Category Archives: Political Crack

Bayou Brief: Trump Trumps Trump

My latest Bayou Brief column is a review of Mary Trump’s extraordinary book, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created The World’s Most Dangerous Man.

I read the book in one day, revisited the passages about Fred Trump and his sons the next, and on the third day, I wrote the review. Sounds almost Biblical, doesn’t it? That’s the first and last time I’ll use that B-word to describe my writing. Not much of a revelation…

The key to who and what Donald Trump is his relationship with the Freds. As far as he’s concerned, Freddy Trump was the ultimate loser and Fred Sr. was the ultimate winner. He thinks of himself as a winner and is terrified that he’s really a loser. Just wait until November, Donald.

The Trump campaign has reached the desperation phase. They’re throwing shit against the wall and very little is sticking. The candidate’s limited attention span makes it nearly impossible to have a coherent message. It would help to have a coherent candidate instead of a windbag who says whatever pops into his head.

Earlier this morning, Michael F wrote about the MSM’s obsession with any change in tone by the Impeached Insult Comedian. They never last. At age 74, he is incapable of “pivoting.” It’s time for a self-quote:

President* Pennywise thinks sick people are weak: he even mocked his own father when Fred had dementia. Empathy and fundamental human decency are alien to him. He will never change. He’s incapable of it and those in the mainstream media who think he can change should have their heads examined, then read Mary Trump’s book.

With her Uncle Donald it’s all about two things: the Benjamins, and the Freds. He’s Fred Trump’s son; changing is for losers.

I have an ironic last word for your listening pleasure. The Freds are very much alive in the Kaiser of Chaos’ imagination:

They Didn’t Do The Work

I’ve been meaning to write about the “return” of big-time American sports. I’ve been a skeptic and a critic. They claim to have plans and safety protocols, but they seem to be winging it. It’s the current national style, after all. Of course, using President* Pennywise as a role model strikes me as injudicious at best, disastrous at worst.

I thought that baseball was the sport that *might* be able to do it since social distancing is built into the game. Unfortunately, baseball is run by greedy idiots who only care about money. Sounds mighty Trumpy to me, y’all. And I’m talking about the owners *and* the players. I’ve wished a pox on both their houses for years, but I never meant it literally.

The WaPo’s Sally Jenkins brilliantly sums up why this “return” was doomed:

We were given a job to do if we wanted our games back, a very simple job, and we couldn’t do it. Instead we did wings and sheetcake. “You are what your record says you are,” Bill Parcells said. It’s an axiom in sports: Your results speak for themselves. The scoreboard says more than a dozen major league baseball players are sick after just five days of play, and the only record this country is leading in is the number of deaths.

If there is one thing sports teaches, it’s that just wanting to win is not enough. You have to do the work, or you’re going to fail and maybe even embarrass yourself. You can’t cheat the grind, or you’ll lose every time. In this case, the work was easy. Wear a mask. Stay home unless it’s a real emergency. It’s not exactly running wind sprints up hills. Americans still didn’t do it.

Itching to get out, pale and restless, lethal in our boredom and urge to self-gratify, we’ve been unable to sit the hell down and stay there. Instead we’ve club-crawled and dined until swollen on lemon pepper chicken rub and store-bought icing.

Jenkins’ words of wisdom apply across the board to every industry and walk of life. They didn’t do the hard work of shutting down tight for a few months while a concrete national plan was devised to deal with the pandemic. Germany did it. France did it. New Zealand did it. Even Italy did it after a rocky start. Italians are every bit as individualistic as Americans. They stared COVID-19 in the face, didn’t like what they saw, and locked things down tight. Now they’re returning to normal.

The United States didn’t do the work. Neither did Brazil or the United Kingdom. It’s no coincidence that both countries have Trump-like leaders. Both Bolsonaro and Boris have tested positive whereas Trump is tested constantly because, while he claims the virus will disappear like magic, this is one time that he doesn’t believe his own lies.

Another country that has done a good job coping with the pandemic is Ireland. They’ve even gone through an election stalemate that resulted in a coalition of the two major parties, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. As you might imagine, the UK’s inept response has resulted in some mockery from the Irish including the Guardian’s Seamus O’Reilly with this instant classic zinger:

“Ireland is not outflanking a competent, longstanding neighbour. She just has the pleasure of being compared with the gurning claptrapocracy next door.”

Claptrapocracy is my new favorite word. It’s something that Boris’ Britain and Trump’s America have in common.

Ireland did the work. Great Britain and America did not.

Finally, another quote from a WaPo columnist. This time it’s David Von Drehle who fancies himself a sensible centrist. He has some unsolicited advice for Republicans:

So, let me speak to those Republicans cowering in closets and hiding under stairs in Washington and the state capitals, muttering prayers that Trump might somehow calm the flames that threaten to consume them.

Run away. Close your eyes and duck your heads and sprint as fast as you can away from Trump. Claim amnesia. Say you’ve been hiking the Appalachian Trail. Blame your spirit spouse — whatever. A fury is building in Middle America that has nothing to do with Russia or impeachment or “Access Hollywood.” It’s rising among people who managed to look past all of that to find something they liked about the president. And now he’s repaying them with a stubby middle finger in their faces.

These folks don’t get daily covid-19 tests with results in 15 minutes. Their every contact is not screened and scanned. They live in the real world, a place Trump looks down on from his jets. They understand that covid-19 is not a joke.

The only joke, and a very bad one indeed, is the Current Occupant.

He didn’t do the work.

It’s time for him to go.

Ted Cruz Can Go Fuck Himself

I posted the National Enquirer front pages as a reminder that Ted Cruz has sold his soul to the devil aka President* Pennywise. It also gives me an excuse to type this name: David Pecker. Surely someone in the Pecker tribe changed their name. Who the hell wants to be a Pecker? Imagine if a Pecker married someone named Head. Who the hell wants to be a Pecker-Head?

There’s a fresh reason why the hopefully soon-to-be senior senator from Texas can go fuck himself. Tailgunner Ted went on Face The Nation yesterday and made an ass out of himself again:

Except, the problem is, for 68% of people receiving it right now, they are being paid more on unemployment than they made in their job. And I’ll tell you, I’ve spoken to small business owners all over the state of Texas who are trying to reopen and they’re calling their- their waiters and waitresses,–

–they’re calling their busboys, and they won’t come back. And, of course, they won’t come back because the federal government is paying them, in some instances, twice as much money to stay home as–

I used the transcript because I’m not going to clean up after Ted’s mess. I’m sure he wouldn’t tip me if I did. I’d rather spit on his word salad.

I almost said that Cruz put his foot in his mouth, but this reflects the position of most Republicans. They believe that working Americans are lazy and would rather hang out with St. Ronnie’s Welfare Queen than work.

The truth of the matter is that people are afraid to return to work because they don’t want to catch COVID-19, spread it to friends and family, and possibly become one of the 300,000 Americans projected to die this year because of the grotesque incompetence of the Trump regime and GOP Governors such as Greg Abbott of Texas.

That may have been the longest sentence I’ve ever written. It’s what happens when you’re writing about a windbag like Ted Cruz.

I grew up in a restaurant family. I bussed and waited on tables when I was younger. It’s hard work but it can be rewarding as well. Most of the restaurant people I know miss their customers, co-workers, and the buzz of getting through a challenging service. They provide a vital service and should be treated with respect instead of contempt.

Ted Cruz personifies the worst of the so-called “free market, small guvmint” conservatives. He sounds like Mr. Potter in It’s A Wonderful Life:

Mr. Potter was talking about loans from the Bailey Brothers, but the point remains the same: if you give working people a helping hand, they’ll take advantage of you.  Fuck you, Mr. Potter and Ted Cruz too.

Ted Cruz *should* have a hard time looking himself in the mirror. Perhaps that’s why he grew a beard: there’s less mirror time when you don’t shave every day. But Cruz is shameless. He somehow thinks his sycophancy to the Impeached Insult Comedian is okay because it’s politically expedient. There’s a special place reserved in hell for lackeys such as Ted Cruz.

Crooks & Liars has an excellent summary of the online reaction to Cruz’s egregious malakatude.

Repeat after me: Ted Cruz can go fuck himself.

This is the third in my Go Fuck Yourself series. Once again, Harry Nilsson gets the last word:

Yoho Ho & A Bottle Of Dumb

I originally hadn’t planned to write about AOC’s smackdown of Florida Congresscreep Ted Yoho until this post title occurred to me. That happens more than you think. It’s why haven’t done a malaka of the week post in quite some time. If anything, there’s more malakatude in the world, but if you have a catchy title, you run with it, especially if it’s piratical.

Why is that every time a white boy wingnut is vexed with a woman, they call her a bitch? A “fucking bitch” in this instance.

Why is that every time a white boy wingnut is vexed with a woman, they issue a non-apology apology? Good on AOC for rejecting it.

Why is that every time a white boy wingnut is vexed with a woman, they talk about the women in their lives? Being married with daughters is not proof that you’re NOT sexist; mentioning them means that you’re probably a chauvinist pig.

Hell, the Impeached Insult Comedian has two daughters. Does that make him a SNAG? That’s Calvin Trillin’s term for a Sensitive New Age Guy. Trump is an accused rapist and notorious misogynist so I guess it doesn’t.

I remain gobsmacked at the poor quality of House Republicans. Is being crazy and/or stupid part of their recruitment program?

I recently posted a list of the worst House Republicans on the Tweeter Tube. I somehow missed Ted Yoho. Here’s a revised list:

  1. Steve Scalise
  2. Gym Jordan
  3. Louis Gohmert Piles
  4. Matt Gaetz
  5. Ted Yoho
  6. Doug Collins
  7. Clay Higgins
  8. Paul Gosar
  9. Mo Brooks
  10. Steve King

The only reason the King of Bigots brings up the rear is that he’s been retired by the voters. It is, however, sad not to have Ratcliffe and Meadows to kick around anymore. They’re now being kicked around by the Kaiser of Chaos.

Back to AOC. Once again, she’s proven herself to be a master politician. As I watched clips of her speech on the House floor, I pictured the head of every woman I know nodding in agreement. They’ve all been Yoho-ed at some point. The malakatude, it burns.

Ted Yoho is cursed with a punworthy name. Try replacing Yo-Yo with Yoho in this Kinks song. It works beautifully. That’s why they get the last word:

Homeland Insecurity

The Department of Homeland Security is a bureaucratic monster spawned by 9/11. The blame usually goes to the Bush-Cheney administration but Slate’s Fred Kaplan has a better memory than most of us:

The DHS was a sham from the get-go. It was the brainchild of Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who proposed the new department in late 2001, just after the 9/11 attacks, as a way of showing that the Republicans in the White House weren’t the only ones trying to tackle terrorism. President George W. Bush opposed the idea, seeing it as burdening the government with another bureaucratic layer. But then, the 9/11 Commission hearings revealed that al-Qaida succeeded in toppling the World Trade Center in part because the FBI, CIA, and other agencies hadn’t shared intelligence about the hijackers’ movements prior to the attack. Coordination and consolidation were suddenly seen as nostrums to our problems.

So, under pressure, in late 2002, Bush signed Lieberman’s idea into law. DHS wound up subsuming 22 agencies from eight federal departments—with a combined budget of $40 billion and a payroll of 183,000 employees—into one hydra-headed behemoth.

The creation of this unwieldy behemoth was the result of partisan politics. This was before Lieberman became a renegade McCainiac. Back then. Holy Joe had his eyes on the 2004 Democratic nomination. He wanted the Dems to look as tough as Team Bush. We’re still paying for his folly in 2020. Fuck you, Joe.

The very name Homeland Security has creeped me out from the beginning. It sounds like something Goering and Goebbels might have cooked up. Americans *never* referred to our country as the homeland before 9/11. It’s one of the manifold ways those attacks adversely impacted our politics.

There’s been much talk of Nixon’s 1968 Law & Order campaign. I’ve done it myself. We should not, however, forget the GOP’s “the terrorists are coming to kill you” campaigns in 2002 and 2004. Anyone who opposed the Iraq War was derided as “soft on terrorism.” Those scare campaigns are also precursors to Trump’s 2020 scare tactics.

If anything, Homeland Security has made the country less secure. It has damaged the mission of the agencies involved including FEMA:

In fact, it made the government less efficient. For instance, before the consolidation, the head of FEMA had been a Cabinet-level official—a member of the National Security Council who attended interagency meetings and enjoyed direct access to the president. Now this official is an undersecretary of DHS. The secretary of DHS can closely follow only a few of the dozen or so issues the department covers. If emergency management is one of the top priorities, then that particularly undersecretary at least has indirect access to the top; if it isn’t, the mission goes largely ignored. This may have been one reason the Bush administration responded so sluggishly to the great natural disaster of 2005, Hurricane Katrina.

Right said, Fred.

It’s time to abolish the Department of Homeland Security and scatter it to the four winds. The advent of the Chaos Squads has made abolition imperative. There’s too much power concentrated in hands of the DHS Secretary and the current creep, Chad Wolf, is the acting secretary. He’s acting in a way that makes us insecure, not secure.

The last word goes to Otis Redding:

Everybody Knows

My insomnia has been raging again. When I have insomnia, I have vivid and usually disturbing dreams. The dreams, in turn, wake me up at odd hours. What I can recall of this morning’s dream gave me both an earworm and the idea for this post.

In this dream, I was chased by shadowy figures much like the ones above who are characters out of Sam Fuller’s film noir, Underworld USA. Being transported to Fuller World in one’s dreams is unnerving but oddly invigorating. It’s not unlike what we laughingly refer to as the real world in 2020. It’s a nightmare but we’re wide awake while experiencing it.

My dreams often have musical soundtracks. Anyone surprised? I thought not. I usually can’t remember what the music was, but this was an exception. The music was insistent and persisted after I awakened: Everybody Knows by the Jayhawks. It’s not a list song a la Cole Porter’s You’re The Top but it inspired the following list of sorts:

Everybody knows that every time Donald Trump opens his mouth, he loses votes.

Everybody knows that nobody should express sympathy  for those accused of procuring minors for a wealthy pervert, especially presidents* who have never done so for people who have perished in the pandemic.

Everybody knows that President* Pennwyise is obsessed with golf and money. These twin obsessions have led to the latest impeachable offense.

Everybody knows that Trump’s Confederate statue fetish and belated but insincere embrace of masking are signs of desperation.

Everybody knows that the MSM should ask the Kaiser of Chaos about Bountygate Noveau every time there’s a press availability. It’s been 26 days since the New York Times exposed the Russian bounty scheme. Why don’t they ask about this egregious dereliction of duty?

Everybody knows that I could go on like this indefinitely. but I won’t.

The song that inspired this post, Everybody Knows, was written by Gary Louris and the Dixie Chicks. It was recorded by the latter in 2006 and the Jayhawks in 2018. They get the last word:

Everybody knows that Leonard Cohen wrote and recorded a song called Everybody Knows in 1988. It was covered by Concrete Blonde in 1990 for a movie soundtrack, but not everybody knows that it was recorded  by Stephen Stills and Judy Collins in 2017.

Everybody knows that I shouldn’t have so many last words in a post but sometimes I can’t help myself. Perhaps it was all a dream. That’s the last word of last words.

The Chaos Squad

Protests have died down in some parts of the country but not in Portland, Oregon. There are many names one could call the DHS thugs who are operating there right now; ostensibly to protect federal buildings and statues. I think of them as The Chaos Squad. Others have called them Stormtroopers, Trump’s Gestapo, or the Goon Squad:

Whatever you call them, they’re an integral part of the Scandal Tornado that touched down on January 20, 2017. Do I think they’re part of a “dress rehearsal” for a coup when Trump loses the election? I do not.

According to Ken Cuccinelli there are only 2000 of them; not even close to enough to stage a coup in such a large country. Their task is to spread chaos and confusion, which is the only thing Team Trump is good at. They’re also incapable of not bragging about what they’re up to. Thanks, Cooch.

A reminder that any time someone puts the words plan and Trump administration in the same sentence, they’re giving them too much credit. These are the same people who brought you the pandemic response and the paper towel toss relief effort in Puerto Rico, after all.

Does that mean I’m pooh-poohing scenes that are reminiscent of Chicago in 1968? Absolutely not. It reminds me of something said on the podium by then Connecticut Senator Abe Ribicoff:

Just substitute Joe Biden and Portland and the jackboot still fits.

DHS is not the only federal agency complicit in the Portland clusterfuck. Bill Barr is up to his neck in this mishigas. Remember when I compared him to Hermann Goering?

Goering was the founder of the Gestapo.

In a brilliant move to counter the Brownshirt tactics of the Chaos Squad, the Portland protesters have brought in the Moms:

This move is reminiscent of the Children’s March in Birmingham in 1963. They faced Bull Connor’s firehose wielding cops who won the battle but lost the war. This Mom’s March is a brilliant way to shame the Goon Squad. If, that is, they can be shamed. Their so-called “leader”, the Kaiser of Chaos, is incapable of either shame or leadership.

The advent of the Chaos Squad is another example of how Team Trump thinks they can win a LAW & ORDER campaign by sowing the seeds of chaos and confusion. As always, they’re all tactics and no strategy. They’re forever lost in the weeds and incapable of seeing the big picture. That’s a damn good thing.

It’s not 1968. They’re in power and the backlash year on *our* political calendar was 2016. In 1968, Nixon was the challenger. Besides, Tricky was a devious bastard who knew how to hedge and tap on the brakes when need be. Subtlety is lost on the Trump Regime. Overkill is all they know.

In honor of the Mom’s March, the last word goes to Mott the Hoople:

What Will Crimson Tide Fans Do?

Something went right for the Kaiser of Chaos this week. His former Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, lost a bid to regain his Senate seat. Jeff Bo was Trump’s favorite whipping boy after he recused himself from the Kremlingate investigation. It was the only worthwhile thing he did as AG.

Sessions was defeated in the Republican primary by former Auburn head football coach, Tommy Tuberville, who campaigned with his head firmly up Trump’s ample rump. Can he go from Coach Tubs to Senator Tubs? Let’s hope not.

Tubs is not only a bigot-a given for an Alabama GOPer-he’s a corrupt piece of shit whose former business partner was convicted of fraud. No wonder President* Pennywise supported him. The real reason was payback, not pay-offs although Trump loves those too.

College football is some serious shit in Alabama. It will be a factor in the race. Senator Doug Jones went to the University of Alabama so perhaps he should start wearing a houndstooth hat a la Bear Bryant. He can’t very well walk around with a constant scowl like current Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban.

The Alabama Democratic party has a pretty good twitter troll game:

The Iron Bowl is, of course, the annual game between Auburn and Bama, which may not be played in 2020 because of the grotesque incompetence of the Impeached Insult Comedian. Perhaps Senator Jones should blame Trump if the SEC cancels football this fall. They take their football seriously in Alabama, y’all.

Politics make strange bedfellows. As an LSU fan, I hate the Crimson Tide, but I think Doug Jones should leverage the Auburn-Alabama rivalry. He’s the underdog in deep red Alabama so bleeding crimson isn’t the worst strategy.

I’m rooting for Doug Jones. He’s a fine man who has been such a good Senator than one could even call him a Solon.

I like Senator Jones enough to say this: Roll Tide, Roll Doug.

That hurt. I hope Coach O will forgive me.

I’m feeling obvious today, so the last word goes to Steely Dan:

How about a paraphrase? “They call Alabama the Crimson Tide, call me Senator Jones.”

That’s all, y’all.

Stepien Up

There’s a lot of punditting to be done and only so much time. Hence this potpourri post. It’s hard to keep up when things change so rapidly. Here’s some sage advice from Dwight Yoakam:

We begin with a humble brag. I noticed I was getting a lot of hits on a post from late October of 2019: The Latest Smear Campaign. It was about attacks on Col Vindman and I mentioned Rick Wilson’s role in smearing Max Cleland.

I took a closer look and realized that all the hits came from a piece Charlie Pierce wrote about The Lincoln Project. I nearly swooned when I realized that Pierce had linked to little old me. My life is now complete. Thanks, for inviting me to the shabeen, Charlie.

Let’s get back to business for, as you’re aware, the business of American is business so let’s take care of business with a song written by a Canadian:

Tweets Of The Day: We’ve all had beans on our minds because of what one could call the Goya Annoyas. Team Trump decided they hadn’t violated the Hatch Act enough recently, so the Princess posted this in support of the Trumper who owns Goya food products:

The Kaiser of Chaos posted his own ad for Goya on Instagram but I’m not on it because I waste enough time on two social media platforms. I’d rather show Chris Cuomo’s response to the presidential* message on the Tweeter Tube:

I’ll never call Chris Fredo again.

I don’t, however, regret making this image:

Back to the Goya Annoyas. I wonder if this happened at the White House last night:

Stepien Up: The Trump campaign made some major changes yesterday. There’s that C word again. In a sign of Slumlord Jared’s waning influence, his lackey Brad Parscale was removed as campaign manager and demoted to serving cocktails to Javanka. Parscale had never run a campaign of any sort before and was in way over his head.

This is what losing campaigns do: fire the campaign manager when the problem is a terrible candidate with a horrible record in office.  It can’t be the Impeached Insult Comedian’s fault; nothing is. #sarcasm.

In another sign of Slumlord Jared’s waning influence, Parscale was replaced by Chris Christie protege Bill Stepien. He’s best known for his role in Bridgegate, which was one of my favorite pre-Trump era scandals. Kushner, of course, hates former Governor Asshole, which is one reason the latter lucked out and wasn’t appointed to a Trump regime job.

There are only two reasons this story is of any interest to me: the chance to mention Bridgegate and the new campaign manager’s punny name, which makes for a snappy title. Bill is Stepien up, not out.

The last word goes to Fred Astaire and Oscar Peterson:

 

Bayou Brief: Mask Wars

Image by John Valentino.

My latest 13th Ward Rambler column is online at Bayou Brief. In Mask Wars, I ponder political performance art and three of its Louisiana practitioners: State Rep Danny McCormick, Picvocate columnist Dan Fagan, and State Attorney General Jeff Landry.

After the column was written, Landry tested positive for COVID, which gave me the chance to write a rather amusing afterword. He subsequently issued a legal opinion from quarantine that the mandatory mask order issued by Governor John Bel Edwards is unenforceable. The opinion is strictly advisory, so it amounts to sound and fury signifying nothing. It’s also much like this venerable expression:

“Offering an opinion is like peeing on yourself in a blue serge suit. It feels warm and no one knows you’ve done it.”

There’s a dispute as to who first said this, but I first saw it in Gay Talese’s NYT book The Power and the Glory. It was attributed to former Times executive editor Turner Catledge. Catledge was from Mississippi and retired to New Orleans. After Catledge’s death, Dr. A and I went to an estate sale at his Garden District house. I bought his copy of that Talese tome. If only I could find it among the book clutter in my study. So it goes.

In other Mask War news, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp finds himself in a peach of a pickle. In a breathtaking display of hypocrisy, he’s banning local governments from mandating masks. Other than party affiliation, why is he a hypocrite? He wore a mask while welcoming the Impeached Insult Comedian to Georgia the other day. Trump was unmasked. Freedom, man.

Finally, one more Mask War note. Earlier this week, historian and New Orleanian John Barry wrote an opinion piece for the NYT about the pandemic. It was excellent except for this passage:

Social distancing, masks, hand washing and self-quarantine remain crucial. Too little emphasis has been placed on ventilation, which also matters. Ultraviolet lights can be installed in public areas. These things will reduce spread, and President Trump finally wore a mask publicly, which may somewhat depoliticize the issue.

Trump flip flopped on mask wearing the day after this piece ran. I’m glad Barry hedged his bets by using the word somewhat. Never assume that President* Pennywise will stick to a position for more than a few days. As I said in Mask Wars, “He’s consistently inconsistent.”

The last word goes to Fleetwood Mac with a Christine McVie song:

John Neely Kennedy Can Go Fuck Himself

The junior Senator from the Gret Stet of Louisiana is at it again: 

“America is going through a rough patch right now,” Kennedy said. “Some people seem to be enjoying it. Maybe they just hate America. Maybe they just enjoy watching the world burn. I think some are liking the chaos because they think it gives them a political advantage. Part of that chaos is being caused by our schools closing. For our kids, we need to open them.”

If I didn’t know better, I’d think he was describing the Kaiser of Chaos. He’s the one who enjoys watching the world burn and uses chaos as a political weapon. Projection thy name is Neely.

I’ve called Neely many things over the years but McCarthyite is not among them. There’s a first time for everything.

People who are worried about the impact of a premature school re-opening, don’t hate America. I know I don’t. I hate President* Pennywise. They’re not synonymous despite what Neely, Hannity, and their ilk think.

Fuck you, Neely.

On with Neely’s rant:

“I can promise you for many of our kids, keeping these schools closed is going to hurt them far worse than the coronavirus can. France, Germany, Denmark, Austria, Vietnam. Even Vietnam has opened their schools,” the Senator said. “And they’ve done it safely and we can too and we should too and if I can say one of the thing.”

They’ve opened their schools because their governments handled the pandemic competently and reduced the number of COVID-19 cases to a tolerable level. We’re currently experiencing an explosion of cases because of premature and ill-advised re-openings. Heckuva job, Trumpy.

What baffles me about the GOP response to the pandemic is that it’s good politics to be on top of it. Angela Merkel’s popularity was at an all-time low, but her handling of the pandemic has made her “mother of the nation” again as she leaves office. In contrast, Donald Trump is the shame of the world six months before he leaves office.

Fuck you, Neely.

“I know some people in good faith disagree with me and I respect that. Let’s have the debate. But there are some people who want to keep our schools closed because they think it gives them a political advantage. And they are using our kids as political pawns and to them, I say unashamedly they can kiss my ass. That’s wrong to do that the kids of America. Not the people in good faith but those who are just enjoying the chaos because they think it’s going to help them in November,” Kennedy finished.

Nobody wants the schools to stay closed indefinitely. I agree that kids are better off in school but they’re not better off if they risk contracting and spreading this deadly virus. I suppose the born again McCarthyite Senator agrees with the old wingnut aphorism, “Better Dead Than Red.”

I do not.

Neely’s extended whine shows that Republicans know that they’re in deep shit and sinking fast. There’s nothing more ridiculous than a politician attacking other politicians for being political. Fuck you, Neely.

It’s a pity that the Louisiana Democratic Party is so dysfunctional and inept that it isn’t mounting a stronger challenge to Neely’s colleague Double Bill Cassidy. At least the current chair, Karen Carter Peterson, will be gone soon. The most noteworthy thing that happened on her watch was her attempt to force John Bel Edwards out of the 2015 Governor’s race. I am not making this up. I wish I were.

Back to Neely. Cussing out your enemies may sound all manly and shit but it’s a sign of weakness and desperation. It makes Neely sound like the bat shit crazy criminal who is leading his party to defeat in November. There’s nothing phonier than a fake tough guy and that’s what Neely, Trump, Hannity, and the whole crew are: fakes in the news as opposed to fake news.

I wish it were anatomically possible for Neely to kiss his own ass or better yet go fuck himself. It’s what he deserves; that and serving in the minority in the 117th Congress.

The last word goes to Harry Nilsson:

The actual title of that tune is You’re Breaking My Heart, but I prefer to be direct when it comes to John Neely Kennedy.

Fuck you, Neely.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Heart Of The Sunrise

Wheatfield with Rising Sun by Vincent Van Gogh.

It’s been a difficult week in New Orleans. Mayor Cantrell has, quite wisely, rolled back the “reopening” to what amounts to Phase 1.5. Here’s hoping that people get the message and stop acting as if we’re back to normal. Even Gamaliel wouldn’t find this normal and he lived through the last great pandemic. That’s great as in big, not good. Pandemics are never the latter.

I’m trying to bring some beauty to an ugly era with this week’s theme song. It was written by Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, and Bill Bruford for Yes’ 1971 Fragile album. It was the first track they rehearsed and recorded with Rick Wakeman.

We have two versions of Heart Of The Sunrise for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a 21st Century live version.

Before jumping to the break, another song from Fragile:

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Quotes Of The Day: Trump Family Hunger Games Edition

I’ve never entirely agreed with the opening line of Tolstoi’s Anna Karenina but it’s a good place to start:

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

As Mary Trump’s new book makes clear, Fred Trump created a family straight out of The Hunger Games; only without the chick heroes. There were no heroes in the Trump family only bullies, grifters, cowards, and victims. Mary Trump’s father, Fred Jr, was one of the casualties of the Trump Family Hunger Games. Imagine a family where being an airline pilot isn’t good enough. In a word: Nutty.

I’ve avoided most of the tell-all books about the Impeached Insult Comedian. But I’m interested in reading Too Much and Never Enough. There’s something comforting about a family that’s more dysfunctional than your own. The Trumps take the cake.

I’m tickled by people on social media who are shocked that relatives would screw each other over money. Having first-hand experience, I am not. Money makes people do terrible things. And too much money makes people crazy with greed as indicated by the stories of the Trump siblings looting their father’s estate to avoid taxes and to screw Fred Jr’s children.

The other quote of the day comes from Jennifer Szalai’s review of Mary Trump’s tome:

 

“She says her uncle has the emotional maturity of a 3-year-old and has ‘suffered mightily,’ burdened by what she calls an insatiable ‘black hole of need.’ He was trained to hunger endlessly for daddy’s approval; it’s just that now, as president of the United States, she says, the figures who remind him of home are Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un.”

This is the most plausible explanation I’ve seen for President* Pennywise’s odd fascination with dictators. As the son of a minor league dictator, Donald identifies with the North Korean dictator despite the weirdness of the son of a capitalist identifying with the son of a communist.

The featured image is a picture of Fred and Donald Trump I used in the first Donald Trump Is post: Donald Trump Is A Criminal. That post was inspired by the NYT’s Pulitzer Prize winning series about the Trump’s finances. We’ve learned recently that Mary Trump was one of the primary sources for that series. Hell hath no fury like an heiress scorned.

As I wrote this post, I came to the realization that I have an idea for a Trump family theme song. Just imagine Fred Trump singing “you can’t have love without greed” to his children as they tormented one another as siblings are wont to do. Unfortunately, his second son is currently tormenting the nation.

The last word goes to Graham Parker & The Rumour:

Split Decision

The Summer Of Sam Fuller continues here at First Draft. The new Fog Of Scandal image is how the murder of Tolly Devlin’s father was shot in today’s PFT film noir, Underworld U.S.A. What’s more noir than shadows? Not a damn thing.

You’re probably wondering what this has to do with the ruling by SCOTUS in the Trump tax cases. Not a damn thing. Don’t jump my shit or I’ll have a Tolly Devlin moment:

 

The post title is not 100% accurate but it’s what I predicted yesterday so I’ll stick with it:

 

I’ve never been compared to a Dutch seer before. I kinda like it. Thanks, Paul. Hmm, I wonder if the Dutch Dude wore seersucker…

The following analysis is as instant as it gets.

There was a clear victory for the Manhattan DA’s office in its case, which re-established the obvious principle that any POTUS is NOT ABOVE THE LAW. Trump’s legal team made preposterous arguments that made him either a king or a deity. The Kaiser of Chaos is neither; that nickname notwithstanding.

Both the New York case and the Congressional case have been remanded to the lower courts to address the details of the complaints so as Yogi Berra probably never said, “It ain’t over until it’s over.”

We may not see the records as soon as we might like but President* Pennywise is a loser in the long run. And he hates losing. Neener, neener, neener. I never get tired of Trump losing.

Other than the rule of law, the real winner today was Chief Justice John Roberts who, like any sensible Chief, prefers to stay out of the political thicket, which is as thick as it’s ever been. Thanks to a president* who is truly as thick as brick, which means as smart as a lump of shit. Make that orange shit and it fits…

Even Justice Bro believes that presidents DO NOT HAVE ABSOLUTE IMMUNITY. The Impeached Insult Comedian is already whining like a stuck pig, but he hasn’t attacked Kavanaugh. Yet. The clock is still clicking.

The cases have been remanded to the lower courts to handle the details. Congress may still prevail if they narrow their subpoena. Btw, that’s a word I can never spell without resort to a spell checker. The mere thought gives me a series of Tolly Devlin moments:

Finally, here’s summation of the case written in the style of Mongo of Blazing Saddles fame:

 

The last word goes to Steve Winwood with Joe Walsh:

H Is For Hypocrisy

The idea that Republican office holders are hypocrites is not a novel notion. There has been, however, an explosion of it this week. One might even call it a pandemic of hypocrisy.

In the state of Texas where manly he-men rule the roost:

The Republican Party of Texas will hold its disputed in-person convention but elected officials including Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick have opted to offer their remarks virtually.

Abbott, of course, is the manly he-man responsible for that state’s premature “reopening” and for tying the hands of local officials to deal with the pandemic. After an explosion of COVID cases, he crawfished on his previous positions. Freedom, man.

Lt. Gov Patrick is the manly he-man who thinks seniors should die for the economy but he’s afraid of catching the bug himself. Freedom, man.

These bozos are Texas-sized hypocrites. They should quarantine themselves at The Alamo along with the ghosts of Travis, Crockett, and Bowie. Freedom, man.

New Hampshire’s nickname is the Granite State and its motto is “live free or die.” Freedom, man.

The second Governor Sununu had this to say about an upcoming Trump rally:

During a press briefing on Tuesday, Sununu told reporters that even though he was going to “greet the President as the governor” when Trump arrives at Portsmouth for the outdoor rally, he himself won’t be going to the event.

“I will not be in the crowd of thousands of people, I’m not going to put myself in the middle of a crowd of thousands of people,” said the governor.

“Unfortunately, I have to be extra cautious as the governor, I try to be extra cautious for myself, my family,” he added.

So, it’s too dangerous for “important people” like the Governor but not rank and file Trumpers. I call bullshit and, you guessed it, hypocrisy.

Glad to hear that Sununu wants to keep his political dynasty viable for a third generation. One way to stay safe politically is to hide from President* Pennywise’s super spreader tour. It would be nice if Sununu wanted to keep his constituents safe as well. Freedom, man.

Finally, a shit ton of Republican Senators are bailing on the hastily and poorly organized Jacksonville convention:

According to the Washington Post, Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Mitt Romney (R-UT) have now joined Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in opting out of their party’s convention as coronavirus cases continue surging across the country.

Collins whose re-election campaign is on life support will spend the convention hiding under the bed. I wouldn’t open your anxiety closet if I were you, Sue. Justice Bro lurks therein. Freedom, man.

The sole GOP solon I’ll give a pass to is Willard Mittbot Romney who was the lone Republican vote to remove the Impeached Insult Comedian. To circle the post back to Texas, the other Republican senators are all hat and no cattle. Selfishness is not a substitute for courage.

Freedom, man.

The last word goes to Bob Marley & The Wailers:

Throwing It All Away

Image by John Valentino.

If you’re like me you’re either saddened and/or outraged by the recent surge of COVID-19. Those of us who live in places where the state and local governments appeared to be on top of things were feeling a bit smug. Our optimism was premature. If anything, the latest wave is larger and scarier than the first one that struck back in March.

The whole debate over “reopening” has returned to bite us in the ass. I think we know who’s responsible for that:

Image by Michael F.

The grotesque incompetence of the Trump regime and its politicization of a public health emergency has led to these numbers: a record 53,000+ new cases yesterday and 130,000 Americans dead and counting.

One of the richest countries in the world has the worst outbreak. That’s down to horrendous leadership at the federal level and the way President* Pennywise has fobbed off responsibility onto state and local officials. The virus does not respect state lines or national borders. It’s an equal opportunity killer.

It never had to be this bad. One way things can be turned around is by wearing a mask in public. The flying monkeys of Trumpistan have turned this into a political issue. Freedom, man. Senator Aqua Buddha recently mocked Tony Fauci for being an expert. Freedom, man.

The featured image is by John Valentino one of the most talented members of Krewe du Vieux. He executed the image to accompany a June 26th Facebook post by one of our most eminent members, Dr. Jim Aiken who is an emergency medicine specialist at LSU Medical School and University Medical Center.

I tried to post the Facebook message here without success so here’s Dr. Jim’s message cut and pasted for your perusal:

As the leaders of an organization with a rich history of portraying, advancing and living the culture of New Orleans, I’m writing to ask you to join me in urging our members, families, friends and everyone the Krewe touches to do the right thing to reverse a frightening resurgence of new COVID cases in our community.

My appeal comes not from a concern whether we have a Marxist Gras (sic) next year, but from a deep concern over the threat this virus poses to the lives of those we love.
We lost Ronald Lewis and Ellis Marsalis to the virus among other musical icons. We have lost 1000 dead to the virus in Orleans and Jefferson Parish since we began tracking 4 months ago. And we have no cure, no scientifically proven medication that will significantly change mortality, and no vaccine available until the end of the year.
After an initial community behavior of wearing masks, social isolation and avoiding large groups that was encouraging, I am now stunned with the widespread irresponsibility that came from the Phase 2 opening. I still do not believe this stupidity is a true reflection of who we are, but it is obviously enough to push the pandemic case and hospitalizations “curves” upwards. Do not buy into the foolishness that this phenomenon is simply from more testing. Those of us in the emergency departments last week knew ahead from our increase in COVID related emergencies that these statistics would come to be what they are now.
The undisputed science from centuries of experience is that social distancing and masking is the mainstay of mitigating pandemics. The other irrefutable science now is that this virus has vicious characteristics in terms in how it spreads and how it kills. The irresponsible among us may not be the ones to suffer the consequences of their inactions. It will be the ones they associate later, the elderly, those with medical problems that led to an increase in a horrible death from the coronavirus.
We had such promise two weeks ago dealing with this calamity. The curves are now as they were back in early March, arching to the sky.
As I have said on TV, radio, print and anyone who will listen to me, it’s not what healthcare does in the hospitals, it’s what we all do everyday in our neighborhoods and gathering establishments that gives us a chance to see this through.
I’ll never forget an evening after Katrina when I first heard the sounds of live music from the streets. Krewe du Vieux was the first parade on the streets for the next Marci Gras (sic & sick). How we behave now with a sustained new normal mentality will directly determine when we can safely enjoy and celebrate our heritage that Krewe du Vieux exemplifies better than any other community entity. I ask the Krewe to play the active healing role we have in past in influencing our members and neighbors to live and behave safely. As Clancy DuBos said on TV tonight, “wear the damn masks”. I couldn’t have said that better.
With love and wishes for good health for you all,
King Dr Jim

I couldn’t have said it better myself, especially since I’m neither a doctor nor do I play one on social media. I am, however, proud to be a member of Krewe du Vieux.

It has been alternately maddening and disheartening to watch month’s worth of sacrifice squandered by the selfish and stupid. We should be in the same position as Germany, Spain, or Italy all of which were hard hit by the pandemic. Instead, we threw away our progress. Let’s not make the same mistake twice. Please stay home and if you must go out, wear a damn mask.

The last word goes to Genesis:

Everything Is A Hoax

It’s hot even for New Orleans this week. So hot that we’ve had cold suppers two nights in a row. The streak ends tonight because I have a package of chicken thighs whose sell-by date is tomorrow. But I’m still not turning the oven on because it’s:

Now that we’ve settled that, a few quick thoughts before slicing this potpourri post into segments like an overripe orange.

In my John Bolton Can Go Fuck Himself post, I expressed a desire for a bootleg/samizdat copy of that tendentious tome. Tommy T granted my wish. It’s tough going. Bolton writes in a lawyerly manner and sprinkles neo-con foreign policy pixie dust over everything. I’ve read about 100 pages. Not sure I’m tough enough to finish the Mustache of War’s tell-all tome.

Before moving on, another musical interlude:

I’m also not tough enough to continue watching HBO’s Perry Mason. The second episode was a slight improvement but it’s still pretty, pretty bad. It reminds me of this segment on the original Siskel & Ebert show, Sneak Previews:

Bountygate Nouveau Redux: President* Pennywise gave this post its title when he declared his latest impeachable offense a “fake news hoax.” Everything he doesn’t like is a hoax. This scandal is not. It’s as real as the pandemic, which he continues to think he can wish away. There’s a special place in hell for the Donald and his whole tribe.

Some people scoffed when I wrote last fall about how Trump had alienated the military. Since then, we’ve have the firing of Captain Crozier, the Lafayette Square disaster, and now the $100K bounty paid to kill Americans. All of Trump’s excuses are equally feeble as attested to by Rep. Elissa Slotkin who briefed two of his predecessors. You’re busted, asswipe.

That’s Why I Call Him The Impeached Insult Comedian: A piece by Carl Bernstein about Trump’s phone antics with foreign leaders confirmed our worst fears. He sucks up to dictators, especially Erdogan and Putin, and shits all over the Three Ms: Merkel, May, and Macron. Does he talk hairdos with Boris Johnson? You never can tell.

Team Trump’s response has been to attack the leakers. That’s confirmation that the story is true. Hopefully, it will help turn the country:

Soylent Green had been sitting on the DVR since it last aired on TCM. We watched it last night. I hadn’t seen it in “I decline to say how long” many years and Dr. A had never seen it before.

Since that giant slab of ham, Chuck Heston, is the star, I riffed like my hero Crow T. Robot. Fortunately, the great Edward G. Robinson is Chuck’s wingman, and his performance rescued the movie. It’s hard to believe that Heston is the one who won an acting Oscar when Emanuel Goldberg was so much better. So it goes.

Soylent Green is a dystopian movie, set in 2022 in a New York that has been ravaged by the Greenhouse Effect, not the Kaiser of Chaos. There are no flying cars, just people, people everywhere.

One way you can tell that the world has gone to hell is that veteran character actor Whit Bissell played the Governor of New York. I love Whit Bissell: his name and his 321 credits. He looked pretty good in a gubernatorial leisure suit too on the tube teevee they used in 2022, Soylent Green-style:

The sets and costumes are what people in 1973 thought the future would be like. Everyone wears tan and Mid-Century Modern decor is everywhere. I spotted a lamp that my friend Steve’s folks had in their Mid-Century Modern Eichler House.

I’ve gone from riffing on the Three Ms to Mid-Century Modern. Beats the hell out of contemplating Heston’s outfit and deeply hammy performance.

Believe it or not, I like Soylent Green and give it 3 stars and an Adrastos Grade of B-. It lost a grade-step because wooden TV star and failed Dodgers 1B Chuck Connors is in it as a hit man for the Soylent Corporation. So it goes.

The last word goes to Heston as Thorn:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Darkness On The Edge Of Town

My Brother Imitating Scherzo by Andre Kertesz.

The Saharan dust has arrived in New Orleans. The good news is that it’s a two-edged sword. It fucks up our air quality but hinders tropical development in the Gulf. So it goes.

Bruce Springsteen wrote this week’s theme song in 1978. It was the title track of his fourth studio album. It’s a winner, I tell ya

We have two versions of Darkness On The Edge Of Town for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a 2009 live version.

The rest of this week’s post can be easily found after the break.

Continue reading

Confidence, Not Cockiness

I got another shrill fundraising email from MoveOn. In it, they warn that “Trump is winning” when all evidence to the contrary shows that he’s not. They warn that Democrats are overconfident about kicking Trump’s ass. I’m not a fan of fearmongering as a fundraising technique. It’s too Trumpy for my taste.

I realize that many remain traumatized by the 2016 election. Some even see Trump as an almost supernatural creature with demonic powers. It’s time to get over it and move on; pun intended, it always is.

President Pennwyise’s real superpower is this: Every time he opens his mouth, he loses votes. Here’s the latest example:

“So we’ve done a lot and we’re very proud of it and we had the best until this artificial problem ‘cause I call it an artificial problem,” Trump said.

“We had to turn off our country to save millions of lives and now we’ve turned it back on,” he continued. “And it’s coming back much faster than anybody thought possible.”

Over 124,00 and counting Americans have died because of this “artificial problem” and the Trump regime’s grotesque incompetence in addressing it. Sounds real to me, fuckhead.

Contrary to what MoveOn thinks there’s nothing wrong with confidence, it’s cockiness we need to guard against. The proverbial ball should remain unspiked until Joe Biden takes the oath of office next January. Does that sound overconfident to you? Trump is NOT winning.

I agree with veteran WaPo columnist E.J. Dionne:

But after 2016, overconfidence will never be the major problem. One of the most debilitating aspects of Trump’s rise is the extent to which it has undercut the confidence of many liberals and moderates in the common sense of a majority of the electorate. This attitude is anti-democratic and self-defeating. Understanding, as Reagan did, the potential to ignite a large coalition for change is the precondition for bringing it to life.

If we’re confident, we win. If we’re cocky or scared, we lose. The future belongs to the bold, not the timid. It’s that simple.

Trump is trying to run an outsider/insurgent campaign once again. It’s doomed to fail: he’s the incumbent. He has a record and a very bad one indeed. Reelection campaigns are ALWAYS about the incumbent. That’s the sound of confidence, not cockiness.

Joe Biden is being slammed by some for “campaigning from his basement.” In fact, he’s running a good campaign attuned to the moment by positioning himself as a calm and compassionate candidate in stark contrast to the fear and frenzy stirred up by the Impeached Insult Comedian who remains the Pigpen of American politics:

Team Biden also believes in two venerable rules of politics:

  1. If you give your opponent enough rope, they’ll hang themselves.
  2. If your opponent is destroying themselves, let them.

Repeat after me: Trump loses votes every time he opens his mouth. That’s confidence, not cockiness.

The last word goes to Graham Parker and includes a message for MoveOn:

Pun intended, it always is.

Nuance Is Dead

There have been many articles over the years proclaiming the death of irony. It turned out not to be so: what’s more ironic, in a sick way, than one of the world’s richest countries having 1/3 of the COVID-19 cases? I am, however, concerned about the plight of nuance. It appears to be knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door.

Nuance and I are old friends. While many see life in stark terms of black and white, I revel in the gray and ambiguous. While I’m still burning a candle for it, I’m afraid nuance is dead in our public life.

I usually detest bothsiderism but both the right and the left share the blame for nuance’s demise. Nuance was finally banished from the Republican party upon the nomination of the Impeached Insult Comedian. House GOPers such as Louie Gohmert Piles, Matt Gaetz, and Gym Jordan have trampled nuance to death with their antics. It’s unclear if they’re three of the horsemen of the apocalypse or the Three Stooges. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.

Nuance suffered major blows in the last week with the toppling of a statue honoring General/President Ulysses Grant as well as the Lady Forward statue in Madison, Wisconsin. The latter became a symbol of pride during the anti-Walker demonstrations in what seems like another lifetime. Its downfall certainly vexed Our Scout Prime:

I feel your pain, Scout.

An appreciation for, and an understanding of, nuance would have prevented the toppling of a statue honoring the man who did more to defeat the Confederacy than anyone else, General/President Grant. His father-in-law was a slave owner (as was Lincoln’s) who gave Ulysses and Julia a slave. Grant found the whole thing embarrassing and freed the poor bastard within a year. Many have credited that incident with beginning the process of Grant’s enlightenment on racial matters.

As president, Grant joined forces with the advocates of radical reconstruction and equal rights. The Civil Rights Act of 1875 was perhaps his greatest accomplishment as president. It was struck down by the Supremes in 1883, but it set the template for Civil Rights legislation in the next century. That’s right, Grant was the LBJ of the 19th Century; another historical figure nuance is needed to understand.

If you don’t believe me, here’s what the great Frederick Douglass had to say about Ulysses Grant:

“A man too broad for prejudice, too humane to despise the humblest, too great to be small at any point. In him the Negro found a protector, the Indian a friend, a vanquished foe a brother, an imperiled nation a savior…”

Grant’s historical reputation was the first casualty of the cult of the Lost Cause. In recent years, his star has been on the rise because of his record on Civil Rights while Woodrow Wilson’s has declined because he was a segregationist. Nuance requires that I point out that Wilson was instrumental in passing significant progressive legislation as president.

I dislike criticizing those I agree with and rarely do so. I’m down with removing monuments to Lee, Davis, Calhoun, and others. I’ve even stopped making nuanced arguments about Jackson Square in New Orleans. While I understand the thrill of toppling statues, I prefer a legal process, which has the benefit of being safer. The bronze statue of General/President Jackson is heavy and could hurt someone if hastily removed. I’ll have more about that and the renaming frenzy next week at the Bayou Brief.

Perhaps the post title is melodramatic. Nuance will live as long as people take the time to understand the complexities of our history. History is made by human beings and we’re flawed and, well, human.

A final thought: while we know who is buried in Grant’s Tomb, why is there a statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square? That’s too nuanced even for me.

The last word goes to Oscar Brand with an 1868 campaign song: