watched a lot of NYPD Blue, and they watched and still watch hours and hours and hours of Law and Order. Twenty-four hours a day, hookers are getting strangled and dumped in alleys, and the “perps” are going free because some cop who Just Couldn’t Take It Anymore didn’t wait for a weenie judge to sign a warrant.

That’s the city to them, that place where their parents had such a nice neighborhood and You Should See It Now, it’s been ruined by Those People. Their only interaction with city police is Lenny Briscoe. And if the cops were just “unleashed” to do it like they do in the movies, well, maybe they could get something done.

“Something” being hit with a $5 million misconduct lawsuit that’s just gonna stop the cops who aren’t assholes from solving any actual problems, but that’s not the point. The point is to talk tough, not to accomplish anything.

A.