Category Archives: Political Crack

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:

The Latest Trump Dignity Wraith

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: everyone who gets involved with Donald Trump gets slimed. The latest example is Admiral/Doctor Ronny Jackson who had a reputation as a competent doctor and a nice guy during the Bush and Obama administrations. That began to change when he gave a preposterous briefing about Trump’s health. Then came his nomination to run the Veterans Administration, which is a nearly impossible job given the competing interest groups and the size of the agency.

Tonight there’s breaking news that could derail the nomination altogether:

The ranking Democrat on the Senate Veterans Affairs committee is reviewing allegations he’s hearing about Ronny Jackson, the White House physician and President Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. It was unclear late Monday whether the Senate panel would postpone Jackson’s confirmation hearing, which was scheduled for Wednesday, in light of stories about the nominee told by current or former White House medical staff.

Sources familiar with the tales say that Tester’s staff is reviewing multiple allegations of a “hostile work environment.” The accusations include “excessive drinking on the job, improperly dispensing meds,” said one of the people familiar, who was granted anonymity to speak frankly about the situation. The other people familiar with the stories also confirmed those details.

If proven true, “it’ll sink his nomination,” said one of the sources.

This is what happens when you nominate someone without any vetting. There was no interview, no nothing, just a presidential* gut instinct that he liked Admiral/Doctor Jackson and that somehow made him qualified to run a massive bureaucracy. Trump’s gut may be large but his instincts are terrible. The incompetence, it burns.

I considered stealing a line from a tweet by Steven Beschloss, brother of historian Michael, but decided that was too Trumpian:

Excessive drinking can definitely make one hostile. The irony is that none of the post-Nixon presidents have been known as heavy drinkers. The last presidents to drink with their White House physician were FDR and Harry Truman and they were only occasionally hostile. Hostility is Trump’s speciality.

It looks as if Admiral/Doctor Jackson is the latest Trump dignity wraith. Stay tuned.

Holy Unforced Error, Batman

Remember when entertainers didn’t feel the need to pontificate about politics? It wasn’t that long ago when show biz political activists were outnumbered by those who were apolitical or simply didn’t want to stick their necks out and lose fans.

Times have changed. Sometimes even those with a legitimate excuse not to make political comments do it anyway. In Shania Twain’s case, she’s Canadian but she inserted a cowgirl boot shod foot in her mouth by commenting favorably on a certain Insult Comedian with a dead nutria atop his head:

It is not the only way in which she expresses her conservatism. If she had been able to vote in the US election, she would have plumped for Donald Trump, she says. “I would have voted for him because, even though he was offensive, he seemed honest. Do you want straight or polite? Not that you shouldn’t be able to have both. If I were voting, I just don’t want bullshit. I would have voted for a feeling that it was transparent. And politics has a reputation of not being that, right?”

The date on this otherwise sympathetic Guardian profile was April 22, 2018. Yesterday. Trump’s status as the liar’s liar and the bullshitter’s bullshitter is well established enough that Twain has already apologized after the inevitable social media shitstorm:

I would like to apologise to anybody I have offended.

The question caught me off guard. As a Canadian, I regret answering this unexpected question without giving my response more context.

My answer was awkward, but certainly should not be taken as representative of my values nor does it mean I endorse him.

I guess that makes this post an instant analysis of an instant apology.

What should we make of this tempest in a Canadian teacup? Not much. Shania Twain is not the only person who confuses bluster with candor and transparency. She’s also not the only person to make uninformed and ignorant comments on the political scene. In her case, it was an unforced error because all she had to say was “I’m Canadian, eh.”

The good news is that writing this post has *not* given me a Shania Twain earworm. Instead, the last word goes to Talking Heads with a song from their final album, Naked:

Barbara Bush

I’ve always had a sneaking fondness for Barbara Bush. I come from a family full of tough outspoken battleaxe type old ladies. She always reminded me of one of my aunts who had a barbed tongue much like Bar.

Unlike many New Orleanians, I’ve even forgiven Mrs. Bush for this insensitive post-Katrina remark:

“What I’m hearing, which is sort of scary, is that they all want to stay in Texas. Everybody is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway so this … this is working very well for them.”

At the time, I was furious but since then I’ve spent a lot of time with old people and they tend not to have a filter. Bush was 80 when she made those awful remarks so I’m inclined to cut her some slack. Some older women of my acquaintance have said worse and many of them are hard core liberals. And if we’re judging her on politics, she voted for her fellow former First Lady at the last election.

In other Barbara Bush news, there was a silly controversy among the humor-impaired and literal minded on twitter about this remark from a story about her final days:

Even in the final days of her life, Barbara Bush retained the sharp tongue that belied her grandmotherly image. When her eldest son, former President George W. Bush, visited about 10 days before her death, the two playfully needled each other in the way they always did.

At one point, Mrs. Bush turned to her doctor. “You want to know why George W. is the way he is?” she asked.

The doctor looked a little surprised. “Because I drank and smoked when I was pregnant with him,” she said.

 It’s called sarcasm, folks. There were actually twitter lefties whose hearts were bleeding for George W Bush because his mama was mean. It’s a joke: it’s well-known that, for good or ill, W was her favorite child and he told the joke on himself to boot.

I realize that these are polarized times but that doesn’t mean we have to be ugly about everyone we disagree with. It’s why I call Trump the Insult Comedian because that’s what he does. In a time when the president* is a criminal, going after Barbara Bush strikes me as petty and small-minded. This is one case that calls for the high road.

While I’m not weeping copious tears, I’m not inclined to dance on Barbara Bush’s grave either. The last word goes to Squeeze with a song that reflected her conversational style:

 

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:

 

Endgame

I’d like to believe this is true: 

Of course Trump is raging and furious and terrified. Prosecutors are now looking at his core. Cohen was the key intermediary between the Trump family and its partners around the world; he was chief consigliere and dealmaker throughout its period of expansion into global partnerships with sketchy oligarchs. He wasn’t a slick politico who showed up for a few months. He knows everything, he recorded much of it, and now prosecutors will know it, too. It seems inevitable that much will be made public. We don’t know when. We don’t know the precise path the next few months will take. There will be resistance and denial and counterattacks. But it seems likely that, when we look back on this week, we will see it as a turning point. We are now in the end stages of the Trump Presidency.

Ryan’s trying to get out before he gets blamed for anything (too late, dipshit) and McConnell’s pretending like he don’t even KNOW these people at this party he is at with his name on the door, and everybody in the Resistance — those who aren’t total garbage, anyway, yeah I’m looking at you Frum — is so tired we can’t remember what protest we were even at last week.

So I’d like to believe it’s almost over but I don’t. Our systems were designed to do things slowly. Election by election, seat by seat, fight by fight. I’d like to believe we’ll get out of this before November but I don’t see any other way out.

A.

Wag The Dog Incoherently

11 days ago Donald Trump said he wanted to be out of Syria within a matter of months. Tonight American, British, and French forces bombed Syria. I guess that earlier statement is, to quote Nixon flack Ron Ziegler, inoperative.

All week long the fog of scandal has enveloped the White House. The Michael Cohen investigation in New York may prove to be more devastating to Trump than anything Team Mueller can come up with. And now the president* is bombing Syria after a chemical weapons attack that his inability to keep his mouth shut may have caused.

It’s bad enough that we’ve entered the wag the dog phase of the Trump regime, it’s even worse that it’s being done in an ad hoc, incoherent, and chaotic manner. Of course, that’s how they do everything. An alternate title for this post could have been Winging It With The Kaiser of Chaos.

With John Bolton and his mustache on board at the NSC, we can expect more late night bombing raids. Perhaps they’ll even come up with a coherent strategy next time. Who am I kidding?

There are some in the MSM who believe that bellicose rhetoric aimed at the Russians means that Putin doesn’t own Trump. Wrong. The gap between the Syrian attack, Trump’s bloodthirsty tweets, and the bombing raid gave the Russians plenty of time to move their military assets and personnel around to minimize their losses. The same thing happened with the delay in imposing sanctions: Putin and his cronies had time to hide their money. It’s all for show. It’s what happens when a scandal plagued administration has its wag the dog moment.

Just think, earlier today everyone was speculating about Rod Rosenstein getting shitcanned. Holy Instant Nostalgia, Batman. Instead I’m writing an instant analysis of Trump wagging the dog. As Jim Comey would surely say at this moment,LORDY.

I only hope this post is more coherent than president* Trump’s national security policies.  Repeat after me: LORDY.

Steve Bannon Is A Moron

Sloppy Steve’s pinky promise.

We already knew that Steve Bannon was an extremist and looks like an unmade bed at a thrift shop, but last night we had proof positive that he’s a moron, or as my man Rex would say: A FUCKING MORON.

Sloppy Steve is trying to worm his way back into Trump’s good graces by proposing a ridiculous “plan” to dispose of the Mueller probe:

The first step, these people say, would be for Trump to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who oversees the work of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and in recent days signed off on a search warrant of Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen.

Bannon is also recommending the White House cease its cooperation with Mueller, reversing the policy of Trump’s legal team to provide information to the special counsel’s team and to allow staff members to sit for interviews.

And he is telling associates inside and outside the administration that the president should create a new legal battleground to protect himself from the investigation by asserting executive privilege — and arguing that Mueller’s interviews with White House officials over the past year should now be null and void.

This is a hare-brained scheme worthy of Wile E. Coyote and is apt to work as well as this:

Fail Looney Tunes GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

If Bannon were a lawyer, which he most assuredly is not, he’d know that our legal system disfavors ideas such as “retroactive” executive privilege. If Team Trump refused to allow staffers to grant witnesses, prosecutors would simply issue grand jury subpoenas to compel their testimony. If they declined, they’d be held in contempt, fined, and clapped in jail. This White House is sufficiently incompetent without having staffers in the slammer.

Bannon is, of course, pandering to the Insult Comedian by proposing a “plan” that gives him an excuse do what he wants to do anyway. It is not, however, as simple as the feeble minds of Bannon and Trump would have you believe. If Rosenstein and Mueller were removed tomorrow, the investigation would continue. The press and public tend to view these things as duels between individuals when the battle is institutional in nature. The referral of the Cohen search to New York proves that. Repeat after me: the investigation would continue.

A quick sidebar. I wish the press would stop asking Trump if he’s going to “fire Mueller.” It comes off as a taunt, dare, or challenge to his manhood. And we all know that arrested adolescents are insecure about their teeny, tiny wangers.

I have no idea where this thing is going or what will happen next. Anyone who says they do has been smoking weed with former Speaker Boehner. We can dream that there are more like this anonymous Republican Congressman whose hilariously profane grocery store rant was quoted by Erick Erickson.  

“It’s like Forrest Gump won the presidency, but an evil, really fucking stupid Forrest Gump. He can’t help himself. He’s just a fucking idiot who thinks he’s winning when people are bitching about him. He really does see the world as ratings and attention. I hate Forrest Gump. I listen to your podcast and heard you hate it too. What an overrated piece of sh*t movie. Can you believe it beat the Shawshank Redemption?”

<SNIP>

“I say a lot of shit on TV defending him, even over this. But honestly, I wish the motherfucker would just go away. We’re going to lose the House, lose the Senate, and lose a bunch of states because of him. All his supporters will blame us for what we have or have not done, but he hasn’t led. He wakes up in the morning, shits all over Twitter, shits all over us, shits all over his staff, then hits golf balls. F*ck him. Of course, I can’t say that in public or I’d get run out of town.”

The cowardly Congresscritter *claims* many House GOPers would vote to impeach *after* their primaries but who the hell knows? As entertaining as this rant is, I agree with former Republican Congressman David Jolly:

That was a jolly good quote, eh wot?

Back to Steve Bannon. His trial balloon was leaked so that it could be shot down. The worst possible thing Trump could do is to make like the Queen of Hearts and chop off everyone’s head. It would make today’s feverish and overheated environment look like a garden party. Of course, Trump loves disorder and confusion. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos.

Steve Bannon is a moron in a party of morons and the president* is the biggest moron of all.

Repeat after me: the investigation will continue even if Bannon pinky swears that it won’t.

Speaker Disconnected

I’m old enough to remember when being Speaker of the House was the ultimate accomplishment for Congresscritters. There was a long line of Speakers who, for good or ill, served forever. Gerald Ford accepted the Vice-Presidency because his ambition to be Speaker was thwarted by Democratic control, which lasted until 1995. Wise choice, Jerry.

The great Texas Democrat Sam Rayburn served as Speaker from 1940-1947, 1949-1953, and  1955-1961. Mr. Sam loved his job and his members as did Tip O’Neill who was Speaker for 10 years. Those days came to a screeching halt after the Tea Party wave election of 2010. Paul Ryan has finally had enough and decided not to run for re-election this fall. I, for one, am not surprised.

The most ardent teabaggers have morphed into the so-called Freedom Caucus who have specialized in making first John Boehner’s, then Paul Ryan’s life a living hell. We all know the line about herding cats. Dealing with the so-called Freedom Caucus is like herding FERAL CATS. Do I have any sympathy for the man Charlie Pierce memorably dubbed the Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver? Hell to the no. I never bought into his previously glowing reputation, which is gone, gone, gone after 2 years of bowing and scraping to the Kaiser of Chaos.

There have long been rumors that Jenna Ryan is not down with her husband’s politics much like Ronald Reagan’s chirren with Nancy. Snopes has found these rumors to be unproven. I have something to throw in the hopper. It’s more in the nature of gossip or hearsay but I hope it’s true. I have a friend who has a friend who knows Jenna Ryan quite well. Supposedly, she’s banned all mention of Donald Trump from the family home and dinner table. Who could blame her?

The other good news is that Ryan’s seat could flip in the fall without him defending it:

In the words of the Insult Comedian, that would be beautiful, tremendous. Not as beautiful as Ryan losing to a Democrat in the fall but still tremendous. There’s a chance that up to 50 House Republicans may retire instead of facing the voters. Those skeptical of a Blue Wave can put that in their pipe and smoke it.

Ryan’s Randian views have long been repugnant to right-thinking people BUT he used to have the reputation of being a nice guy off-stage. That ended with the advent of Trump. Speaker Ryan is the latest in a long line of Trump dignity wraiths. Everything Trump touches turns to shit.

I wrote about Ryan on the day he became Speaker in 2015. In a fog of history post, I compared Lyin’ Ryan to James G. Blaine “the continental liar from the state of Maine.” I also posted a Separated at Birth image of him and Eddie Munster.

I’m sure Grandpa Munster would have been disappointed in him: the late Al Lewis was a lefty activist when not playing a zany vampire. We do not have to Snopes that.

The last word goes to Keane with this peachy video with a horror movie feel. Much scarier than the Munsters’ house at 1313 Mockingbird Lane but not as scary as the current House of Representatives or one led by the Gret Stet’s Steve Scalise.

Toon Of The Week: The Return of Boris and Natasha

This New Yorker cartoon by Pat Byrnes *might* be slightly dated since the Insult Comedian woke up today lashing out at his pal Putin. He seems to have finally discovered that the Assad family business in Syria has been a Russian client for almost 50 years.

I still love the notion that Boris and Natasha are Trump advisers. It could explain everything.

An Attack On Our Country?

There’s been a feeding frenzy over the raid on Michael Cohen’s office, apartment, hotel room, and hot tub. I made the last bit up. There’s even been some tut-tutting about Cohen being Trump’s “lawyer.” At the risk of sounding like a broken record: Cohen is not a lawyer in the usual sense. He’s a fixer/gangster. He’s more like a caporegime in the Trump crime family than a “personal lawyer.” It looks as if the fixer is fucked. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

More alarming was Trump’s latest public meltdown, which may be the creepiest one yet. He was surrounded by the military brass and his national security peeps including John Bolton and his mustache. The meeting was ostensibly about Syria. Instead of refusing to comment on Cohen, the Kaiser of Chaos lost his shit:

So I just heard that they broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys — a good man. And it’s a disgraceful situation. It’s a total witch hunt. I’ve been saying it for a long time.

<SNIP>

And it’s a disgrace. It’s, frankly, a real disgrace. It’s an attack on our country, in a true sense. It’s an attack on what we all stand for.

Like a Good Banana Republican, the Insult Comedian conflates his own legal woes with the problems of the nation. The presence of men in uniform evoked a cabinet meeting in Peron’s Argentina, Pinochet’s Chile, or better yet, Noriega’s Panama.

Trump keeps setting firsts. No previous president has ever ranted in public like this. Even Tricky Dick only did it in private. The world was privy to Trump’s unhinged internal monologue this afternoon. I usually find him annoying, this tirade was scary and like the Tom Petty/Mudcrutch song, I don’t scare easy.

As an opponent of Trump’s I’m glad he keeps lighting his own house on fire. His fatal inability to shut the fuck up will be his eventual downfall. The only question is timing. It can’t come soon enough for most of us, but it may take years. We’ve had bad presidents before but only Nixon approached this level of lunacy. The immediate future looks bleaker than it did when Tricky left office. Solid, sensible, mainstream conservative Jerry Ford succeeded him. Mike Pence is no Jerry Ford. He’s more like Spiro Agnew on steroids.

Shorter Adrastos: the fixer is fucked and the country is fucked up. Fuck that shit.

Malaka Of The Week: Ralph Norman

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A friend asked me the other day why I’m doing fewer malaka of week posts. Surely, he said, malakatude is not decreasing. It is not. There’s been an explosion of malakatude in the Trump error era. Norms are being discarded willy nilly, especially on the subject of guns and that is why Congressman Ralph Norman of South Carolina is malaka of the week. Yeah, it happened last week but let’s not be pedantic about dates. Genuine malakatude is timeless.

It’s a pity that the Congressman’s parents didn’t name him Norman Norman. Not only would that get him a shout-out at Cheers, I could call him Norm Norman while pointing out the pulling out a loaded gun in a room full of constituents is not normal, Norman.

From the Charleston Post & Courier’s Palmetto Politics section:

A South Carolina Republican congressman is not backing down from critics after he pulled out his own personal — and loaded — .38-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun during a meeting with constituents Friday.

U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman, R-Rock Hill, told The Post and Courier he pulled out the weapon and placed it on a table for several minutes in attempt to make a point that guns are only dangerous in the hands of criminals.

“I’m not going to be a Gabby Giffords,” Norman said afterward, referring to the former Arizona Democratic congresswoman who was shot outside a Tucson-area grocery store during a constituent gathering in 2011.

That was a real low country low blow as Malaka Norman seems to imply that it was Ms. Giffords’ own fault that she was shot. A scathingly polite reaction to that came from Jeff Flake who served in the House with Giffords:

Palmetto state pols have long been known for their bravado, bluster, and bullshit. Who among us can forget Joe (You Lie) Wilson? Then there was that Southern charmer Congressman Preston Brooks who attacked Senator Charles Sumner with a cane in 1856:

That may be a low country low blow but Malaka Norman deserves whatever he gets for mocking Gabby Giffords and for this bit of Palmetto state poo-poo:

Norman said he pulled out the gun, pointed it away from the meeting attendees and put it on a table for about five minutes while they continued their conversation over breakfast.

The move, Norman said, was intended to prove “guns don’t shoot people; people shoot guns.”

Norman is a state concealed carry permit holder and said he regularly brings his gun with him when out in public.

If anyone walked into the diner and started shooting, Norman told the attendees, he would be able to protect them because of his gun.

“I don’t mind dying, but whoever shoots me better shoot well or I’m shooting back,” he told The Post and Courier.

I’m not sure if that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard but it’s on the list. Repeat after me: gun nuttery is an ideology and the NRA is a cult. What would this bozo do if an angry white man with an assault weapon came after him? It’s unclear if Norman can do anything but shoot off his mouth. He’s good at that. In my experience, braggarts are rarely heroic. Remember the last politician who waved a gun around in public?

Norman may not be a pervert like Roy Moore but he *is* a real estate developer. That figures: they’re world-class assholes who make car dealers look honest. Exhibit A is the Insult Comedian, the braggingest man on the planet. Norman is on that list as well. And that is why Ralph Norman is malaka of the week.

Saturday Odds & Sods: In The Mood

Swing Landscape by Stuart Davis.

It’s crawfish season in New Orleans. I’m talking about eating, not catching them. I leave that to the experts. We went to our longtime boiled crawfish restaurant, Frankie & Johnny’s, with some friends from Richmond this week. Several of them were uncertain they’d like the mudbugs but they did. It may be hard work peeling them but it’s worth it. Mmm, berled crawfish.

We’re attending a benefit crawfish boil tomorrow. It’s in support of Team Gleason, a group dedicated to helping ALS patients and their families. It was founded by former Saints player Steve Gleason who has ALS but keeps on fighting the good fight. He’s a remarkable man and it’s a worthy cause. Plus, there’s crawfish and beer involved.

I’m in a swing mood this week so it’s time to break out some Glenn Miller. We have two versions for your musical amusement: Glenn Miller and his orchestra in the 1941 movie Sun Valley Serenade and the Brian Setzer Orchestra’s Gettin’ In The Mood with lyrics by Mike Himmelstein. The tune is the same. Oh yeah.

Now that I’ve got you Lindy Hopping, it’s time to jump to the break but try to do it on the beat.

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Why I’m Not Writing About 2020 Yet

Several people asked me this week about the 2020 presidential election. They want to know why I’m not writing about it yet. The main reason is that it’s too damn early. I prefer to focus on the fall election, which may well be of greater significance than 2020. I’m going to break my rule this one time in order to explain my temporary silence.

Another reason to skip 2020 chatter is that we’re uncertain if Trump will run again and who will muster the balls to challenge him in his own party. Republicans are all profile and no courage. It will take a deluge this fall for a candidate to pop their head above the parapets and challenge the Insult Comedian. I hope for a challenge because incumbents tend to lose when they face a serious primary opponent. Hell, even Poppy Bush lost in 1992 and his challenger was proto-Trumper Pat Buchanan. I’m skimming over the Perot factor because that was a fall phenomenon.

On the Democratic side, the early field is depressingly elderly. Surely we can do better than a septuagenarian: Biden, Warren, Hillary, and the gruff independent will all be too old. I’m not sure which fresh face I’d like to see atop the ticket but we’ve done well with candidates under 50 in the past: JFK, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama spring to mind this spring.

Then there’s the ultimate “why not me?” pretender: outgoing New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Trump’s fluke electoral college win will inspire others. It reminds me of the post-1976 political environment when Jimmy Carter’s out-of-nowhere victory inspired a generation of “why not me?” candidates. The chances of a big city mayor being nominated by either party are slim. The last former mayors to be Oval Ones were Calvin Coolidge and Grover Cleveland; both of whom became Governors first and one of whom was an accidental president. Remember the 2008 Giuliani or 1972 Lindsay farces? I thought not. Sorry, Mitch.

Endless speculation about 2020 is for weak minds like Chris Cillizza. Surely nobody out there wants me to be like that dolt? Besides, Democrats have been *too* fixated on the White House at the expense of down ballot races. Flipping Congress and as many leges and Governorships as possible is a worthy goal and will send a message to the Kaiser of Chaos.

I realize that I just wrote a quick and dirty essay about 2020 to explain why I’m not writing about it yet. It’s akin to falling off the wagon and explaining one’s fall. I hereby renew my pledge not to write about 2020 until the votes are counted this November. I almost said “believe me” but I’ve been admonished not to do so. I could bring back Carter’s “you can depend on that” line but given how that worked out in 1980, I’ll pass. Instead, let’s revive Al Gore’s line from 1992: “It’s time for them to go.”

The Americans Thread: Tell Tchaikovsky The News

A sense of doom and foreboding hangs over the second episode of Season-6, Tchaikovsky. Elizabeth seems to think her time on the planet is winding down. She even asks Claudia to look after Paige’s spy life after she’s gone. Remember when she hated Claudia? I do and it had nothing to do Margot Martindale turn as evil hillbilly matriarch Mags Bennett on Justified.

Division continues to be one of the main themes of Season-6. We meet an American hawk who is worried that Reagan is about to give away the nuclear store to Gorbachev. He mutters to Elizabeth about rumors that Reagan is showing signs of senility hence his arm control mania. Reagan *was* showing signs of dementia BUT underneath the bluster, Reagan had long wanted to ban nuclear weapons. He was influenced by his wife, Nancy, and by the sci-fi movies of the 1950’s. This was one time where Reagan’s movie mania put him on the side of the angels. Maybe he was afraid of turning into The Fly after seeing David Cronenberg’s 1986 remake:

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Now that I’ve grossed you out, it’s spoiler break time. But first, here’s the lone rock song used during the episode. The producers have a thing for Talking Heads. Besides, what’s slipperier than a spy? Only Jeff Goldblum as The Fly. My, my, my.

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Why Is It Hard To Denounce Neo-Nazis?

It’s the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King in Memphis. Meanwhile the Tennessee lege is having a hard time passing something that *should* be an easy lift:

Twice this spring, lawmakers in the Tennessee Assembly have tried to promote resolutions condemning neo-Nazis and white nationalists. Both times those efforts have failed.

The second attempt was abandoned just this week, after a Republican lawmaker unsuccessfully tried to alter the motion’s language to make it more palatable to his caucus.

House Republican Caucus Chairman Rep. Ryan Williams’ resolution reworked one put forth by Democratic Rep. John Ray Clemmons, which died in mid-March after the three Republican members of a House subcommittee declined to offer motions to discuss it.

This smells like Trump’s “both sides” comments after Charlottesville. I rarely play the son of  a veteran whose brother was killed in action during World War II card, but there’s no time like the present. We went to war to fight the Nazis and passing a measure against their political descendants should be easy. Unless, that is, you’re a Republican who relies on white nationalist votes. Another reason to vote the fuckers out this fall.

The last word goes to John Legend:

The Fog Of Scandal

Donald Trump seems to be surrounded by a magnetic field that attracts greedy and venal people. The greed field seems to repel anyone with integrity and even an ounce of human decency. The schlemiel phase of the regime ended with the departures of Reince, Gum Spice, and the cameo appearance of the Mooch. It’s in the full-tilt cartoon villain phase as names such as Pruit, Zinke, Devos, Carson, Ross, Mnuchin, and Kudlow continue to make headlines for all the wrong reasons.

In addition to the greed field, the Trump regime is encased in a permanent fog of scandal. It’s a fog as dense as the Insult Comedian’s intellect and nearly as impenetrable. The people around Trump are the sort of rich people whose only goal in life is to further enrich themselves now that they’re in public office. As I said in a different context the other day, they can’t help themselves. I’m reminded of one of the cornerstone lies of the Trump campaign:

“My whole life I’ve been greedy, greedy, greedy,” declared Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign. “I’ve grabbed all the money I could get. I’m so greedy. But now I want to be greedy for the United States.”

In addition to good old-fashioned plundering and theft, Team Trump and its allies are trying to turn the clock back to the early 1880’s. That was before the civil service was introduced to the federal government by, of all people, a legendary grifter, Chester Arthur. Arthur was a hack placed on the 1880 GOP ticket by New York Senator Roscoe Conkling whose picture is still in the dictionary next to the word corrupt. Welcome to the New Gilded Age.

The dread Newt Gingrich has been trying to eradicate and/or erode the civil service for decades. He appears to be making some headway since Trump’s idea of “draining the swamp”is to eliminate non-partisan experts and bring on the greedheads and lackeys. Believe me.

There’s a swell cover story in New York Magazine wherein Jonathan Chait argues that Democrats should run against the fog of scandal enveloping the nation’s capital:

“Small episodes of corruption can play an outsize role in American politics, since the human scale of petty self-dealing is often easy to understand. And in Trump’s case, the smaller and larger scandals reinforce each other. Why is Trump giving rich people and corporations a huge tax cut? Why has he been threatening to take away your health insurance? Why is he letting Wall Street and Big Oil write their own rules? Above all, if Trump supposedly believed that “if I become president, I couldn’t care less about my company — it’s peanuts,” why are his children still running it? For the same reason he has let his Cabinet secretaries run up large travel expenses, and why his son-in-law met with oligarchs in China and the Gulf States whose money he was trying to get his hands on.”

Chait argues at the beginning of the piece that Kremlingate is:

“…substantively important, but it is also convoluted and abstract and removed from any immediate impact on voters’ lived experience.”

I agree with Chait that Krelimgate is complicated and foggy in its own way. BUT it’s the spoke on the wheel of scandal that’s driving the country over the cliff. I may need some anti-metaphor medicine, I seem to be wheeling them out left and right…

The only way people can prevent the Trump regime from driving the country into a ditch is to organize and vote in such great numbers that the voter suppression mechanisms devised by Republicans will be overwhelmed.  Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker appears to be terrified of a blue wave that could wash away the fog of scandal both in Washington City and the state capitals.  The good news is that the Kaiser of Chaos is oblivious, basking in the applause of his supporters and staff of sycophants. It’s what happens when you live inside the bubbly right-wing echo chamber. Believe me.

The last word goes to Todd Rundgren and Utopia’s cover of the theme song of Trump’s shitty reality show:

They Can’t Help Themselves

In the spirit of the week after Holy Week, I thought I’d write about the disgusting attacks on the Parkland kids by adults. The attacks keep backfiring, leading to apologies from Frank Stallone, Laura Ingraham, and others. Ingraham famously apologized  in the “spirit of Holy Week.” Does that mean she wouldn’t apologize for sliming David Hogg on another week? All Ingraham and her lorons care about is saving advertisers and her shitty show.

Attacking teenagers, tweens, and even younger chirren is not a good look for grown ass adults, but it’s not uncommon on the right. Fox News is a repository (suppository?) of attacks on younger Americans. (It’s particularly  weird for those of us who experienced the young conservatives of the 1980’s who saw Reagan as their political grandpa and became tribal Republicans.)  And it’s not just in the more out of sorrow than anger”kids today” manner, it’s out-and-out hostility:

In the month and a half since the shooting in Parkland, FL, Ingraham herself has said the Parkland students should not be given “special consideration” on gun policy; told her viewers that the March 14 student walkout wasn’t some sort of “organic outpouring of youthful rage,” but rather “nothing but a left-wing, anti-Trump diatribe”; and complained that anti-abortion protesters didn’t get the same attention. Two of Fox’s other primetime hosts, Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson, both dismissed the students as pawns being manipulated by gun control advocates. Carlson went a step further, calling the students “self-righteous kids” who “weren’t helping at all” and comparing them to Mao’s Red Guards. The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway, who is also a Fox News contributor, dismissed the students as just “children, not founts of wisdom,” and Fox & Friends Weekend host Pete Hegseth responded to the student-organized March For Our Lives by angrily commenting, “Spare me if I don’t want to hear the sanctimoniousness of a 17-year-old.” Fox’s sustained and hostile attacks on students in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting fit right into the network’s years-long pattern of insulting and belittling students and children.

Wingnuts have only one mode: attack mode. They do it when it won’t work and when it will backfire with anyone *outside* the bubbly right-wing echo chamber. Carlson, Hannity, Ingraham, and their ilk don’t understand how they sound to average Americans because they seem to only talk to people who agree with them. They certainly only care about those people. It’s why they can’t help themselves.

The 24-hour (minute? second?) news cycle and social media can be wonderful things. They can also be dangerous when used by people with no impulse control who don’t seem to realize that what they say and/or tweet is public and archivable. It’s getting harder and harder to trash talk people behind their backs because slurs live forever on the interweb. Impulse control is out of fashion because of the Current Occupant who was born in a bubble and basks in the glow of the bubbly right-wing echo chamber. The Insult Comedian sets the tone for his acolytes, which is why it’s ugly out there and getting uglier every day.

Remember when we had a president who thought before speaking and didn’t trash everyone who disagreed with him? It wasn’t that long ago. It can happen here again.

When I say that the wingnuts and gun nuts can’t help themselves, I’m not excusing their malakatude and verbal diarrhea. It’s a feeble attempt to explain why they do the things they do.  Attacking the Parkland kids is not going to work. It would be better for the flying monkeys of the far right to say something like, “I’m sorry they’ve been traumatized but I disagree with them.” How hard is that? Too hard for them, apparently. Since they live inside the bubbly right-wing echo chamber, they can’t help themselves.