Category Archives: Political Crack

New Orleans Politics: The Bonfire Of The Vanities

New Orleans made a helluva lot of history during the 2017 election cycle. Most notably, we elected our first woman mayor, LaToya Cantrell who won in a landslide over her hapless opponent, Desiree Charbonnet. We also elected our first Hispanic councilmember in the primary, Helena Moreno, and our first Asian councilmember, Cyndi Nguyen on Saturday. I’ll talk about the council races and explain the post title in a bit. All good things come to those who wait or some such shit. Despite stealing Tom Wolfe’s book title, I have no plan to wear a white suit any time soon. It’s fall, y’all.

Cantrell is not well known outside Orleans Parish, so this oopsie was posted by the AP  after the race was called:

That is, of course, a picture of her vanquished foe, Desiree Charbonnet. Oopsie redux.

I got a few things right about the election. I predicted a Cantrell landslide, which hardly makes me the second coming of Karnak:

Did anyone know that Karnak was into Jeopardy? I wonder what the answer was and how he predicted my bloggerhood. We’ll never know. Inserted because I miss Johnny.

Back to shit I got right and wrong. I was wrong about Charbonnet not getting white conservative votes but right about how unimportant that would be. The Steve Scalise flyer hurt her in most of this deep blue city. Repeat after me: there are very few white conservative voters left in Orleans Parish. I was also right about the 2 council races on the ballot but we’ll get to that in a moment.

Other people have done some excellent analyses of the mayoral election so I don’t have to. I’d rather tell a few jokes:

Clancy DuBos on Da Winnas and Loozas.

Lamar White Jr. on the new paradigm in New Orleans politics.

Jeff Adelson on the Cantrell coalition and how it was built.

Back to me. Team Charbonnet ran a traditional top-down consultant driven campaign. They spent more money than Team Cantrell but not wisely: over $450K on consultants. Cantrell assembled the Obama coalition locally and ran a bottom-up campaign. In short, Cantrell out organized her well-heeled opponent. Perhaps the MSM will stop obsessing about fundraising in the future and take this song off their karaoke menus:

I was more engaged in the council races during the run-off. There was a major upset by the aforementioned Cyndi Nguyen in district E. The incumbent Jame Gray is, to be blunt, a crook. He was Dollar Bill Jefferson’s law partner back in the day and is one of the few Dollar Bill associates still active in politics.  Here’s why I call him a crook: Gray’s law license was suspended by the Louisiana Bar Association for misusing client funds and he’s currently under investigation for the same offense. That’s something the Saul Goodmans of the world do. I’m not shy about calling a shyster a shyster.

Nguyen is a community activist who ran a bottom-up campaign and defeated an African-American incumbent in a district that’s over 80% black. Gray didn’t deliver for the poorest district in the city and he’s out. It’s a Nguyen-Win situation, which is why she defeated her Pho with 59% of the vote. I promise to stop making puns on Vietnamese food but some Pho would be swell right now.  It’s a cold Monday in New Orleans, y’all. And, yes, I know it’s pronounced fuh. Just tryin’ to make trouble fuh ya after Cindi’s win. Somebody make me stop.

The race in which I was most engaged was district B where I live, natch. It was won by my candidate, Jay Banks, by a mere 133 votes. Banks will be the first Zulu King to serve on the council since the late Roy Glapion who was honored posthumously by the krewe. This is a Zulu heavy district y’all: our former councilman Jim Singleton was the Captain for many years. Enough Mardi Gras nostalgia.

I mentioned Jay Banks first so you wouldn’t think I was *just* opposed to his obnoxious opponent, Seth Bloom. I’ve written about Bloom here, there,and everywhere. Here’s how I described my run-in with Bloom on social media:

I had several run-ins with Bloom and his annoying supporters on twitter as well. It’s all over but the whining. Bloom has demanded a recount, which will take place tomorrow. It’s unlikely to succeed. A challenge against Kristin Palmer in district C went nowhere and she won by 22 fewer votes than Banks. I think those two should form the “landslide” caucus when they join the council.

I’m on the verge of letting the cat out of the bag and/or spilling the beans about the post title. Seth Bloom was the yard sign king in this election cycle. They were everywhere, especially the big ones with a vanity head shot of the candidate. My friend Ryne Hancock even asked Bloom to explain all the signs on abandoned buildings in Central City:

Central City is an overwhelmingly black neighborhood and Bloom was a terrible cross-over candidate. He got 9% of black votes whereas Jay Banks got 27% of white voters including this somewhat swarthy Greek-American.

It’s time for the big post title reveal:

FYI: Bonfires are a holiday tradition in the Gret Stet of Louisiana so all I was doing was urging the Bloomites  (Bloomers?) to get in the seasonal spirit.

I asked for help on the tweeter tube:

I got several submissions via direct message. The best one came from someone who wanted their name kept out of it:

I particularly like the eyebrows. I’m not sure if the submitter was the defacer but I sure hope so. The good news is that Seth Bloom will not be de face of my city council district.

A final campaign note. Last week’s malaka, Rob Maness aka Col. Mayonnaise, lost his legislative race. I was wrong about that one. It’s a pity. I thought it would be entertaining to have him throwing bombs in the lege. The guy who beat him is a bog standard conservative Republican so he’ll vote the Mayonnaise line but it won’t be half as fun.

The last word goes to Col. Mayonnaise. I wonder if he said it to his opponent?

Saturday Odds & Sods: Land Of Confusion

From The Dictatorship Of Porfirio Diaz To The Revolution- The People In Arms by David Alfaro Siqueiros, 1957-1965.

It’s election day in New Orleans. We’re about to make history and elect our first woman mayor. I wish I were more excited about it but as I said Thursday, the campaign has been anything but elevating. I’m more engaged in my District City Council race, which pits Mr. Nice Guy (Jay Banks) against an entitled jerk. The race has gotten heated in the last week as the jerk (Seth Bloom, not Steve Martin) has gotten nervous that he’s going to lose. I sure hope he does. I’ve been feuding with him and his supporters online since they think it’s a good idea to fight with voters. Where they got that idea, I’ll never know. Schmucks.

In addition to being King Zulu 2016, another thing Jay Banks has going for him is the crucial child army endorsement:

Lagniappe, the Benevolent Dictator, the Gladowling.

With that much cuteness on his side how can he lose? They’re also his neighbors so Jay can harness the powers of the army of darkness at will. Btw, their mother nicknamed them that, not me. It fits: I’ve seen all of them in meltdown mode. If you live in District B, get out and vote for Jay Banks or they’re coming after you. It won’t be deadly, just loud and sticky.

A quick note on the featured image. It’s a section of a Siqueiros mural depicting the Mexican Revolution. In it, we see the dictator Porfirio Diaz who ruled the country for over 30 years. One of my guilty movie pleasures is the 1939 Warner Brothers “bio-pic” Juarez in which nice Jewish boys Paul Muni and John Garfield play Juarez and Diaz respectively. Oy, just oy. It’s a hoot but terrible history as you can see from the trailer:

This week’s theme song is a genuine rock classic. The video for Land Of Confusion is a mini-movie and one of the best of its kind. The use of the Spitting Image puppets is genius. The live version comes from a 2007 reunion tour which shows that Phil Collins has turned into his Spitting Image puppet.

Now that I’ve confused everyone, let’s jump to the break.

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NOLA Politics: I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead, You Rascal You

The rascal in question is the New Orleans mayoral run-off election, which will be held this Saturday. It’s been a nasty, dispiriting race with both sides flinging shit like zoo chimps. Primary  frontrunner LaToya Cantrell has held and expanded her lead despite the city credit card misuse allegation that I went into in detail at the Bayou Brief.  The issue was subsequently diffused by the release of credit card records of other councilmembers showing that Cantrell’s use was on the high-end but not an outlier.

One reason for Cantrell’s expanding lead is the abysmal campaign run by her opponent, Desiree Charbonnet. Team Charbonnet has flooded the city with flop sweat this week. They keep throwing shit up against the wall and very little has stuck. They even falsely claimed that re-elected Councilmembers Jason Williams and Jared Brossett endorsed their effort. I know lying is in fashion but this was a clumsy and easily refutable lie.  It’s the internet age, y’all. These things spread faster than they did 20 years ago.

Another endorsement (real this time) reflects Chabonnet’s futile attempt to win over white conservative voters:

It’s a shitty picture but it makes the point. Here’s how I described Charbonnet’s honky quest in a Bayou Brief column that focuses on her political relationship with the white, conservative District Attorney Leon Canizarro aka Canny: 

Canny’s heavy-handed intervention has confirmed Cantrell supporters’ opinion that Charbonnet is a terrible person who is guilty, if of nothing else, of being a machine politician. I think that Charbonnet’s attempt to woo white conservative voters is doomed to fail. The Charbonnet brand means “corruption” to people in Lakeview and the Garden District. They didn’t support her in the primary and they’re unlikely to do so in the run-off.

And Steve Scalise represents suburban Metry and parts of the Northshore. His support means even less than Canny’s. Canny is at least a New Orleanian.

What Team Charbonnet refuses to understand is that there are fewer white conservative voters than before Katrina. It’s a top-heavy campaign as described by Deep Blog who blames the mess on one of Charbonnet’s campaign consultants:

It’s all on Bill Schultz. He always uses a cannon when the situation calls for a cap gun. Can’t help himself. And Bunny & Ike. Her campaign literally had more money than they knew how to spend intelligently. So they proceeded to spend it very unintelligently on consultants. All chiefs, yet no one really in charge.

They’ve been running a pre-Katrina campaign in a digital world. It’s one of the main reasons they’re about to lose. Bigly. I originally thought there would be a 10 point spread but it looks as if it will be Cantrell by 15 to 20 points. It’s the worst run New Orleans mayoral campaign since the one Dollar Bill Jefferson ran in 2002 for Richard Pennington. I go into more detail in another Bayou Brief column.

One thing that I hope will never change are the scurrilous flyers that are mailed out in the last two weeks of every citywide election campaign. This year PACs have done the candidates dirty work. For more details on that point and much more, check out this week’s Gambit cover story by Clancy DuBos.

I’d like to thank my friend Alex McKenzie for the flyer photos that follow. I may owe him some pho for the photos.

First off is a downright vicious anti-Charbonnet flyer. I didn’t get this one and I’m annoyed by the omission, y’all. It seems like bias against my racially mixed 13th Ward neighborhood or some such shit.

Team Charbonnet has its own PAC attack dogs. I got the next flyer. I guess they realized that I’m “just another white boy with the disco blues.” As far as I know, Fee Waybill isn’t on the ballot Saturday. End of Tubes references. Here’s an edited version of the anti-Cantrell flyer:

Straight Out Of Compton? There you have it, ladies and germs: supporters of an African-American candidate have sent out a blatantly racist attack flyer.

This flyer could only appeal to a racist white Trump voter whose family has been here for generations and hates all transplants. That’s a shrinking part of electorate. Trump only got 15% of the vote in Orleans Parish and those people all hate the Charbonnets. This was money wasted but at least I got a blog post out of it.

I remain a clothes pin Cantrell voter. I’m hoping she will modify her position on short term rentals but she’s likely to win big and feel she has a mandate. Humility has not been a strong suit of her candidacy.

I am thrilled the election will be over soon. We can all wash the mud off our clothes and celebrate Thanksgiving without any political ads polluting the air waves.

Let’s circle back to the post title. I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead, You Rascal You aka You Rascal You was written by Sam Thread in 1929. It’s associated with the greatest person ever born in New Orleans: Louis Armstrong. I’ll give Satchmo the last word as we dance on the grave of the 2017 mayoral election:

Louie Gohmert’s Brain Scan

Reunion week continues at First Draft. Our old “friend” Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert Piles is spinning conspiracy theories this week. It doesn’t matter that the Uranium One mishigas has been debunked by Snopes and even by Fox Newser Shep Smith. Gohmert Piles and his ilk want a special prosecutor and they want one now. The president* is threatening to hold his breath until he turns blue.  It’s what wannabe dictators do.

Louie Gohmert Piles was so upset by the mockery he’s received outside the right-wing bubble that he went in for a brain scan. Here’s the feverish result:

That is, of course, not a brain scan; one must have a brain to be scanned, and Gohmert Piles has an empty space inside his head. Instead, it’s a flowchart he presented before the House Judiciary Committee. Your tax dollars at work.

Contemplating the stupidest member of Congress always gives me a stupid earworm of one of the stupidest rock songs of all-time. Here’s a quirky-n-off-kilter version from Cajun music titan, Michael Doucet of Beausoleil fame:

It’s lagniappe time. My nickname for the nasty dumbass Congressman is inspired by the lovable dumbass teevee character, Gomer Pyle who was the only Marine never deployed to Vietnam. Semper Fi, y’all.

Malaka Of The Week: Rob Maness aka Col. Mayonnaise

It’s time to visit an old “friend” who I wrote about in 2014 and 2015. Rob Maness ran for the US Senate in both 2014 and 2016 as the wingnuttiest wingnut in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. He’s a retired military man with a punworthy name, so I dubbed him Col. Mayonnaise without anyone egging me on to do so. I hear that Mean Mr. Mustard was irked with me but I avoided any dire condiment consequences.

Maness did well in 2014: finishing a respectable third to Mary Landrieu and  Bill Cassidy. His candidacy laid an egg in 2016 and he’s now running as the Trumpiest Trumper who ever Trumped for a Louisiana State House seat in ruby-red St. Tammany Parish.

Col. Mayonnaise has a talk radio show and pitched a fit whilst on the air. And that is why Rob Maness is malaka of the week.

Here’s an account in the Advocate of  Col. Mayonnaise’s Trump-type toddler tantrum:

Maness had been jovial moments earlier as he and the caller discussed Roy Moore, who is running for an open U.S. Senate seat in Alabama. Maness had just finished criticizing Republican leaders for working against Moore, who has been accused of sexual misconduct with multiple teenagers in the late 1970s.

But his tone changed abruptly when the caller, who identified himself as “Flaming Liberal,” said that even Cruz had asked Moore to step down. “If you’re to the right of Ted Cruz, you’re an extremist,” he said.

“Whoa, you just called me an extremist, brother,” said Maness, a retired Air Force colonel who went on to outline his military background, including top-secret clearances.

“I’ve done everything this country has ever asked me to do. How dare you call me an extremist,” he said. “I’m the most investigated, stable man that the country could have ever given the keys to nuclear weapons to, so you can blow me! You can blow me and get out of here if you’re gonna talk like that and call me an extremist.”

The caller, David Bellinger, a former New Orleans resident who described himself as a frequent talk radio caller, returned fire, saying “Go screw your ma, a-hole,” several times before Maness asked his producer to cut the caller off.

They should have cut the host off as well. I think he needs more time at the firing range so he won’t lash out at callers or voters for that matter.

As far as I’m concerned, anyone who still supports Judge Pervert is by definition an extremist.  Like Mean Mr. Mustard, Roy Moore is a dirty old man. Col. Mayonnaise better watch out or he might get banned from a mall for having a potty mouth.

Unfortunately, in the Trump era saying “blow me” on the radio is neither disqualifying nor damaging. Col. Mayonnaise appeals to the angry white men out there. In fact, he’s one of them. But Colonels do not have the “keys to nuclear weapons” and Malaka Maness should know that. Another angry white man without maness has the keys, which is frightening enough. That’s why the Senate held hearings on that very issue yesterday. One result could be a Keep the Football Away From Trump bill. It’s time to intercept the Insult Comedian before he starts lobbing bombs at Little Rocket Man.

Col. Mayonnaise ran first in the primary and is favored to win the special election. Northshore voters seem to like their Cheetos dipped in mayonnaise. The malaka without maness may still blow it if the voters decide he’s soft on perverts. And that is why Rob Maness is malaka of the week.

Judge Pervert’s Ten Commandments Of Love

Athenae wrote a brilliant piece yesterday about the moral, ethical, and personal aspects of the latest Roy Moore scandal. She nailed it completely so I’m going to focus on the political, legal, and semantic aspects of this shitstorm.

I’m going to try something different and do it in a way the defrocked (derobed?) judge might appreciate if it weren’t aimed at him. Moore came to national attention by placing the Ten Commandments monument seen above at the Alabama Supreme Court. He’s obsessed with the Ten Commandments even if he violates many of them, so I came up with Judge Pervert’s Ten Commandments of Love. I know I should put quotes around the word love but I don’t want to come off all air quotey like an Alabama sorority girl: they’re too old for Ole Roy, after all. Besides, love has nothing to do with Roy Moore aka Judge Pervert.

FIRST COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt vote for Doug Jones.

The easiest way to keep Judge Pervert out of the Senate is for Alabamians to vote for his Democratic opponent. Jones is a distinguished lawyer and seems to be squeaky clean. Judge Pervert is neither. Unfortunately, many white Alabamians think voting for a Democrat is akin to supporting a member of the Satanic-Communist party.

Suburban voters should think twice before sending this embarrassment on two legs to represent them in the Senate. It’s a special election: the seat is up again in 2020.

Moore is still the favorite as of now but Doug Jones has a fighting chance,

The next commandment is directed at Senate Republicans if the pervert wins.

SECOND COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt not let Judge Pervert keep his seat.

Seating a Senator is a pro forma act and a past supreme court case involving Adam Clayton Powell established that Congress must seat even corrupt members. BUT there is no provision or precedent barring the Senate from expelling an odious solon. I direct you to an excellent op-ed in the failing NYT by a law professor at the University of Alabama.

Senate Democrats should do whatever they can to force a vote on expelling Judge Pervert. It would likely lose BUT it puts GOPers on the record on the Moore issue. Imagine the attack ads: “They voted to seat a pervert. Whatever happened to the party of family values?” Politically, it’s a win-win situation.

THIRD COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt remember that Roy Moore was unfit for office *before* the WaPo sexpose.

Roy Moore is a judge who was defrocked for defying SCOTUS. He led an effort to preserve a pro-school segregation clause in the Alabama state constitution. Moore’s rap sheet on important issues is so extensive that I’m not going into details. Suffice it to say that he’s to the right of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions. He’s an extremist, not a conservative.

FOURTH COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt remember that Alabama is a corrupt, one party state.

Alabama Republicans are divided on Roy Moore who is financially, as well as morally, corrupt. The peckerwoods and wool hats are supporting their fellow asshole extremist. Business GOPers are queasy over his candidacy but they supported Luther Strange who was up to his eyeballs in the weird sex scandal involving former Governor Bob Bentley. One party states breed corruption and produce unfit politicians.

FIFTH COMMANDMENT:  Thou shalt honor and believe the victims of perverts, rapists, and sexual harassers.

Our society is programmed to look away from allegations of gross sexual misconduct, especially when the accused is an authority figure. Clarence Thomas is a Supreme despite Anita Hill’s compelling testimony against him. BUT the timing for Roy Moore couldn’t be worse. It comes on the heels of the exposure of so many powerful men as pervy assholes. It will be interesting to see if Moore survives it like Trump or is somehow recast like Kevin Spacey. I doubt if Christopher Plummer would be willing to play Judge Pervert.

I originally planned to go all Slate contrarian on the use of the term pedophile to describe Roy Moore. The word’s clinical definition involves an attraction to pre-pubescent children, which is not Roy Moore’s thing. BUT the correct clinical term for an attraction to mid to late adolescents is ephebophilia. It’s a mouthful and on the unpronounceable side, so I’m not going to be a semantic pedant in this instance. The word pedophile is clear and pronounceable so have at it. Judge Pervert deserves no mercy, semantic or otherwise.

SIXTH COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt be prepared for more shoes to drop.

A former colleague of Judge Pervert had this to say yesterday on CNN:

“It was common knowledge that Roy dated high school girls, everyone we knew thought it was weird,” former deputy district attorney Teresa Jones told CNN in comments aired Saturday. “We wondered why someone his age would hang out at high school football games and the mall … but you really wouldn’t say anything to someone like that.”

Holy Ephebophilia, Batman.

SEVENTH COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt remember that the publicly pious tend to be hypocrites.

Judge Pervert is the biblebanger’s biblebanger. He’s forever moralizing and sermonizing. Never trust a sanctimonious evangelical. They all have dark secrets and plans for their public redemption. Biblethumpers are big on forgiving those who agree with them. They love repentant sinners as long as they’re against abortion and gay marriage.

EIGHTH COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt heed the words of Doctor/Governor Dean:

Praise be unto the former party chairman who tweeteth the truth. Moore is already running against the Bezos/Amazon/Washington Post.

Hell, they’d think people from New Orleans were carpetbaggers let alone people from the North. They need scalawags who speak their own language, y’all.

NINTH COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt separate Sean Hannity from his advertisers.

Judge Pervert turned to the Fox News meathead in his time of woe. Hannity seems to have coached him to say the expedient thing and deny that he was interested in  teenyboppers. This has increased the pressure on Hannity’s advertisers. It’s fun to watch the Fox News meathead squirm. Squirm, Sean, squirm.

TENTH COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt give the last word to the pop song that inspired the post title.

There are some swell versions out there. Here are three of them. I suspect Roy Moore thinks this song is blasphemous. Fuck you, Roy.

 

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Don’t Get Around Much Anymore

Orestes by Willem de Kooning.

It’s been a weird week in New Orleans. I know, this is a weird place so why is that surprising? It’s not but I had a deeply strange encounter with a City Council candidate who I do not plan to vote for. Here’s how I described it at Zuckerville:

Seth Bloom is the candidate I mentioned last week in this space.  One of his opponents said this about him:

Having the temperament to work with the rest of the councilmembers is of the utmost importance – nothing passes the City Council without a minimum of four votes. Seth Bloom has habitually displayed a lack of self-restraint, professionalism, respect, and sincerity as he has campaigned for another public office. I am convinced that Seth Bloom is volatile, hostile, and vindictive – the residents of District B deserve better. The City of New Orleans deserves better.

BURN.

The good news is that his run-off opponent, Jay Banks, is qualified, famous for being nice, and was King Zulu in 2016. How you like dem coconuts, Bloomy?

Speaking of the 2017 New Orleans run-off election, my latest column on the increasingly bat shit crazy mayor’s race is up at the Bayou Brief: An Uncanny Mess.

I’ve been feeling a bit anti-social of late. That’s one reason I selected Don’t Get Around Much Anymore as this week’s theme song, but mostly because it’s a fucking great song. It was written in 1940 as an instrumental by Duke Ellington. The original title was Never No Lament:

Bob Russell’s lyrics were added two years later. I’m glad they changed the title: Never No Lament doesn’t sound like a hit to me.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure. First, the Ink Spots’ mega-hit version.  Second, the Duke and Louis Armstrong from what many call their genius sessions. Immodest but true. Finally, my favorite version. It was arranged by Billy May for the great Nat King Cole.

There’s nothing quite as good as jazz Nat even though lush string pop Nate is pretty swell as well. Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s jump to the break.

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The Roy Moore Scandal: Just “unusual” love in Darwin’s Waiting Room

I often joke about my “First Rule of Holes” which is simply this: When you find yourself in one, stop digging. Apparently, no one ever told people in the Alabama state hierarchy that rule, given that Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler came to Roy Moore’s defense with an inspirational tale from the Bible:

“Take the Bible. Zachariah and Elizabeth for instance. Zachariah was extremely old to marry Elizabeth and they became the parents of John the Baptist,” Ziegler said choosing his words carefully before invoking Christ. “Also take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.”

“There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here,” Ziegler concluded. “Maybe just a little bit unusual.”

Keep in mind, this is a guy who slammed the U.N. after a three-person panel visited his state a few years back and found it to be, to borrow Dennis Miller’s line, “Darwin’s Waiting Room” when it came to sexual issues and gender equity:

Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler earlier this week issued a statement saying that the U.N. was launching “a major assault on Alabama laws protecting children” and warning that its investigation in Alabama and two other states is “the next step of an agenda to impose U.N. standards in every sate that does not resist this intrusion.”

“The U.N. is preparing to try to dictate to Alabama what we must do on abortion, contraceptives given to youth, sex education in schools, tolerance of alternative sexual orientation and other ‘progressive’ issues,” Zeigler warned in a the statement released on Monday.

So, when a 32-year-old man tries to fuck a 14-year-old girl he just met, that’s “unusual” but not illegal? What kinds of “laws protecting children” does this state actually HAVE in Zeigler’s mind? Also, what’s the difference between “unusual” and “alternative?”

So let’s review the three “cases” we have in front of us at this point to determine Zeigler’s line of thinking:

  1. Two adults of the same gender fall in love and want to be married = Major Assault
  2. A 32-year-old man tries to fuck a 14-year-old girl (or three) at a cabin in the woods = Maybe just a bit unusual
  3. A 14-year-old girl is visited by an angel, impregnated by a deity, married to a 30-something man, sent packing on a donkey to a faraway land to give birth in a cave to the savior of the world = Totally normal thing we celebrate every December.

Glad we got all that cleared up.

 

 

Putting The Dope In Papadopoulos

The first time I wrote about my disgraced countryman, I gave y’all a pronounciation tutorial: DOUGH, NOT DOP. A reader comment improved this lesson in linguistics. Repeat after me: DOPE, NOT DOP. That’s right, Georgie puts the dope in Papadopoulos.

In case you’re wondering about the featured image, allow me to indulge in some self-quotation from the same post:

… the most popular mass market cookies in Greece during the dictatorship were made by the Papadopoulous bakery. Greeks who disliked the junta were prone to say in a loud voice “I don’t like Papadopoulous” before lowering their voice and whispering “biscota” aka biscuits aka cookies.

They’re still around and even sold on Amazon. I wonder if one can buy a used Greek dictator named George Papadopoulos there? Probably not, as far as I know Jeff Bezos isn’t a resurrection man who traffics in corpses. He’s no Boris Karloff, y’all:

Now that I’ve made an old horror movie reference, let’s return to the horrors of George Papadopoulos: Incompetent Con Man.

There’s a fabulous piece at TPM by Tierney Sneed about Georgie’s whereabouts during the 2016 campaign and the early days of the misadministration. Georgie flitted hither and yon. He was here, there, and everywhere but on the campaign trail. It’s unclear what he accomplished but he was a busy boy.

Georgie spent a good deal of time schmoozing Greek politicians and Greek-Americans. He told them what they wanted to hear: that he had Trump’s ear and that Cyrpus and other issues of Hellenic import were, uh, important to the Insult Comedian. In short, Georgie is a flim flam man whose main interest is power, not money. Now he has neither.

The Papadopoulos biscuit people bake a wide range of products. I think Georgie might be in need of these as he contemplates testifying and being cross-examined by defense lawyers:

Just remember, Georgie, if you lie on the witness stand, no cookie for you.

Quote Of The Day: Rick Wilson On Carter Page

I’ve taken to following some renegade anti-Trump Republicans on the tweeter tube. My favorite is a political consultant with an acid wit, Rick Wilson. He has a way with invective that’s somewhat reminiscent of Hunter Thompson. It’s on full display in his beastly columns at the Daily Beast as well as on twitter. The man is a beast in either 140 or 280 characters.

Wilson’s latest bestial column is about American Doofus, ex-Trump adviser, and future federal inmate, Carter Page. A man so out there that he testified before Congress without a lawyer present. That’s a bad idea for someone who is up to his neck in the Trump-Russia mishigas.

Here’s the first ‘graph of Wilson’s piece. It’s a doozy:

Watching Carter Page immolate himself and incriminate a half dozen of his colleagues from the Trump-Putin 2016 campaign has been a strange, almost guilty pleasure. Profoundly disconnected, socially awkward, and reeking of late-stage virginity, he gives off the creepy Uncanny Valley vibe of a rogue, possibly murderous android or of a man with a too-extensive knowledge of human taxidermy and a soundproofed van.

Page *does* have a certain Norman Bates vibe. Has anyone looked in his basement? Of course, Norman had a full head of hair in both his Tony Perkins and Freddie Highmore incarnations whereas Page would have been the target of baldy jokes in a less enlightened age. Who am I kidding? The Insult Comedian watches teevee at 1600 Pennsylvania. I need to get in touch with my inner Morey Amsterdam

The most important thing about Page’s rambling, discursive, and downright weird testimony is how much of the Steele Dossier he confirmed. Maybe the thing *is* worth the $12 million that Trump claims was paid for it.

Am I the only one who finds Page’s choice of primary  teevee interlocutor strange? Chris Hayes is one of Bernie Sanders’ little media friends, so why on earth does Weird Carter pop up on his show so often? Other than the fact that they’re both on the dweeby side, it beats the hell outta me.

All that talk of beasts gave me a benign earworm:

 

The Aqua Buddha Gated Community Blues

Aqua Buddha by Bluewater Productions.

I’ve missed having Rand Paul aka Senator Aqua Buddha to kick around. The early days of his failed run for the White House were like spun satirical gold to me.  Just call me Rumpelstiltskin.

What other recent politician had their own comic book? I miss the halcyon days of the MSM swallowing his brogressive credentials. For some obscure reason, GOPers have stopped feigning racial tolerance. I cannot imagine why. #sarcasm

Apparently,  Aqua Buddha’s next door neighbor felt like kicking him around last weekend. Literally, not figuratively. A guy named Rene Boucher (he really oughta live in the Gret Stet of Louisiana) got into a  bizarre altercation with the junior Senator from the Bluegrass and Bourbon state:

Mr. Paul had just stepped off a riding lawn mower on Friday when Rene Boucher, a retired anesthesiologist who lived next door, charged and tackled him. Because Mr. Paul was wearing sound-muting earmuffs, he did not realize Mr. Boucher was coming, according to one of the Kentucky Republicans and a friend familiar with the altercation.

“Rand never saw him coming or heard him coming,” said the friend, Robert Porter, who visited Mr. Paul on Saturday.

The damage was severe. Aides to Mr. Paul said on Sunday that the Kentucky Republican had suffered five broken ribs and bruises to his lungs. When a Kentucky State Police trooper showed up at Mr. Paul’s home on Friday afternoon, the senator had small cuts around his nose and mouth, and had trouble breathing because of the injuries to his ribs.

Police have charged Mr. Boucher, 59, with a misdemeanor count of assault. Authorities on Monday were considering raising the charge to a felony, given the severity of Mr. Paul’s injuries.

Mr. Paul, 54, has long stood out in the well-to-do gated neighborhood south of Bowling Green, Ky., that he calls home. The senator grows pumpkins on his property, composts and has shown little interest for neighborhood regulations.

But the spectacle of the incident — one former doctor attacking another in broad daylight — was altogether different. Competing explanations of the origins of the drama cited stray yard clippings, newly planted saplings and unraked leaves.

He was knocked down like a Bowling Green bowling pin. Surely, there’s a bluegrass song in that.

It looks as if Aqua Buddha may have been assaulted over fauna. I don’t know about you but I wanna better explanation than fauna or even flora. I wonder if Dinah-Moe Humm is somehow implicated…

One would think that a retired doctor whose last name translates as Butcher would have a different method for taking out his NIMBY-ism on his neighbor. Instead he tackled the poor bastard. I’ve had a few cracked ribs in my day. They hurt like hell and very little can be done. Perhaps Aqua Buddha should fire up his boyhood bong. That’s good for pain. It beats the hell out of joining the “opioid crisis.”Party on, Rand.

We’ve all had our share of bad neighbors but as I said back in 2013, Rand Paul is a weirdo magnet. Perhaps he can call in the Confederate Avenger to deal with the French Butcher. They could duel with leaf blowers or chainsaws. I’d pay to see that but I’d need to borrow Aqua Buddha’s earmuffs.

It will be interesting to be see how this unneighborly dispute plays out in the legal system. I wish Senator Aqua Buddha a speedy recovery. The only way I want him departing the political scene is if he’s defeated for re-election in 2022. He’s good for the satire business, y’all. Besides, us weirdo magnets gotta stick together.

Fuck Yeah, Virginia

It’s been quite some time since we’ve had a fuck yeah headline here at First Draft. The last one was way back in June 29, 2015. I think you know why: there hasn’t been much to celebrate since the emergence of the Insult Comedian as a serious candidate then tragicomic president*.

This morning there’s much to celebrate, especially in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Longtime and/or careful readers know that, along with Louisiana and California, Virginia is one of my home states. Dr. A grew up in Staunton and has family and close friends in Richmond and elsewhere in the Old Dominion. That is why Virginia is my fuck yeah focus even though the news from elsewhere was equally good.

As you can see, the Virginia state flag is particularly vivid. I like this description from 50states.com:

A deep blue field contains the seal of Virginia with the Latin motto ” Sic Semper Tyrannis” – “Thus Always to Tyrants”. Adopted in 1776. The two figures are acting out the meaning of the motto. Both are dressed as warriors. The woman, Virtue, represents Virginia. The man holding a scourge and chain shows that he is a tyrant. His fallen crown is nearby.

The flag is not only vivid, it’s appropriate. Donald Trump is a scourge and wannabe tyrant. The vote in Virginia was a referendum on Trumpism, which was roundly repudiated in the three statewide offices as well as in the House of Delegates. I thought Northam would win but the landslide was unexpected. This is how I summed it on twitter:

It could have said: Son of Virginia beats Carpetbagger from Jersey.

Speaking of twitter, Trump delayed his sales pitch speech to the Korean National Assembly to tweet out this lame excuse:

In fact, phony populist Ed Gillespie embraced Trumpy’s racism and xenophobia. It may have worked in isolated hollers but it killed him in the cities and suburbs. Dr/Lt. Gov Northam was a center-left candidate from the Eastern Shore of Virginia very much in the tradition of past winning Goober candidates Chuck Robb, Doug Wilder, Mark Warner, Tim  Kaine, and Terry McAuliffe. Those Democratic governors helped turn the Commonwealth blue. It’s a pity that they have a stupid one-term rule when they’ve had so many fine Governors. It’s helped in Senate races: 3 of those guys became solons.

There were many things to cheer about last night in the Old Dominion:

  • The hard work of  progressive former Congressman Tom Perriello who lost to Northam in the primary. He not only endorsed Northam but helped him win. Well done, sir.
  • The victory of former journalist Danica Roem in her race. She’s the first openly transgendered person to win a state legislative race. She defeated the author of a bigoted bathroom bill by focusing on important local issues. Well done, madam.
  • The victory of another former journalist Chris Hurst who ran on a forthright gun control platform. You may recall that Hurst’s reporter  girlfriend, Alison Parker, was murdered on live teevee. Well done, sir.

I wish I could say that I thought yesterday’s successes would carry over into the Doug Jones-Roy Moore Senate race in Alabama but I’m dubious. It’s a rabidly red state but Democrats *should* take a flyer on the race. It’s a contest between a civil rights champion and a man who would love to see The Handmaid’s Tale become reality.

Yesterday’s victories, however, will carry over to races small and large in swing states. Republicans in suburban Congressional districts should be shitting their pants. Those with any sense will start putting some distance between themselves and the Insult Comedian. Trump is POISON and Trumpism is a LOSER.

Now that we’ve danced in the end zone, it’s time to go back to work and elect Democrats up and down the ballot. It’s not over until the Fat President whines.

The last word goes to Ray Charles singing the Virginia state song emeritus:

That’s right: state song emeritus since 1997. The Commonwealth has “popular” and “traditional” state songs as well. Who knew? Ya learn something new every day.

Your President* Speaks: Discovering Japan

The Insult Comedian  is on the road again. He is in the land of the rising sun after a stop  in Hawaii to plug a Trump branded hotel. He managed not to attack the Aloha state’s favorite son, Barack Obama, while there, but these protesters got in some shots at Trumpy:

Photo via The Hill.

Whatever are they referring to? he asked coyly. Btw, Japanese Prime Minister Abe dumped his box of fish food in the koi pond too. Koi carp are a delicate fish so they were both guilty of manly man overkill.

Shinzo Abe is a master of sucking up to Trump as you can see from the pictures embedded in this tweet:

Sadaharu Oh and Lefty O’Doul weep. End of cryptic baseball reference. Here’s a less obscure one: Fuck the Dodgers. I hadn’t done that for several days. That felt good.

I’m playing catch up with this feature and the Insult Comedian keeps shooting off his big bazoo, so let’s start with some authoritarian nonsense from last week:

“The saddest thing is that because I’m the President of the United States I’m not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department, I’m not supposed to be involved with the FBI, I’m not supposed to be doing the kinds of things I would love to be doing and I’m very frustrated by it. I look at what’s happening with the Justice Department, why aren’t they going after Hillary Clinton with her emails and with the dossier and the kind of money…?”

Why? There’s no crime there. Locking up one’s enemies is what they do in dictatorships. This is not a banana republic. Yet.

Along the same lines, Trumpy did an interviewy with wingnutty Fox News host Laura Ingraham:

“Let me tell you, the one that matters is me,” Trump said in an interview that aired on Fox News on Thursday night. “I’m the only one that matters, because when it comes to it, that’s what the policy is going to be. You’ve seen that, you’ve seen it strongly.”

The president was responding to a question from Fox’s Laura Ingraham, who asked him, “Are you worried that the State Department doesn’t have enough Donald Trump nominees in there to push your vision through?”

Ingraham added, “other State Departments, including Reagan’s, at times, undermined his agenda. And there is a concern that the State Department currently is undermining your agenda.”

Trump said, “So, we don’t need all the people that they want. You know, don’t forget, I’m a businessperson. I tell my people, ‘Where you don’t need to fill slots, don’t fill them.’ But we have some people that I’m not happy with their thinking process.”

The Insult Comedian’s real issue with people with expertise is that they THINK at all. I feel a musical comedy interlude coming on:

If only the president* would think about what he’s trying to do to us. Unfortunately, he’s incapable of complex thought. It’s as if a parasitical one-cell organism has taken control of the government.

We have learned that Trump knows what a samurai is. Here’s a report from the Japan Times:

Trump questioned Japan’s decision not to shoot down the missiles when he met or spoke by phone with leaders from Southeast Asian countries over recent months to discuss how to respond to the threats from North Korea, the sources said.

The U.S. president said he could not understand why a country of samurai warriors did not shoot down the missiles, the sources said.

I’m sure the Chinese are thrilled by Trump’s invocation of Japan’s warrior past. Dollars to donuts that he’s never heard of Japanese aggression against China or such atrocities as the Rape of Nanking. Of course, the Chinese will leverage Trump’s historical insensitivity against him when he meets with President Xi Jinping. They’ll combine it with flattery so the self-proclaimed master deal maker won’t even notice that he’s been had.

I’m astonished that, in addition to his twitter diarrhea, Trump gives so many interviews. Such overexposure is perilous as Bill Clinton learned early in his administration. Of course, Clinton didn’t say random, inflammatory, and stupid things. The silliest thing he did was answer a question about underwear. We learned that he wore briefs, not boxers. He never once gave a foreign leader an insulting nickname. Imagine that.

The last word goes to Graham Parker:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Positively 4th Street

Night View of the Brooklyn Bridge by Joseph Stella.

I learned how important my home internet connection is to me this week. It was not a shocker even if Halloween fell on Tuesday. We had a record number of trick or treaters including the cutest cop I’ve ever seen. She let Dr. A photograph him without breaking out the cuffs:

What an arresting image.

This will be a somewhat abbreviated Saturday post since I didn’t throw it together until Friday morning. It’s usually an involved, gradual, and carefully assembled process even if it appears slapdash to the casual observer. It’s slapstick, not slapdash.

I spent part of my week writing a Bayou Brief column on the increasingly bat shit crazy New Orleans mayoral contest. I didn’t submit it until Thursday because I had to hyperlink the living shit out of it. I’ll link to it here when it goes live. Speaking of the run-off election, there was an astonishing takedown in the District B city council run-off. The third place finisher, Timothy David Ray, was so pissed off at the leader, Seth Bloom, that he not only endorsed the other candidate, Jay Banks, he scorched Bloom. Burn, Bloomy, burn.

Speaking of epic takedowns,  this week’s theme song was written and recorded by Bob Dylan in 1965. I was worried that he’d sing it in Stockholm in lieu of a speech. Fortunately, he did not attend the Nobel Prize ceremony. I’m posting Positively 4th Street as a pretext to play more Byrds. Listening incessantly to Tom Petty eventually leads to the Byrds and Roger McGuinn.

A quick note about the featured image. It comes from Joseph Stella’s impressionist phase. He returned to the Brooklyn Bridge as a subject many times over the years. I  hate bridges, which is ironic given that I grew up in an area full of them and now live in New Orleans. I white knuckle every time I cross a bridge. On one visit to New York City, the friend with whom I was staying asked if I wanted to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. I gave him a withering look and the moment passed.

I’m skipping the break this week. I do not feel like jumping, especially after contemplating bridges.

We begin our second act with one of my favorite stolen features.

Separated At Birth: Sarah Huckabee Sanders is the worst White House press secretary since the days of Ron Ziegler. She makes Ziegler look honest and in the loop and makes Ari Fleischer look charming. Ugh.

The picture below crossed my Facebook timeline. It compares and contrasts Huck’s horrible spawn with Jackie Coogan as Uncle Fester on teevee’s Addams Family.

I think Jackie was cuter but the raised eyebrow and facial expression are eerily similar.

Saturday GIF Horse: While we’re on the topic of Uncle Fester, here’s his most famous stunt:

Tabloid Front Page Of The Week: I’ve never been a Smashing Pumpkins fan but I am a fan of the New York Daily News and its smashing front pages. This Halloween edition is a classic:

I wonder if Billy Corgan and his buddy Alex Jones have discussed this front page…

Tweet Of The Week: I retweeted this image of Sebastian Gorka, David Clarke, and Sean Hannity with a clever caption but the picture didn’t show on my tweet. Time for a re-take.

THE THREE HORSE’S ASSES OF THE APOCALYPSE.

Sorry for shouting but sometimes you gotta be loud to get your point across. It’s the only thing Fox News Meathead Sean Hannity and I agree on.

I mentioned I’d been in a Byrds phase, here’s the evidence.

Saturday Classic: Younger Than Yesterday is among the Byrds finest albums. It has one of David Crosby’s best song, Everybody’s Been Burned, and his absolute worst, Mind Gardens.  I used the former as a Saturday post theme song last year, as to the latter UGH.

Crosby was fired for being a raging, gaping asshole when the band commenced recording their next album. It obviously worked out for him as he became the C in CSN.

That’s it for now. My regular features will be back in full force next week. One reason that I was frustrated by the modem death is that Dr. A and I had watched the first 6 episodes of Stranger Things 2 and then it was nerdus interruptus. We finished it Thursday night. It’s swell. That’s why I’m giving the boys from Hawkins the last bat word.

First Draft Potpourri: Dead Modem Blues Edition

I’m back online with an itchy trigger finger. There’s been so much news while I sat modem Shiva that I don’t know where to begin. That was a fib, I’d like to start with a few thoughts on the malakatude of my countryman, George Papadopoulous. We’ll break things down in segments Odds & Sods style but first a musical interlude:

Greek-American Hustler: There’s been some dispute as to the importance of George Papadopoulous. He’s been called the “coffee boy” by one Trump adviser and their opponents have tried to inflate his importance. The truth is, as is often the case, somewhere in between. Papadopoulous is a classic American figure: a young man on the make.

Team Trump is full of equally unqualified people who have been given important government jobs. As illustrated in this tweet/article by the WaPo’s Dana Milbank:

Recently defenestrated USDA appointee Sam Clovis is an Iowa talk show host who was appointed to a job usually filled by a scientist. His withdrawal came on the heels of the news that he testified before the Mueller probe grand jury. The ranking Democrat on theSenate AG committee, Debbie Stabenow of the mitten shaped state of Michigan planned to ask him about it. Oops.

Back to Papadopoulous. He clung to Team Trump like a barnacle on a shipwreck, which is an apt analogy for both. He did not get a job, but was a frequent visitor to the White House and was put in charge of schmoozing Greek dignitaries at the most attended inauguration in world history. #sarcasm. Here’s a tweet showing a picture of Georgie with the President of the Hellenic Republic:

It’s a photo-op, dude. Do you really believe the Insult Comedian thinks Greece is an important country?

It seems apparent that Georgie was making himself useful to the Trumpers whilst hatching hare brained schemes to write a book, run for Congress, or become the Patriarch of Constantinople. I made that last bit up: Georgie doesn’t have a beard so he’s SOL on that score. His plans to become Trump’s link to the Russians is also SOL. But George’s loss is Team Mueller’s gain.

I’m one of the few people who remembers that dirty money from the Greek Junta played a minor role in Watergate. George Papadopoulous was also the name of the Colonel who became dictator/President in that benighted era of Greek politics. Actually, they’re all benighted but the Junta was worse than average.

The name George Papadopoulous brings two stories to mind. First, the most popular mass market cookies in Greece during the dictatorship were made by the Papadopoulous bakery. Greeks who disliked the junta were prone to say in a loud voice “I don’t like Papadopoulous” before lowering their voice and whispering “biscota” aka biscuits aka cookies.

The second story involves how the name Papadopoulous is mispronounced in the media. My Greek relations (among whom are some Pappas’, which is a frequent shortening of that name) pronounce it Papa-dough-poulous not Papa-dop-poulous. Dough, not dop. That reminds me of the time I met the outstanding Democratic Senator from Maryland, Paul Sarbanes. I shook his hand and said, “Nice to meet you Senator Sar-ban-as.” He smiled and said, “You must be Greek.” That led to a pleasant chat that included this name-based exchange:

Adrastos: “Does it bug you that nobody pronounces your name correctly? It sounds like sardines or something.”

The Senator: “It did at the beginning of my career and I tried correcting people. I soon learned that correcting voters was a sure way to lose an election, so I gave up. I’m still glad when someone gets it right.”

Adrastos: “And they’re always Greek.”

The Senator: “They’re always Greek.”

Btw, as a Congressman, Paul Sarbanes was a member of the House Judiciary Committee and voted to impeach Tricky Dick. It’s a lesson lost on the coffee boy. I wonder if it was Greek or Turkish coffee? Oh well, that’s a distinction without a difference except in Greece. Don’t use the T word there, y’all.

Repeat after me: dough, not dop.

Your President* Tweets: The Insult Comedian never uttered a peep about the Las Vegas shooter on his favorite medium. Instead of calling Bill DeBlasio or Andrew Cuomo, Trump sent out a series of inflammatory tweets followed by inflammatory comments on the electric teevee machine. I’ll keep it brief and post only one tweet. That’s more restraint than Trump will ever show:

If I were in the unenviable position of representing this defendant, I’d use Trump’s rhetoric in his defense. This intemperance reminded me of Tricky Dick whose pronouncement on a notorious case led to this legendary court room moment.

Nixon was more popular in his Southern California home region than Trump is in his hometown, so this came close to causing a mistrial. Plus, Tricky knew he fucked up: Trump shows no signs of getting it. So much for being tough on terrorism. Also, the much-ballyhooed travel ban doesn’t cover Uzbekis. Oops.

Sign of the Times: There was a second line in honor of the late Fats Domino Wednesday; ending at his former house on Caffin Avenue in the Lower 9th Ward. I didn’t make it, but my social media feeds were full of pictures including this one:

Photograph by Dakinikat.

Holy errant apostrophe, Batman.

Confessions Of The Fuck The Dodgers Guy: I had a lot of fun on social media during the World Series. I was rooting for the eventual champion Houston Astros for a variety of reasons: Hurricane Harvey and the presence of former LSU All-American Alex Bregman. Geaux Tigers.

I was, however, mostly rooting against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers and my San Francisco Giants are ancient rivals dating back to their days in New York. I’m a confirmed life-long Dodger hater, which is not that unusual for a Giants fan. I’m old enough to have experienced the blood feud of the mid-1960’s when the Mays-McCovey-Marichal-Perry Giants faced off against the Koufax-Drysdale-Wills Dodgers.

It’s strictly “sports hate” but I may have been guilty of a bit of overkill on the Tweeter Tube and Facebook. I earned a new nickname to go along with Shecky: The Fuck the Dodgers Guy. I can live with that.

Here are a few representative tweets in reverse order. My personal favorite skips the FTD shtick and mocks Larry King whose Dodger fandom dates from their days in Brooklyn.

That’s not a picture of the Dodger third sacker, it’s just  a dude who looks like him.

I hope I don’t experience Fuck the Dodgers Guy withdrawals but ya never know.

That’s it for this dead modem memorial edition of First Draft potpourri. Long live the new modem.

 

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Goodbye Pork Pie Hat

Swing Landscape by Stuart Davis.

We finally had a chilly day this week. New Orleanians tend to overdress when it cools off so there were many coats, sweaters, and scarves about town. This cold-ish snap is another example of how extreme the weather has been this year: the first cold weather doesn’t usually arrive until around Thanksgiving. I am opposed to turning on the central heat until November but dragged out the space heaters. It warmed up yesterday, but it’s going to be cold today. We’re back on the autumnal weather yo-yo. So it goes.

The big local story is the precipitous fall of celebrity chef John Besh. Picayune restaurant critic Brett Anderson spent 8 months investigating charges of sexual harassment in Besh’s empire. The story landed last weekend and Besh has resigned from his company and lost two casino based locations. I’d heard that he was a hound and a creep but hadn’t heard how systematic the problem was. The timing couldn’t have been worse for Besh since it followed the Weinstein revelations.  I am trying out a new word to describe the outing of sexual harassers: Beshed. It probably won’t catch on but if it does, you heard it here first.

Another big local news story popped up as I was Oddsing and Sodsing. It’s a flap involving  mayoral frontrunner LaToya Cantrell, her use of city credit cards, and the heavy-handed intervention of District Attorney Leon Cannizzarro who is supporting her opponent. So much for that campaign being dull. It’s New Orleans politics in all its seedy glory but I’m going to save it for the Bayou Brief. I’ll let y’all know when my column drops. I’m uncertain if it will be Ionic, Doric, or Corinthian. Corinthian leather?

Now that I’ve incited the wrath of Khan, let’s move on to this week’s theme song. It was composed by Charles Mingus in honor of his friend the great jazz sax player, Lester (Prez) Young.

Here are three versions for your enjoyment. First, Charlie’s original instrumental followed by Joni Mitchell who added lyrics for her Mingus album in 1979. Finally, a guitar driven version by Jeff Beck from his Wired album:

Now that we’ve tipped our pork pie hat to the great Lester Young, it’s time to say goodbye and jump to the break or something like that. Sometimes I even confuse myself.

Continue reading

Flaking Out

I briefly considered calling this post Republicans in Disarray. It has the virtue of counter punching against years of Democrats in Disarray type headlines. It’s also true. Then I came to my senses, stuck to my punny guns, and went with Flaking Out, which has the virtue of sounding like the Bravo  reality teevee show, Flipping Out,  featuring the antics of another Jeff, designer/house flipper Jeff Lewis.  Of course, flipping out is what Donald Trump does whereas the junior senator from Arizona just flaked out on the people he should be leading into battle: Republicans who still have a semblance of common decency.

When historians ponder why members of his own party let the Insult Comedian get away with his shit, they’ll also wonder why his most prominent senatorial critics have punworthy names: Corker and Flake. I know I’m pondering it while trying not to be a ponderous pundit.

I’m somewhere in the middle on the Jeff Flake/Bob Corker question. Unlike some in the MSM, I don’t view either as “heroes” for standing up to a president* of their own party. I’m also not as hard on them as my publisher and others on the left, notably Rude Pundit and Charlie Pierce. I think it’s important for GOPers to call Trump on his shit regardless of their voting records. Remember: Trump does not care about substance so attacks on his  persona and style, or lack thereof, are infinitely more wounding that attacking his shifting views on taxes, health care, and Bob Corker’s height or lack thereof.

Flake’s speech to the senate was excellent but it would have been more effective if he planned to run for re-election, especially as an independent. His colleague Lisa Murkowski did so after losing in the primary to a teabagger in 2010. The Alaska Senator isn’t as eloquent as Flake but she was rewarded for her stand against extremists in her own party. Grit and determination matter. Jeff Flake lacked those qualities in handing a temporary victory to Trump and Bannon.

In fairness, Flake looks like a gone pecan right now BUT there’s over a year to the 2018 general election and an anti-Trump conservative might look appealing to Arizona voters by then. If standing against Trumpism and white nationalism is as important to Flake as he says it is, he should be willing to stand for re-election against long odds. Now that’s heroic.

One significant difference between Flake and Corker is to the former’s credit. Flake refused to endorse Trump in 2016 whereas Corker drank the orange Kool-Aid and campaigned with the Insult Comedian. It’s one reason I’m more critical of the Tennessean than the Arizonan. I do, however, believe that converts to the anti-Trump cause should be welcomed. We need all the help we can get in alerting people to the perils of having a deranged president* with his  tiny finger on the nuclear trigger.

The reason for my relative indulgence of dissident Republican is rooted in my formative political experience: Watergate. I know what you’re thinking, there he goes again. The reason Nixon was driven from office is that elected officials in his party turned against him. It was a slow process but it was devastating as the Republican dominoes tumbled; culminating in the Senate and House GOP leaders, Hugh Scott and John Rhodes, and 1964 nominee Barry Goldwater telling Tricky the jig was up in August, 1974. The latter two were Arizonans who showed courage in bucking a president who they owed politically. It should be easier to break with Trump but at this point in time Jeff Flake, who still opposes impeachment, is showing more profile than courage. He still has more balls than Trump’s chief enabler Speaker Ryan.

Unless more Congressional GOPers grow a pair, it will take a Democratic takeover of the House for an impeachment process to commence as I believe it should. Even if they lose their majority, Senate Republicans will be crucial to removing a corrupt, stupid, and deranged president* from office. The reason Bill Clinton survived impeachment is that he held Democrats whereas Nixon’s GOP support melted like an ice-cube in the Louisiana summer.

That’s why I look at the big picture and believe in encouraging Republican office holders when they break with Trump. The stakes are high: Trump shows signs of bumbling into war with both Iran and North Korea. The latter would be a catastrophe for our friends in the Republic of Korea and Japan. And war in the Middle East is folly as we’ve learned to our eternal regret.

Stop the madness.

Bottom Of The Barrel

I decided to let the John Kelly-Frederica Wilson flap marinate over the weekend before chiming in. I thought that something that started as a diversion from the mess in Niger might fade or that General Kelly would take the advice of medal of honor winner Colonel Jack Jacobs and apologize to Wilson for smearing her. If Kelly were really the moderate, competent man depicted by the MSM, he would have done so. Instead, he’s stuck by the lie he told about her while conceding that Trump said what Wilson said he said to Sgt. Johnson’s widow. (That’s a lot of saids in one sentence, he said.) Trump continues to deny it and spent the weekend depicting Rep. Wilson as a wacky hat-wearing nutjob as if she were a character on a bad sitcom.

What we’ve learned about John Kelly is that he’s a more polished version of his master. He views Rep. Wilson as a three-time loser: a black female Democrat who deserves derision for doing what he himself did, which was to listen in on Trump’s now infamous phone call to Myeshia Johnson. They both had permission to do so but as far as Kelly is concerned a mere civilian should not have intruded whereas he has the right as a retired General.

There were many disturbing things about Kelly’s press conference but one of the worst was this ode to an America that never existed:

It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation. Absolutely stuns me. And I thought at least that was sacred. You know, when I was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country. Women were sacred, looked upon with great honor. That’s obviously not the case anymore as we see from recent cases. Life — the dignity of life — is sacred. That’s gone. Religion, that seems to be gone as well.

Gold Star families, I think that left in the convention over the summer. But I just thought — the selfless devotion that brings a man or woman to die on the battlefield, I just thought that that might be sacred.

This sounds like either a bar room screed from an angry old white dude  OR  something overheard at a Trump rally. Women are sacred as long as they know their place, which Rep. Wilson clearly does not. Plus, she’s an uppity black woman who dares to blaspheme against a commander-in-chief who is better described as the pussy-grabber-in-chief. In Kelly’s world view, criticism of Trump is criticism of the troops. This is, of course, nuts as was Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ admonition:

“If you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that is something highly inappropriate.”

First, he’s a retired General. Second, debate is what one does in a democracy. Third, when did John Kelly become sacrosanct in a way that Generals Grant, Pershing, Eisenhower, or MacArthur never were? One would think that a Marine could take the heat, especially one who works for Donald Trump who is a screamer as well as a liar.

Like everyone else with any common decency, I was appalled by this mendacious and dehumanizing passage from Kelly’s presser:

And a congresswoman stood up, and in the long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise, stood up there and all of that and talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building, and how she took care of her constituents because she got the money, and she just called up President Obama, and on that phone call he gave the money — the $20 million — to build the building. And she sat down, and we were stunned. Stunned that she had done it. Even for someone that is that empty a barrel, we were stunned.

We subsequently learned that Rep. Wilson said nothing remotely like this and even if she had, it would not be improper. It’s the height of hypocrisy and the epitome of Trumper projection for the chief of staff to the braggingest man in the country to denounce someone else for braggadocio. Hypocrisy is one of the few things Team Trump is good at. I guess Kelly decided to play to their strength. #sarcasm.

I googled the phrase “empty barrel” since I was unfamiliar with it. It’s a surprisingly highfalutin reference for a man who works for a fucking moron:

Many credit Plato for bringing “empty barrel” into the vernacular: “An empty vessel makes the loudest sound, so they that have the least wit are the greatest babblers.” Some believe the proverb truly has Jamaican origins, while others credit it as Spanish. A book of world proverbs gives 21 variations of the expression.

Shakespeare channeled Plato in Henry V, writing, “I never heard so loud a voice issue from such an empty heart. It’s true what they say, the empty vessel makes the greatest sound.”

In short, it was Plato’s way of calling a loudmouth a loudmouth. That would make Trump the emptiest vessel of all. The odds of Trump knowing who Plato was are slim. He probably confuses Plato with Play-Doh…

Rep. Wilson has called Kelly’s use of the term empty barrel racist and, in context, it certainly is. It’s part of a pattern displayed by Trump and his lackeys of demeaning and dehumanizing minority and female critics. Trump and Kelly have sparingly used the names of Rep. Wilson and Myeshia Johnson while attacking them. They see them as uppity black women who should remain nameless because they don’t matter. So much for women being sacred.

There are many dreadful lessons to be learned from this dreadful mess. First, Team Trump’s response is the best illustration yet of its authoritarian proclivities, which is brilliantly explained in Masha Gessen’s eerily titled New Yorker piece, John Kelly and the Language of the Military Coup. Second, this is another example of this administration’s tendency to distract attention from a problem with something that is equally bad. I don’t recall anyone attacking gold star families before the Insult Comedian began running for office. As far as he’s concerned, it’s okay if they’re Muslim or African-American. Finally, Donald Trump is only president* of people who voted for him: nobody else matters. The fact that Frederica Wilson is a Johnson family friend means that they are not worthy of Trump’s compassion.

John Kelly is the latest in a long line of Trump dignity wraith. Trump is toxic: he destroys everything and everyone he touches. It conjures up another barrel related image: everyone who associates with Donald Trump sinks to the bottom of the barrel and becomes the dregs of our polity.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Lover Of The Bayou

Photograph by CC Lockwood.

Fall has fallen. We finally had a week of temptingly temperate temperatures. Unfortunately, it’s oak pollen season, which means I’ve been wheezier than Weezer or Isabel Sanford who played Louise (Weezy) Jefferson on the electronic teevee machine back in the day. Where have you gone George Jefferson? Achoo.

It’s the week after the primary election and the Mayoral  run-off campaign is mostly bubbling under the surface. There was some horrible news involving third-place finisher Michael Bagneris. His daughter, Mia, was hit by a drunk driver while exiting her car after attending her father’s election eve soiree. Since New Orleans is the world’s largest small town, we have several friends in common. Her injuries were severe but it appears that she’ll make it. It’s going to be a long recovery. Best wishes to the Bagneris family. Drunk drivers are the worst.

This week’s theme song was written by Roger McGuinn and Jacques Levy. It has an interesting history. I’ll let the Wikpedia entry for the Byrds album (Untitled) fill you in:

For most of 1969, The Byrds’ leader and guitarist, Roger McGuinn, had been developing a country rock stage production of Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt with former psychologist and Broadway impresario Jacques Levy.[16] The musical was to be titled Gene Tryp, an anagram of the title of Ibsen’s play, and would loosely follow the storyline of Peer Gynt with some modifications to transpose the action from Norway to south-west America during the mid-19th century.[5] The musical was intended as a prelude to even loftier plans of McGuinn’s to produce a science-fiction film, tentatively titled Ecology 70 and starring former Byrd Gram Parsons (no relation to Gene) and ex-member of The Mamas & the PapasMichelle Phillips, as a pair of intergalactic flower children.[12] Ultimately, Gene Tryp was abandoned and a handful of the songs that McGuinn and Levy had written for the project would instead see release on (Untitled) and its follow-up, Byrdmaniax.[4]

I told you it was a long story. We have two versions for your enjoyment, the original live Byrds version and a cover by Mudcrutch, which was Tom Petty’s original band brought back to life in 2008. Holy reanimation, Batman.

That concludes our trip to the bayou or does it? You’ll find out after we jump to the break.

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Rare Good News

It’s been a helluva week with a fresh outrage from the Insult Comedian each and every day. I think the dumb bastard confuses outrage with vitamins. I don’t usually take the news personally but I’m feeling as bruised as a peach that fell off the back of the truck and landed on the highway with a splat. That’s right, a splat.

One antidote to the  daily crazy is good news. It comes from Jackson, Mississippi of all places:

A predominately black public school in Mississippi named after Confederate President Jefferson Davis will be stripped of that moniker next year and replaced with that of another president whose character students, parents and teachers have said is more fitting — Barack Obama.

Davis Magnet IB PTA President Janelle Jefferson announced at the Jackson School Board meeting Tuesday evening that school stakeholders voted on Oct. 5 to rename the school Barack Obama Magnet IB.

“Jefferson Davis, although infamous in his own right, would probably not be too happy about a diverse school promoting the education of the very individuals he fought to keep enslaved being named after him,” she told the board.

Womp, womp. I know a burn when I see one and that was a good one. I guess One isn’t the loneliest number, after all.

Despite the school’s demographics, I’m sure the Lost Causers will be screaming bloody murder over a school being renamed for the uppitiest black dude of all but tough shit. Whining and complaining is what they do best. Fuck them sideways.

And yes this story has given me the obvious earworm. Hey, Johnny and June were liberals and the latter was an unbruised peach. Unsplat.

And yeah, I know, the song may have been about Jackson, Tennessee but don’t harsh my good news buzz, man.

That it all.