Category Archives: Music

Saturday Odds & Sods: Don’t Look Now

Dresden Street by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

I don’t usually go in for cross-cultural generalizations about the state of the world but for every rule, there’s an exception. And 2018 has been an exceptionally bad year. Hell meet hand basket.

The US, UK, and France have gone to political hell and back in 2018. Our main problem is obvious: a corrupt and deeply stupid president*. In Britain, they’re still paying the price for the Brexit referendum catastrophe, which has resulted in bad leadership in both of the “big parties” and political paralysis. In France, Emmanuel Macron compared himself to Charles DeGaulle once too often, now there are riots in the streets just like in DeGaulle’s day. In 1968, they waved red flags. In 2018, they wear yellow vests. There’s a good chance that Macron will be France’s third consecutive one-term president. Burning it down is not all it’s cracked up to be.

I wish I had solutions for these problems but I’m a pundit, not a prophet. I don’t even have a prophet and loss statement. I can hear them groaning all the way to Bunkie, so it’s time to move on.

This week’s theme song was written in 1969 by John Fogerty for CCR’s Willy and the Poor Boys album. The title has been shortened over time from Don’t Look Now (It Ain’t You or Me) by dropping the parenthetical aside. You may have noticed that I live for parenthetical asides but I can live with the deletion of this one. In fact, it’s a delightful deletion.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the Creedence original and a 2005 cover by my main man Dave Alvin.

Don’t Look Now is also the title of a fine film by director Nicolas Roeg who died last month. And don’t look now is excellent advice when one jumps to the break: every time I peek, I get dizzier than Tommy Fucking Roe.

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Butina Your Lip

Former Gret Stet Governor Bobby Jindal with Maria Butina.

I have been accused of constructing posts around a punny title. I plead guilty as charged. There’s a lot of that going around this week. The latest to cop a plea is Maria Butina. I have abandoned my futile attempt to popularize the Russian spelling of her name. She’s Two-I Mariia no more. Life goes on and on and on; much like this introduction.

The facts of the Butina case have become somewhat murky. Initially, I compared her to Elizabeth Jennings of The Americans but it looks as if she was more of an influence peddler than a spy; as much K Street as Kremlin.

The prosecution has even withdrawn some of the more sensational characterizations of her activities:

Yet even as prosecutors secured Ms. Butina’s conviction and cooperation, they faced questions about their initial portrayal of Ms. Butina as something like a character out of “Red Sparrow,” the spy thriller about a Russian femme fatale.

Prosecutors had already been forced to back off the most salacious accusations against Ms. Butina — that she used sex as spycraft — and acknowledged in court filings this week that she genuinely wanted a graduate degree, and was not simply posing as a student to live in the United States. They also dropped accusations of her being in contact with Russian intelligence agencies, and that she was only using Mr. Erickson to gain access to other influential Americans.

Agents come in many forms: from the covert to the overt. Butina appears to have been the latter. She bamboozled American gun nuts in broad daylight, revealing them as gullible fools willing to fall for a pretty face and a ridiculous story: a gun rights group in Putin’s Russia? Yeah, right.

There was even a memorable public exchange with the Insult Comedian:

While I still hope that Butina can damage the NRA, it’s unclear how much she knows and who, other than her boyfriend/whatever Paul Erickson, she can hurt. She certainly played them for fools, which is an accomplishment in and of itself. Those pictures with PBJ, Scott Walker, Rick Santorum, and Wayne LaPierre are priceless.

The minute I heard that she’d agreed to co-operate, I knew that she was not a spy. We usually trade their spies for our spies. I’m puzzled by Butina’s motives in co-operating with prosecutors as she still faces deportation. Failed Russian agents tend not to have a long shelf life when they return home.

Our readers have surely noticed by now that my mind works in weird ways. This time, it has connected Maria Butina and the Rolling Stones. Her American adventure involved making connections with the NRA in the hopes of influencing the Republican party. That, in turn, evokes a song from the 1967 Stones album, Butina the Buttons:

The album’s real name is Between the Buttons and, in the end, the real connection Maria Butina made was with federal prosecutors.

The post title is also Stones inspired. The opening line of Mixed Emotions is “button your lip, baby.” It wasn’t much of a leap to Butina Your Lip.

The Rolling Stones get the last word:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Tijuana Christmas

I’ve been known to post wacky Christmas album covers in this space. This one has an obvious political subtext in the age of Trump.

Your President* Speaks: Smocking Gun Edition

I swore off doing these posts because the Insult Comedian says and tweets stupid shit pretty much every day. In the wake of his own personal Black Friday, he’s been tweeting up a flop sweat storm. There have been several instant classics, so I decided to bite the bullet much like Neil Young in this song:

We’ll proceed in reverse chronological order. The first panic tweet is a two-parter.

A smocking gun? Is that a cross between smoke and smock or mock and smoke? In either case, it’s eminently mockable.  Try singing this song as Smocking Gun:

Our second entry is the Insult Comedian’s dickish assault on the Senior Senator from the nutmeg state:

You’re planning to travel with the Dick? Will you have spotted dick for dessert?

Now that the Trump-Macron bromance is over, the president* has turned on the younger handsomer man:

The riots aren’t about the Paris climate change agreement. And the rioters are certainly not shouting “we want Trump.” If they were, I’d be more than glad to send him to Paris. It’s time for another marginally relevant musical interlude:

It’s rich for Mister Bone Saw’s best buddy to talk about “questionably run” countries. I bet some of those dictators know how to get away with paying off their side-chicks without getting caught. MBS would just have them killed and dismembered. Perhaps they’d use one of these:

I need the musical interludes to retain what little sanity I still have left. Besides, One Night In Paris is about an American procuring Parisian prostitutes.

Finally, the Insult Comedian had some twitter tea for the Tillerson:

This is, of course, classic Trump projection. He’s the one who’s “dumb as a rock” and “lazy as hell.” I guess  that makes Mike Pompeo “very legal and very cool.” Sycophants always are. I just realized that made no sense: Trump disease is very very contagious.

Tillerson may not be my cup of tea but he’s an engineer who rose to the top of a massive oil company. He’s an arrogant asshole but not as dumb as a rock. Trump wins that particular trifecta.

The last word (image?) goes to Michael F:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Tangled Up In Blue

The Large Blue Horses by Franz Marc.

The weather has been wild and wacky in New Orleans. It was 80 degrees last weekend, then it plummeted to a day time high of 50 a mere two days later. It’s like being an extra in The Pit and The Pendulum. I have no idea what that means but it sounds good.

We had some car trouble this week. We convinced ourselves we might have major electrical issues. It turned out the car needed a new battery. Whew. Dr. A has named the new used car Hildy, after Rosalind Russell’s character in His Girl Friday. Neither Cary Grant nor Ralph Bellamy were consulted.

Am I allowed to brag? I promise not to go all Insult Comedian on your asses. The response to my Neelyisms: Translating Louisiana’s Junior Senator piece has been very favorable indeed. Thanks, y’all. I hope it will further one of my quirkier causes: getting people to stop calling him by his real name instead of my nickname for him. Repeat after me:  In politics, there’s only one John Kennedy, and his middle initial was F, not N. Just call him Neely.

This week’s theme song was written by Bob Dylan for his great 1975 album Blood on the Tracks. Tangled Up In Blue is one of my favorite Dylan tunes. It’s an almost foolproof song, which is why it has been covered so many times.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: Dylan’s original, a 2017 cover by Joan Osborne, and a live version by the Jerry Garcia Band.

Now that we’re all tangled up, let’s jump to the break. I hope I can find my blue ripcord.

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The Fog Of Scandal: Hey Nineteen

I’m one of the Mueller probe’s staunchest supporters and biggest fans. They inadvertently gave me an early Christmas gift: Michael Flynn met nineteen times with Team Mueller. That allowed me to use a Steely Dan song as the title of this post. The late Walter Becker, Donald Fagen, and I would like to thank Bobby Three Sticks. I somehow doubt he’d get the joke. He’s a good man but not known for his sense of humor. He’s closer to a Bodhisattva than a Gaucho. Hey, Bodhisattva is the B-side of Hey Nineteen, so it’s kinda sorta relevant. End of egregious Steely Dan reference.

Mike Flynn is the most interesting person to get caught up the fog of Trump’s scandals. He’s more like a tragic Graham Greene or John LeCarre character than a typical Trump associate. He’s the only Kremlingate figure who is not a lifelong dirtbag. Instead, he’s a highly decorated army intelligence officer who rose to the rank of Lieutenant General: that’s 3 stars for us civilians. He was essentially a good person for the first 50 years of his life. It’s a truism that when people like that go wrong, they go all the way.

Things started to go sideways when Flynn landed a desk job at the Pentagon as the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Flynn was a swashbuckling field officer, not an administrator skilled at keeping the paper moving. It was as if Hawkeye Pierce had been put in charge of running all the MASH units in Korea. He was a surgeon, not a bureaucrat.

Flynn was a fish out of water at the DIA who was fired amid allegations of emotionally abusive treatment of his subordinates. He was so embittered that he went from moderate Democrat to an Islamophobic wingnut. His open bitterness toward the president who hired and fired him, Barack Obama, made him easy pickings for Russian intelligence.

Flynn’s post-DIA behavior was disgraceful. His full-blown paranoia about Islamic extremism landed him in the Trump campaign. He traveled extensively with the candidate; more often than not he was seated next to the irascible and unstable Trump. He was considered something of a Trump whisperer.

Like pretty much everyone else in Trump’s orbit, Flynn expected to lose the election. His plan was to cash in as a lobbyist for Turkey, which led to his role in a proposed scheme to kidnap the Turkish dissident, Fetullah Gullen. Team Trump looked into deporting Gullen not long ago. These machinations *could* discussed in the redacted portions of the sentencing memo.

I nearly called this post Sympathy for the Devil. Flynn’s post-DIA conduct has involved, lying, cheating, scheming, and scamming. Flynn’s descent to hell was accelerated by his exposure to Trumpberius. Flynn is the most tragic of Trump’s many dignity wraiths. His life was turned to shit by his time on the campaign and 24 days as National Security Adviser.

Flynn’s sentencing memo details his crimes but discusses the extent of his co-operation with the Special Counsel’s Office. The recommendation for no jail time indicates he sang like Sinatra and may well have expressed contrition and shame over his wicked, wicked ways. FYI, My Wicked Wicked Ways was the title of Errol Flynn’s memoirs. End of obligatory Errol Flynn reference.

I liked how the incoming House Intelligence Committee chairman characterized Flynn’s plea.

Watching the Flynn plea play out will be fascinating. It’s a pity that cameras aren’t allowed in federal courts. I’d love to see for myself if my “Mike Flynn as repentant criminal” theory holds water. The mere fact that his sentencing will take place *before* investigations pertaining to it conclude, is an indication of sincerity, good faith, and contrition.

Donald Trump is clearly afraid of Mike Flynn’s testimony. As of this writing, the disgraced General and Vladimir Putin are among the few who have not been given the Insult Comedian treatment. Trump’s house of cards continues to teeter. It may well lead to my best case scenario Mueller probe outcome: a grand family plea bargain that results in a presidential* resignation. That’s rank speculation but it’s what pundits do.

The last word goes to (who else?) Steely Dan:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Creedence Clearwater Revival

CCR’s eponymous 1968 debut album cover featured a then fashionable psychedelic border/arch surrounding the band in the woods. They *were* among those who created roots rock, after all,

Creedence Clearwater Revival is an oddity in the CCR catalog as it features so many cover versions. John Fogerty didn’t explode as a songwriter until its follow-up, Bayou Country.

Here’s the whole damn album in the YouTube playlist format.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Deportee (Plane Crash At Los Gatos)

Roots by Frida Kahlo

I’ve been following the horrific events at the US-Mexico border. After a few weeks of relative quiet on the caravan front, the Insult Comedian has ramped up the war of words in this fake crisis. He added a new weapon to his usual arsenal of hot air and bullshit: tear gas. Trump claimed that it was “very safe tear gas” but there’s no such thing, especially since they tear gassed babies. Exposure to tear gas has detrimental effects on childhood development. It’s some nasty shit. I was exposed to tear gas in the Paris Metro many years ago. I don’t recall what the protest was about, but I recall feeling woozy, raspy, and weepy for hours after being tear gassed. I guess it wasn’t the “very safe” kind that Trump is so proud of. #sarcasm

Trump’s ridiculous claim that tear gas is “very safe” reminds me of an encounter with one of my Greek Greek relatives. I called him Theo (Uncle) Panos but he was married to my father’s  cousin. He was a proud and boisterous man who had a small business making and selling taverna-type chairs in the Monastiriki district in old Athens. He believed that everything Greek was the best. It was one reason he and Lou got on so well. I’ll never forget dining al fresco one evening with Panos and his family. There were flies swarming and  I kept shooing them away. Panos laughed and said, “Don’t worry. In Greece, the flies are clean and very safe.”

This week’s theme song was written in 1948 by Woody Guthrie and Martin Hoffman in protest of the racist treatment of Mexican nationals who perished in a plane crash in Los Gatos, California. 32 people died: 4 Americans and 28 Mexican migrant workers who were being deported to Mexico. The media of the day listed the names of the dead Yanquis but referred to the Mexicans solely as deportees.

Sometimes the “crash” in the title is replaced with “wreck” but the song remains the same. Deportee (Plane Crash at Los Gatos) is one of the great protest songs and has been recorded many times over the last 70 years.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: Woody Guthrie, Dave Alvin & Jimmie Gilmore, and Nancy Griffith.

Now that we’ve been deported, it’s time to jump to the break. We’ll try not to crash-land but I make no guarantees. Now where the hell did I put my parachute?

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Album Cover Art Wednesday: Forbidden Fruit

I still have Nina Simone on my mind. Her 1961 album, Forbidden Fruit, has an unusual cover. Most of Nina’s album covers feature her sultry beauty and all around badassery. This cover has an Adam and Eve thing going on.

Try as I might, I couldn’t find out who designed the album cover, but I did find the whole goddamn LP on the YouTube:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Holiday

The Stillness Of Time by Salvador Dali

I originally thought I’d be able to write a full-blown Odds & Sods post this week. I was wrong. We spent Turkey Day pinballing from New Orleans to Baton Rouge and back again. Unlike Tommy, I’m not a deaf, dumb, and blind Pinball Wizard but I *am* stiff and sore from sitting in the car in heavy traffic and our pre and post Saints game hikes.

The Saintsgiving game was a bigger rout than the 31-17 final score indicates. The Saints-Falcons rivalry is intense but this isn’t the Dirty Birds’ year. It belongs to the New Orleans Saints. This is a special team: they’re fun to watch and have fun playing. The players are as likely to break out in random acts of dancing as the fans. This Saints team seems determined to put the fun back in the No Fun League.

The fans do their bit to support the team by getting LOUD. Check out the decibel level when the Falcons had the ball:

That’s Who concert loud, y’all. I kept waiting for them to play Long Live Rock There was the obligatory We Will Rock You sighting (sounding?) as well.

This week’s Saturday post may be truncated but we do have a theme song as well as a follow-up by the same artist. Ray Davies wrote Holiday for the klassic Kinks album Muswell Hillbillies. The follow-up comes from the Kinks underrated concept album, Soap Opera. Every time I hear Holiday Romance, I visualize Astaire and Rogers gliding across the dance floor.

That’s it for this abbreviated edition of Saturday Odds & Sods. I opened the post with a Salvador Dali painting. Let’s close things out with a picture of Dali and Alfred Hitchcock who are presumably discussing the dream sequence conceived by the artist for Spellbound.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: The Raven

I’m still contemplating my McRaven/Poe pun from Monday afternoon. It’s why this week’s album cover is the soundtrack of Roger Corman’s 1963 production called The Raven. It’s not an adaptation, it’s inspired by the Poe poem.

The Raven features Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, and Peter Lorre as mad scientists and a young Jack Nicholson in a supporting role. What’s not to love about that cast?

The soundtrack was composed and conducted by Les Baxter. We seem to have gone from nevermore to nevertheless.

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Afterglow

San Giorgio Maggiore At Dusk by Claude Monet

The weird weather continues in New Orleans. We seem to have skipped fall and gone straight to winter. One day we ran the AC, the next the heater. As you saw yesterday, the cats are happy. They love blankets and space heaters. I could do without either. I hate the cold; a stance befitting someone who has lived most of their life in California and Louisiana.

The other down side of cold weather NOLA-style is that public places crank up the heat. I strolled to the grocery store the other day dressed for the great outdoors, I returned a sweaty mess since I had to walk fast to avoid the Valence Street rooster. I’m not a fan of chickens and this one is on the aggressive side.  I’d rather eat them than dodge them.

This week’s theme song was written by Tony Banks in 1976 for Genesis’ last pure prog album, Wind & Wuthering. Afterglow is a drop dead gorgeous song that closes the album as well as an era. It’s the last Genesis album featuring lead guitar player Steve Hackett who was missed almost as much by the band’s fans as Peter Gabriel.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the Genesis original followed by the Classic Rock String Quartet.

Now that we’re afterglowing, let’s jump to the break. I promise a soft landing.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Too Close For Comfort

Think Flag by William N. Copley

I’m keeping this week’s outing snappy because the time change has messed me up. My sleep patterns have been disrupted, as a result I’ve been groggier than hell. Additionally, Della and Paul do not respect day light savings time and demand to be fed at odd hours. Oddly enough, such oddity will inevitably impact Odds & Sods.

A quick note on the featured image. I cheated on Jasper Johns with a 1961 flag painting by William N. Copley aka CPLY. I think the think flag fits this moment eerily well. The country needs more thinking and fewer hot takes right now. Why are people bleating over Tucker Carlson when there are babies in cages?

This week’s theme song was written in 1956 for the musical Mr. Wonderful by Larry Bock, George David Weiss, and Larry Holofcener. I selected Too Close For Comfort because of all the votes that are still being counted, especially in Florida, Arizona, and California.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: Frank Sinatra with the Billy May Orchestra, and a fabulous Ella Fitzgerald-Joe Williams duet with the Count Basie Orchestra. You know that I love me some Bill Basie.

Now we’ve gotten way too close for comfort, it’s time to jump to the break but first a reminder that Too Close For Comfort was also the title of a long-running Ted Knight sitcom that I watched only once.

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Florida’s Gotta Florida

It’s not over until it’s over in a Florida election. Election weirdness has been discovered in heavily Democratic Broward County where there were some 24K fewer ballots cast for the Senatorial candidates than Goober guys, Gillum and DeSantis. Oops.

This could be incompetence instead of Brian Kemp-style fuckery but that remains unclear. What is clear that we’re in for a good old fashioned political brawl ala the 2000 Gore-Bush recount battle. Will there be a second Brooks Brothers riot without Roger Stone to stage it?

Josh Marshall focused on the Governor Bat Boy factor:

Things are getting ugly fast in Florida. Rick Scott, clearly thinking he’s going to fall behind in the vote count and lose his campaign for Senate, is both filing lawsuits to stop the vote counting in South Florida and using his police powers as governor to do so. As in Georgia, having the candidate oversee the election has real shortcomings.

<SNIP>

Scott actually said this …

“Late Tuesday night our win was projected about 57,000 votes. By Wednesday morning that lead dropped to 38,000 votes. By Wednesday evening, it was around 30,000 votes. This morning, it was around 21,000. Now, it is 15,000,.”

And then this.

“Every Floridan should be concerned that their could be rampant fraud happening in Broward and Palm Beach Counties.”

It looks like I’m going to lose … ergo there must be ‘rampant fraud’ … ergo I’m ordering the state police to investigate the election administrators.

I should apologize for the long quote but the man nailed it. It’s too early for me to use a hammer even if I had a Hankering Aaron to do so.

Josh’s post is titled Getting Ugly Fast. Anything involving Rick Scott is de facto ugly:

Ain’t nothing like a Michael F image in the morning. It’s almost as good as a cuppa Tom Petty style Joe. Why TP? Gainesville, y’all, Gainesville. Dig the Florida Gator guitar wielded by Heartbreaker Mike Campbell in this clip from their 40th anniversary show in Gainesville:

Back to Florida election weirdness. I’m feeling as low energy as former Governor Jeb Bush, so I’ll post two tweets I fired off last night:

Bill Nelson has run statewide in Florida 6 times, winning 5 elections. He knows his shit, y’all. Mayor Gillum should follow suit and pronto.

Repeat after me: it’s feeling like 2000 in Florida.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Blue Mascara Tears

This is another search driven post. I asked Mr. Google to show me paperback covers with blue in them. Nice job, virtual sir.

One reason I like Blue Mascara Tears is that it reminds me of one of my favorite Richard Thompson songs:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Running On Empty

Carnival Tryptich by Max Beckmann

It’s been an uneasy week in the Big Easy. There’s much outrage at the local utility company, Entergy, for hiring actors to attend City Council meetings. The company has made it worse by continuing to lie about it. It’s called Astroturfing, it’s not illegal it’s just sleazy. The more Entergy lies, the longer the story persists. Lying seems to be contagious in the age of Trump. Knock it off, y’all.

In other Gret Stet news, we’re voting on a constitutional amendment to end non-unanimous jury verdicts. Louisiana and Oregon are the only two states that have this system and we’re in a race for repeal. The odds are good that voters will end the practice next Tuesday: there’s broad bi-partisan support for the change. It’s good when the Gret Stet good guys win one. In fact, it’s great. Hopefully, that Tony the Tiger-ish sentiment will help LSU when they play Alabama tonight. Geaux Tigers.

This week’s theme song, Running On Empty, was written and recorded by Jackson Browne in 1977. It’s been used in two movies: Forrest Gump and gave Sidney Lumet’s great 1988 movie its title. We’ll have more about *that* Running On Empty after the jump.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure. Both feature brilliant lap steel playing by the great David Lindley of whom I’ll have more to say at the end of the post. Holy previews, Batman.

We may be low on gas but there’s enough in the tank to jump to the break.

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Cruel Crazy Beautiful World

The mind reels over how much has been going on in the news. Election run-ups are usually action packed but 2018 has been frenetic.

The word of the day is nativism. I know, that’s always the word of the day at the Trump White House, but they’ve gotten loud even for them. They’re not only letting their xenophobic freak flag fly, they’re waving it wildly.

I had Johnny Clegg’s song Cruel Crazy Beautiful World in my head all day yesterday. It lends itself to the rush of events:

You have to wash with the crocodile in the river
You have to swim with the sharks in the sea
You have to live with the crooked politician

Clegg came to worldwide attention as a political/cultural dissident in apartheid era South Africa. His crime was to be a white man who made music with black musicians. It was a Cruel Crazy Beautiful World then and it still is. If anything, the Current Occupant has made it crueller and crazier. The beauty is supplied by the resistance.

We begin with the Cruel. Trump famously floated the notion of banning birthright citizenship by executive order in an interview with Axios, which is best described as Politico Lite. That was not shocking, what was shocking was the gullible response by many people: they bought it and freaked out. I assumed it was clear to most people that this was Trump throwing shit against the wall to see what would stick. He’s been trying to change the subject to Trumper friendly ground ever since the MAGA Bomber story broke.

While there are apparently a handful of wingnut lawyers who believe that birthright citizenship can be abolished by executive order, they’re full of shit. The right is enshrined in the 14th amendment and was affirmed by the Supreme Court in the Wong Kim Ark case. It’s a 120 year old precedent that the current Court is unlikely to overrule but that’s what must be done, either in court or via the amendment process. Even the conservative Weekly Standard agrees.

One more thing. Trump claimed that the US is the only country with birthright citizenship. Wrong again, you lying asshole. There are at least 30; many of which are in Latin America. Beware of the brown peril: they’re rushing our borders as I write this. #sarcasm

Trump may think he’s a dictator but he’s not one as long as there’s a free press and an independent judiciary. The phantom executive order is a moral abomination. It’s also unclear if this intervention is helpful in electoral terms. Many of the toss-up House seats are in suburban districts where voters find this sort of nativist raw meat politicking indigestible. One Pennsylvania GOPer even called it “political malpractice.”

There are signs that the ties that bind establishment Republicans to Trumpberius are beginning to fray. The administration was unable to find any congressional leaders to go to Pittsburgh with him. I think they were afraid that he’d go into Insult Comedian mode and get all squirrely on Squirrel Hill.

Let’s move on to the Crazy. For days there were twitter rumors that some anti-Mueller shit was going to hit the fan and splatter all over the Special Counsel. The ringleaders were a right-wing lobbyist/conspiracy theorist and a pipsqueak twitter personality/blogger named Jacob Wohl. They figured they’d capitalize on the #MeToo moment and claim that the straight-laced Bobby Three Sticks was a rapey motherfucker. Everyone would believe their story, right? Wrong again, you lying assholes. Team Mueller has referred this matter to the FBI for investigation. The wingnuts are crawfishing like, well, Crazy. Natasha Bertrand broke the story, so get thee to the Atlantic.com. 

White Nationalist Congressman Steve King has always been cruel and crazy. Who among us will ever forget the “calves like cantaloupes” remark? Yesterday, there was some Beautiful news involving the Hawkeye Horror: he’s in political trouble.

House GOP campaign honcho Steve Stivers denounced the King of Bigots:

It’s a sign that the nativist campaign is not working as well as the Kaiser of Chaos thinks it is.

Additionally, Land O’ Lakes support for King has melted.  No more butter for the Hawkeye Horror. Apparently, pandering to European neo-Nazis isn’t all it’s cut out to be.

One final Beautiful note. King is in a statistical tie with his Democratic challenger JD Sholten.  He won re-election by 23% in the Trumptastic year of 2016. Even if he prevails, the mere fact that he’s in trouble indicates that the House GOP majority is in deep shit and sinking fast.

The last word goes to Johnny Clegg with a double dose of Cruel Crazy Beautiful World:

It’s a cruel crazy beautiful world
Every time you wake up I hope it’s under a blue sky
It’s a cruel crazy beautiful world
One day when you wake up I will have to say goodbye
Goodbye — it’s your world so live in it!


6 days until the midterms. Tick tock, motherfuckers.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

The real world is a scary place right now so I’m focusing on the benign world of Sparky Schulz and the Peanuts gang this Halloween:

Here’s Vince Guaraldi’s soundtrack:

 

 

 

Kristallnacht In Broad Daylight

Writing for First Draft is one of my passions. It’s often my therapy. This has been one of those times. The MAGA Bomber’s failed attempt at mass assassination shook me to the core. Then, the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh left many of us questioning what it means to be an American in the Trump era.

I am proud to be an American, but I am ashamed of our current leadership’s inability to respond with an ounce of human decency or a scintilla of empathy. As far as the president* is concerned, it’s an inconvenient interruption of rally mania. As far as I’m concerned, Trump and his allies have blood on their hands, if not literally, then symbolically.

I’m not the only one questioning what it means to be an American in 2018. Veteran political journalist Howard Fineman grew up in Pittsburgh as a member of the Tree of Life community. His op-ed in Sunday’s New York Time was deeply moving:

I was taught in Squirrel Hill that we were in the one country that was an exception to the history of the human race in general and the Jews in particular. Founded on Enlightenment principles of individuality, freedom, tolerance and justice, the United States was the only place besides Israel where Jews could live at one with their nation, unburdened by fear or confusion about identity.

Now I must wonder: If Pittsburgh isn’t safe for Jews, if Squirrel Hill isn’t safe, if the Tree of Life isn’t safe, what place is? Without diminishing anyone else’s suffering and death, it’s a sad fact that the Jews often are the canaries in the coal mine of social and political collapse. So, what does the bloodshed in the Tree of Life mean?

It is a sign that hatred of The Other is poisoning our public life. It’s always been a vivid strain in America, stimulated by the stress of immigrant waves, but one we have overcome time and again. Although we often honor it in the breach, our founding idea remains: that each person here is precious and born with unalienable rights. Now, political enemies in America deny each other’s humanity.

It is a sign that communications can foster something less than understanding. Social media allows us to be connected but also caricatured as propaganda in campaigns of dehumanizing division.

It is a sign that President Trump’s remorselessly cynical, jungle-style vision of how to conduct business and politics is ripping apart a society already under the stress of generational, demographic, technological, economic and social change.

Once again, Donald Trump read a prepared statement in a flat, emotionless voice to signal the more mindless members of his personality cult that he didn’t really mean it. Then it was back to throwing raw meat at crowds of ravenous MAGA Maggots. He had the chutzpah to lecture the grief-stricken people at the Tree of Life Synagogue that armed guards could have prevented the slaughter. Wrong: Three police officers were wounded by the anti-Semitic gun man whose name I refuse to say. This recitation of the NRA line in the wake of a massacre sickened me.

I felt even sicker when the list of victims was published on Sunday morning:

  • Daniel Stein, 71
  • Joyce Fienberg, 75
  • Richard Gottfried, 65
  • Rose Mallinger, 97
  • Jerry Rabinowitz, 66
  • Cecil Rosenthal, 59
  • David Rosenthal, 54
  • Bernice Simon, 84
  • Sylvan Simon, 86
  • Melvin Wax, 88
  • Irving Younger, 69

Who kills octogenarians and a 97 year-old woman? Only a monster. A monster whose worst impulses were exacerbated by a national dialogue in which George Soros is the stand-in for Jewish demons conjured up in the fever dreams of the far-right. Donald Trump uses their vile rhetoric laced with anti-Semitic code words and names: Soros, globalists. Rinse, repeat, and wash.

Defenses that Trump cannot be anti-Semitic are out there already. His son-in-law is a Jew, his daughter a convert, and his grandchildren are Jewish. All true but there’s a difference between personal and political bigotry. His kinfolks are the good ones, a credit to their faith. Soros is a bad hombre who is flooding the country with brown Central Americans. Ergo Trump cannot be anti-Semitic according to his defenders. This is, of course, nonsense. Demagogues do not need to believe in their rhetoric to inflict damage. Is it better that Hitler believed in his rhetoric as opposed to Trump’s cynical exploitation of ancient hatreds? I think not.

What happened Saturday morning at Squirrel Hill was an American Kristallnacht in broad daylight. It inspired the students at a nearby high school-Howard Fineman’s alma mater-to hold a candlelight vigil at which the chant was for not for vengeance, but for people to vote.

These are terrible times for our country but it’s time to fight back in the way that Americans traditionally have: by voting the rascals out. There has never been a midterm election as important as this one. Vote like your life depends on it. The future of the Republic certainly does: 8 days until the midterms. Tick tock, motherfuckers.

The events of last week have not only broken the social contract, they have smashed it to smithereens. I never, ever thought I’d compare something that happened in the United States of America to Kristallnacht but it’s inescapable in 2018. Godwin’s law is dead, long live Godwin’s law.

These ugly times call for some beauty. That’s why the last word goes to Paul Simon. The final stanza of American Tune gets me every time:

We come on the ship they call the Mayflower
We come on the ship that sailed the moon
We come in the age’s most uncertain hour
and sing an American tune
But it’s all right, it’s all right
You can’t be forever blessed
Still, tomorrow’s going to be another working day
And I’m trying to get some rest
That’s all I’m trying to get some rest