Category Archives: Political Crack

Malaka Of The Week: Johnny Rotten

Thus spake Neil Young:

The king is gone but he’s not forgotten.
This is the story of Johnny Rotten.
It’s better to burn out than it is to rust.
The king is gone but he’s not forgotten.

The rock legend first recorded this song in 1979 and it’s undergone various permutations since then. John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten has gone through what Buddy Miles called Them Changes over the years as well. He’s always styled himself as a working class hero or man of the people. He has a big mouth and it has gotten him in trouble again. And that is why Johnny Rotten is malaka of the week.

Lydon fancies himself a contrarian. Most rock fans lean left politically: the Rotten Malaka does not. He went on a morning chat show in London and expounded on a certain American politician who claims not to be one:

The former Sex Pistols frontman, who became a U.S. citizen in 2013, said on ITV’s “Good Morning Britain” that Mr. Trump is “a complicated fellow” but doesn’t deserve being labeled a racist by his liberal opponents.

“What I dislike is the left-wing media in America are trying to smear the bloke as a racist, and that’s completely not true,” the 61-year-old said. “There’s many, many problems with him as a human being, but he’s not that, and there just might be a chance something good will come out of that situation, because he terrifies politicians.”

Mr. Lydon said Mr. Trump is like a “political Sex Pistol” whose purpose is to rattle the status quo. After co-host Piers Morgan described Mr. Trump as “the archetypal anti-establishment character,” Mr. Lydon added: “Dare I say, a possible friend.”

The former lead singer also declared his support for Brexit, saying he stands with Britain’s “working class” who voted to exit the European Union in June.

“Where do I stand on Brexit? Well, here it goes: The working class have spoke, and I’m one of them, and I’m with them,” Mr. Lydon said, raising his fist. “And there it is.”

I don’t think the Rotten Malaka was just pandering to Trump sycophant Piers Morgan. He defended his comments in a follow-up interview:

Speaking today (March 28) to Virgin Radio, Lydon said: “I didn’t expect to be misunderstood, I think I speak very clearly.”

He continued: “America now has a new President and whether you like him or not you have to support him or you will destroy the country. You got to make things work.”

We have to listen to a washed-up punk rocker who has only been a citizen since 2013? In words that he’ll surely understand: fuck you, Johnny. The country was polarized long before you became a citizen and it’s still standing. Perhaps you should go watch teevee with the Insult Comedian and rub his weave for good luck like past malaka of the week Jimmy Failin of the Tune Out Show.

I was never a punk rock fan. I had friends who were but I like melody, harmonies, and people who can play their instruments. I saw the Sex Pistols once out of curiosity. It turned out to be the last show for the original band. People are always impressed when I tell them. I was not. It was a miserable experience. Some razor blade clad moron kept bumping into me. After I moved, some chick with a blue mohawk puked on my shoes. I was not amused.

Back to Johnny Rotten. I really don’t care what this tosser thinks about Donald Trump. He’s not a cultural icon to me, he’s just an asshole who used to be famous. It’s a pity that he didn’t follow Neil Young’s advice and burn out or fade away instead of becoming a rusty Trumper. That’s his limited public image…

To paraphrase John Lennon, a working class malaka is nothing to be. And that is why Johnny Rotten aka John Lydon is malaka of the week.

Jared Kushner: Renaissance Man?

See Jared Ski. Ski, Jared, Ski.

Trump’s son-in-law is everywhere. Jared Kushner missed the Trumpcare meltdown because he was skiing at that well-known populist resort town, Aspen. He’s being called before the Senate Intelligence Committee to testify about his meetings with the Russians. He still has a greasy finger in the foreign policy/national security pie. And today we’ve learned he’ll be in charge of deforming the Federal bureaucracy even though he never worked in government before 2017:

Kushner will report directly to Trump and will staff the office with former business leaders, according to the Washington Post. The office will work with business executives like Apple’s Tim Cook and Micrsoft’s Bill Gates, per the Post.

“We should have excellence in government,” Kushner told the Post on Sunday. “The government should be run like a great American company. Our hope is that we can achieve successes and efficiencies for our customers, who are the citizens.”

So much for the president* as a different kind of Republican. This is GOP boilerplate. The problem is that government is nothing like business and cannot be run as such. The purpose of business is to make money and show a profit. That’s particularly true for privately held outfits like the Trump and Kushner family businesses. They have no accountability to shareholders or anyone else. Now that I think of it, Trump’s White House is run like his company only they’re LOSING, not winning as promised.

The whole “run guvmint like a bidness” meme reminds me of a certain former New Orleans Mayor who is currently serving a 10-year stretch in Club Fed. Like Trump, C Ray Nagin promised to run City Hall like a business. The result was comic ineptitude in his first term and a series of second term scandals that led to what Meshach Taylor’s character on Designing Women called his “unfortunate incarceration.”

Nagin’s downfall was caused by his propensity to shake down people  to use his son’s business, the hilariously named Stone Age Quarry. Nepotism has always been a thing in New Orleans. It certainly is with the Trumps and Kushners as well. Nagin at least had the sense-I cannot believe I used that word in a sentence with C Ray’s name-to hide his filial malefactions. The Trumps do it in broad daylight as the president’s* frequent forays to Trump branded golf courses and hotels indicates. They’re not only above the law, they think they *are* the law. Hubris is not only an unattractive quality, it usually ends up biting one in the ass.

Back to young Jared’s new role as the White House’s point man on guvmint innovation and “reform.” It’s usually wise to appoint someone who has worked in the Federal bureaucracy to change it. Jerry Brown’s 1992 Presidential effort was based on the idea that only a reformed fund-raising sinner could change the way campaigns were financed. It didn’t turn out that way but it was a pretty good argument.

More famously, when FDR appointed Joe Kennedy head of the newly formed SEC, he was accused of putting a fox in charge of the hen-house. FDR’s reply was that only a fox knew where the bodies were buried. He didn’t exactly say that but it’s the whole “it takes a thief to catch a thief” thing writ large. Just ask Cary Grant or Robert Wagner

The Trumpers have already planted hundreds of political spies/commissars at departments and agencies. In some cases, the appointees have been even less qualified than Jared including a recent high school graduate. I am not making this up. It’s another example of the almost breathtaking ineptitude of these bozos. They remind me of the title of a book by the late, great Jimmy Breslin: The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.

I used the word commissars because those were the loyal communists the Soviets appointed to supervise all arms of government including the military. As far as we know, the Trumpers haven’t tried that trick. Yet. That brings me to a fascinating NYT article by Anne O’Donnell about a strike by Russian civil servants against the Bolsheviks in 1917. The employees resisted the new government and even though they lost, it’s still a fascinating chapter in history. I don’t think of Jared as the next Trotsky or Bannon as the next Lenin but they can dream.

I wonder if the Insult Comedian is inspired by the second Red Scare attack on government employees by Senator Joe McCarthy and Trump’s mentor Roy Cohn. There’s that name again. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Oy, such a mentor.

I suspect that this attempt to run guvmint like a bidness will end up on the ash-heap of history alongside other failed Trump ventures. I hope that Bill Gates and Tim Cook will reconsider co-operating with the Kushner initiative. The Apple honcho should know by now that working with the Trump White House is bad for business. Of course, it wouldn’t surprise me if that part of the story turned out to be another snow job.

I have a suggestion for Team Trump. The Insult Comedian could pardon C Ray and put him to work on this misbegotten effort to run guvmint like a bidness. Nagin may not have been a Trump-level asshole but he has one thing in common with the Trumpers: INCOMPETENCE.

Tweet Of The Day: The Case Of The Punning Pundit

I considered stealing this pun outright. I decided not to out of fear of expulsion from the pun community. I take my status as a horrid punster quite seriously.

The punning pundit is Molly Ball of the Atlantic. It was posted when the Trumpcare Bill hopped out of the hopper:

That was a helluva sweet pun and I’m not Mollycoddling Ms. Ball by saying that. In fact, I relish the chance to praise a punning pundit.

That is all.

Heck, Yeah

Uh oh, I seem to have a galloping case of Gorsuchitis. That’s why I couldn’t type Fuck Yeah when the news came down that Ryan had pulled the abominable GOP health care bill. I was not surprised. They were bleeding votes all day as every concession made to the denizens of Wingnutlandia cost them with sane conservatives. I think the nail in the coffin was when the House leadership promised to abolish the “health care essentials,” which were all the popular bits in the ACA. Thanks, Ryan.

The Brown House will pretend that Trump lobbied hard for the bill. He did not. He only met with large groups of GOPers instead of holding small meetings in the Oval Office. Nothing moves votes like personal attention from a President. I guess Trump didn’t want to interrupt his teevee watching. Also, never forget this photo-op from yesterday:

The Insult Comedian on a road to nowhere.

I never want to hear about Dukakis in the tank after Trump in the truck. Trump should have been working the phone instead of playing in a truck. Schmuck.

There are already signs that Steve Bannon’s allies in the media are sharpening their knives for Paul Ryan. Bannon has long had it out for Ryan and anyone who thinks he won’t go for the throat after this fiasco is kidding themselves. It may not be today but it’s coming. Believe me.

Republicans will attempt to minimize this disaster but I would like to remind them that the Clinton administration had a hard time passing significant first-term legislation after their health care plan died. We’ve learned how few GOPers are afraid of a mendacious, unpopular president* Thanks, Donald.

Finally, kudos to everyone who attended town halls and called their congresscritters to urge a vote against this atrocious bill. The pressure worked. Thanks, y’all.

Vive les Maquis.

 

Trump and the unfortunate addiction to spectacle

If you want to look for a “life imitating art” moment for today’s healthcare vote, it has to be this one from the movie “Black Mass.”

James “Whitey” Bulger tells his associate exactly what Trump told Republicans by calling for this vote: “You wanna take your shot? Take your shot. But make it your fuckin’ best because if I get up, I’ll eat you.”

This whole thing is horrifying: The potential repeal of the healthcare law, the CBO’s estimate of 24 million people losing coverage, the way in which our government can’t seem to run for three hours without falling all over itself… Say what you want to about the eight years of W., but compared to this, well… at least his stupid was just stupid. It wasn’t vindictive, blind-sighted and angry.

The one thing that makes it just so fascinating is the same thing that makes people slow down at a massive freeway wreck, despite pissing and moaning about the gaper’s block: It’s the rarity of spectacle.

This is how Donald Trump has made his money and gained his fame: He kept people guessing and he always delivered a cliffhanger.

He sued the NFL. Who does that?

He bragged to Billy Bush about sexual assault. Who does that?

He kept Omarosa on Season 1, week after week. Who does that?

The answer is Trump, because he knows what few people are willing to admit: Humans don’t like the safe play and we want to see if there’s going to be a car wreck.

Name the last time a president went to congress without knowing if he had the votes to get something done, especially something this big and this early in his term.

Name the last time regular citizens (or people like me who are abnormal but still don’t pay attention to politics) were aware that a big vote was coming and waiting to see it like “must-see TV.”

This is Gary Cooper in “High Noon” or John Wayne in “Rio Bravo” or Brett Favre throwing another fucking rocketball into triple coverage.

The spectacle works on TV because it has no real impact. You knew Cooper and The Duke would be fine. As for Favre, well, at least if you weren’t in Vegas, his errors wouldn’t cost you anything.

The same couldn’t be said for Trump to this point, given his actions cost this world the USFL and Billy Bush his job. The Omarosa thing still remains baffling, but minor issue. And perhaps that’s the best way to look at his jackassery to this point: It hurt people but not a lot of people most of us know or give a shit about. Meanwhile, the spectacle jacked a lot of people up through the roof.

But now, he’s playing with live ammo. He’s the paintballer with some serious weekend warrior skills joining the Marines. Lives are actually at risk here and yet he seems to think we’re still playing paintball.

In that case, he’s taking his best shot.

Let’s see if someone gets up and eats him.

Speaking Of Aggie Jokes…

… Rick Perry is back in the news. Apparently, he has time on his hands now that he’s Trump’s Energy Secretary. He recently “wrote” an op-ed piece on a matter of supreme importance to his fellow Aggies: the Texas A&M student election. I am not making this up. I owe a debt of gratitude to Slate’s Elliot Hannon for writing about Perry’s op-ed in the Houston Chronicle.

It turns out that the Aggies elected-not a sheep-the school’s first gay student body President, Bobby Brooks who won due to a glow stick related disqualification of his main opponent whose father is a major GOP donor. Hand to God, I am not making this up.

Brooks’ win, however, came after another candidate, top vote-getter Robert McIntosh, faced accusations of voter intimidation—for which he was later cleared—and was ultimately disqualified for failing to expense glow sticks used in a campaign video of some sort. The expense violation was then appealed and adjudicated in the appropriate college forum and it was determined Brooks was the winner.

I wonder if Bobby is aware of this chestnut with lyrics by the great Johnny Mercer:

Now that we’ve dealt with glow-worms, it’s time for an excerpt from Perry’s magisterially stupid article. I wonder if he had one of DOE’s nuclear scientists write it for him. Those eggheads are bound to be disturbed by GLOW STICK GATE. There could be nuclear radiation involved:

As Texas’ first Aggie governor and as someone who was twice elected Yell Leader of Texas A&M University, I am deeply troubled by the recent conduct of A&M’s administration and Student Government Association (SGA) during the Aggie student-body president elections for 2017-2018

<SNIP>

Every Aggie ought to ask themselves: How would they act and feel if the victim was different? … Would the administration and the student body have allowed the first gay student body president to be voided for using charity glow sticks? … We all know that the administration, the SGA and student body would not have permitted such a thing to happen. The outcome would have been different if the victim was different… Election Commissioner Rachel Keathley must explain why she chose to overturn a fairly won election and disqualify thousands of votes on the basis of anonymous complaints and flimsy technicalities. Chief Justice Shelby James must explain why she treated these cases as annoyances rather than with respect… Robert McIntosh was not treated the same as his competitors.

That’s right, y’all. Rick Perry still fears gay cooties, which have now infected his alma mater. Methinks, like many other right-wing homophobes, Ricky baby doth protest too much. I particularly enjoyed the detail about his being elected twice as Aggie Yell Leader. Rah fucking rah. Sis-boom fucking bah.

I wasn’t able to find a decent picture of Perry armed with his megaphone but here’s one of former Governor Oops with school mascot Reveille:

I think we all know who was the brains of that outfit…

In addition to his time as Aggie Yell Leader, Perry did a stint on Dancing With The Stars. I didn’t see it but this animated GIF looks rather Yell Leaderish to me:

I, for one, am glad that the Insult Comedian has brought school spirit back to the Federal government. Dubya was a cheerleader at Yale and now we have the dancin’ Energy Secretary. Nobody’s going to accuse this bozo of being low energy…

There *is* one good thig I can say about Perry’s nutty op-ed. I don’t think he lies in it. That’s a major accomplishment for a member of the lyingest administration ever.

Your President* Speaks: The Truth Is Not His Middle Name

The Insult Comedian gave an interview to Time Magazine’s Michael Scherer about truth and falsehood” wherein he lied like an antique Persian rug. He even recycled some old lies. It’s good to know that he espouses at least one green cause. Of course, both he and Jill Stein are Putin fans, which means I should recycle my old nickname for her: the Crunchy Granola Machiavelli. That one never gets old.

I’m only going to publish a few Trumpian whoppers since the WaPo does such a good job debunking his bunk. Make sure you read that article. The president* really outdid himself on the alternative fact front this time.

“NATO, obsolete, because it doesn’t cover terrorism. They fixed that, and I said that the allies must pay. Nobody knew that they weren’t paying. I did. I figured it. … What I said about NATO was true, people aren’t paying their bills.”

As if the Beavis-Duce administration would let that happen. Repeat after me: it’s an alliance that’s kept the peace, not a protection racket.

“Now remember this. When I said wiretapping, it was in quotes. Because a wiretapping is, you know today it is different than wire tapping. It is just a good description. But wiretapping was in quotes. What I’m talking about is surveillance.”

He thinks he can get away with his bullshit by using air quotes? What is he now, a sorority girl? How stupid does he think we are? Yeah, I know: tremendously, bigly stupid.

He also denied his big lie about Cruz the Elder’s involvement in the Kennedy assassination:

“Well that was in a newspaper. No, no, I like Ted Cruz, he’s a friend of mine. But that was in the newspaper. I wasn’t, I didn’t say that. I was referring to a newspaper. A Ted Cruz article referred to a newspaper story with, had a picture of Ted Cruz, his father, and Lee Harvey Oswald, having breakfast.”

The National Enquirer is a newspaper? Who knew? I thought it was terlet paper.

It’s time to circle back to the post title. It’s a paraphrase of a line from a Squeeze tune, The Truth. This video includes Chris Difford’s lyrics and that’s the truth. Believe me.

 

 

Quote Of The Day: Goodness Gracious, Golly Gee, Gosh Gorsuch

I’m on the record as a Dahlia Lithwick fan. She outdid herself the other day in a piece about the Gorsuch confirmation hearings, by golly:

There is no good way out of this tangle for Judge Gorsuch. For at least some of us in the room, the two straight days of performative big-hearted Westernness is beginning to chafe. No amount of references to midcentury paddle-wielding nuns and boyish mutton-busting extravaganzas can cover for refusing to answer even the most basic questions about doctrine or precedent. And even though Gorsuch is extremely affable and warm, one can’t escape the growing sense that the nominee we are watching today was hatched in an underground Federalist Society lab, with spare body parts stolen from Atticus Finch, Richie Cunningham, and Snoopy. And at some point you want to gently remind him that 1950s television called and it wants its vocabulary back.

I can’t find the quote but Gore Vidal once lamented that right-wingers spoke like maiden aunts in 1930’s B-movies. I guess we should be relieved that they’ve moved forward in time to 1950’s teevee by golly.

I’ve only watched bits and pieces of the Gorsuch hearings. He’s following the 2005 Roberts script by being affable and saying absolutely nothing. It was annoying in 2005 but infuriating in 2017. The Garland nomination changed everything. Gorsuch’s protestations that he’s an non-political judge ring hollow as the GOP’s humbug threatens to smother the Capital in noxious fumes of hypocrisy.

As Gorsuch himself would surely say, this whole thing is a gosh darn shame.

Tea About The Tillerson

I had a lot of fun with my first post about Trump’s Secretary of State: Tea for the Tillerson. It’s time for a variation on that theme and meme. The above meme reflects the fact that Rex Tillerson is an empty suit with neither power nor influence. It’s fascinating that a man who wielded *real* power at Exxon/Mobil is under the thumb of a 35-year-old real estate developer and his sloppy neo-Fascist pal. This is no way to run a railroad, let alone a country.

It has become painfully obvious that Tillerson is out of the loop on major decisions: 

 At times, the president seems to be actively undermining the secretary. While Tillerson was in China over the weekend, taking an approach so conciliatory that he was even dropping Beijing’s favorite diplomatic buzzwords into his remarks, Trump was on Twitter complaining that China had “done little to help!” deter North Korea’s bad behavior—an accusation the Chinese have bristled at.

This is the second time Trump has said disparaging things about a country while Tillerson was visiting it. When Tillerson visited Mexico in February, trying to smooth over Trump-era differences as the natural disagreements of “two strong, sovereign countries,” the president was proudly telling a crowd in Washington about his administration’s work to get “bad dudes” out of the United States and predicting that Tillerson would have a tough trip. Those inclined to give this administration points for strategic acumen might see this as a kind of good cop, bad cop scenario, but it looks more like incoherence to me.

Tillerson is the most disrespected and undercut Secretary of State since William Rogers way back in the Nixon administration. Nixon ran foreign policy out of the White House and Henry Kissinger was a skilled bureaucratic knife-fighter. They at least had a coherent foreign policy even if much of it was appalling. Trump hasn’t a clue and neither do his key advisers. Jared and Steve know as much about foreign policy as Oscar the cat.

The administration’s recent saber-rattling on North Korea was not only shitty policy, it was poorly timed. Tillerson was in the Republic of Korea and issued a threat while the Korean government was in crisis after the impeachment and removal from office of President Park Geun-hye. Note to the Trumpers: the ROK does not like being referred to as South Korea. What’s next? Calling the PRC, Red China?

I remain mystified as to why the head of a massive multi-national corporation traded real power for playing second-string to Kushner and Bannon. I’m not sure where the new National Security adviser fits into this equation, but at least he’s not crazy or a Russian pawn like Flynn. It’s unclear, however, if he’ll prove to be McMasterful…

Team Trump’s next foreign policy trick is for Tillerson to skip the upcoming NATO summit, then travel to Putinville shortly thereafter. Way to send a signal to our friends where they rate, y’all. Whatever its flaws, NATO has helped keep the peace in Europe for the last 68 years. The Russians want to undermine and divide NATO in favor of chaos and right-wing nationalism. The Trumpers are playing along because the president* thinks foreign policy is a protection racket, and Bannon wants to provoke some kind of Armageddon that will bring on his new world order. I have no idea what Tillerson thinks about any of this. Repeat after me: he’s an empty suit.

There was a swell opinion piece in the Guardian that posed this question: Is Rex Tillerson the Weakest Secretary of State of All-Time? In a word: Yes. It’s an office that’s been filled by a long line of distinguished Americans: Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, William Henry Seward, John Hay, Charles Evans Hughes, Henry Stimson, George Marshall, Dean Acheson, George Schultz, Madeline Albright, Colin Powell, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry to name a few. It’s a long list and Rex Tillerson’s name doesn’t fit. He’s starting to make JFK and LBJ’s mild-mannered, long-suffering Secretary of State Dean Rusk look masterful.

Presidents have long tried to run foreign policy out of the White House. But it’s particularly unnerving with these bozos in charge. They don’t have a clue as to what they’re doing and their main talent seems to be fighting with our closest friends in the world: Australia, Mexico, Germany, and Great Britain. How is it possible for a Republican administration to fight with center-right governments in Australia and the UK? It’s a rare talent and the Trumpers have it.

Some GOPers insist that Tillerson is lying low and will emerge as a force to be reckoned with. I believe that’s called whistling past the graveyard. Hopefully, the Trumpers won’t provoke a war somewhere in the world to distract attention from their ineptitude and corruption. That’s where I see this heading, especially with a weak Secretary of State whose main qualification for the job is that he looks like a diplomat. And that’s the weak tea about the Tillerson.

Finally, I have a theme song suggestion for Tillerson’s State Department:

UPDATE: REX SPEAKS- The ineffectual Secretary of State has this to say:

“I didn’t want this job. I didn’t seek this job,” he said. “My wife told me I’m supposed to do this.”

After a conversation with President Donald Trump that Tillerson described as “about the world,” the President offered him the position.

“I was supposed to retire in March, this month. I was going to go to the ranch to be with my grandkids,” he said, adding later: “My wife convinced me. She was right. I’m supposed to do this.”

Sounds like a Fifties sitcom to me: My wife made me do it. Take this job, please.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See Angela glare. Glare, Angela, glare.

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

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

Saturday Odds & Sods: Disturbance At The Heron House

Elijah and the Ravens by Ralph Chessé, 1945.

Winter played a fleeting return engagement in New Orleans this week. Unlike the Mid-March blizzard in the Northeast, it wasn’t anything to write home about but we ran the heater and shivered a bit. I’m not a fan of the new practice of naming winter storms even if the first one is named after a famous theatrical character, STELLA. Unless, that is, it’s named for the Hunter-Garcia ballad Stella Blue. The mere thought of a blizzard makes me blue so that could be it.

It may have been chilly of late but Spring allergy season is upon us with a vengeance. I have a mild case of red-eye but I’m used to that. A worse pestilence is this year’s flea crop. We haven’t had a hard freeze for several years so the nasty little buggers are dining on Oscar and Della Street. All we can do is treat the house, medicate the cats, and hope for the best. The idea of putting a flea collar on Della is particularly unappealing. She’s been known to draw blood so I’ll pass. Chomp.

This week’s theme song comes from R.E.M.’s classic 1987 Document album; more on the album anon. It’s my favorite record in their catalog and Disturbance At The Heron House is the kat’s meow. The lyrics were inspired by George Orwell’s Animal Farm, which is another reason I like it so much.

Here are two versions. The original studio track and one from R.E.M.’s appearance on MTV Unplugged. The second video has Radio Song as lagniappe.

The “followers of chaos out of control” indeed. In fact, they can follow me to the other side after the break. I hope it’s sufficiently chaotic.

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Hierarchy of Needs: Asshole Edition

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is something every high school student or college undergrad runs into at some point in a sociology or psychology class. The concept is simple: You have a set of psychological and physiological needs that work in ascending order from most basic to most enlightened.

In short, you need to make sure you are fed, rested and healthy first and then you can worry about safety and security. After that, you start getting into things like friendships, family, belonging, self-esteem and reaching your potential as a human.

Given both the broad applicability of this theory and the longevity of it within the field, it always amazes me that we give people who are jerking themselves off for those self-esteem needs control over people who can’t make it off of first base.

Even more, I’m always disgusted when those people who probably will never reach self-actualization (but feel they have) are using their power to fuck over people who just want food, water and shelter.

Mick Mulvaney, who has a net worth of more than $2.6 million dollars, took time out of his very busy schedule Thursday to lecture reporters about how Community Development Block Grants are shitty things and that programs attached to them often “don’t work.”

One of those programs? Meals on Wheels, which provides food to thousands of elderly, house-bound and impoverished people each year. To wit:

Meals on wheels sounds great. That’s a state decision to fund that particular portion, to take the federal money and give it to the states and say, look, we to want give you money for programs that don’t work. I can’t defend that anymore. We cannot defend that anymore. I can’t defend that anymore. We cannot defend that anymore. We’re $20 trillion in debt.

First, you CAN defend it. You CHOOSE not to do so. There’s a difference there. (e.g. I can’t strangle myself. It’s physically impossible to do so. I could use a box cutter to lop off my wiener. I just choose not to.) Let’s not conflate the two ideas in the way that Mulvaney does so that he’s able to say, “We’d LOVE to do this but it simply can’t be done.”

Second, hasn’t every Republican since the party made a big Right turn made the case that the federal government should give money to the states for things and let the states decide how to run shit? I seem to recall there being people talking about a block-grant-based program that is supposedly great that needs to happen right now…

Third, and perhaps most importantly, can Mulvaney update the press today after he gets visited by Marley’s ghost?

Look, I get it that defending a lot of shit Trump is saying and doing is a lot like justifying the actions of a meth-addled toddler with a machine gun: No matter what you say or do, this isn’t going to work out for you. This is how we got terms like “alternative facts” and an explanation regarding on how wire tapping is actually about cameras in microwaves. If this keeps up, Trump will basically knock Bill Clinton’s explanation of not having “sexual relations with that woman” out of the top ten most incredible verbal gymnastics in politics.

However, we’re talking about fucking food here. Everyone should be able to easily grasp the concept of what it’s like to be hungry and how shitty it is when you can’t get to eat. Hell, the kids in my classes have stomachs that grumble when they don’t eat breakfast and then have to tolerate me for two hours. Now multiply that by 1,000 desperation points, add in other shitty aspects associated with poverty, weave in being too old or sick to find a way to make/grow/get your own food and then have some dick hole who’s about your kid’s age tell you, “Hey, y’know, fuck you and your hunger.”

Trump pulled his voters heavily from senior citizens (53/45 over Hillary Clinton) and from those without higher education (those without a degree went 52/44 for Trump). These are the people who are most likely to need programs like this because they don’t have cushy pensions, stock options or whatever the hell Mulvaney keeps in his Scrooge McDuck vault at home.

And if you look back at Maslow’s pyramid, you find that it’s hard to think or understand things when you don’t have your hunger sated, so these kinds of folks are likely to remain in a spiral of voting for the rich folks who continue to fuck over the poor folks.

Quotes Of The Day: Muslim Ban Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

<SNIP>

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATE: Trump continues to shoot off his mouth:

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

Trump vowed to defend his order.

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

Thanks, Donald.

1040 Blues: From Sizzle To Fizzle

I’m uncertain how to best characterize the Rachel Maddow-David Cay Johnston 2005 tax form story. It was hyped as a bombshell but was greeted as if it were a dud or damp squib. I missed the build-up on social media so I’m sort of in the middle: we learned a few things but it didn’t live up to the advance hype about tax forms plural. The most interesting thing was Johnston’s speculation that Donald may have leaked the form itself. Otherwise it was all sizzle and no steak; not even a overcooked Trumpian steak with ketchup slathered all over it.

The main reason people are so disappointed is that they’re hoping for a magic, nay a silver bullet to slay the monster. This is real life, not fantasy fiction. The Insult Comedian’s downfall won’t be caused by an hour-long cable news program. It’s not “fake news” but it’s not a major breakthrough either. If Trump is brought down by his cartoon villain corruption, it will be by the accumulated weight of his criminality, not by one year’s 1040. As Slate’s Willa Paskin put it, Rachel “had the goods but oversold them.” Believe me.

Since we all have the 1040 Blues, I’ll give Robert Cray the last word:

Malaka Of The Week: Keith Smith

Flags

Photograph by Jim Otey.

You’re probably asking yourself, who the hell is Keith Smith? I had never heard of him until ninety minutes ago when I first read about his flag flying exploits in Indianapolis.  One in particular, and his explanation of why he flies it, has caused a furor, pun intended. It’s always intended. And that is why Keith Smith is malaka of the week.

Smith is just an ordinary Joe with an ordinary name. He’s also the sort of collector you’re unlikely to see featured on the Antiques Roadshow:

Smith said the Nazi flag is about history, not race. He bought the flag from an antique dealer, and he’s been collecting neo-Nazi memorabilia since he was 14. He has badges, military pins and other commodities.

“It’s a part of history,” he said. “Someone sacrificed their life fighting and brought the flag back as a trophy.”

I suspect the folks at the Indy Star mean that he collects Nazi memorabilia. I doubt that there’s a market in George Lincoln Rockwell gee-gaws and tchotchkes. The bigger problem with Malaka Smith’s collection is how he displays one of his prized items: the flag you might have noticed at the top of the post.

For Keith Smith, flying the Nazi flag makes a point about how he’s being slowly stripped of his freedom.

The 58-year-old Indianapolis man has flown the flag three times in front of his house before, joining the Confederate flag and the Gadsden flag that reads “Don’t tread on me.”

“Everything is being stripped from us, everything is being turned into an issue,” Smith said. “I mostly flew it because I’m tired of seeing stuff across the U.S. Some want to cry about their hurt feelings, but this is a part of history being taken down.”

Does anyone understand Smith’s reasoning? I certainly don’t. It strikes me as the essence of malakatude. Flying the flag of one of America’s greatest enemies, one of the worst dictatorships in history, is an affirmation of freedom? That’s just plain nuts even in the era of alternative facts and neo-newspeak.  That’s also how the man who posted a picture of Smith’s flag on Facebook sees it:

Mr. Otey further elaborated on his sentiments to the Indy Star but I think fucking Nazi flag sums it up succinctly:

Jim Otey, a 51-year-old who lives in Smith’s neighborhood, said the flag represents an overall symbol of hate for him. He drives past Smith’s house daily and always saw the Confederate and Gadsden flag, and just shook his head. But the Nazi flag went too far.

“It’s the ultimate symbol of all the evil and bad things that are in this country,” Otey said. “It’s frightening to see that in your neighborhood.”

He made the original post on Facebook about the flag, and said he was astounded to see how far it spread.

“It makes me feel good that everyone is getting on board here,” Otey said. “That’s not going to fly here.”

The people who carried that flag plunged the world into the bloodiest war ever waged. It’s a symbol of genocide and war criminality, not a quaint relic. I have no issue with Smith owning the flag but displaying it flies in the face of simple human decency; something that seems to be in short supply among Trumpers in the heartland. Our country fought the Nazis; many of us lost relatives in Hitler’s war of aggression. It’s a symbol of repression, not freedom. And this bozo’s Confederate battle flag is a symbol of slavery, not freedom. It’s all so simple. Perhaps too simple for the likes of Keith Smith.

Trump’s electoral college victory gave the green light to bigots and racists; both famous and obscure. They have friends in high places such as Steves King and Bannon. The latter has been busy turning the White House into the Brown House while the former proudly parades his  fascist ethno-nationalist views without rebuke from fellow Republicans. Those who think of themselves as “decent” Republicans own the Steves and their ilk. I’m done cutting them any slack whatsoever.

As to Keith Smith. If he were a WWE wrestler, we might call him the Hoosier Hater. I have my own word for it: malakatude.  And that is why Keith Smith is malaka of the week.

King Of The Bigots

Our old “friend” Congressman Steve King of Iowa used to claim that he wasn’t a racist. Now that white ethno nationalism is fashionable among the deplorables, those days are gone, gone, gone:

Guess who applauded King:

The Wilders mentioned by King is far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders whose ironically named Party for Freedom is running first in the polls in that nation’s upcoming election. A headline in the “failing” NYT captures the horror of what’s happening in the Netherlands: How The Dutch Stopped Being Decent and Dull. I’d like to throw another D word in the mix: depressing.

The good news is that, thanks to Holland’s multi-party system, Wilders is unlikely to be the next Prime Minister BUT his party has gone from being cranks to contenders. That’s bad news for those of us who have admired the Dutch for their political common sense and cultural tolerance. The French presidential election is next up and Marine LePen may lead in the first round. The conventional wisdom is that her opponents will unite against her as they did against her father in 2002 but the CW has taken a beating in the last few years. Stay tuned: if France leaves the EU, it’s as dead as the Weimar Republic.

Back to Steve King. The Iowa cornholer is standing by his statements. It’s now safe in certain circles for an elected official to sound like David Duke, Richard Spencer, and Geert Wilders. King was on CNN this morning and went into a rhapsody about his horrendous views:

“I’ve been to Europe and I’ve spoken on this issue and I’ve said the same thing as far as ten years ago to the German people and to any population of people that is a declining population that isn’t willing to have enough babies to reproduce themselves. And I’ve said to them, you can’t rebuild your civilization with somebody else’s babies,” King said on CNN. “You’ve got to keep your birth rate up and that you need to teach your children your values.”

There you have it, we’re not “making” enough babies. It’s what happens when women get uppity and think they can do other things and not just be baby factories as in The Handmaid’s Tale. There’s a new teevee version of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian classic and it couldn’t be timelier. Make sure you read Ms. Atwood’s essay about The Handmaid’s Tale continuing relevance in the “failing” NYT.

In addition to supporting the King of Bigots, the erstwhile Gret Stet Fuhrer is bragging about his own fertility. Duke only has two kids whereas his role model Joseph Goebbels had six. Of course, he murdered his children in 1945. Some hero. Some role model.

Remember when mainstream conservatives ran away from David Dukkke? Now they sound just like him: Steve King is merely a canary in the coal mine. That’s life in the 21st Century, which is starting to feel like the 1930’s with memes. The Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland recently had a great deal to say about that, so I’ll give him the last word:

If there’s a common thread linking 21st-century European nationalists to each other and to Trump, it is a similar, shared contempt for the structures that have bound together, and restrained, the principal world powers since the last war. Naturally, Le Pen and Wilders want to follow the Brexit lead and leave, or else break up, the EU. And, no less naturally, Trump supports them – as well as regarding Nato as “obsolete” and the UN as an encumbrance to US power (even if his subordinates rush to foreign capitals to say the opposite).

For historians of the period, the 1930s are always worthy of study because the decade proves that systems – including democratic republics – which had seemed solid and robust can collapse. That fate is possible, even in advanced, sophisticated societies. The warning never gets old.

But when we contemplate our forebears from eight decades ago, we should recall one crucial advantage we have over them. We have what they lacked. We have the memory of the 1930s. We can learn the period’s lessons and avoid its mistakes. Of course, cheap comparisons coarsen our collective conversation. But having a keen ear tuned to the echoes of a past that brought such horror? That is not just our right. It is surely our duty.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Top Of The Pops

Swing Landscape by Stuart Davis.

Swing Landscape by Stuart Davis.

It’s time for the Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day parade later today. This year’s route is so long that it should be renamed the Uptown/Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day. We’re fleeing to our friends Greg and Christy’s annual shindig, which puts the bang in shebang or some such shit. And I know the parade isn’t happening on the day itself. This is New Orleans, we do things our own way. Y’all should know that by now. There will, however, be drinking involved. We’re not that bloody different: walk me out in the Tullamore morning dew…

The big local story is that the Fifth Circuit has lifted an injunction against removing the white surpremacist monuments. They’ll be gone pecans soon enough. The erstwhile Gret Stet Fuhrer has been relatively silent this time around. He’s too busy fluffing Trump on Twitter to get worked up about it. For now. I guess that makes him a fluffer nutter. I hereby apologize to others out there who love marshmallow fluff, which recently celebrated a somewhat sticky centennial.

This week’s theme songs qualify as benign earworms. My mind keeps drifting back in their direction, which is why I’m taking you to the top, top, Top of the Pops.

We’re going in reverse chronological order with the 1991 Smithereens tune first. The video was filmed in Atlantic City. I looked for Chalky White but didn’t see him.

This week we’re back in same title, different song territory with the Kinks who were the band that most influenced the Reens. I’ve always preferred this loose live version of Top of the Pops to the more buttoned down studio track:

Now that I’ve rocked your world, it’s time to insert the break. This post grew like Cat’s Claw vines on an abandoned shotgun double so one is in order. See you on the other side.

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The Fog Of History: George Orwell On Trumpist Autocracy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Size Matters?

The almost comic ineptitude of Team Trump continues to play out. I say almost because taking health care away from people isn’t funny, but show-and-tell time at the Brown House is:

It certainly should be as DOA as Edmond O’Brien at the end of that low budget noir classic. And the mindless argument advanced by the Gum Chewer and Dr. Dingbat isn’t helping matters. OMG, the Ryan/Trumpcare stack is so much smaller. And that means it’s better? How? This is complicated shit as even the Insult Comedian has kinda sorta admitted. Frankly, the only time Trump thinks about health care is when he gets his hard-on pill scrip re-filled. Viagra or Cialis, mr. president*? I hear the latter can give you wood for up to 8 hours. I suspect Trumpy considers that a plus. For all we know, he may have the Log Lady stashed away in the Catskills for some arboreal nookie. Has anyone seen the Log Lady lately? I thought not. Perhaps she’s become a log toting Maquisard:

Seriously, the roll out of this hastily assembled plan is the worst I’ve seen since the first Muslim ban. There are incoming brickbats from all sides and the Trumpers primary response is comparative paper piles. The failure of Team Trump and the Zombie-eyed Granny Starver to fully brief their own members as well as stakeholders in the health care system is rank amateurism at its worst. Trump doesn’t know better, Ryan should: the ironically named House Freedom Caucus is against everything. Why would health care be any different?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Team Trump’s incompetence may yet save the Republic.

Resist Smart

The good news is that this will not be another episode in the ongoing saga of <cue soap opera organ riff> how the blogger’s stomach turns. It was a helluva bug but I’m on the path to recovery. I’m about 70% today but still jittery about drinking coffee or anything acidic, so a nice cuppa tea it is. I look forward to a cuppa joe tomorrow. The worst thing about that stupid MSNBC show is that it’s ruined a perfectly good phrase. I’m fighting back. Why? I’ll never know.

I’ve been pondering how best to resist the Trump-Bannon regime. My social media feeds are full of people over-celebrating minor triumphs. Yes, it’s great that Jeff Beau was caught in a stupid lie and while it damages his credibility as AG, it’s not going to bring either him or Trump down. Or if it does, it’s going to take time.

We have a predominantly 18th Century removal process in place. Impeachment is designed to be a slow, arduous process. That’s why only two Presidents have been impeached by the House and none have been removed by the Senate. Some of the Senators who voted against Andrew Johnson’s impeachment, hated the drunken, racist moron. They just didn’t think he’d committed “high crimes and misdemeanors” as constitutionally required. It’s supposed to be hard and slow to prevent injustices such as removing Bill Clinton for being horny and needy.

The 20th Century wrinkle on the removal process, the 25th Amendment, requires Republicans to turn against Trump. If they cared about the country, they would but tribal Republicanism got us in this mess and all they care about are tax cuts and placating angry Trumpers. The hardcore MAGA maggots are still out there, but had difficulty mustering crowds to support their dear leader this weekend even in the Gret Stet of Louisiana:

I am also perturbed by those who are praising former President Beavis for implicitly criticizing the current occupant. Remember: the Bushies lied their way into an unnecessary war, intimidated the media, outed an undercover CIA agent, and smeared their opponents. W has never recanted or regretted any of this. I’m willing to give him credit for being a better man than Trump but, given his track record, that’s faint praise. Repeat after me: the enemy of your enemy is not always your friend.

Then there were the people who fell for Trump’s diversionary tweets. You know the Obama bad/sick guy who bugged Trump Tower one. Yes, it was inflammatory and untrue but it was tirade with a purpose: to get his opponents to take their eye off the ball of the slowly unfolding Russia scandal. It’s a classic reality show tactic: one-up an accusation with an even more inflammatory one. If you watched the Real Housewives of Atlanta last night, you know what I’m saying. (I’m Team Kandy all the way, y’all.) Keep your eye on the ball and don’t fall for Trumpian smoke blowing. It’s what he does best; that and lie like a gaudy orange rug.

Another surreal moment took place on MSNBC’s AM Joy last Saturday. Let me preface this by saying that I love and respect Joy Reid but nobody’s perfect. She was discussing Trump’s obsession with Arnold Schwarzenegger and The Celebrity Apprentice. Joy actually said that Arnold was an ideal foil for the Insult Comedian because he was “an immigrant and conservative.” Unfortunately, Joy also dismissed Arnold’s extensive record of groping and pussy grabbing as not as bad as Trump’s. This is akin to saying it’s okay to praise GW Bush because he isn’t as big a liar as Trump. The current term for this is normalization. I hate the word but if the shoe fits, throw it. Repeat after me: the enemy of your enemy is not always your friend.

Back to the post title. Smart resistance requires neither getting too high over momentary triumphs nor too low over setbacks. This is going to take time and patience, which are qualities that seem to be in short supply in the 21st Century. There’s no scandal genie to grant your wish of removing Trump from office. The genie is out of the bottle and is hanging out with Bannon at the Brown House. They’re mocking the mugs who think this will be easy.

The people who think a quick fix is possible are the same ones who thought faithless electors would deny Trump the Presidency even if they were hazy on the details of how the electoral college works. Smart resistance also requires being better informed and taking some time to digest the news as opposed to issuing hot takes and fighting with strangers on twitter. I know people who do that but it’s not worth it, as the line from a film classic goes, “It’s Chinatown, Jake.”

These are surreal times. If anyone had told me in 1987 that Senator Al Franken would be a leading critic of president* Donald Trump thirty years later, I would have told them to stop bogarting the joint and share. One advantage the resistance has is that, as Athenae pointed out yesterday and I’ve said repeatedly, Trump has no plan, he’s making it up on the fly. In fact, Winging It With The Insult Comedian was the title of a post I wrote way back on December 9, 2015. I make no claim to be a prophet but while Bannon may have a plan, his boss has ADD or something much worse. The best response to chaos is to organize, organize, organize.

Resist smart and remember: the enemy of your enemy is not always your friend. The last word goes to the late, great Paul Kantner and Jefferson Airplane:

Vive les Maquis. I continue to have trouble sticking to that whole last word thing. Oh well, it’s the era of a demented president* who says shit like “the leaks are real, the news is fake.” So it goes.