Category Archives: Political Crack

Still Worse Than Nixon

Another day, another blockbuster story about administration* criminality. Nothing they do or say surprises me even when it should. Now they’re talking about presidential* pardons including a self-pardon. I am not making this up, if I were nobody would believe me:

Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe, according to one of those people. A second person said Trump’s lawyers have been discussing the president’s pardoning powers among themselves.

Trump’s legal team declined to comment on the issue. But one adviser said the president has simply expressed a curiosity in understanding the reach of his pardoning authority, as well as the limits of Mueller’s investigation.

“This is not in the context of, ‘I can’t wait to pardon myself,’ ” a close adviser said.

And we’re supposed to believe this? Why? I have a firm policy of believing nothing that anyone in this administration* says. And since when was Donald Trump curious about anything? Idleness many be his thing but idle curiosity is not. As you can see, all I have are questions. Answers are increasingly elusive as the Trumpers reel like drunk monkeys from constitutional crisis to constitutional crisis.

I wrote a post during the late election entitled Tweet Of The Day: Worse Than Nixon. It was about Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns, an issue that is returning to the forefront as Team Mueller digs into the Trump crime family’s seedy business dealings. The point I made last May was that even Tricky Dick released his tax forms. Today’s point is that Nixon dismissed the notion of  a self-pardon out of hand. He thought that was beneath the dignity of the office. That was Richard Fucking Nixon who resigned in disgrace. Trump is still worse than Nixon. Now he seems hell-bent on emulating Tricky and disposing of a special prosecutor. He’ll have to find someone to do it since he doesn’t have the power to fire Bobby Three Sticks himself. If it happens, it will be a bloodier and stupider version of the Saturday Night Massacre.

The word of the day is seedy. We’ve had some shady characters work in and around the White House in our history. The Harding administration comes instantly to mind. Attorney General Harry Daugherty spent his tenure at DOJ shaking down suckers and funneling the money to his bag man, Jess Smith. The seedy Interior Secretary, Albert Fall, was involved in a sordid scheme involving oil leases at the place that gave the scandal its name, Tea Pot Dome, Wyoming. Daugherty, Smith, and Fall were choirboys compared to the thieves and blackguards surrounding the Current Occupant. This is much worse: Harding was a relatively honest dupe whereas Trump is so crooked that if he swallowed a nail he’d spit up a corkscrew. Uh oh, I sound like Gret Stet senator John Neely Kennedy…

Back to the pardon power. The constitution gives a president broad discretion in granting pardons. It’s unclear if Trump can pardon himself. Those are uncharted waters because we’ve never had a president as seedy and sleazy as Trump.  It *is* clear that he has the power to pre-emptively pardon his greasy relatives and criminal associates. The Nixon pardon serves as precedent but the scope of his crimes are beginning to pale before the unfolding Trump scandals.

I discarded my crystal ball last fall after Trump’s shocking electoral college win. I’m out of the prediction business but one thing I’m certain of is that this won’t end well for anyone involved including the citizenry. It’s what happens when a criminal is elected president*

And he’s still worse than Nixon.

Malaka Of The Week: Paul Congemi

It’s been quite some time since I wrote a “never heard of them and hope to never hear of them again” malaka of the week post. The time is nigh. And that is why Paul Congemi is malaka of the week.

Congemi is best described as a minor league Insult Comedian. He’s running for Mayor of St. Petersburg-Florida, not Russia-and lost his shit at a candidates forum the other night and attacked one of his opponents thusly:

After the assertion was made he was a “non-factor” in the race, Mayoral Candidate Paul Congemi snapped back at members of the Uhuru movement and their candidate, Jesse Nevel during a mayoral debate July 18 in St. Pete.

Congemi’s response was one many may not have expected.

“Mr. Nevel you and your people talk about reparations. The reparations that you talk about, Mr. Nevel, your people already got your reparations. Your reparations came in the form of a man named Barack Obama,” Congemi said, pointing a finger at the audience as he spoke.

He continued, “My advice to you, if you don’t like it here in America, planes leave every hour from Tampa airport. Go back to Africa. Go back to Africa. Go back!”

He seems nice.

This is what Trump has wrought. People feel free to say things in public that shouldn’t even be uttered privately. Malaka Congemi’s diatribe is not an isolated incident: hate crimes are on the rise. Do you want to see video? We have embedded video:

Perhaps the best thing about this story is the punworthy name of the reporter, Evan Axelbank. I could pun on that name until the cows come home but I won’t. Why? I don’t want a broken axel, you can take that to the bank. I guess that promise was evanescent…

I support the right of minor candidates to run for municipal office. Here in New Orleans, perennial candidate Manny Chevrolet Bruno is making his umpteenth run for Mayor with the recurring slogan, “a troubled man for troubled times.” Congemi is just plain trouble since this is his idea of an apology:

On Wednesday, Congemi clarified his remarks, saying that his advice was meant only for Nevel’s group of supporters. “Not all African Americans. Just those that Nevel represents,” Congemi wrote in a statement sent to the Tampa Bay Times.

The Uhuru Solidarity Movement organizes white people to join Africans in their struggle to “reclaim their land, labor, resources, and self-determination,” according to its website.

It fights for reparations to redress systemic discrimination against black people.

Oh, it’s only the uppity ones, not the good ones. Now where have we heard that before?

I wonder if David Dukkke has any plans to campaign for Congemi. The latter might as well go all the way in his campaign since he has no chance of winning. And that is why Paul Congemi is malaka of the week.

The last word goes to  my homeys, the Meters:

Oh yeah, hat tip to Lamar White Jr. of the Bayou Brief.

Your President* Speaks: The Daily Constitutional Crisis

It’s no secret that Donald Trump thrives on conflict, chaos, and crisis. It’s also no secret that normal people find the constant chaos exhausting. I’m only marginally normal but find myself waking up and wondering what shit has hit the fan over night. Some days it’s a crazy tweet, other days it’s an interview. Whenever the Insult Comedian is interviewed by the NYT’s Maggie Haberman, the bats in his belfry come flying out.

Haberman wasn’t the only Timesperson involved in the interview but she’s the one with the knack of summoning the demons. Timing is, of course, everything. Even by the standards of the Trump presidency* it’s been a crazy few weeks: things are not going well in Trump World and when that happens, shit meet fan.

This time around there is *some* method in the president’s* madness. Events in the Trump-Russia scandal are moving at warp speed while the attempt to destroy the ACA is creeping along like a slug that’s been stepped on. The White House is issuing empty threats to Senators who are less and less afraid of the Orange Menace every day. It’s not unusual for a real president to want to change the subject but they rarely move on to an even more damaging topic. Ain’t nothing real about the pouty POTUS* on display today. Pouty POTUS*? I feel a new nickname coming on: POUTUS. I’m not sure if it requires an asterisk. The dumb fucker pouts constantly.

We begin with a comment inspired by his Parisian sojourn:

Well, Napoleon finished a little bit bad. But I asked that. So I asked the president, so what about Napoleon? He said: “No, no, no. What he did was incredible. He designed Paris.” [garbled] The street grid, the way they work, you know, the spokes. He did so many things even beyond. And his one problem is he didn’t go to Russia that night because he had extracurricular activities, and they froze to death. How many times has Russia been saved by the weather?

Uh, POUTUS, it was Louis Bonaparte aka Napoleon III whose government laid out the street grid of which you speak. One would think Trump would like him since he was elected and then became Emperor/Dictator. Of course, he finished “a little bit bad” too. I bet the Insult Comedian has never heard of Napoleon’s nephew Louis. It would involve reading a book.

Next up is a comment about his unsupervised visit with Putin:

We talked about Russian adoption. Yeah. I always found that interesting. Because, you know, he ended that years ago. And I actually talked about Russian adoption with him, which is interesting because it was a part of the conversation that Don [Jr., Mr. Trump’s son] had in that meeting. As I’ve said — most other people, you know, when they call up and say, “By the way, we have information on your opponent,” I think most politicians — I was just with a lot of people, they said [inaudible], “Who wouldn’t have taken a meeting like that?” They just said——

Adoption is Putinspeak for sanctions. They talked about something substantive with only Putin’s translator present. Btw, Karl Rove said he wouldn’t have taken that meeting. That’s right, Team Trump is worse than Karl Fucking Rove.

Constitutional crisis, come on down:

TRUMP: So Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself. I then have — which, frankly, I think is very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, “Thanks, Jeff, but I can’t, you know, I’m not going to take you.” It’s extremely unfair, and that’s a mild word, to the president. So he recuses himself. I then end up with a second man, who’s a deputy.

HABERMAN: Rosenstein.

TRUMP: Who is he? And Jeff hardly knew. He’s from Baltimore.

TRUMP: Yeah, what Jeff Sessions did was he recused himself right after, right after he became attorney general. And I said, “Why didn’t you tell me this before?” I would have — then I said, “Who’s your deputy?” So his deputy he hardly knew, and that’s Rosenstein, Rod Rosenstein, who is from Baltimore. There are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any. So, he’s from Baltimore.

There’s a lot to unpack here. First, Sessions screwed up and did the right thing by recusing himself. He was following DOJ rules. Imagine that. Second, Trump refers to himself in the third person as the president* The only recent Oval One I can recall doing that was Tricky Dick. You know, the only president to resign in disgrace.

The bit about Rosenstein is classic Trumpian projection. Trump is a New York Republican who lost his home state 59-37 and did even worse in NYC. One would have thought Rosenstein would be his political soul brother. I guess not.

Next up is the part of Your President* Speaks in which American history is misinterpreted.

And nothing was changed other than Richard Nixon came along. And when Nixon came along [inaudible] was pretty brutal, and out of courtesy, the F.B.I. started reporting to the Department of Justice. But there was nothing official, there was nothing from Congress. There was nothing — anything. But the F.B.I. person really reports directly to the president of the United States, which is interesting.

The FBI has always been part of the DOJ and its director has always reported to the Attorney General. The president has always had the appointment power. One reason Mark (Deep Throat) Felt insisted on anonymity is that he was bypassed by Nixon to replace Hoover and didn’t want to come off as a disgruntled office seeker.

It’s time for Trump to threaten the Special Counsel:

SCHMIDT: Last thing, if Mueller was looking at your finances and your family finances, unrelated to Russia — is that a red line?

HABERMAN: Would that be a breach of what his actual charge is?

TRUMP: I would say yeah. I would say yes. By the way, I would say, I don’t — I don’t — I mean, it’s possible there’s a condo or something, so, you know, I sell a lot of condo units, and somebody from Russia buys a condo, who knows? I don’t make money from Russia. In fact, I put out a letter saying that I don’t make — from one of the most highly respected law firms, accounting firms. I don’t have buildings in Russia. They said I own buildings in Russia. I don’t. They said I made money from Russia. I don’t. It’s not my thing. I don’t, I don’t do that.

He didn’t definitely say he’d fire Bobby Three Sticks but the implication is clear.  Trump wants Mueller to keep his hands off the Trump crime family. We’ve had some phony Saturday Night Massacres in the past 180 days. Firing Mueller would be the real deal.

In a normal administration, we would have awakened to the news that Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein had resigned. To say that this is not a normal administration is a grotesque understatement. Normal presidents care about the appearance of impropriety and would never meet with a Russian president without a sidekick of some kind. Even the Lone Ranger would have brought Tonto along, but not Johnny Depp’s Tonto with the dead bird on his head. Hmm, maybe Trump should try that. Imagine a dead bird atop the dead nutria he has atop his head. It would be a fashion sensation, y’all.

That concludes this epic edition of Your President* Speaks. I haven’t even included Trump’s recent tweet storms. Twitter is ephemeral. The New York Times is the newspaper of record. Maggie Haberman is the Trump whisperer. The poor dear.

The Finger Of Blame

I don’t know about you but I’m enjoying all the finger pointing over the failure to repeal the ACA. The Turtle is violating every principle of Congressional leadership and making his caucus vote on a bill that cannot pass. Wait a minute, it’s what they’ve been doing since 2009. Of course, they’re in the majority and control the executive branch now. The finger of blame points at them.

POTUS* is pouting and pretending he had nothing to do with it. He claims that he doesn’t “own” this failure. Guess what, Donald, you don’t get to choose what you own when you’re the Oval One. That’s up to the voters. Democrats took the fall for the economy in the 2010 mid-terms even if the finger of blame pointed at the Bush administration and Wall Street greedheads. You don’t get to choose.

It must be great to be Donald Trump. Imagine never having made a mistake in your life. #sarcasm. It’s always someone else’s fault. Now he wants to burn down the health care house because he’s mad. Arson seems to be big in 2017. In politics it usually involves self-immolation. It’s a fiery finger of blame and it’s pointed directly at the Republican party. They own this president*.

It’s time to revisit my Russell Long paraphrase from Monday evening. His mantra was about taxes but all one needs to do is substitute blame for tax and Bob’s your uncle. I still don’t know who Bob is; perhaps he’s a white rural Trump voter or one of their explainers.

Since it’s 2017, let’s meme the Long paraphrase:

The original picture was taken on the 50th Anniversary of Huey Long’s assassination. It’s why he’s peeking out from behind Russell Long. If the Kingfish were around today, he’d probably wonder which part of this story fits the 21st Century GOP:

“The Democratic Party and the Republican Party were just like the old patent medicine drummer that used to come around our country. He had two bottles of medicine. He’d play a banjo and he’d sell two bottles of medicine.

One of those bottles of medicine was called High Popalorum and another one of those bottles of medicine was called Low Popahirum.

Finally somebody around there said is there any difference in these bottles of medicines? ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘considerable. They’re both good but they’re different,’ he said.

‘That High Popalorum is made from the bark off the tree that we take from the top down. And that Low Popahirum is made from the bark that we take from the root up.’

And the only difference that I have found between the Democratic leadership and the Republican leadership was that one of ’em was skinning you from the ankle up and the other from the ear down — when I got to Congress.”

As a seasoned Long paraphraser, I’d substitute McConnell and Trump for the parties, but I’m uncertain which is High Popalorum and which is Low Popahirum. Btw, this was a question posed to me on twitter by my friend Sam Jasper. I wish I had a better answer. All I have for her is a shout-out.

Back to the blame game. It’s more fun than a barrel of monkeys and more disconcerting than a ferret down your trousers. As of this writing, Corey Lewandowski  is claiming that the president* is going to close a deal on Obamacare repeal today. I can count both votes and lies. The votes for ACA repeal are limited and lies from Team Trump are innumerable. You’d think that they’d screw up and tell the truth at some point.

The finger of blame is a venerable phrase but it was used memorably by Neil Finn in the Crowded House song, Fall At Your Feet. I guess you know who has the last word:

Quote Of The Day: Stay Up Late

Joshua Green’s new book, Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency, is the gift that keeps on giving. This is the third time I’ve quoted from it. I guess that means I should pick up a copy at some point unless someone wants to send me a freebie, that is.

It’s obvious that Bannon was one of Green’s main sources, especially of a story like this one about Paul Manafort and the Insult Comedian:

 After Trump decided to demote his campaign chair Paul Manafort, who drew negative attention to the campaign as reporters scrutinized his previous work for Ukrainian politicians with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump blew up at Manafort over a New York Times report that portrayed the candidate as intractable and inarticulate.

“How can anybody allow an article that says your campaign is all fucked up?” Trump shouted at Manafort, according to Green.

Trump demanded to know whether aides thought they had to make television appearances to communicate with him.

“You think you’ve gotta go on TV to talk to me?” Trump shouted. “You treat me like a baby! Am I like a baby to you? I sit there like a little baby and watch TV and you talk to me? Am I a fucking baby, Paul?”

I’m sure Manafort was tempted to say yes but opted not to. There was still money to be grifted as a result of his ties to the candidate and Manafort is all about the money. Plus, he had his very own Trump toddler tantrum. Lucky him.

There’s another swell quote from Green’s book. I never thought I’d agree with Bannon on anything but this is the exception to that rule:

According to Green, Bannon also waged his assault-by-epithet aloud in Breitbart’s Washington, D.C. headquarters: He described the House speaker as “a limp-dick motherfucker who was born in a petri dish at the Heritage Foundation,” a conservative think tank Bannon said was too close to the “globalist donor class.”

Nice imagery, Steve. We already knew that you and Ryan weren’t close.

Back to Trump’s “do you think I’m a fucking baby” rant. It gave me a benign earworm as well as a post title:

Instant Analysis: When The Spell Is Broken

The myth of Mitch McConnell as a master tactician and strategist took a huge hit this evening. His latest gambit to return the GOP’s position to repeal and replace the ACA is tantamount to declaring political bankruptcy. Repeal may not be dead forever but McConnell lacked even the votes to open debate in the Senate. Nobody should spike the ball in celebration because public pressure is what caused the Senate leadership, not the erstwhile moderates, to cave. People should keep calling their Senators but the spell is broken. The Senate seems to have resumed its role as a brake on rotten legislation.

Until the last few days, Republican Senators have been acting like cattle and following their leader and president* to the political slaughterhouse. They’re now in revolt against McConnell and his team. What form it will take is unclear because but they’re revolting in  different ways; pun obviously intended. Some of them like Aqua Buddha and his bobo Mike Lee want a *worse* bill; others are scared shitless of the reaction back home if they strip away aspects of the ACA that have always been popular including Medicaid expansion. Susan Collins was treated like a conquering hero in Maine because of her stand against Trumpcare.

I threw away my crystal ball after last year’s election but something fundamental has changed. It will be interesting to see how the blame game will unfold. It reminds me of an aphorism attributed to former Gret Stet Senator Russell Long: “Don’t tax you. Don’t tax me. Tax that fellow behind the tree.” All you have to do is substitute blame for tax and you have a winner.

Chinless Mitch is trying not to be the “fellow behind the tree.” I’m not sure who his designated patsy will be, but someone will have to take the fall with the more rabid members of the Republican base. It could be a lunatic with a twitter addiction or an overrated Speaker. In short, the Turtle has crawfished on Trumpcare.

Stay tuned

I’ll give Richard Thompson the last word:

First Draft Potpourri: Sanity Clause Edition

I’ve spent the last 177 days feeling like we’re living through a Marx Brothers movie. Until last week, I was certain it was Duck Soup wherein Groucho is the lecherous President of Freedonia, Rufus T. Firefly. The more we learn about Trump Junior’s infamous meeting with the Russian mouthpiece and a cast of thousands, the more it sounds like the stateroom scene in A Night At The Opera. That movie contained this classic exchange between Groucho as Otis B. Driftwood and Chico as Fiorello as they haggled over a contract:

Fiorello: Hey, wait, wait. What does this say here? This thing here.
Driftwood: Oh, that? Oh, that’s the usual clause. That’s in every contract. That just says uh, it says uh, “If any of the parties participating in this contract is shown not to be in their right mind, the entire agreement is automatically nullified.”
Fiorello: Well, I don’t know…
Driftwood: It’s all right, that’s, that’s in every contract. That’s, that’s what they call a ‘sanity clause’.
Fiorello: Ha ha ha ha ha! You can’t fool me! There ain’t no Sanity Clause!

There isn’t one when it comes to being president*, alas. The country needs a sanity pause as well as a sanity clause but we’re unlikely to get either as long as the Insult Comedian watches teevee in the White House.

Let’s break things down First Draft potpourri style. I should post the segment titles in the form of a question but it’s too hot to do so. I have to preserve as many of my diminishing little grey cells as possible.

The Dog Ate The Country: Trump spokescreeps and apologists have been making some very lame “the dog ate my homework” excuses. In this case, it’s more like the dog ate the country. One of my favorites is the “they’re inexperienced” excuse. Paul Manafort was at that meeting. He’s not a rookie, he’s a veteran shitbag. One might even call him a grizzled ratfucker.

The latest lame excuse comes from Trump’s  bible thumping shyster, Jay Sekulow. He opined that the Secret Service should have prevented Trump Junior’s stateroom scene meeting. The Secret Service is supposed to protect family members from outsiders, not themselves. They’d have to expand their remit dramatically since they didn’t stop Billy Carter from meeting with sinister Libyan types when his brother was president. I’ve gotten used to writing president with an asterisk and had to stop myself. We used to have real presidents instead of the mountebank we have now. So it goes.

Let’s move on to health care deform, I mean “reform.”

The Walnuts Factor: The fact that Chinless Mitch has postponed any votes on his health care bill until John McCain recovers from surgery and is back in town is an indication of weakness. As of now, they don’t have the votes.  It’s either going to pass 50-50 or lose by 6 to 10 votes. If it’s a sure loser, the rats will flee the sinking ship but we’re waiting on a third firm no vote to join Susan Collins and Aqua Buddha. Can they make like Claus vov Bulow and have a stunning Reversal of Fortune? Absolutely. As of now they’re more like the comatose Sunny von Bulow…

One more thing. I know people who think that Mitch McConnell is some sort of legislative wizard. When it comes to obstructionism, maybe so. This is an entirely different matter as it involves passing legislation. An online friend of mine compared him to Tom Brady who engineered a wild comeback in the last Super Bowl. A reminder: Brady led an undefeated Pats team into the Super Bowl against the New York Giants and lost. Shit happens. Nobody’s a wizard except in Harry Potter world.

Not Everything Sucks: This is Athenae’s mantra but I felt like borrowing it from her. You can have it back, A. Promise. The BBC announced the identity of the 13th Doctor Who and it’s the first woman, Jodie Whittaker. She’s best known for playing Beth Latimer in Broadchurch, which co-stars the 11th Doctor, David Tennant. It’s a splendid choice.

Some fan boys are acting as if they’ve been castrated but a female Time Lord comports with the Doctor Who universe. There’s *already* an evil female Time Lord, Missy. If you’re not a Whovian, I assume your eyes just glazed over like a rogue donut.

Here’s the BBC announcement tweet:

That concludes this edition of First Draft potpourri. I’m just trying to restore a hint of sanity to the world. I think a sanity clause should be mandatory for future Oval Ones.

I’ll give Groucho and Chico the last word:

Hail Freedonia.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Miles From Nowhere

Asakusa Hongan-ji Temple by Hokusai.

It was citywide election qualifying week here in New Orleans. I’m acquainted with three of the mayoral candidates but I’m undecided. It’s still early days in the race to replace Mitch Landrieu who is term limited and cannot run a fifth time to be Mayor. He’s a persistent bugger, y’all.

One person who talked about running was reality teevee star Sidney Torres aka the Trashanova. The Trashanova is a rich malaka who often wears a man bun, which is disqualifying as far as I’m concerned. Additionally, he’s  too closely tied to former Mayor Nagin to have a chance to win. Torres declined to throw his man bun into the ring and the city heaved a collective sigh of relief. Ta-ta, Trashanova.

This week’s theme song is a three-headed beast, sort of like me before my first cup of coffee in the morning. We have two  different songs titled Miles From Nowhere and one with a substantially similar title. I like to keep you on your toes.

After all the Tea for the Tillerson jokes, I thought it was high time to post a Cat Stevens song from the album with a substantially similar title. Substantially similar appears to be the two-word phrase of the day. Cat Stevens is followed (figuratively, not literally) by the Smithereens and Dwight Yoakam, which makes this a rather high mileage post.

Speaking of keeping you on your toes, we’re skipping the break and diving right in. Splash. Hopefully, it will be the deep, not shallow, end.

Your President* Speaks: It’s a long flight from DC to Paris so Trump had a chat with the press corps. He said some crazy shit about a transparent border wall. The “idea” is to see the “bags of drugs” flying over it or some such shit. That full quote is too long and rambling for this space but here are a couple of beauts annotated by yours truly:

So I was asked to go by the President [Macron], who I get along with very well, despite a lot of fake news. You know, I actually have a very good relationship with all of the people at the G20. And he called me, he said, would you come, it’s Bastille Day — 100 years since World War I. And I said, that’s big deal, 100 years since World War I. SO we’re going to go

The president* appears to think that Bastille Day is somehow connected to the Great War. It happened in 1789 and had something to with another famous event.

The other quote has the Insult Comedian sounding like his mentor Roy Cohn:

And I think what’s happening is, as usual, the Democrats have played their card too hard on the Russia thing, because people aren’t believing it. It’s a witch hunt and they understand that. When they say “treason” — you know what treason is? That’s Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for giving the atomic bomb, okay? But what about all the congressmen, where I see the woman sitting there surrounded by — in Congress.

Actually, Roy Cohn was a coherent motherfucker. That last sentence makes no sense whatsoever.

While we’re on the subject of the Darnold, there’s *another* excerpt from Joshua Green’s new Trump-Bannon book. It’s not as fun as the Bannon-Napoleon portrait one but it’s still swell. This excerpt is at Bloomberg News and discusses Trump’s time hosting The Apprentice. Fun fact: Trump was popular with minorities until the whole birther thing, which is when his ratings tanked. Sad.

Let’s move on to a segment about Trump’s longtime personal mouthpiece.

The Marc Kasowitz Blues: Pro Publica ran an eye-opening piece about Trump’s hard-drinking, foul-mouthed lawyer. One of the main points of the article by Justin Elliot and Jesse Eisinger is that Kasowitz will have a hard time obtaining a security clearance because of his drinking problem. I’m not sure how he can adequately defend the president* without one.

Kasowitz not only has a drinking problem, he has a nasty temper, which surfaced after a segment on the Rachel Maddow Show:

Marc Kasowitz, President Trump’s personal attorney on the Russia case, threatened a stranger in a string of profanity-laden emails Wednesday night.

The man, a retired public relations professional in the western United States who asked not to be identified, read ProPublica’s story this week on Kasowitz and sent the lawyer an email with the subject line: “Resign Now.”

Kasowitz replied with series of angry messages sent between 9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. Eastern time. One read: “I’m on you now.  You are fucking with me now Let’s see who you are Watch your back , bitch.”

 In another email, Kasowitz wrote: “Call me.  Don’t be afraid, you piece of shit.  Stand up.  If you don’t call, you’re just afraid.” And later: “I already know where you live, I’m on you.  You might as well call me. You will see me. I promise.  Bro.”

Kasowitz’s spokesman, Michael Sitrick, said Thursday he couldn’t immediately reach Kasowitz for comment.

ProPublica confirmed the man’s phone number matched his stated identity. Technical details in the emails, such as IP addresses and names of intermediate mail servers, also show the emails came from Kasowitz’s firm. In one email, Kasowitz gave the man a cell phone number that is not widely available. We confirmed Kasowitz uses that number.

The exchange began after the man saw our story featured last night on the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC. We reported that Kasowitz is not seeking a security clearance even though the Russia case involves a significant amount of classified material.

Moral of the story: always think twice before hitting the send icon Also, isn’t Kasowitz a bit old to call someone bitch or bro? He’s 65. The AARP weeps.

It’s unclear if Trump congratulated or castigated  Kasowitz for his mob lawyer outburst. It might be time to call in John Gotti’s lawyer Bruce Cutler seen below with his favorite client and a guy who looks like Paulie Walnuts’ unkempt cousin:

Bruce Cutler and John Gotti via the NY Daily News.

The Dapper Don in a turtleneck, not a tie? The fashion gods must have wept that day.

I’m sure Trump has met Cutler. I was disappointed not to find any pictures of them together when I asked first Siri and then Mr. Google. So it goes.

While we’re on the subject of the Trump-Russia scandal, next up is a “fake news” toon.

Cartoon Of The Week: I resisted the temptation to post Hokusai’s most famous painting, The Wave, as this week’s featured image. The Guardian’s Steve Bell, however, went for it in this cartoon about Trump Junior’s problems.

Holy shit storm, Batman.

It’s time to put New Yorkers and Muscovites in the rear view mirror and move on.

Warren Zevon’s Last Waltz: I’ve made a boatload of Zevon references recently so I reckoned I should share Jon Pareles’ classic 2003 profile of WZ as he faced death.

Since the story uses WZ’s last appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman as a backdrop, here’s that episode:

Enjoy every sandwich.

It’s time to sing the blues with a master of the form.

Saturday Classic: Albums featuring guest artists were the rage in the late Eighties and early Nineties. John Lee Hooker’s The Healer was one of the best of the bunch. It featured Carlos Santana, Bonnie Raitt, Robert Cray, Canned Heat, Los Lobos, George Thorogood, and Charlie Musselwhite. Enjoy.

That’s it for this week. I wrote more about politics than the average Saturday post, but I have Russia on my mind. I must be pining for cold weather. Our closing bat-meme features real life super villains Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. Btw, Donny now claims that Vladdy was for Hillary in the late election. Oy, just oy.

Joyeux Quatorze Juillet

Liberty Leading The People by Eugene Delacroix.

Joyeux Quatorze Juillet is the correct way to say Happy Bastille Day even though the latter makes me want to storm a prison and free some prisoners. The French merely refer to it as La Fête Nationale and dispense with the greetings.

French President Macron is trying a new tactic with the Insult Comedian: treating him like a crazy uncle to be indulged instead of disdained. I have my doubts that it will work but at least Trump isn’t throwing verbal stink bombs at the French any more. He did, however comment on the French First Lady’s appearance. I expect his aides will argue that it’s age appropriate: Brigitte Macron is 25 years older than her 39-year-old husband.

Here’s one of Trump’s big quotes from his day with the Macrons:

“France is one of our oldest allies. A lot of people don’t know that, but it’s true.”

There was much mirth about this on social media today. Unfortunately, Trump isn’t the only one ignorant of this basic fact. Surely, I’m not the only one who remembers “freedom fries” and “cheese eating surrender monkeys.” Those were, of course, epithets hurled at the French after then President Chirac’s wise decision to stay out of the Iraq War.

Joyeux Quatorze Juillet. Vive la France.

 

The “Everybody Does It” Defense

I didn’t expect there to be a smoking gun in the Trump-Russia scandal. I certainly didn’t expect it to involve Trump Junior. I’ve always expected the Trumpers and their enablers in the Republican party to resort to the “everybody does it” defense. It’s what happens when past defenses are exposed as lies. Of course, nothing said by the Trump crime family and its lackeys is ever true. Nothing. No thing. Literally. Believe me.

The counterattacks are flying thick, fast, and unconvincing. They’re desperately trying to unearth past instances of a presidential campaign working with a HOSTILE foreign power. Good luck with that:

Moscow has, however, tried to meddle in previous American elections. The historian Michael R. Beschloss recounts in “The Crisis Years: Kennedy and Khrushchev, 1960-1963,” an account of the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Kennedy presidency, that the Soviet ambassador in Washington secretly reached out to both John F. Kennedy and Adlai Stevenson, another Democratic presidential hopeful, during the 1960 campaign. The ambassador was rebuffed by both candidates.

Imagine that. Of course, Jack Kennedy had smart relatives involved in his campaign something the Insult Comedian is sorely lacking. Jared? Junior? Gimme a break.

Instead of listening to his lawyers and shutting his big bazoo, the idiot-in-chief has chimed in on the Tweeter Tube:

Hey, he’s not citing Fox News in support. This is some daring “thinking” on Donald’s part.

As the Trump’s tower of lies implodes, it’s time for Republican office holders to stop defending him or give up their frequent invocations of their secular saint, Ronald Reagan. Here’s the deal: I never supported or voted for Reagan but never doubted his patriotism. The current Russian kleptocracy is the successor state to the Soviet Union. Does anyone seriously think that the man who called the USSR “the evil empire” would accept oppo from a lawyer linked to the Kremlin?

Reagan may have been the leader who incubated what Charlie Pierce calls the GOP’s “prion disease,” but he was an old-fashioned patriot whose favorite president was Franklin Roosevelt. The Republicans have done a good job in the last 30+ years of making Reagan their FDR. Neither FDR nor Reagan would have colluded with a hostile power to gain political advantage. They didn’t need to do so to win elections.  Defending Trump’s perfidy means that the GOP *should* lose the right to invoke Saint Ronnie. Will they stop? Hell no, but their invocations ring hollower by the day.

The world has truly turned upside down when I praise Ronald Reagan. Trump is so horrible that he makes Reagan look good in contrast. So it goes.

The “everybody does it” defense is a feeble one. Nixon and his minions trotted it out during Watergate. It did not work.

I originally planned to play Irving Berlin’s Everybody’s Doing It Now at the end of the post until I ran into the tune below. It was the label on the record that clinched it: Carnival Records with a clown logo. The Trump crime family brought the circus to the White House. It took six months for some people to realize that they’d taken a giant dump in the Rose Garden. Some people do not have a good sense of smell but the stench is growing day-by-day.

Life Imitates The Sopranos: Steve Bannon Edition

I hope y’all have read the excerpt from Joshua Green’s book about Bannon and Trump at NYMag.com. As far as I’m concerned, this is the money passage:

Like Trump, Bannon was a businessman and born deal-maker. With experience on Wall Street and in Hollywood, he was nothing if not high energy, a mile-a-minute talker with a volcanic temper who rarely slept and possessed a media metabolism to rival Trump’s own. And Bannon, too, had a healthy self-regard. On his office wall hung an oil painting of Bannon dressed as Napoleon in his study at the Tuileries, done in the style of Jacques-Louis David’s famous neoclassical painting — a gift from Nigel Farage.

A Napoleon portrait? That reminds me of the time on The Sopranos that Tony ordered Paulie Walnuts to dispose of a portrait of Tony with his deceased race horse, Pie-O-My. You may recall that Ralphie had the horse torched for the insurance money, which is why Tony couldn’t bear to have it around. Not only did Paulie keep the painting, he had it revised thusly:

The only problem with the Bannon-Tony Soprano analogy is that the latter had some redeeming characteristics. If Bannon has any, they’re not readily apparent.

Unsolicited Advice For Trump Junior From Earl Long

The shoes keep dropping. Our idiot president’s* idiot son is the subject of another NYT story. The lede of the story says it all:

Before arranging a meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer he believed would offer him compromising information about Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump Jr. was informed in an email that the material was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy, according to three people with knowledge of the email.

I realize the Trump crime family loves headlines but sometimes it’s best to STFU and stop bragging. The late Earl Long was a smart politician who came from a political family. Trump Junior could do worse than to heed Uncle Earl’s savvy advice:

First Draft Potpourri: I’ll Be Doggone Edition

I used to think of July as the dog days of summer when not much happened. Those days appear to be gone, doggone it, We’ve had another news-heavy weekend so I’m going to run several flags up the pole and salute them; some with a one-fingered salute. I may, however, let one of my handy colleagues above do the dirty work. It’s an all hands on deck moment for the Republic, after all.

No Polish Joke: The other day, I threatened to title a post Polish Joke when the Insult Comedian was delivering his triumph of the will rant in Warsaw. I did not. I didn’t want to revive shit like this:

Ethnic joke books like the one above were popular when I was a kid. It’s one reason I was concerned that Trump would start riffing on Polish jokes. He *is* the first Insult Comedian ever elected president*. Given the tone and nature of his speech, even the nastiest Polish joke would have been better than the mish-mash of white ethno-nationalist nonsense he delivered. The fingerprints of Stephens Miller and Bannon were all over the speech. Oh, goody.

Since there were two outstanding pieces about the No Polish Joke speech at the Atlantic, I’ll send you there for some serious analysis:

How American Presidents Used To Speak Abroad by James Fallows.

The Racial and Religious Paranoia of Trump’s Warsaw Speech by Peter Beinart.

You Say Collusion, I Say Conspiracy:  According to the NYT, the amoral nincompoops of Team Trump went fishing for derogatory material about Hillary Clinton in Russian waters. Trump Junior has told several different stories about this meeting. I, of course, do not believe any of them. Lying comes as naturally as breathing to this crowd.

I saw Junior referred to as the Fredo of the Trump crime family. I disagree, doggone it. They’re a family of Fredos. Only a Fredo would allow his daughter to sit in for him at a major international conference. Nepotism is in like Flynn as it were.

Vlad-n-Donny’s Love Fest: Team Trump spun the meeting as a win for their guy because he allegedly didn’t make any major gaffes.  It appears to have been a triumph for the Russians. It was four liars in a room with two translators. I believe Russian liar Lavrov’s account of the meeting and not the weak tea poured by the Tillerson. The former’s statement comports more with Trump’s previous comments as well as these post-meeting tweets by Putin’s Pawn:

The whole “let by-gones be by-gones” theme struck by both Trump and Tillerson gave Putin the win, doggone it. The sound you hear is past Republican Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, and Reagan rolling over in their graves. In fact, I believe Ike’s hardline Secretary of State John Foster Dulles was briefly reanimated then died of a heart attack upon learning of the Putin-Trump encounter…

The meeting also inspired one of Trump’s dizzier ideas:

Fox meet hen-house. The reaction was so negative that the president* kinda sorta walked it back during this morning’s tweet storm:

I believe the Watergate conspirators would have called this a “modified, limited” walk back. They should try the Ron Ziegler method and call the  original tweet “inoperative.” If only we could declare the entire Trump administration* inoperative and rewind the past 170 days. It seems like 170 years, y’all.

I wish they’d give us back the dog days of summer but since they won’t, I’ll give Marvin Fucking Gaye the last word, doggone it:

 

 

Want to #Resist, Rich Liberals? Buy Some Fucking Newspapers

This was rightly roasted all over the place this week: 

Bigger government handouts won’t win working-class voters back. This is the fallacy of the left, believing that voters just need to be shown how much they are getting in government benefits. In reality, these voters see themselves as being penalized for maintaining the basic values of hard work, religion and family.

And I made the point myself that “Democrats” like Penn have no idea where the center is in this country and no financial incentive to find out. If they can cash in without providing any kind of data, why would they do the work necessary to prove their (bullshit) hypothesis?

Move to the center, Democrats! Because if you nominate a war hero, he certainly won’t be characterized as a traitor! If you nominate a woman so hawkish she makes Angela Merkel look like a pacifist, she certainly won’t be derided as weak! If you run a biracial constitutional lawyer whose ideas would be right at home in the Eisenhower administration, he’s certainly not going to be called a secret Muslim terrorist sympathizer!

This idea that the appeal of the GOP to the average voter is about substance is just adorable. We could go back in time, nominate Bernie Sanders, he could talk nonstop about manufacturing jobs and Real Americans in the Rust Belt, and by the time wingnut media were done with him he’d be That Socialist Jew and he’d have had to denounce every single black friend he’d ever made.

If the future of the Democratic Party is conversion of Republican voters, nobody is ever going to be good enough.

My biggest problem with that Penn piece and this WTF nonsense is that what Democrats need isn’t another retooling by somebody’s fucking cousin who’s a brand ambassador. They don’t need to call abortion icky or abandon whatever the fuck these rich white tools think is “identity politics” this week. They don’t need a white man with a Southern accent and a picturesque farmer/coal miner background (though if we wanna run Jimmy again, I’m game if he is).

They need their own fucking printing press and they should go buy one. Plus a few dozen TV stations and some local radio networks. Maybe save some media execs from themselves.

Without those things, it doesn’t matter if Democrats move left, right or center if there’s a 24-7 media machine screaming that all Dems including YOUR SENATOR INSERT NAME HERE is a pinko commie babykilling fairy peacefreak who wants to give secret welfare to black people by raising your taxes.

It doesn’t matter how many “Rust Belt correspondent” anthropologists big papers parachute in to gawk at the rubes and come up with euphemisms for racsim. They’ll never be able to convince people that “the media” aren’t the bad guys when the only media people consume is anti-Democratic, anti-dissent, anti-media media.

It’s not like there aren’t properties for sale. Good, profitable properties (I will NEVER fucking understand shuttering a profitable business, never in my life) that are doing important work in places where Americans desperately need a voice for public education, organized labor, a living wage, alleviation of poverty, universal health care and all the things we claim are so important to us every four years.

So maybe some of the people who will shovel cash at Penn and this WTF bullshit can wheel their barrels full of money just a little farther down the street and buy themselves the message they know isn’t getting out. It didn’t matter in the last half-dozen elections, presidential and otherwise, that Democrats across the board DID have policies and priorities to fix health care, to retrain American workers, to raise the minimum wage, to provide public education. Nobody heard a word they were saying.

You let Republicans do all the talking and people are going to vote for Republicans every time.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Garden Of Earthly Delights

The Garden Of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch.

The first week of July is when it really heats up in New Orleans. The air is thick and smacks you upside the head when you venture outside. The pace of life slows to a crawl and Oscar and Della can be found sprawled out on our wood floors hoping to cool themselves. Nice work if you can get it.

Later today, I’m going to the silliest annual event in New Orleans. It’s a non-violent running of the bulls thingamabob. The “bulls” are roller girls wielding soft paddles. I do not run. Dr. A and I hang out with our friend Cait and the child army of darkness whilst her husband Dave runs. We all sweat. It’s minosas and donuts for me, y’all. Perhaps I should take a Spank paddle to liven things up:

This week’s theme song is inspired by our Boschian theme. You may have noticed that Hieronymus Bosch’s prot0-surrealist The Garden of Earthly Delights is the featured image. There will be more Bosching about later but I will never head to the mountains and drink Busch beer. You say Busch, I say Bosch. Let’s call the whole thing off. Stop me before I quote Ira Gershwin again.

Back to the theme song. It comes from XTC’s Oranges and Lemons album whose cover was featured of a Wednesday in 2014. That feature was sidelined this week but will return next Wednesay: bad scout’s honor. Welcome to the garden of earthly delights, y’all.

I have another Boschy song for your listening pleasure. It was written and recorded by that self-described “awful little man,” Graham Parker.

Now that we’ve listened to some late-Eighties alternative rock, you deserve a break today. OMG, I sound like Ronald Fucking McDonald. That simply will not do.

Continue reading

What is the 7th or 8th Commandment?

Thou shall not steal.

I doubt if they’d accept that answer in the form of a question on Jeopardy but different religious traditions number the Ten Commandments differently. Impressed with my indifferent biblical scholarship? Don’t be. I learned about the 4-4 split on Wikipedia. I like to show off my erudition even when I don’t have any. All I know about the Ten Commandments, I learned from Cecil B. DeMille and that big slab of Kosher ham, Charlton Heston. Kosher ham? I know that’s impossible but he played Moses so…

Now that I’ve blasphemed and shit, it’s time for today’s episode of Grifting For Jesus:

The packages that made their way from Israel and the United Arab Emirates to retail outlets owned by Hobby Lobby, the seller of arts and craft supplies, were clearly marked as tile samples.

But according to a civil complaint filed on Wednesday by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, they held something far rarer and more valuable: ancient clay cuneiform tablets that had been smuggled into the United States from Iraq.

Prosecutors said in the complaint that Hobby Lobby, whose evangelical Christian owners have long maintained an interest in the biblical Middle East, began in 2009 to assemble a collection of cultural artifacts from the Fertile Crescent. The company went so far as to send its president and an antiquities consultant to the United Arab Emirates to inspect a large number of rare cuneiform tablets — traditional clay slabs with wedge-shaped writing that originated in Mesopotamia thousands of years ago.

In 2010, as a deal for the tablets was being struck, an expert on cultural property law who had been hired by Hobby Lobby warned company executives that the artifacts might have been looted from historical sites in Iraq, and that failing to determine their heritage could break the law.

Despite these words of caution, the prosecutors said, Hobby Lobby bought more than 5,500 artifacts — the tablets and clay talismans and so-called cylinder seals — from an unnamed dealer for $1.6 million in December 2010.

There’s nothing that makes me happier than some psalm-singing Evangelical son of a bitch being caught with their hand in the proverbial cookie jar. Receiving stolen artifacts is a crime against history and, I daresay, the religion the Hobby Lobbyists flaunt or is that flout. This Mesopotamian mess has also inspired a mess of puns. I myself have been Babylon and on…

If you’re an irony fan, the most delicious thing about the Mess in Mesopotamia is that Isis could have been the original sellers. When they’re not destroying or defiling historical artifacts, they’ve been known to sell them to incurious buyers. I guess one could say that fundamentalists of a feather flock together.

I wonder if this puts the kibosh on the proposed bible museum and craft store the Hobby Lobbyists and others of their ilk plan to open at Washington City this fall. I suspect it will go on but there’s going to be some empty space where the stolen artifacts should have been. Perhaps they’ll order up a miracle of some kind. Stay tuned.

Holy Mesopotamian Mess, Batman. It’s what happens when you fail to heed The Ten Commandments of Love:

That concludes this episode of Grifting For Jesus. Dial H for Hypocrisy, pass the collection plate, and play some Genesis:

Quote Of The Day: Dahlia Lithwick Edition

Slate’s crack legal writer Dahlia Lithwick has offered the White House press corps some unsolicited advice. She covers a Supreme Court that holds no news conferences and doesn’t allow cameras in the courtroom. She essentially advises the White House press to zip it and stop playing into the administration*’s hands by making demands that they don’t have to agree to.

Dahlia offers some semi-tongue-in-cheek tips to her White House counterparts. This is my favorite:

Sketch artists. Kudos to CNN, which has already sent in longtime SCOTUS sketch artist Bill Hennessy to draw the White House gaggle. Sketches lend a certain dashing aura of criminality and generalized thuggery to the proceedings and have the added benefit of enraging White House spokespeople, who believe they deserve better than line drawings and colored pencils.

That’s bound to result in Gum Spice pounding the podium and Spawn of Huck getting all pouty. Of course, Spicer might *want* to look like the Dapper Don instead of Melissa McCarthy in a bad suit.

The wisest piece of advice offered by Ms. Lithwick is this closing passage in which she urges nerdiness upon the WH press:

Be a nerd. Most Supreme Court correspondents know that if they want careers in television they should shift to covering the weather. For the most part, we are not creatures built of gotcha questions, Sunday morning grandstanding, or good hair. This is a press corps of nerds and wonks, and nobody has ever joined this beat to become famous. As a result, it is the kindest, most ego-free workplace I have ever known. We file our stories, eat dinner, and go home. As competing cults of personality have come to tower over the news in America, ask yourself why you aren’t a charter member of the Cult of Jess Bravin (Wall Street Journal). That guy works harder than anyone, doesn’t expect cameras to follow him around, and never believes he is the story. Unless Supreme Court justices are selling their autobiographies, you are unlikely to see them interviewed on camera, and when they do give lengthy interviews, they never say anything of substance.

This is, in short, an Oliver Twist–style press corps, accustomed to getting nothing and grateful for it. These folks learn to love the footnotes instead of the glamor. At a moment when we are stuck with a president who is solely a creature of celebrity culture, maybe a White House press corps made of anonymous dorks and dusty worker bees could be a breath of fresh air. There’s gold in them there footnotes. Life without TV cameras is still worth living. Life without a dorky, diligent press corps is not.

It’s hard to imagine the preening popinjays of teevee news with empty bowl in hand asking for “more sir.” It is, however, a helluva good image. I’ve been known to sling the odd Dickensian reference myself.  Team Trump lends itself rather well to Oliver Twist: Trump is an orange variation on Fagin, Slumlord Jared is an inartful take on the Artful Dodger, and Steve Bannon is perfect casting as the thuggish Bill Sikes. It’s bound to be a bigger hit than the show they’re staging right now, which is bombing mightily. I guess I shouldn’t say bomb with North Korean missiles in the news.

That is all.

 

Back To The Nineties

There’s so much news going on that it’s hard to prioritize. We all need to learn how to multi-task. The Russia scandal and health care are at the top of my list but Trump’s attack on the press, the election commission farce, and his delusional foreign policy *are* important too. It’s like a teevee drama with an A story and B story; only in this case we’re up to E and counting. So it goes.

Today’s focus is on the big story about Russia broken by the Wall Street Journal last week. It takes us back to the Nineties because it involves one of the creeps behind the so-called Arkansas project, Peter Smith. If the fucker were still alive, I’d demand he give me back my name.

I’m quoting TPM’s account of the story because I’m not about to give any money to Rupert Fucking Murdoch:

In the midst of the 2016 campaign, a veteran GOP opposition researcher who said he had ties to ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn contacted hackers hoping to obtain emails that he believed Russian operatives had hacked from Hillary Clinton’s personal server, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Peter W. Smith reached out to computer security experts in the hopes of gaining access to the email trove and explicitly outlined his connection with Flynn in his recruiting emails, according to the report.

Smith was one of the dickheads who spent most of the Nineties in what Charlie Pierce calls “the pursuit of the President’s penis.” He was a close associate of David Bossie who, in turn, is a close associate of Steve Bannon. That’s right, there’s a B3 taint to the whole enterprise. Here’s Josh Marshall quoting a follow-up story:

As you may have heard, this evening The Wall Street Journal published a major follow-up to its story from Thursday which described the work of a GOP money man and oppo research guy, the late Peter W. Smith, who was trying to get hacked emails from Russia and held himself out to be in contact with disgraced Trump advisor Michael Flynn. On its face, the big new break in this follow-up story is a new document from Smith. The document is from what is described as a package of recruiting materials Smith was using to enlist cybersecurity talent in his operation. The document listed key officials in the Trump campaign. These were apparently people Smith claimed he was in touch with or working with, though precisely how or why they were mentioned is not entirely clear.

Here’s the key passage from the Journal article

Officials identified in the document include Steve Bannon, now chief strategist for President Donald Trump; Kellyanne Conway, former campaign manager and now White House counselor; Sam Clovis, a policy adviser to the Trump campaign and now a senior adviser at the Agriculture Department; and retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, who was a campaign adviser and briefly was national security adviser in the Trump administration.

Notice the name Kellyanne Conway. Her husband, George, was also neck-deep in the Arkansas Project shit: he served as offstage counsel to Paula Jones. Things keep circling back to the Nineties, y’all.

I’m not sure how the Peter Smith angle will play out. He’s done his final smear: he died shortly after speaking to the WSJ for their blockbuster story. If true, the story ties freelance shitbirds like Smith to the shitbirds who were at the center of the Trump campaign and now have offices in the West Wing. Btw, the WSJ story was partially based on the account of a British cyber security maven named Matt Tait who wrote about his dealings with Smith. The plot continues to thicken. Stay tuned.

In other Nineties throwback news, the president* tweeted a video of him taking down CNN, pro rassling-style. The source was a notorious Reddit bigot. You’ve all seen it but here we go:

The video was edited from an appearance Trump made at Wrestlemania XXIII. Who knew the wrestling malakas did the whole pretentious Roman numeral thing?

The mind reels at the notion of the president* tweeting a fake video of fake wrestling to attack what he likes to call fake news. This, however, is bait the MSM should NOT take. It’s part of Trump’s dominance and submission world view: if one takes the bait, one is playing in the Insult Comedian’s house. Just say no, y’all.

The wrangle over press pressings is another way Trump demeans the media as a way of asserting his alpha-malakatude. They should ignore it. Very little news has ever been made when the press secretary of the day spins the media on behalf of their boss. In fact, some of the best recent White House reporting has been done by the NYT’s Maggie Haberman who mostly works out of the New York office. She works her sources instead of attending Gum Spice and Huckabee’s awful spawn’s press briefings. It’s called reporting, y’all.

There’s a fresh outrage every day, so it’s hard to know how to deal with them. I like what Charles Blow said in the NYT this morning about the hijacking of the presidency by Trump and his wrecking crew. Here’s Blow on the blowhard:

Every now and then we are going to have to do this: Step back from the daily onslaughts of insanity emanating from Donald Trump’s parasitic presidency and remind ourselves of the obscenity of it all, registering its magnitude in its full, devastating truth.

There is something insidious and corrosive about trying to evaluate the severity of every offense, trying to give each an individual grade on the scale of absurdity. Trump himself is the offense. Everything that springs from him, every person who supports him, every staffer who shields him, every legislator who defends him, is an offense. Every partisan who uses him — against all he or she has ever claimed to champion — to advance a political agenda and, in so doing, places party over country, is an offense.

We must remind ourselves that Trump’s very presence in the White House defiles it and the institution of the presidency. Rather than rising to the honor of the office, Trump has lowered the office with his whiny, fragile, vindictive pettiness.

Everything about Trump is horrible: his policies and his persona. It’s the world we’ve been plunged into by his electoral college victory*, which is looking more suspect every day. He’s dragged us kicking and screaming back to the Nineties with his crazy rhetoric and WWE-style braggadocio. Everyone needs to exercise editorial control and decide which of his outrages merit attention and which should be allowed to shrivel and die in the shadows.

Quote Of The Day: Health Care Edition

I like to call my friend Clancy DuBos the dean of New Orleans political commentators. I’m not sure if he likes the nickname as it sounds rather bureaucratic. Perhaps I should call myself the vice-dean whatever the hell that means. I *could* promote Clancy to chancellor, but it’s a title that evokes British or German politics, not the Gret Stet of Louisiana.

That was a roundabout way of praising Clancy for one of the best columns he’s ever written. He urges Gret Stet GOP Senators John Neely Kennedy and Bill Cassidy to put country and state ahead of the more rabid members of their base and fix the ACA, not destroy it:

So the question Kennedy and Cassidy must answer is “Whom do you represent?”

It appears Kennedy is inextricably in the thrall of the GOP’s right wing, his world-class education notwithstanding. The more moderate Cassidy, on the other hand, appears genuinely torn between his conscience (including physicians’ legendary oath to “first, do no harm”) and his political party.

To his credit, Cassidy has pledged not to support any bill that fails the “Jimmy Kimmel test” in terms of adequate coverage for all (as Donald Trump promised during the campaign). Cassidy also joined fellow Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine to introduce the Patient Freedom Act of 2017. Their bill, which would provide transparency on health care prices, has been ignored by the Senate’s GOP leadership.

Given the Senate’s slim, two-vote GOP majority, Cassidy could influence the future of American health care policy not only because he is a physician but also because he has at times shown the courage to speak the truth, even when truth doesn’t serve the interests of his party. I wish I could say the same of Kennedy.

Both men will cast their votes soon. Will Dr. Cassidy do no harm, or will he follow the money? His decision, like senators’ votes on civil rights bills in the 1960s, will determine how future generations remember him.

Both Kennedy and Cassidy are former Democrats who identified with the center-left of the party. Kennedy did so as an elected official and statewide candidate, so he’s forever overcompensating by hicking it up and pandering to the Trumpers. Why a well-educated, articulate man like Neely is willing to sound like a peckerwood in public is one of the mysteries of Gret Stet politics. Public Peckerwood? That would be a helluva name for a bluegrass band.

Senator/Doctor Cassidy is reachable but has been a follower, not a leader in his political career. As a doctor who practiced in Louisiana’s public hospital system, he *should* know the devastating impact the proposed changes to Medicaid will have. People will die if McConnell’s reverse Robin Hoodism becomes the law of the land. Make that the law of the jungle. Transferring wealth from Medicaid recipients to the 1% is Social Darwinism at its worst.

I hereby challenge Senator/Doctor Cassidy to live up to both his titles and do the right thing. He will be forgotten after he leaves office if he remains in the pocket of leader McConnell. He has a chance to prove that he’s his own man, not merely Bitter Vitter’s creature. Health care is a fundamental human right that should not be bartered away. Doctor Cassidy knows that. It’s time for Senator Cassidy to vote his conscience, not the party line.

Saturday Odds & Sods: You Never Can Tell

It’s been a long week in New Orleans. It’s been wet, steamy, and crimey. Is that a word? The spell-checker wanted to change it to criminy. The local media have been in full freak out mode over a mugging/beatdown in the Quarter, which means we’ve had to see the video of the attack 444 times. They caught the muggers who appear to be Katrina kids left to their own devices after the storm. It’s a sad story all the way around. Criminy.

This week’s featured image is a photograph of the spectacular Babylon set built for D.W. Griffith’s 1916 epic Intolerance, which I mentioned the other day in my post about racist vandalism in Mississippi. The statues and other adornments were made of plaster and executed by artisans imported from Italy. Team Trump would want to deport them instead of celebrating their artistry. Unfortunately, the set was torn down but its glory is preserved in pictures and on film.

This week’s theme song was written by Chuck Berry. It’s a tune of many names. It’s also known as C’est La Vie or the Teenage Wedding Song. Berry’s original version turned up in Pulp Fiction as the soundtrack for the dancing scene between the two Ts: Travolta and Thurman.

Next up are two spirited renditions. The first comes from Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings. I stumbled into it whilst mocking the anti-Beatle diatribe of the Other Bill Wyman in this space not long ago. I had to, uh, Get Back at him.

The second version was requested of Bruce Springsteen at a 2013 show. It’s fun to watch the E Street Band work through it. Call it inside rock and roll:

Now that we’ve seen Uma dance and Bruce wing it, let’s go to the break. See you on the other side.

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