Category Archives: Law/Justice

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Day I Get Home

Fantastic Landscape (Volcano Erupting) by David Alfaro Siquerios.

Our visit to Virginia was a quickie. One of the highlights came on the return trip when we met longtime First Draft readers Lex and Carroll Alexander for lunch. We rendezvoused at Stamey’s in Greensboro, NC and ate the food of their people: barbecue. The meal included perhaps the best peach cobbler I’ve ever had. A good time was had by all but I’m afraid Carroll and I did most of the talking. She has family roots in the Gret Stet of Louisiana and I was eager to untangle them. Nosy might be a better word, but it’s always fun to learn someone has Momus/Comus/Proteus old line krewe types in the family. You never know what happens when you give someone’s family tree a shake. All sorts of oddities are likely to fall out.

On a weird note, I got into a twitter slagging match last week with a Gret Stet legislator’s wife. My crime was criticizing her hubby’s voting record. She was not amused and he contacted me by DM. “Perfection” is a terrible burden and they don’t carry it well. #sarcasm. I wound up inviting them to a “block party” so the fight would end. I’m not sure why they think fighting with citizens is a good move but they do.  I’m not the first person to have this experience and won’t be the last. Weird, weird, weird.

This week’s theme song wedged itself in my head on our trip home. The title is a minor misnomer  as we got home last Sunday. The very Beatlesque The Day I Get Home was written by Difford and Tilbrook for 1991’s Play album. We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the original studio recording and a swell live performance.

Now that we’ve trekked home, it’s time to jump to the break without crash landing. Knock on wood or some such superstitious shit.

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Hostages To Misfortune

Every time we think Trumpism cannot get worse, they exceed our already low expectations. The family separation policy makes sucking up to dictators and fighting with allies look positively tame. Angela Merkel is a tough woman who can take care of herself. Children torn from their parents cannot. Let the children go, Mr. Trump.

Team Trump’s chaotic messaging has made matters even worse. The very white lady at Homeland Security cannot keep her story straight, Jeff Bo is quoting the Bible, and the president* started blaming Democrats the minute the story blew up in the administration’s face. Democrats are supposed to repeal a non-existent law so the kids can go free and/or be deported. It’s the clusterfuck of clusterfucks. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos.

What’s really going on is a hostage crisis. Team Trump are the kidnappers. They’re making unreasonable demands: FUND THE WALL or else. The hostages are children torn from their parents and placed in cages, cells whatever you want to call them. What’s important is that this outrage stop. Pronto.

Trump has no problem using immigrant children as hostages. There’s a long history in this country of demonizing non-white children as Rebecca Onion pointed out at Slate:

Like so many cruelties that have intensified under Trumpism, the idea that only white American children are truly “innocent” and worthy of protection isn’t his invention—it’s just subtext, made text. As historian Tera Hunter wrote in the New York Times, “child-snatching” has a long history in the United States. Black parents in slavery and Native American parents facing white colonialism had children sold, killed, or put into boarding schools and re-educated out of their culture. “Nits make lice,” Col. John Chivington is supposed to have said before the Sand Creek Massacre in Colorado in 1864, when his soldiers killed a group of Cheyenne and Arapaho, women, children, and all. Part of the rationale for these atrocities was that these children are not really children, in the way white people understand it—those families were not really families, and those people were not really people.

It’s horrifying that Trump *is* capable of saying something as deplorable (there’s that word again) as “nits make lice.” In this instance, it’s probably good that his ignorance of history is as profound as his malice for everyone who does not look like him. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen such raw, naked, overt racism in the White House. It should curdle the blood of all decent Americans. It was too much for Laura Bush. Let the children go, Mr. Trump.

Adding to the horror of the situation is that the New Yorker is reporting that the government does not have a plan or protocol to reunite the families they’ve torn apart.  They think of them as pawns in this president’s* game of low brow chess with Congress. It’s because the families consist of “nits and lice” as far as the Trump regime is concerned. They do not give a damn.

I thought of Francis Bacon’s words when I sat down to write this post:

He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief.

There’s no fortune to be made in this situation. Donald Trump’s goal is to wreak as much havoc and destruction as possible while he’s in office. They say that misery loves company and the Insult Comedian is one miserable, angry son-of-a-bitch. His election made us all hostages to misfortune.

We should resist in whatever way available and, more importantly, get out and vote this November. Only a Democratic Congress can reign in this cruel, racist, and evil government. I’m tired of being a hostage to misfortune.

The last word goes to the good people at the New York Daily News. A tabloid headline speaks louder than a thousand words;

And Then?

Donald Trump is not gonna quit.

Donald Trump is not gonna get impeached, tried, convicted and removed from office.

Donald Trump is not gonna be indicted, probably.

Stop fantasizing about these scenarios.

Donald Trump will be president until 2020.* No matter what happens with Russia, no matter what happens with Congress. We have him for two more years, and we just have to handle that. You know why?

Because any other scenario leads to a truly horrifying amount of violence for the marginalized communities already under attack. Think about it.

Trump resigns. (This presumes a sense of shame he and his advisors don’t have and can’t develop. He’s not going to go quietly and build a presidential library somewhere. I don’t care how long the pee tape is or what he looks like in it. He can’t stop, because if he could stop he’d have done it already.)

Trump gets impeached and tried in the Senate. (The circus that was the Clinton impeachment would look like a parking lot carnival. Hearings would be disrupted constantly, the cable news complex might just actually explode, and it would be impossible to get a word in edgewise in any medium whatsoever. The wrangling alone over the timing and disposition of the trial, the testimony, the amount of witness tampering that’s possible when your entire administration is in hock to the Russian mob? By the time we get around to day one it’ll be 2045.)

EITHER of those come true, and the current culture war dunks itself in lighter fluid and runs through a fireworks tent. Democrats are already DEMONCRAPS and a threat to our democracy, liberals are for threatening and doxxing and attempting to rape, people are screaming about brown-people voter fraud in elections the Republicans WIN.

Trump gets kicked out and/or convinced to quit because of scandal, and remember that whackjob who showed up at the pizza joint? His mini-mes will be in every post office by the following weekend. It’s ALREADY not safe for Hillary to appear in public without a bulletproof vest, you think anybody with an “I’m With Her” hat is gonna be safe?

Trump dying in office is actually worse than either of those scenarios. The man is elderly and obese and not, shall we say, in a good mental place right now, and was not healthy even when he was young. The presidential schedule is punishing even for a guy as lazy as he is, with all the air travel and such. So let’s say he dies of what are declared natural causes, which to the sane among us would be a reasonable pronouncement for a septuagenarian who thinks exercise is a scam.

What do you think happens next?

The investigations on Timmy’s YouTube Amateur Fest, otherwise known as Fox and Friends. That’s what happens next. The theories about poison and secret garrotings and who the White House doctors REALLY ARE, those are what will make it onto Fox News. On 4chan and the MRA subreddits there won’t be theories, just conspiracies, about how someone killed THEIR LORD. His embodiment of their resentment is all that’s keeping them from swatting every girl who was mean to them in high school. Remove that, and there’s just no damn telling.

If God forbid he is assassinated all fucking hell breaks loose. This is actually our worst nightmare. There are people in this country who think they are fighting a race war and they’re not on the fringes anymore. All it would take was one whisper on the wind that a black or brown or Muslim person killed Trump (no matter WHO it actually was) and nobody would be safe.

Every fucking day I hear somebody fantasizing about one of the above scenarios without thinking about who’s going to get hurt once we witness Trump getting his ass beat thoroughly in an election or a courtroom or by his own arteries. I just want us to understand that while there may be rejoicing in liberal blogistan the hatred he’s unleashed is going to be vented on people who already have more to lose and we have to figure out how to keep them safe.

Whenever someone wishes Trump would get indicted or otherwise split town, I have to ask them what they think happens next. And what happens after that, and after that, and after that. We have to start planning for more than just stockpiling champagne.

A.

*Would LOVE to be wrong about any of this and will cheerfully accept the ribbing that will come with my wrongness.

Scott Pruitt: Chickenshit Grifter

I’m sure you’ve all heard about Scott Pruitt having an aide badger Chik-fil-A into giving his wife a franchise. Hey, they’ll need an income when Scotty stops grifting the EPA. It’s gotten so bad that Gret Stet Senator John Neely Kennedy publicly urged Scotty to “stop acting like a moron.” The national media has learned what the Louisiana press has known for years: Neely likes spouting off on teevee and usually has a corny one-liner saved up. If he weren’t a Republican, I might offer to supply him with some Neelyisms but he is so I won’t. Besides, I’m not adept at Hee Haw humor.

Back to Scott Pruitt. The reason I call him a chickenshit grifter is that he’s fond of grifting relatively small amounts aka chickenfeed or chickenshit. He’s even been asked to stop messing up the White House mess by eating there so much. Yo, Scotty: pay your tab, it’s only 400 bucks.  In short, this is chickenshit grifting at its smallest and pettiest. Avarice thy name is Scotty.

I was astonished when this tweet landed on my timeline:

I checked to make sure this was an genuine Fox News feed. It is indeed and it’s actually “fair and balanced.” I didn’t know they were allowed to criticize Scotty. This could be a signal to the Insult Comedian that it’s time to stop watching Scotty grift. Grift, Scotty, grift.

One would think that, as a major criminal, Trump would be offended by the picayune and penny-ante antics of Scotty. They’re both grifters but Scotty is strictly small time. He’s hanging on because the president* likes his terrible policies but he can turn on a dime; just ask Trudeau or Macron. I wonder when Scotty will ask for a pardon. Let’s start the countdown…

Whenever I think of Chik-fil-A, I think of this masterful float by the Krewe du Vieux sub-kreme, Seeds of Decline, as well as this photo by my erstwhile nemesis, Michael Homan.

Photograph by Michael Homan.

Since I refuse to give Homan the last word, I might as well expel this disgusting earworm from my head.

One of these days I’ll write new lyrics and transform that horrendous tune  into Watching Scotty Grift. There could even be an alternate version, Watching Scotty Blow.

The answer, my friend, is grifting in the wind, the answer is grifting in the wind.

It’s Good To Be Kaiser

The Kaiser of Chaos was feeling feisty this morning. He tweeted out a preposterous assertion of executive authority:

So, why tweet this if you’re a not guilty man? (Like “collusion,” “innocent” is not a legal term of art: please substitute “conspiracy” and “not guilty.”) Something big is going on behind the scenes right now. This is the latest in a long line of panic tweets sent by the man who thinks he’s dictator. He’s a dictator in his mind only but the public needs to pay careful attention when he gets like this.

Trump’s plan is to live and die by the tweeter tube so it’s only fitting to post a twitter riposte to the president*:

I’ve complained before about amateur internet and cable teevee lawyers. Trumpy is by far the worst of the bunch. Frankly, his real lawyers aren’t much better after that fakakata memo they sent to team Mueller asserting that it’s legal for the president* to shit on the constitution and wipe his ass with the bill of rights. And of course Mayor Noun Verb 9/11 has been all over teevee belching and farting smoke. I’ve come to the conclusion that Rudy and Trumpy are the same dude. Heckuva job, Rudy.

Very few genuine legal eagles think that Team Trump’s claims hold any water. If they did, we’d already be living in a dictatorship instead of watching a pre-Great War style autocratic hereditary monarchy creep up on us. There are signs of it every day; particularly in the admonitions to exempt Trump’s family from criticism and scrutiny. His son-in-law and daughter are White House aides so they’re fair game. Junior and Eric have big mouths so they are too. I feel sorry for Melania and cannot blame her for disappearing. Lord, what a family.

Back to legal scholars. I’d like to direct your attention to two op-ed pieces in today’s Failing New York Times. The first by a Democrat: former Deputy Attorney General and US Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Harry Litman. The second piece is by former Reagan and Poppy Bush White House counsel, Douglas Kmiec. who deftly lays out precedents on executive power. Holy bipartianship, Batman.

There are also some swell pieces at Slate. The first by Jed Shugerman posits that Trump’s lawyers seem to have admitted that he obstructed justice. It’s a detailed essay so you should read it for yourself but it’s as convincing as hell. We already knew that a legal team featuring Jay Sekulow, Rudy Giuliani, and the departed John Dowd was not ready for prime time. The Shugerman piece confirms that belief.

Finally, the divine Dahlia Lithwick conducts an extended interview with Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Tribe; known to our readers as Larrrr-eeee Tryyyyyy-buh. Tribe and Dahlia both urge Democrats to avoid “magical thinking” and understand the limits of what can be accomplished by Team Mueller, impeachment, and the 25th amendment.

These are perilous times. We have a petulant president* who believes that he is above the law. He’s surrounded by yes men and women who only tell him what he wants to hear. He conducts himself like a medeval monarch dispensing justice to his followers and denying it to his opponents. I’m fond of the Kaiser Wilhelm II analogy because *that* fucking moron was deposed at the end of the Great War. Like Trump, he was an arrested adolescent who fled to Holland to avoid being arrested. I wonder if they’d take Trumpy in? Not bloody likely.

One more tweet before we go. If only the Kaiser of Chaos would listen to Jerry Ford:

For the record, Ford’s Attorney General, Edward Levi, was the one who cleaned house at the Justice Department after Watergate. It’s his legacy of apolitical justice that’s under attack by the Kaiser of Chaos and the Duke of Deception, Rudy Giuliani.

The last word goes to the late Tom Petty. All you have to do is substitute Kaiser for King:

Saturday Odds & Sods: I Heard It Through The Grapevine

The Memory by Rene Magritte.

It’s been a long, hot pre-summer so far, which has me feeling languid and ennui laden. We went to an anniversary/hurricane season opening day party yesterday at Chez Homan. Long time readers might recall Michael as my blog nemesis. The feud is over and I won.

I’m still suffering withdrawal symptoms from the end of The Americans. A bit of Moscow summer weather sounds rather appealing at this point. Of course, they make you drink vodka so I’ll pass. I guess that makes me as stubborn as a Moscow Mule…

It’s too hot to be wordy so I’ll keep this snappy. I know, famous last words and all that shit.

This week’s theme song was written by the brilliant Motown songwriting team of Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong in 1966. It was originally recorded by Gladys Knight & the Pips but Marvin Gaye’s rendition was the bigger radio hit. It’s a foolproof song, which has been recorded many times over the years. We’re featuring Gladys, Marvin, and CCR today.

Now that we’ve shared some juicy gossip. lets find some shade and jump to the break.

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How to Rise

Screw Rudy and George and the pile of burning metal they rode into myth on:

The problem with this movie isn’t so much that Rudy was shitty and then wasn’t. It’s that anyone on earth can show up in a crisis and we think that proves anything at all.

Think about it. Think about an actual crisis. Yes, shit is on fire, but you have something discrete to do. Your job is to stand in front of the cameras and calm everybody down. Approve things someone else has thought of. Say yes and no. You can be calm in that, when everybody’s watching.

But the next day? And the next? And the next? The days after, or before, all eyes are on you? When there’s no galvanizing event, when there’s no movie playing in your head complete with inspiring soundtrack? Can you show up then?

Can you do it when nobody’s watching? When nobody’s taking pictures? Can you do it when you know nobody’s ever gonna throw you a parade?

It’s not even about “in adversity,” because adversity, too, is grounding and centering and motivating. When they’re throwing rotten fruit at you you can laugh and duck and give them the finger. Can you work for others when your work is ignored? When the response to your almost killing yourself is, at most, a shrug?

That’s the test. The hard, grinding, everyday bullshit of working for the common good, that’s the prize.

W. stood on the debris pile and yelled into a microphone and the whole country listened. Rudy held everyone in his hands and said the death toll may be more than we can bear. It’s hard to remember those moments honestly now because shortly thereafter everybody lost their whole entire minds, but in those moments they were needed, these two clown princes of public life, and they did a job.

They did a job and did it well. But it wasn’t THE job, and the problem with a redemption story is that it ends, redeemed. We get so angry and disappointed with our leaders and our lives because nothing is like that, nothing at all.

What is the story if it’s just getting up every single day and making the coffee? Where’s the soundtrack for that? For the long walk home after you cross the finish line, for the stretch and the laundry and the dinner the next night? What if you were judged by the public not on how high you rise in the moment but on where you settle down, at the close of the day, when you’re bone tired and all you want to do is sleep?

What if we judged based on what you did then? What would that look like? Just you, alone in the dark, working on something that nobody cares about, sanding it down and making it fine and true. No one will ever see it. No one will properly appreciate it. No one will even know.

Do you do the job then?

That’s your fucking Capra film.

A.

Crossfire Hurricane: Deep State, Deep Doo Doo

I pinch myself almost every day that a minority of the voters (with help from Russian intelligence) elected an Insult Comedian with a dead nutria pelt atop his head to the highest office in the land. We’re bombarded with this fucking moron’s nonsense and stupidity on a daily basis. One of the things I find most disconcerting is Trump’s continuing reliance on bizarre conspiracy theories when, in theory, he should be the best informed person in the country. While it’s true that most of the conspiracy theories are self-serving, the dumb fucker believes them.

Things have gotten even weirder since the failing New York Times published its big story about the FBI counter-intelligence operation Crossfire Hurricane. Against all evidence. Team Trump insists it was an Obama administration operation aimed at undermining their campaign and/or overthrowing Trump in a Deep State coup. I guess that’s why it was secret until last week. #sarcasm. Instead, it was the least intrusive way to investigate some serious allegations. Of course, we know that the Trumpers are denizens of the Derp State, so why should anyone be surprised by this meshuga crapola.

I am mildly thrilled that the Feebs used the opening line of the Rolling Stones classic Jumpin’ Jack Flash as the code name for the investigation. That would never have happened in the Hoover era when rock and roll was considered subversive, especially the Stones who were bad boys then, plutocrats now. Jumpin’ Jack Flash it’s still a gas, gas, gas.

Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman has great sources in the alternate universe known, to me at least, as Trumpistan. He has a wild piece today at The Hive about the latest conspiracy theories and even got our old pal Roger Stone to go on the record:

According to people familiar with Trump’s thinking, his team is attempting to build the case that anti-Trump forces in the F.B.I. entrapped his advisers using informants to plant evidence about Russian collusion. The theory goes that the F.B.I. later used these contacts with the Russians to delegitimize his presidency. Trump’s advisers say the intelligence community believed Hillary Clinton would win the presidency, but in case she didn’t, they concocted this elaborate plot to remove Trump from office. “Just when you think it can’t get stranger, it does,” a Trump adviser told me. Stone claims the anti-Trump conspiracy includes senior intelligence officials from the Barack Obama administration. “The guy who will end up burning in all this is [former C.I.A. director] John Brennan,” Stone told me. “If I were him I’d break the capsule and swallow it now. That psychopath is going down.”

Brennan is a psychopath now? It takes one to know one, Rog. I’ll see you on the Dark Stone of the Moon, dude. The lunatic is now on the sinkhole laden White House grass. It’s time to revive this meme from the October 20, 2016 post referred to above:

I’m curious as to how the CIA director was pulling the strings at the FBI. The Feebs have always zealously protected their independence up to and including the Comey era. You don’t have to be Mark (Deep Throat) Felt to figure that one out. The only reality in the Derp State is what helps Trump save his worthless ass from prosecutors.

I’m back to pinching myself. What disturbs me is that there are people out there who believe that the so-called Deep State is why our country in trouble when it’s really the conspiracy theorist in the chief who put the derp in deep, which is why we’re all in deep doo doo. Hopefully, we won’t sink before the November election, which is when we’ll have a chance to elect a Congress that will do its job and rein in these crazies. But it will take years for the country to regain sanity after losing its mind on 11/8/2016.

The last word goes to the Stones and two of my favorite covers of Jumpin’ Jack Flash. It’s still a gas, gas, gas.

Not Everything Sucks, Even in Prison

This is the world: 

Seven days a week, the workers pull 10- to 15-hour shifts, often longer. It’s one of the lowest paid jobs available, making just 15 to 32 cents an hour. They brush patients’ teeth, massage sore limbs, read books out loud, strip soiled mattresses and assist the medical staff. Trust is a rare currency in prison, and some patients whisper conspiracies that the hospice doctors and nurses prioritize the interests of the criminal-justice system over their well-being. The workers can serve as the trusted middlemen between the patients and medical staff. When patients are in their final hours, it is the workers who sit bedside, holding round-the-clock vigils. They pride themselves on their policy: No prisoner here dies alone.

People have a phenomenal capacity for kindness and courage, and we underestimate that just all the goddamn time.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: One Week

Asheville by Willem de Kooning

I’ve mentioned the celestial switch that heralds summer heat in New Orleans. It switched on this week. Yowza. We’ve had record heat almost every day, followed by torrential rain yesterday.  Yowza. We’ve even had the odd afternoon brown-out as the utility company struggles to keep up with demand or so they say. Entergy doesn’t have a lot of credibility after they astroturfed a meeting at which the city council voted on a new power plant for the company. In short, they padded the room with paid actors. They blamed a sub-contractor but nobody’s buying it.

In other local news, two of my friends, Will Samuels, and blog pun consultant, James Karst, had parts on the season finale of NCIS: New Orleans. In honor of their appearance on this fakakta show, we have pictures.

Will is the gent in the shades. He usually wears Hawaiian shirts so I almost didn’t recognize him.

They actually let Karst hold a prop gun. I gotta say he looks like a proper Feeb, skinny tie and all. He’s even in a scene with series regular CCH Pounder best known to me as Claudette on The Shield.

This week’s theme song, One Week, was a monster hit for Barenaked Ladies  in 1998. We have two versions for your consideration. The original video followed by a clip wherein the band reunited with former co-lead singer, Steven Page earlier this year. BNL performed a medley of One Week and If I Had A Million Dollars.

It’s time to count this week’s receipts while we jump to the break. They’re considerably less than a million dollars.

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The Fog Of Scandal: The Fixer Meets Spiro Agnew

We’ve finally learned why Team Trump freaked out over the Michael Cohen raid. It looks as if the Fixer has been a busy boy shaking down big corporations and getting paid off by a Russian oligarch. He’s been doing business as Essential Consultants: the business is selling access to the White House. Remember when the Insult Comedian went on about pay for play during the 2016 campaign? It was classic Trumpian projection. Anyone who found the Fixer’s services essential was paying to play and some of the action involved Russian money.

Kremlingate and the Stormy shitshow have publicly intersected for the first time. There’s bound to be more to come. There’s a lot of dirty Russian money out there that needs laundering and some of it may have landed in the president’s* greedy hands. It’s a small palm to grease but money may well have flowed from Cohen’s shell company to one of Trump’s shell companies. Does anyone still think Kremlingate is too complicated for people to understand? People understand pay-offs and bribes.

This is a good time for everyone to brush up on the Agnew resignation. Tricky’s Veep was caught taking bribes from contractors back home in Maryland. The graft continued *after* Agnew moved from Annapolis to Washington City. Since federal prosecutors were uncertain if a sitting Veep could be indicted, a plea bargain was struck in exchange for Agnew’s resignation from office. This is a scenario that should be added to impeachment and the 25th Amendment in 2018. The Agnew scenario may be what Michael Avenatti has in mind when he confidently asserts that Trump will not finish his term.

This is getting more entertaining every day. I guess I have to take back my criticisms of Avenatti’s camera hog ways. Unlike Rudy Giuliani, he’s a camera hog who delivers the goods.

I originally titled this post The Fixer On Shakedown Street, so the last word goes to the Grateful Dead.

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Hanging Upside Down

Self Portrait with Halo by Paul Gaugin.

Early summer has arrived in New Orleans. This week featured temperatures in the 80’s as well as the return of Formosan termite swarms who are more annoying than the average tourist. I realize I write a lot about the weather in this space. I became weather obsessed after a certain event in August, 2005. Can you blame me?

This week’s theme song comes from the David Byrne songbook. We saw him at Jazz Fest last Sunday. I’ll review it after the jump. He didn’t play Hanging Upside Down but it’s one of my favorite tunes from his salsa influenced period. It rocks with a jazzy Brazilian beat.

Now that I’ve hung you upside down to dry or some such shit, let’s jump to the break.

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Enquiring Minds Flip On The Fixer

If Fox News is state television for the Trump era, the National Enquirer is the state newspaper. That’s right, a sleazy supermarket tabloid is the Trumper’s Pravda. Trump is often called a reality teevee president* it is equally accurate to call him a tabloid president*.

Long before reality teevee became a thing, Trumpy was a tabloid tycoon. When Enquiring Minds go after one of the Insult Comedian’s former lackeys, that’s some serious shit. It’s the Fixer’s turn on the checkout aisle:

Much like articles in the  old Soviet press, *what* Pecker’s publication says is less important than the headlines.  Its stories are usually lies about secrets and lies. The import is that Trump’s inner circle expects Cohen to flip like a pancake now that he’s on Team Mueller’s flattop grill.  I  would share some lies about secrets and lies but the story isn’t online yet and I’m not shelling out money for Pecker’s putrid publication. It’s okay: hardcore Trumpers (hereinafter the 20%) would rather look at the pictures anyway. Why read when your hero is functionally illiterate?

The notion that Michael Cohen would make like Sopranos capo Big Pussy and rat the boss out is not exactly shocking.  It reminds me of a line Sam Spade threw at the Fat Man’s gunsel Wilmer in The Maltese Falcon: “The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter.”

Gaudy patter is the Fixer’s speciality.

Since my Life Imitates The Sopranos pictures are so popular, here are side-by-side stoolies:

The guy with the pinky ring looks more like a law school graduate than the nitwit with the cell phone. So it goes.

Since Cohen is big in the taxi business, I’ve been meaning to post this pre-Uber Tull tune. There’s no time like the present:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Go Your Own Way

High Summer, World of Light by Gillian Ayres.

 The April weather in New Orleans has been so fabulous that I’m convinced we’ll pay for it this summer. It’s been cool, sunny, and not muggy. It’s something to hold on during the dog days of summer when it gets hot enough to melt your face and various extremities.

Jazz Fest started yesterday. I’ve gone from loving it to feeling conflicted. I rarely object to change but most of the changes they’ve made post-K have been, well, objectionable. The promoters and their apologists continue to tell us it’s a community oriented festival but they’ve priced most locals out. Oh well, enough bitching. Here’s a quick reminder of the Krewe of Spank’s 2017 theme, which says it all:

This week’s theme song was written by Lindsey Buckingham for Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 masterpiece Rumors. It subsequently became the closing number at most of their shows. We have three versions for your listening pleasure. First, the original studio track followed by a scorching 1997 live version. I believe it melted my face the first time I heard it. Finally, an orchestral interpretation by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Fleetwood Mac has been in the news of late with the announcement of their umpteenth lineup change. Lindsey is out for now. In a backhand compliment to his talent, they’re replacing him with two great musicians: Neil Finn of Crowded House and Mike Campbell of the Heartbreakers. If this were a baseball trade, it would be a good one. I’m a diehard fan of both Neil and Mike, so I’m fascinated to hear Fleetwood Mac Mach 4444.

Now that I’ve geeked out, let’s jump to the break. I hope First Draft doesn’t trade me for a blogger to be named later.

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The P-Word

Not that P-Word; get your minds out of the Russian gutter, y’all. P in this instance is for pardons. I hate to agree with the Insult Comedian about anything but the question about pardoning Michael Cohen was indeed stupid. Unless you’re Tricky Dick, one has to be charged with a crime before being pardoned. There are no charges against Trump’s fixer thus far so there’s nothing to pardon. Additionally, if Cohen committed crimes in the Empire State, Trump cannot pardon him for those, which means the state Attorney General or local District Attorneys can go after him. I somehow doubt that Andrew Cuomo has any plans to pardon Cohen.

There’s an army of ill-informed amateur lawyers out there. They’re the people who think Michael Avenatti is Clarence Darrow reincarnated because he’s good on teevee. One of the most dangerous things in the country is to get between Avenatti and a microphone. I think the guy lives in CNN and MSNBC’s studios. I’m worried about his health: one cannot survive for long on a diet of green room muffins and donuts.

Back to the plague of amateur lawyers. It’s the curse of our time that every loud mouth with a social media feed considers themselves an expert on everything. Hell, I used to practice criminal law but I don’t fancy myself a legal expert. I still know a helluva lot more than the average cable teevee host or  “twitter personality.” Btw, if anyone ever calls me a “twitter personality,” just shoot me before I make like Fred Fucking Sanford:

Sanford And Son GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

We appear to have gone from fake news to fake lawyers to fake heart attacks. So it goes.

Repeat after me: it’s easier to talk about pardons than it is to issue one, the whole Scooter Libby thing notwithstanding. The amateur lawyers would have you believe it was the legal equivalent of a Cohen pardon test drive. It was not: Libby was convicted of crimes for which W refused to pardon him much to Cheney’s disgust. Cohen is merely under pressure from federal prosecutors to flip on the Trump crime family. Yo, Donald, talking about your underlings flipping makes you look guilty. Hey, that means he’s fucked up and been truthful. Anything can happen.

A quick note about Rudy Giuliani joining Trump’s defense  team. I laughed for 5 minutes solid when I heard this news. He hasn’t been involved in criminal law in 30 years and his claim that he can end the Mueller probe is bluster and bullshit worthy of the Insult Comedian. I wonder if Trump is aware that James Comey used to work for Rudy. It could change everything. Anything can happen.

Since people like it when I post a side-by-side picture of Michael Cohen and a fake wise guy, here’s one with real wise guy Sammy The Bull Gravano when he was a witness for Comey who then worked for Giuliani. It’s a fucking small world after all.

I have no idea what will happen between Cohen and Trump and neither does anyone else. My money is on Cohen ratting out Trumpy. That would be the smart move. Of course, Cohen is deeply stupid. So, anything can happen.

The last word goes to Tim and Neil Finn:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Up Above My Head

Trout and Reflected Tree by Neil Welliver.

The weather rollercoaster continues unabated in New Orleans. We’ve gone from air dish weather to heater weather and back again. One day of the French Quarter Fest was rained out, which resulted in wet tourists whining about the wash-out. It was a day I was glad to no longer be a shopkeeper. Dealing with drowned Quarter rats was never any fun.

One of Grace’s colleagues gave us fancy club seats to the Saenger Theatre’s Broadway series complete with free food and valet parking. Thanks, Ritu. We saw Rent, which I liked a lot. The best part of the evening was a bossy African-American woman usher who combined sternness and politeness.  One patron was confused about how they ordered the rows and the usher said, “You’re in row H. It’s the alphabet, m’am. It’s the alphabet.” Fuckin’ A.

You’re probably wondering why an agnostic is posting a gospel tune as this week’s theme song. It’s because Sister Rosetta Tharpe was an amazing singer, songwriter, and character.  Up Above My Head is also a real toe-tapper. What’s not to love about a church lady with an electric guitar? We have three versions: Sister Rosetta, Rhiannon Giddens, and the Jayhawks.

Now that we’re imbued with the spirit, let’s jump to the break.

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Tenure: Thanks for fucking it up for everybody else

I’ve written before here about the fundamental misunderstanding most people have about tenure, including why it matters, how it works and what it’s supposed to provide. The simplest explanation is that tenure guarantees educators and scholars at institutions of higher education the right to fearlessly challenge convention within a field, seek scholarship in areas that might not jibe with social norms and conduct research in ways their expertise dictates is necessary and valuable.

It’s not meant to protect you when you act like a dick.

Unfortunately, the public seems to think that tenure does this, which is why they’re constantly looking for ways to eliminate it. The term “life time employment” is bandied about whenever tenure is discussed, as is the idea of ivory towers, elitism and generally haughty assholes.

And, again, when people like Randa Jarrar and John McAdams are in the news, it’s easy to see why the public thinks this way.

Jarrar, a creative-writing professor at Fresno State, took to Twitter in the wake of Barbara Bush’s death to call her “racist” and accuse her of having raised “a war criminal.” (I’m assuming she meant Millie, but I could be wrong.)

barbara

She then followed up with this gem:

In another tweet, the professor wrote: “I’m happy the witch is dead. can’t wait for the rest of her family to fall to their demise the way 1.5 million iraqis have. byyyeeeeeee.”

Of course, everything is subtle and nuanced on Twitter, so she completely solved the problem of a grieving nation in less than 280 characters…

Or, a large group of angry Twitter users started spreading this dung pile like Nutella all over the place, allowing CAPS LOCK NATION to come flailing at this educator.

And of course, because Twitter is a place of reason, logic and decency, Jarrar said she understood their point, she did not wish to continue the argument and she quietly let the issue die…

OR, she decided to fuck with each and every one of them over and over again, including posting what was supposedly her private phone number, but actually turned out to be a suicide prevention hotline in Arizona. This led to CAPS LOCK NATION flooding the center with threatening calls and preventing actual work from getting done, so that was helpful…

Still, of all the stupid shit that came out of this, the one that really had me considering a CAPS LOCK NATION MEMBERSHIP CARD was her mention that she had tenure and then this:

“I will never be fired.”

Fresno State says it’s “looking into the matter” which means that six people are now in a room going, “So… that happened…” Still, it’s better than what Marquette University is dealing with this week, thanks to an angry tenured professor on the other end of the political spectrum.

John McAdams is the poli sci prof and “everybody’s asshole grandpa in every bad comedy film” who used his blog as a cudgel against colleagues and foes alike. The university had a stack of paper on this guy dating back to the Clinton administration, all of which basically demonstrating he’s the exact reason people think tenure is a “Designated Asshole Pass.”

The U apparently found the straw that broke the camel’s back in McAdams’ post about a grad student teaching a class, in which a conservative student voiced an opinion the instructor found to be homophobic. McAdams posted about her by name and apparently encouraged people to “let your voice be heard,” which is a great code phrase for “break out the caps lock and call her a whore.” He apparently also was hostile to her, to the point where she dropped out of her program and finished elsewhere.

MU suspended McAdams and he’s now at the state’s Supreme Court, suing to get his job back. His argument is that tenure protects him and that his “free speech” on the blog should not allow for retaliation. (Point of order: Marquette is a private school, so this gets even weirder, as the court is clearly figuring out…)

So, to recap, two people who have diametrically opposing belief systems and who teach in two fields that just scream to John Q. Public “If my kid majors in this, he’s never getting a fucking job,” are espousing their rights to be assholes. They also are arguing their dickish behavior is protected by tenure so, “neener, neener, neeeeennnerrr…”

And academics wonder why people hate us…

Tenure is supposed to be a shield against the encroachment of external forces as we use our expertise to find out greater truths and research complex problems that may go against the societal grain. Running your mouth on social media and then hiding behind your “big friend” isn’t what anyone had in mind for this thing. Even more, all it does is really fuck over the rest of us who are actually doing those things and understand there is a concept called objective reality, something you bypassed long ago.

We’re like the people who are in a fraternity who have good GPAs, do good philanthropy work and then have to explain, “No, we’re not those idiots from Syracuse.” No matter what we say, people are still giving us the stink eye.

So, on behalf of the actual working scholars, academics and people who teach without managing to say shit like “y’know what’s wrong with the Coloreds these days,” I’d like to thank professors Jarrar and McAdams and others who think tenure is a lifetime “get out of fuckups free card,” thank you for fucking this up for the rest of us.

 

Client Number 3

Everything involving Michael Cohen has a zany aspect:

In a letter Sunday night, Cohen’s attorneys claimed that Cohen had been engaged in “traditional legal tasks” with at least three clients in 2017 through 2018. The letter named President Donald Trump, who has already sought to get involved in the current dispute over the seized documents, and Elliot Broidy, a GOP fundraiser for whom Cohen arranged a hush payment for a Playboy model he impregnated, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Cohen resisted naming the third client, citing his client’s preference that his identity not be made public.

And Client Number 3 is Sean Hannity.

I wonder if hush money was involved? Hannity has always had a devoted family man facade so it if it is, this is getting juicier by the day. From now on, I shall call Hannity Client Number 3. I’d like to thank Michael Cohen for helping me out. That’s much funnier than Fox News Meathead even if the latter is true.

Pass the popcorn and cue the Hannity GIF:

Someone Sean GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Comeypalooza 2018

Comeypalooza 2018 rolled on with his interview with my diminutive countryman, George Stephanopoulos, last night. My evil side wished they’d done it standing up since Comey is 6’8″ and George is 5’7′. Of course, such interviews are filmed with the participants seated but I can dream. This day after kinda sorta instant analysis is *not* a dream.

Watching Comey reminded me of how complex life is. I was every bit as mad at Comey as most Clinton supporters in October 2016. I excoriated him in a post entitled Easy Comey Easy Go. I even unfavorably compared his FBI to one of America’s most distinguished prosecutors, Robert Jackson. I still think he fucked up with his ham-fisted intervention in the election BUT unlike many powerful people he’s willing to admit the possibility that he made a mistake. Comey is not the “untruthful slimeball” of Trumpian tweets but a flawed human being capable of doing fine things but also capable of screwing up. Bigly.

Even if he doesn’t explicitly say that he’s trying to make up for that epic mistake in 2016, it’s obvious that he regrets any role he played in electing Donald Trump. Some of the language he used in the interview with my diminutive countryman was eye-popping. This is the money quote on Trump’s fitness to be Oval One:

A person who sees moral equivalence in Charlottesville, who talks about and treats women like they’re pieces of meat, who lies constantly about matters big and small and insists the American people believe it, that person’s not fit to be president of the United States, on moral grounds. And that’s not a policy statement. Again, I don’t care what your views are on guns or immigration or taxes.

There’s something more important than that that should unite all of us, and that is our president must embody respect and adhere to the values that are at the core of this country. The most important being truth. This president is not able to do that. He is morally unfit to be president.

On balance, Comey’s role in the rolling dialogue as to whether Trump is fit to be president* is a useful one. He can be on the annoying side when he’s tending the Comey Myth but his insights into Trump’s personality are fascinating. These two men were destined to clash. They’re not just from different worlds but from different solar systems.

Watching Comey I kept thinking this guy must have been a great trial lawyer. He’s a stellar wordsmith and story-teller. Plus juries love a lawyer with a sense of humor, especially a prosecutor. Nobody expects a prosecutor to be funny. The same qualities will make him an outstanding witness for the prosecution.

The George & Jim show only ran for an hour Sunday night but the conversation went on for 5 hours. The full transcript is fascinating reading and can be found HERE.

Life Imitates The Sopranos: Michael Cohen Edition

I’ve spent a fair amount of time the last few years chastising people for comparing the Trump crime family to The Godfather. The correct comparison is The Sopranos who had a portly hot head as boss as opposed to the dignified Vito and Michael Corleone. I’m glad to see that whoever made this video Josh Marshall posted gets it.

The backdrop may be swankier than the Pork Store in Newark but the feel is the same. I wonder if Cohen ever tans himself Paulie Walnuts style?

Repeat after me: Michael Cohen is a fixer. Fixers don’t get attorney-client privilege. Just having a law degree doesn’t confer privilege on a conversation. If that were the case, my conversations with Della Street and Paul Drake would be privileged. Then the world would learn that they’re both butt-heads. Uh oh, I just pierced the human-cat privilege…

Since we have new Michael Cohen pictures it’s time for a side-by-side picture with a different Sopranos character. It could be called when Paulie met Michael:

Maybe Cohen can help Paulie find the Russian guy they lost in the Pine Barrens. Nah, that would take a modicum of competence.

Watching the video of Cohen walking the streets of New York gave me an earworm, which could be the alternate soundtrack to the Fixer stroll. That’s why the Bee Gees have the last word: