Category Archives: Political Crack

Saturday Odds & Sods: Handle With Care

Saturday Morning by Edward Hopper.

It’s been a busy week. so I’ll keep this introduction brief. And I mean it this time.

This week’s theme song was originally supposed to be a George Harrison single, but it turned up on the Traveling Wilburys first album in 1988. The song is credited to the band, but the primary writer was George. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

We have four versions of Handle With Care for your listening pleasure: the Wilburys original, Jeff Lynne’s ELO, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, and Stephen Stills & Judy Collins.

If you can handle it, let’s jump to the break but with care. Always with care.

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Quote Of The Day: Adam Schiff Edition

Apologies for being a removal trial slacker. I feel like a juggler with too many balls in the air. That’s life.

Adam Schiff’s closing on Day Two of the trial was passionate and downright brilliant. Ain’t nothing better than a lawyer who believes in his case. This passage, as published by TPM, was a standout:

Schiff cited impeachment witness Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s declaration that he was doing what’s right by testifying against Trump because “right matters” in the U.S.

“If right doesn’t matter, we’re lost,” the Schiff said. “If truth doesn’t matter, we’re lost.”

Schiff warned that acquitting Trump would give the President license for future wrongdoing and imperil the U.S.

“This is why, if you find him guilty, you must find that he should be removed, because right matters,” he concluded. “Because right matters, and the truth matters. Otherwise we are lost.”

Words to live by.

Here’s the video via a TPM tweet:

 

 

 

Guest Post: Lobby Day; A Peaceful, Queasy Feeling

My old friend Parenthetical grew up in the Commonwealth of Virginia. He currently resides in Charlottesville. In 2017, he wrote a guest post about the prelude to the Charlottesville white supremacist riot: Lost Cause Fest, Virginia Style.

The punny title for this post was his idea, I didn’t force it on him. I suspect, however, that he was pandering to me. If so, it worked,

Here are his thoughts about the gun nut non-riot in Richmond on MLK Day:

You knew this Richmond Gunpalooza was going to be big after Governor Northam told the press that he saw “no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons.”

I’m sorry, I’m being told that was Governor Ronald Reagan upon signing 1967’s Mulford Act prohibiting open carry in California, enacted in direct response to the Black Panthers’ armed visit to the state’s capitol.

As for Virginia’s own Locked n’ Loaded LinkedIn event, certain folks have been doing online victory laps on behalf of the thousands of gun enthusiasts who packed the area on Lobby Day, a traditional day for coming to speak with one’s state representatives. Compared to the Unite The Right rally three years ago, the day’s lack of homicides and beatings warrants a hearty huzzah, to be sure, but let’s put some context around this “accomplishment.”

  • The governor declared a state of emergency days in advance, due to out-of-state unwelcome “militia” members.
  • Neo-Nazis with a machine gun and reported designs on attending were arrested the week prior, and who knows what other advance intel proved fruitful.
  • State and local police coordinated well ahead of time, a lesson learned the hard way in Charlottesville.
  • Fencing went up around the Capitol, and access was controlled.
  • Streets shut down.
  • Some nearby business shut down for the day, accepting the financial hit in an abundance of caution.
  • Area residents stayed indoors, and people in other parts of town stayed away.
  • Counterprotestors largely skipped the event, zero counteraggression present.
  • Organizations who would have otherwise participated in Lobby Day exercised caution and stayed away.

At the end of the day, everyone from taxpayer-funded authorities to residents to Antifa made choices and/or absorbed expenses to keep the peace or steer clear. The result? A crowd full of tactical fashionistas had the place practically to themselves in a highly unnatural environment, and now they’re all, “HEY MY GUNZ AND PALS AND ME MADE A PEACEFUL!”

Obliviousness to privilege on Capitol Square for Dr. King’s birthday, what a thoughtful gift.

One photo captured the extremely small police presence near the rather cramped throng of protestors, and from here, that looked like the last stroke of genius in the law enforcement’s strategy: Pack them close and give them nobody to fight with, not even the police. People I know who went appeared to have a lovely time. One likened it to tailgating.

Of course, it did overshadow and undercut Lobby Day itself. Citizens had to choose ahead of time: be a part of Lobby Day sans firearm, or walk around with your favorite appendage outside of Lobby Day. The vast majority opted for the latter, wanting their outrage over gun measures to be “heard” rather than actually going in and, you know, being heard.

By the way, I know 99% of attendees consider themselves freedom-loving patriots, so I figured they’d be very supportive of my Monument Avenue compromise: Find a nice new home for Stonewall Jackson, and replace it with a new monument to Nat Turner.

If you’re into Virginians fighting for personal liberty, it doesn’t get much more Sic Semper Tyrannis than Nat Turner, right? And yet, my proposal seems to have fallen flat. Confounding.

At the end of the day, if you want to lobby, you come and lobby. If you want to protest and show strength in numbers, you protest and show strength in numbers. But when a vastly white, vastly male crowd of over 20,000 elects instead to convene downtown with firearms and all the combat trimmings including flags of varying insurrectionist relevance, a lot of them are trying to do something else.

These people who want personal judgment to replace public policy in all aspects of firearms ownership and usage are the same people who post Civil War 2.0 videos to their social media.

Who believe Alex Jones.

Who shared reports that busloads of false flaggers have rolled into town to make trouble and fool the lamestream media.

Who told me that Mike Bloomberg and George Soros had bought up all the public parking.

Who think the world is neatly divided into fixed pools of Law-Abiding Citizens and Criminals.

Who look up and down Monument Avenue and see forefathers’ encouragement instead of a lost cause.

(Is it just me, or are some folks only going to let go of the last Civil War if they get another one to grab onto?)

I’m sure several of the day’s attendees have a somewhat better grip on reality, but Virginia is increasingly not interested in catering to that mindset, as it demonstrated at the polls. Have fun at the range and in the woods, guys. Ignore the data about firearms in the house, because of course it won’t happen to you. Posture and get your gear on all you want. But maybe next year, leave Lobby Day for the people who actually want to lobby. And if you’re chafing at the prospect of background checks and other popular measures so badly that it just might spread to your trigger finger at the wrong time, consider an ointment.

It’s A Removal Trial, Not An Impeachment Trial

I almost called this post Confessions of a Slacker Blogger but the reason I was silent about the removal trial is that I was crazy busy the last two days. I was preoccupied with writing my latest 13th Ward Rambler column for the Bayou Brief. When it was finished, more shit hit the fan in the Hard Rock/Kalias collapse story. A major rewrite ate yesterday morning and the trial gnawed away at my afternoon.  More on that later.

I have a few random thoughts and scattershot comments about the big shebang going down in the Senate right now:

The post title says it all. Impeachment has already happened. Trump will forever be the Impeached Insult Comedian. The purpose of the trial is to decide whether Trump will be removed from office. I realize that I’m howling at the moon on this point, but I like calling things what they are. Trump, like Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, will always wear the scarlet I for Impeached.

The House managers have done a superb job, especially Adam Schiff who opened and closed the first full day of argument. He spoke like a latter-day Clarence Darrow only without suspenders. Snap.

Jerry Nadler is not half the orator that Schiff is, but his presence surely irked the Impeached Insult Comedian. Nadler fought valiantly against a Trump real estate development on Manhattan’s West Side and succeeded in reducing its scale and footprint. That’s why Trump’s hate for Nadler is pure. The congressman welcomes his scorn.

There are still people looking for a savior. Chief Justice John Roberts is the latest candidate. Never gonna happen, my friends. Roberts is a Rehnquist protege and the latter conducted the Clinton removal trial with a light hand. For good or ill, Roberts is staying in the Rehnquist lane.

There’s been much grumbling from Senate GOPers about how “boring” the removal trial is. It’s what you wanted, STFU. And sit in your seats. That’s your job. You work for us, not vice versa.

The outcome seems preordained but the House managers aren’t just speaking to the Senate, they’re speaking to the country. Their goal is to put Senate Republicans on trial and they’re off to a good start in that regard. Keep the pressure on them, make them regret their time as Trumper toadies.

Speaking of false saviors, never trust Susan Collins. I’ll believe that she and other Senate “moderates” will act when it happens. The guy to watch is Lamar Alexander. While he’s unlikely to vote for removal, he might vote to hear witnesses. He’s already announced his retirement so he’s not subject to the same red hat political pressure that other GOPers face. Besides, he’s the first Senator on the roll call, if he votes to hear witnesses others could follow. Senate Republicans are followers, not leaders. Will this happen? Beats the hell outta me.

A removal trial is neither fish nor fowl. This one feels fishy and has a foul odor attached to it. The Senators are both judge and jury. Past removal trials had witnesses and evidence. Mitch McConnell prefers a see-no-evil approach. It may work in the short term, but voters want a fair trial and that includes evidence and witnesses not named Biden. The political blowback over this show trial could be fierce among educated suburban voters. It’s up to the House managers to make it so.

Repeat after me: It’s A Removal Trial, Not An Impeachment Trial.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Save It For Later

Rain, Steam and Speed by JMW Turner.

The weird weather continues in New Orleans. I’ve compared it to a yo-yo or a rollercoaster in the past. This week’s analogy is a pendulum only with fog. Fog is the only constant. January skies are on the gloomy side: gray, overcast, and depressing. If only it were overcast in August when it’s blazing hot. So it goes.

We’re in throes of preparing for Krewe du Vieux.  It’s early this year: February 8th, a mere 3 weeks away. This strikes me as a good time to link to last year’s Bayou Brief piece, Confessions Of A Krewe du Vieux Member.

This week’s theme song was written by Dave Wakeling for the Beat’s 1982 album, Special Beat Service. It, in fact, has a beat and you can dance to it. Uh oh, I’ve morphed into Dick Clark in my dotage. What’s next? A gig hosting a game show?

We have two versions of Save It For Later for your listening pleasure. The original studio version by the English Beat (the Beat to me) and a live version by Pete Townshend.

Before jumping to the break, another song with save in the title:

All that saving made me feel like Mariano Rivera. OMG, a Yankee reference. I’m going to hell but on the way, let’s jump to the break.

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Throwback Impeachment

Are you ready to party like it’s 1999?

President Trump plans on adding former independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr and the defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz to his legal team for his trial by the Senate, a person briefed on the plan said Friday.

Mr. Starr, whose investigation into President Bill Clinton’s sexual relationships led to his impeachment, will be joined by Robert Ray, who succeeded Mr. Starr as independent counsel and wrote the final report on Mr. Clinton, the person said.

Rounding out the team will be Mr. Dershowitz, a Harvard Law School professor emeritus who became famous as a defense counsel for high-profile defendants like O.J. Simpson.

The White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, and Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, will lead the legal team.

Let’s review the bidding. Starr and Ray were integral components in what Charlie Pierce calls “the hunt for the president’s penis.” Dershowitz was against impeachment before favoring it.  Lev Parnas placed Jay Sekulow in the same leaky, unethical boat as Rudy Giuliani: he has knowledge of the Ukraine scam as it happened. He should recuse himself but won’t. Trump likes sleazy lawyers.

Two of these lawyers have links to sex scandals. Starr to the Baylor football sex scandal and Dershowitz to master perv Jeffrey Epstein That’s probably why the Impeached Insult Comedian picked them. Pervs of a feather flock together.

Lapsed liberal and obsessive contrarian Alan Dershowitz has also been portrayed onscreen. A show biz touch that surely appealed to President* Pennywise. Ron Silver played him in  Reversal of Fortune. On television, he was played by Richard Cox in American Tragedy, and Evan Handler in The People vs. OJ Simpson. Handler, who usually sports a shaved head, rocked a toupee as Dershowitz:

I somehow doubt that they’ll want to be known as the Dream Team 2: the Scream Team is more like it. I wonder if Rudy plans to sit in the gallery and heckle. Now that would be must-see teevee.

The last word goes to Prince:

Parnassian Frenzy

As I watched Lev Parnas on Maddow last night, I realized there was a highfalutin pun on his last name. The Parnassians were a  French literary movement described as follows at Britannica.com:

Parnassian, French Parnassien, member of a group—headed by Charles-Marie-René Leconte de Lisle—of 19th-century French poets who stressed restraint, objectivity, technical perfection, and precise description as a reaction against the emotionalism and verbal imprecision of the Romantics.

Emotionalism and verbal imprecision? Sounds like your basic Trump or Giuliani interview to me. In contrast, Lev came off as calm and direct last night. I *want* to believe his account but until there’s more corroboration, I’m not sure how credible he is. More investigation is in order, but I found his story plausible.

Lev was not quite what I expected. I expected him to be more thuggish and speak with a heavy Russian accent, like this guy:

That image of cartoon villain Boris Badenov evokes John Bolton’s description of Crazy Rudy as a “hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up.” The Mustache of War knows his explosives.

Lev also has a spectacular combover, which made me wonder if the artist formerly known as Mayor Combover is his hair tech. Only his hairdresser or the Impeached Insult Comedian know for sure:

That was infinitely more disturbing than Lev’s media tour. He also sat for an interview with the New York Times. Lev sure does get around.

Back to Lev’s credibility. He bolstered it by dismissing blowhard Trump wannabe Robert Hyde as a drunken braggart. Additionally, he didn’t claim a close relationship with Russian master criminal Dimitri Firtash.

Lev’s charges about Trump, Pence, Rudy, and Barr are explosive and plausible. This could, however, be yet another case of a liar lying about other liars. Rudy has already denounced him as a liar. It takes one to know one.

Part Two of the new hit series When Lev Met Rachel will air tonight. Stay tuned.

The last word goes to Lev’s lawyer Joseph A. Bondy with a tweet featuring the mendacious minority whip from Metry:

 

Enough Already

Twitter is extra stupid this morning. It’s ablaze with a pitched battle between Sanders and Warren supporters with the former being particularly inflammatory. They seem to have forgotten CNN’s debate track record; they go for gotcha moments with gusto.

I used to watch CNN in the days of Bernie Shaw and Aaron Brown but it’s all about giant panels and loaded questions in the 21st Century. That’s why I skipped the debate and didn’t even DVR it. Enough already.

I like what Charlie Pierce had to say about this ridiculous flap:

…the Warren-Sanders business is going to be what people take away from Tuesday night. I have no idea what was said during the famous conversation about whether a woman can be elected president. But the response from the Sanders supporters, especially on the electric Twitter machine, has been so hysterically over the top—Responding with snake emojis? That’s only the oldest misogynistic smear of all time, going all the way back to Genesis.—that it does make me wonder whether or not there’s something in that campaign that attracts the Democratic equivalent of the incel boys. I hope it stops soon, but I doubt that it will.

It was inevitable that politics would break out between two candidates trying to be *the* candidate of the Democratic party’s portside. We’ve seen it before, and we’ll see it again. I see nothing in Bernie Sanders’ platform that would cause me NOT to vote for him in the general election. I’m a Warren supporter BUT the problem is not Bernie, it’s the Berners. Enough already.

We need a coalition, the proverbial big tent, to deliver a well-deserved comeuppance to Trump and his GOP lackeys. I think that Warren gets that. Hell, I think Senator Sanders gets that, but his supporters want to take over the Democratic party and burn it down. That’s nuts. We need all hands on-deck to beat Trump. He’s the real enemy, not moderate Democrats. Enough already.

The other thing that bugs the living shit out of me is that not enough people are talking about the Parnas files. It appears that an American ambassador was under surveillance approved by Crazy Rudy. The Impeached Insult Comedian might have okayed it There’s even a suggestion that Ambassador Yovanovitch’s life may have been in jeopardy. That’s a helluva lot more important than a he-said she-said squabble. Enough already.

People need to prioritize. The national house is on fire and the arsonist lives in the White House. I will vote for any Democratic candidate even one of the plutocrats, the unqualified Hoosier, or the former Veep who has lost his fastball. POTUS* may have authorized a hit on an American ambassador. That’s infinitely more important than what sort of pundit Bernie Sanders is and what Elizabeth Warren had to say about a private meeting. Enough already.

I’d like to paraphrase a  classic 2016 post by Athenae, I’m Done With All Your Liz and Bernie Feelings, Internet. Enough already.

Johnny Mercer didn’t say anything about prioritizing in the song below, but we need to organize our thoughts and accentuate the positive. The last word goes to Dr. John:

 

Ride The Tigers

I’m uncertain if I have a coherent post in me today. You’re probably saying: when was he ever coherent? I started Monday off by giving y’all a straight line, be nice.

Since I still have King Cake on my mind, I’m going to cut this post into slices.

Geaux Tigers: I’m as nervous as Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof about tonight’s national championship game. I’m not sure if I’m Brick, Maggie, or Big Daddy; mercifully, there’s nary a no-neck monster in sight and PD is undercover as a big blue lump on the bed. Make that under the covers…

My LSU Tigers have had a magical season, but they face a formidable foe in the Clemson Tigers. Formidable as in defending national champs and winners of two of the last three titles. The good news is that Coach O gets it. He was in the same position as an assistant at USC when the Texas Longhorns hooked the defending champion Trojans in the 2006 Rose Bowl.

LSU doesn’t  have the mascot advantage for a change; it’s the Tussle of the Tigers. We do have two of the three colors of Carnival on our side: purple and gold. Clemson’s color is orange. Not one of my favorite colors even though the fruit is swell and citrusy.

It’s time for a semi-relevant musical interlude:

The long layoff has me worried. One team is apt to be rusty, the other to be prepared. Let’s hope it’s the right Tigers who do the riding or some such shit.

I’d like to call your attention to an article in the Failing New York Times, which gives my main man Coach O his due:

Ed is officially a folk hero now but that doesn’t ease my pre-game jitters. The last word of the segment goes to Brian Setzer:

Speaking of riding tigers, the impeachment process is finally moving to the Senate.

Cover Up, Trump Style: Speaker Pelosi tried to nudge and/or coerce the Senate into giving a shit about its reputation, but Moscow Mitch seems to have dug in his heels. He’s declined to relinquish his iron hold on his caucus, which makes a fair trial much less likely. Mitch doesn’t give a damn, Harry Reid said last year that his former colleague had ruined the Senate. The ruination continues apace.

I’m still glad that Nancy Smash pulled the Tribe Gambit. It has made GOPers look bad to fair-minded members of the public, and resulted in a series of meltdowns by the Impeached Insult Comedian.  He continues to play the victim card. Apparently, he’s the most mistreated and misunderstood president* in history. Who knew? Imagine a president being impeached with such a strong economy. Just ask Bill Clinton about that, Donald.

It’s time for a relevant musical interlude:

These opening lyrics could easily be sung by President* Pennywise:

Just want to be misunderstood
want to be feared in my neighborhood
Just want to be a moody man
Say things that nobody can understand
I want to be obscure and oblique
Inscrutable and vague
So hard to pin down
I want to leave open mouths when I speak
Want people to cry when I put them down

That Pete Townshend is a smart fella. He’s the Cyrano of rock music, after all.

Speaking of heels, Trump is refusing to let John Bolton, Mick Mulvaney, and Mike Pompeo testify; even behind closed doors. Clearly, they have nothing to hide. #SARCASM

If the terrible trio had exonerating testimony, Trump would beg them to appear in public. This has nothing to do with executive privilege or national security. It’s defiance in the face of the facts. I suspect Pompeo is pleased not to have to perjure himself. He can stick to lying on the Sunday shows.

Frank Rich wrote a great piece for New York Magazine, What Will Happen To The Trump Toadies? In which he posits that they’ll get their comeuppance sooner or later. Nick Lowe said much the same thing way back in 1983:

Who knew that Pete Townshend and Nick Lowe would prove to be so prescient about the current president*? Not even a fan boy like me.

Let’s finish this potpourri post on a lighter note. It involves chicken, not tigers.

I Yam What I Yam: A contestant on the Canadian version of Family Feud mixed up her food groups; substituting chicken for spinach as Popeye the Sailor’s favorite food:

Love that chicken from Popeye’s.

I wonder if the toon liked yams since he was wont to say this:

His moocher pal, Wimpy, preferred hamburgers, and Olive Oyl seemed not to eat at all; certainly not fried chicken. Where the hell is this going? In the direction of the last word.

Since I originally called this post Monday Morning, the last word goes to Fleetwood Mac and Death Cab For Cutie:

Your President* Speaks: Disco Donald

The Impeached Insult Comedian had another bizarre, impromptu presser yesterday. He didn’t talk terlets or windmills but there were a string of weird non-sequiturs and tangents. He made up a new rationale for the Soleimani hit, then this happened:

He then went on a near-incoherent rant about his rationale for renaming various global alliances — NATO and the USMCA — claiming he told people they should think of the YMCA song to remember the USMCA abbreviation.

“I actually had a name. NATO, right? And then you have M-E. Middle East. You’d call it NATOME,” he said. “I said, ‘What a beautiful name.’ NATOME. I’m good at names, right? USMCA. Like the song YMCA. Nobody could remember USMCA. I said, ‘think of the song YMCA.’ Now everybody says it.”

I hoped to unearth a picture of President* Pennywise with the actual Village People but my hopes were shot out of the sky and crashed. I did find this image:

Trump was known to hang out at Studio 54 where he bored everyone with his bragging. I was hoping to find a picture of him with regulars Liza Minnelli, Bianca Jagger, Halston, or owner Steve Rubell. I was SOL again. I assumed they avoided the boring and boorish Trump. Why talk to Trump when Truman Capote was around? One might even say they disco ducked Donald:

I did, however, find a picture of the Donald with Andy Warhol and the Studio 54 horse:

Why there was an equine presence at a disco in Manhattan is beyond me. They were into cocaine, not horse, after all.

On a more serious note, this latest episode confirms my belief that the president* is mentally ill and getting worse all the time. For a more professional discussion, click here and read this piece by Chauncey DeVega. It’s much scarier than “cancer causing” windmills and loos you have to flush 15 times.

On a less serious note, the last word goes to the Village People:

I have a new reason to hate the Kaiser of Chaos: he’s driven me to disco.

Quote Of The Day: State Of The GOP Edition

I originally planned to post this last Friday before the Liar’s War heated up. Hopefully, tensions have been reduced to a simmer. Besides, I’m tired of writing about the Impeached Insult Comedian’s latest fuck up.

Last week, Stuart Stevens, who was Mitt Romney’s chief strategist in 2012, wrote an Op-ed for the WaPo about the current state of the GOP. Here’s the money quote:

Republicans are now officially the character doesn’t count party, the personal responsibility just proves you have failed to blame the other guy party, the deficit doesn’t matter party, the Russia is our ally party, and the I’m-right-and-you-are-human-scum party. Yes, it’s President Trump’s party now, but it stands only for what he has just tweeted.

We’ve seen that clearly this week. Senate GOPers are prepared to stage a token impeachment trial and nobody in the GOP was taken aback by Trump’s conducting foreign policy by tweet. Repeat after me: that’s some dangerous shit.

Unlike some never Trumpers, Stevens understands that President* Pennywise exploited existing conditions in the GOP on his way to taking it over:

Trump didn’t hijack the GOP and bend it to his will. He did something far easier: He looked at the party, saw its fault lines and then offered himself as a pure distillation of accumulated white grievance and anger. He bet that Republican voters didn’t really care about free trade or mutual security, or about the environment or Europe, much less deficits. He rebranded kindness and compassion as “PC” and elevated division and bigotry as the admirable goals of just being politically incorrect. Trump didn’t make Americans more racist; he just normalized the resentments that were simmering in many households. In short, he let a lot of long-suppressed demons out of the box.

Donald Trump as Pandora? I like it. His hair, however, is like Medusa’s.

I keep posting surrealist art because it fits these crazy times. The last word (image?) goes to Rene Magritte and his take on Pandora’s Box:

The First Casualty

There’s an ongoing debate as to who coined the phrase “the first casualty of war is the truth.” Some credit California Senator Hiram Johnson who said something along the same lines in 1917. He was a progressive Republican, which was not an oxymoron in his case. He was TR’s running mate in 1912 on the Bull Moose ticket.

Others believe that the Greek tragedian Aeschylus coined the phrase. This one-two punch makes it win-win for me as a Greek American who grew up in California. Yay, Team Adrastos.

In either case, the phrase deserves to be in the pantheon of quotes as whatever this thing with Iran is evolves into. The most mendacious administration* in American history is focusing its talent for lying on the Iran crisis. Suddenly, some of Trump’s harshest critics believe his most extreme statements on this subject. Do they think he wouldn’t lie about this? If so, why? Here’s the warning I posted on the Tweeter Tube:

President* Pennywise has threatened to bomb 52 targets in Iran in twisted homage to the Americans held hostage in 1979-80. While it *is* an event that Trump has heard of, I doubt he can count that high. Hopefully, the military won’t screw up again by presenting him with another extreme option:

Pentagon officials usually include a far-out option when they present possibilities to the president in order to make the others seem less extreme. The other options presented to Trump in Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach resort, included strikes against Iranian ships or missile facilities or militias backed by Iran that are operating in Iraq. “The Pentagon also tacked on the choice of targeting General Suleimani, mainly to make other options seem reasonable,” reports the Times.

That’s okay with a rational leader but not with a mentally ill president who is eager to distract attention from his impeachment. It’s either dog wagging or dick waving. It could be both: he’s eager to offend. That’s why I call him the Impeached Insult Comedian.

The next time Trump tweets out some batshit crazy threat, give the Morton Salt girl a holler:

It’s currently pouring Trump regime lies and bullshit. Take everything they say with a massive grain of salt. That goes for the Iranian government: they’re contenders in the Liar’s War as well.

There are unconfirmed but plausible reports of Iranian Americans being detained at the border and airports. What’s next? An embargo on the upcoming season of The Shahs Of Sunset? Reza and I object:

The reason I’m making light of the current situation is my belief that mockery is the best medicine. Besides, we still haven’t the foggiest notion of what course this crisis will take. The Iranian regime is as ruthless and violent as that of Saddam Hussein BUT they’re infinitely more sophisticated. Hopefully, they’re too clever to provoke a land war. That statement comes with an enormous caveat: the Middle East is where prediction go to die. That coupled with Trump’s lack of impulse control makes it almost impossible to predict what happens next. You might as well ask the Morton Salt girl. She knows as much as the next pundit…

All I know for certain is that the first casualty of war is the truth.

Let’s close things out on a semi-optimistic note. The last word goes to the Police:

Fools Rush In

American presidents have a fatal attraction to the Middle East; hence the blurry featured image from 1979. It happened again last night. The Kaiser of Chaos ordered a hit on the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ commander, Qassim Suleimani. Making the act twice as provocative is that it happened at Baghdad International Airport. Remember Iraq and the mess in Mesopotamia? This is some serious shit.

The phrase fools rush in comes to mind, which is confirmed by this quote in the NYT:

In killing General Suleimani, Mr. Trump took an action that Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama had rejected, fearing it would lead to war between the United States and Iran.

While many Republicans said that the president had been justified in the attack, Mr. Trump’s most significant use of military force to date, critics of his Iran policy called the strike a reckless unilateral escalation that could have drastic and unforeseen consequences that could ripple violently throughout the Middle East.

It was an action too reckless for the Bush-Cheney administration. Let that sink in for a moment.

It came shortly after off the cuff remarks by the Impeached Insult Comedian at his Florida clip joint:

“I don’t think that would be a good idea for Iran. It wouldn’t last very long,” Mr. Trump said. “Do I want to? No. I want to have peace. I like peace.”

Glad to hear that, Donald. It would be better if you didn’t oscillate wildly from dove to hawk and back again. Clarity in foreign policy is imperative; something the Trump regime is incapable of.

Trump’s comments remind me of the “light at the end of the tunnel” statements issued during the Vietnam War and Dick Cheney’s assertion that the Iraq War would be a “cakewalk.” We all know how those conflicts turned out: there was no cakewalk and the light at the end of the tunnel was a train that ran us over.

I suspect that President* Pennywise has convinced himself that this is like the Al-Baghdadi and Bin-Laden hits. It is not. This is an assassination of a senior governmental official whose business included state sponsored terrorism. Such an action requires Congressional approval:

It’s apt to be an unconventional war. The retaliatory weapons are likely to be old-fashioned terrorist attacks as well as new-fangled cyber warfare. We’re unlikely to invade Iran but this is bound to get ugly and chaotic. This is some serious shit.

The problem with three years of incessant lying is that more than half the public will not believe anything this administration says about this situation. They’re likely to pour gas on the fire and make things worse. It’s what they do.

The traditional “rally around the flag” reaction will not happen this time around. We’ve been deceived once too often. Believe nothing, trust no one.

Coming in the midst of a presidential impeachment, this action is inherently suspect. It’s unclear if we should label it a “wag the dog” or a “wave the dick” moment. What it is is foolish as is current Iran policy, which is based on the notion that anything Obama and Kerry did was wrong. We’ve gone from our best relations with Iran since the demise of the Shah to this fucking mess. This is some serious shit.

I almost called this post This Is Some Serious Shit because it is. I opted instead to use an old Johnny Mercer-Rube Bloom song whose full title is Fools Rush In (Where Angels Fear To Tread). The last word goes to Rick Nelson, Doris Day, and Frank Sinatra:

Willard’s Political Hangover

One of my first posts last year was The Wind Cries Willard. A year later, I still have Willard Mittbot Romney on my mind and he still has President* Pennywise on his. If he so chooses, he will be one of the biggest players in the upcoming impeachment trial. The problem is that the Mittbot is programmed for political caution.

Romney is under pressure to do something, anything major on the impeachment front. Here’s what the Salt Lake Tribune had to say about his prospective role:

Romney has been a rare bird among Republicans, being sometimes willing to criticize the president over specific actions and utterances, not just during the 2016 campaign but since the administration took office. In the current unpleasantness, he has at least tried to hold himself out as an impartial juror, attempting to not prejudge the matter before the evidence has been heard.

It would thus be helpful to his own cause if Romney could muster whatever influence he has to make sure that the Senate does, indeed, hear the evidence.

While the Constitution requires a two-thirds vote to actually remove a president, a mere 51-member majority can make the rules for the proceedings. If all 47 Democrats, and their two allied independents, stick together, the vote of Romney and two other Republicans could force a process where not only the evidence gathered in the House process is placed on the record, but documents so far withheld and witnesses thus far silenced are seen and heard.

If nothing else, such action will expose as a lie the protests of the president that he has not had the benefit of full due process, when it is the president himself who had blocked so much necessary information and so many knowledgeable witnesses.

Romney is, of course, perfectly positioned to play such a role: Trump is unpopular in Utah. It may be a red state, but the Mormon church opposes his xenophobic immigration policies. They view immigrants as souls to be harvested. The Mormon style stresses personal modesty, which is alien to the Impeached Insult Comedian. It’s no surprise that two of the GOPers willing to criticize Trump are Mormons: Romney and Jeff Flake.

Romney is as popular in Utah as Trump is unpopular. Beehive Staters felt honored that he ran for the Senate in 2018. He’s descended from a long line of LDS elders as well as the man who “rescued” the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics. He came perilously close to being the first LDS POTUS in 2012. He has the status and stature to become a hero in 2020. What he’s lacking is the temperament. He’s a cautious motherfucker whose political style is best summed up by a cartoon I’ve posted twice before:

I feel another movie analogy coming on. Willard Mittbot Romney has something important in common with the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, he lacks the nerve to be bold:

Willard *could* once again be the King of the Republican forest if he summons forth the nerve to be bold. It took a medal from the Wizard for the Cowardly Lion to be a hero, not a pussy.

What will take for the Mittbot to stand up to the pussy-grabber-in-chief? Perhaps a similar editorial from the Deseret News, which is the organ of the Mormon church. Otherwise, it beats the hell outta me. I’ve overestimated the man who wanted to be the first robot president before and am reluctant to do so again. Stay tuned.

I nearly called this post The Wind Cries Willard Too. It’s a minor classic, after all. It struck me as equally funny to call it Willard’s Political Hangover since the Mittbot is programmed to be a teetotaler. Besides, it aptly describes his status on the national political stage: he’s under extreme pressure to act, which would drive lesser mortals to drink. In his case, inaction speaks louder than words. It’s time to stop blowing with the wind and have the nerve to act.

The last word goes to Squeeze:

This Will Be Our Year?

I don’t have a hangover but something about New Year’s Day makes one move as slowly as a dial-up internet connection . We had an early supper with some friends, then hung out at home as the fireworks and the odd gun shot went off. My neighborhood was positively sulphuric, which did not amuse Paul Drake. He’s not terrified of loud noises but isn’t crazy about them either. Who can blame him?

I’ve been in the mood for old movies of late. We saw Shadow of a Doubt the other day, which is best described as Hitchcock Americana. It’s a great movie because of its likable villain: Joseph Cotten as Uncle Charlie.

Last night’s viewing featured an unlikable, sociopathic villain: Robert Mitchum as Max Cady in the original Cape Fear. I’m still unclear as to why Martin Scorsese decided to re-make it in 1991. DeNiro and Nolte were unable to match, let alone surpass, Mitchum and Peck. It always amuses me to see Peck turn into a vigilante to rid his life of his hulking stalker. A bonus is the presence of Maybe Cousin Telly Savalas as a shamus with hair no less.

I almost compared Max Cady to the Impeached Insult Comedian who is a combination national nightmare and stalker. Cady, however, is a smart bastard and Trump is as dumb as dirt and twice as ignorant. We need a few more Gregory Pecks to rise against him and expel him from office. He has a death grip on the GOP similar to this headlock at the end of Cape Fear:

Everyone should remember that Trump wants us rattled and fearful. He feeds off the fear like Stephen King’s evil clown in It. That’s why I call him President* Pennwyise. Fuck him.

2019 was a terrible year for some of my friends. I’ve written about the Homans at the Bayou Brief. My friend Kyle of Little Buddy fame lost both his parents in rapid succession last year. It was a rough ride but he posted some hopeful song lyrics today, which inspired the post title albeit with a question mark:

“You don’t have to worry. All your worried days are gone. This will be our year. Took a long time to come.”

The song in question comes from the Zombies classic 1968 album, Odessey and Oracle. They get the last word:

The Decayed Decade

There’s nothing like the end of a decade to inspire what I like to call Listomania. I succumbed to that temptation at the end of the aughties myself. I’m going to spare you another list after going on and on and on with the Best of Adrastos.

Instead of a list, I’m going to reflect on the downward national political trajectory of the Decayed Decade. I had forgotten that my 2009 list was called Listomania: The Decayed Decade so I’m repeating myself title-wise. Good wordplay is a terrible thing to waste.

The dawn of the 2010’s found us with a Democratic Congress and the first African American president in our history. Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, which was a first step in the direction of universal health care. The combination of “death panels, socialized medicine” and racism led to the Tea Party backlash midterm election of 2010.

The 2010 election was just the first backlash against the social changes sweeping the country. It’s not much discussed in 2019 but it opened the door for Trumpism, which is teabaggery without any pretense to principle. The Tea Party wave election dumbed down Congress and brought birtherism to the forefront of the national dialogue, which was capitalized upon by rank opportunists such as the Insult Comedian. The Koch brothers found Trump distasteful, but they set the table for a president* with lousy manners. The Trump regime belches Koch policy preferences without so much as an excuse me:

The political scene got dumber and grosser as the Decayed Decade marched on. Things got so bad in the House of Representatives that Speaker Boner stepped aside in 2015 as he couldn’t control his caucus because of all the yahoos and proto-Trumpers. It’s revealing of our current circumstances than I feel nostalgic for the Cryin’ Ohioan. He at least told the truth as he saw it as opposed to the rank fantasists who currently control the Republican party.

Lies and conspiracy theories became increasingly popular on the right as the Decayed Decade advanced. Democrats and Republicans now live in alternate universes. This is as good a time as any to re-quote a great American:

I wrote about the avalanche of mendacity and bullshit that overwhelmed our political dialogue in a recent post, Sound of Lies. The teabaggers and birthers got the ball rolling, then Fox News and Donald Trump brought mendacity into the mainstream, which is now muddier and more stagnant than a backwater swamp. The word fetid comes to mind.

The backlash was perfected with the 2016 election. The least qualified candidate in American history was elected president* with the help of the Russians and an archaic electoral college system. We’ve had rich businessman candidates before-Wendell Wilkie and Ross Perot spring to mind-but they had longstanding interests in public policy. Wilkie in foreign policy and Perot in the budget deficit. They both brought something to the table: Trump brought nothing but his ego and hollow rhetoric about “the swamp” and “forgotten man.” Both of which he forgot about upon his inauguration.

I don’t have to tell you in detail about the Trump regime’s small-minded and vindictive parade of policy horrors. Suffice it to say they were cooked up by Republican extremists long before Trump was taken seriously as a potential Oval One. Trumpism is Republicanism gone haywire. Extremists such as Stephen Miller realized that Trump was an empty vessel ready to be filled with xenophobic and hateful notions that had been percolating on the far right forever.

The result of the Decayed Decade is a GOP unrecognizable to Eisenhower Republicans such as my late father. They’ve gone so far off the schneid that I believe that Ronald Reagan would find it impossible to vote for the Impeached Insult Comedian in 2020.

A reminder that Reagan was a moderate on immigration and anti-Russian to his core. Putin is a KGB colonel who runs the successor state to the Soviet Union. His goals are indistinguishable from those of pre-Gorbachev Soviet leaders: destruction of NATO and the EU as well as a passion to regain lost territories such as the jewel in the crown of the Russian Empire, Ukraine. It’s called irredentism and Putin has a bad case of it. And Trump has a bad case of loving Putin:

Now that I’ve bummed you out, there are two positive indicators that the Twenties will be better than the Decayed Decade. Images of flappers and Gamaliel are dancing through my head now. The 1920’s roared until they didn’t.

First, the 2018 midterms were a pointed rebuke to the GOP and Trumpism. If not for gerrymandering, the seat pickup would have been greater as Dems won the popular vote by 8 points. For point of reference, the Reagan landslide in 1980 was by the same margin.

Second, impeachment. It shows that Democrats have become battle hardened by three years of resisting Trumpsim. I still hope that some Senate GOPers will vote against the party line BUT impeachment was a major triumph for the resistance. House Democrats did the right thing regardless of the political implications, which I happen to think will be positive. Of course, I’ve been wrong before and will be again. At least I get to call the president* the Impeached Insult Comedian. Thanks, Nancy and Adam.

It’s a relief that the Decayed Decade is just about done. Here’s hoping that the 2020’s will be politically kinder to the country. Who knows: perhaps the Charleston and Lindy-hop will stage a comeback? You never can tell.

The last word goes to Roy Orbison and Squeeze with different tunes titled It’s Over:

Quote Of The Day: Doug Jones On Impeachment

When it comes to the fecklessness of contemporary politicians, the MSM is part of the problem. They are so used to horse race coverage of politics that even good reporters ask questions that are crafted to ensure a craven answer. Alabama Senator Doug Jones surprised ABC’s Martha Raddatz yesterday:

ABC News “This Week” host Martha Raddatz pointed out to Jones that GOP strategists believe a vote to convict Trump would doom the Democratic senator in a ruby-red state that voted overwhelmingly for the President in 2016.

“Are you worried about that?” Raddatz asked.

Jones shook his head.

“I took an oath as a U.S. senator,” the Alabama Democrat said. “I’m going to take another oath, and that’s where my duty is.”

“I think the problem that we’ve got in America today, and the problem we have sometimes, with all due respect, in the media, everyone wants to talk about this in the political terms, in the political consequences term,” he continued. “This is a much more serious matter than that.”

Jones said the impeachment trial is about the future of the presidency and “how we want our presidents to conduct themselves,” along with “how a Senate should handle impeachment.”

“That’s how I’m looking at this,” he told Raddatz. “If I did everything based on a pure political argument, all you’d need is a computer to mash a button.

“It’s just not what this country’s about, it’s not what the Founders intended, it’s not what I intend to do,” the lawmaker added.

In an age of widespread political cowardice, it’s a pleasure to hear someone say that they’ll do the right thing and worry about the electoral consequences later. In fact, the House Democratic caucus is full of swing district members who voted to impeach the president* based on the merits, not the politics.

Doug Jones is the most endangered Senate Democrat up in 2020. He’s determined to do the right thing whatever the consequences. Here’s hoping that enough Senate Republicans will find the nerve to vote to hold a real trial next year. It only takes 51 votes and they don’t even have to commit to remove Trump. It shouldn’t take a Superperson to stand up for:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Swinging On A Star

Tchoupitoulas Christmas House photograph by Dr A.

We’ve been on a weather yo-yo all month. There have been several days where the drop in temperature was so drastic that the high was at midnight. It’s not Wisconsin cold but it’s damp and humid, which exaggerates how chilly it feels. It’s fucking cold, y’all.

New Orleans is an old city with an aging infrastructure. It seems to have rebelled this week: we’ve had collapses, explosions, water main ruptures, and a literal shit storm. The citizenry are getting cranky and blaming the current Mayor for decades of neglect. It’s unfair but she makes it worse by speaking in jargon. Mayor Cantrell actually said that she was “leaning in and being intentional” to help solve our infrastructure woes. It would help if we understood what the hell she means.

This week’s theme song was written by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke in 1944 for the Bing Crosby movie, Going My Way. It was one of the biggest hits of the year and won Oscars for best picture, actor, and supporting actor. Der Bingle was the show biz king that year.

We have three versions of Swinging On A Star for your listening pleasure: Bing Crosby, his frenemy, Frank Sinatra, and an R&B version by Big Dee Irwin and Little Eva.

I’m a bit dizzy from swinging on that star so let’s pause before jumping to the break.

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The Tribe Gambit

I’m firmly on the record as favoring cunning and guile in our political leaders. Nancy Pelosi has these qualities in spades. She’s also smart enough to listen to outside advice. In this case from the great constitutional scholar, Larry Tribe, whose December 16th WaPo op-ed serves as a map to the post-impeachment landscape:

Now that President Trump’s impeachment is inevitable, and now that failing to formally impeach him would invite foreign intervention in the 2020 election and set a dangerous precedent, another option seems vital to consider: voting for articles of impeachment but holding off for the time being on transmitting them to the Senate.

This option needs to be taken seriously now that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has announced his intention to conduct not a real trial but a whitewash, letting the president and his legal team call the shots.

Such an approach could have both tactical and substantive benefits. As a tactical matter, it could strengthen Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) hand in bargaining over trial rules with McConnell because of McConnell’s and Trump’s urgent desire to get this whole business behind them. On a substantive level, it would be justified to withhold going forward with a Senate trial. Under the current circumstances, such a proceeding would fail to render a meaningful verdict of acquittal. It would also fail to inform the public, which has the right to know the truth about the conduct of its president.

Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer have had the good sense to pay heed to Tribe’s advice. In contrast, the usually cautious Turtle stuck his head far out of his shell on Fox the other day. He was speaking to an audience of two: Sean Hannity and the Insult Comedian. Unwise choice.

McConnell’s attempt at schoolyard insults yesterday has failed. He taunted the Dems for chickening out after impeaching the president*. The Speaker was unimpressed:

On Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggesting she was “too afraid” to deliver a “shoddy work product” to the Senate, Pelosi said: “Oh pfft,” according to Politico. “Fear is never a word used with me. You should know right away. … I’m never afraid and I’m rarely surprised.”

On House Republicans at times obscure behavior during the House debate and vote on the articles of impeachment Wednesday: “Some of them don’t believe in the Constitution. … They didn’t act upon it, they acted completely against it. They believe in Donald Trump,” she told Politico.

I’m not surprised that Nancy Pelosi is playing hardball: she learned it at her father’s knee. I am. however, pleasantly surprised by Chuck Schumer’s conduct. The jovial Senator has become a serious mensch. One might say that he learned it at Nancy Smash’s knee.

The Tribe Gambit lobs a hand grenade in the GOP’s lap. There are some Republican Senators who want at least the appearance of a fair trial in their body. McConnell and Graham have badly overplayed their hand. It will require their colleagues to answer questions about the basic fairness of the Senate trial at home over the holiday recess.

In 1999, Bill Clinton got a fair trial in a Republican held Senate. All Schumer needs twenty years later is for four Republican Senators to vote to have witnesses and documents produced by both sides. They need not commit to convict but basic fairness demands that there be a trial whose result can be accepted by the voters. Stay tuned.

Back to Larry Tribe. As a Russian history buff I was thrilled that he used this analogy:

In 1787, the year our Constitution was written, Catherine the Great traveled to Crimea in Ukraine — yes, that Crimea, the one Vladi­mir Putin occupied by illegal force — where her former lover Grigory Potemkin had built a fake village to impress the Empress. It seems suitably ironic for McConnell to propose building a Potemkin “trial” to exonerate Trump. But irony is no substitute for common sense.

One more reason that I’m a Larry Tribe fan boy.

The last word goes to the man himself from his appearance last night on The Last Word with Laurence O’Donnell. One could even call it when Laurence met Lawrence:

Long Day’s Journey Into Impeachment

Fog Of History

It’s all over but Republicans are still shouting. Is every annoying white guy in the country a House GOPer? Their lack of diversity was stunningly obvious today as old white dude after old white dude yelled at the cameras. Democratic house members used their inside voices and looked like America.

I have some random comments and remarks about a long, long day. I’m pooped, y’all. Thanks to Eugene O’Neill for inspiring the title. Dead men still tell tales.

I watched all day and my ears hurt from all the shouting. They seem to think that saying something really loud makes it true. I gave up counting all the lies from the Party of Trump. It reminded me of a famous film scene:

There were times when the debate could have been called Ridiculous Analogy Theater. Trump was compared to Jesus, impeachment = Pearl Harbor. It was a debate which will live in infamy.

Doug Collins is almost as annoying as Gym Jordan and Louis Gohmert Piles. He does, however, prove that Southerners can talk as fast as anyone. His delivery combines the worst aspects of an auctioneer and a car salesman. Schmuck.

I am proud to be a Democrat. Our members stood their ground and were 99 times smarter than the Republicans. Schiff was brilliant as usual and Nadler exceeded my expectations as did Steny Hoyer. In contrast, the GOP has Kevin McCarthy, Devin Nunes, and the tin foil hat brigade. Kev did have one nifty malaprop when he said “enrode” instead of “erode.”

The mendacious minority whip from Metry, Steve Scalise, tore a piece of paper and was booed by Dems for saying they hate all Trump voters. I seem to recall many Democrats sending Scalise best wishes when he was shot. The malakatude it burns.

The voting has started as I write this. I’ll have more to say about to say about this in the coming days. Right now, I need a drink. You probably do too.

The last word goes to ADAM FUCKING SCHIFF: