Category Archives: Political Crack

The Gong Show Presidency

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I’ve long been a consumer of trash teevee. I’m not proud of it but, as one of the real housewives would surely say, I own it. I’m not sure where the hell I bought it though…

One of my past guilty pleasures was The Gong Song, which was a untalent/game show mashup. They brought shitty performers on-some ironic, some clueless-and when the judges had enough they would beat the hell out of a gong like a demented, untalented Carl Palmer or this burly bloke:

One of the ironic gongsters, the Unknown Comic, inspired my nickname for the Darnold: the Insult Comedian. That, in turn led to this May 2016 post and meme:

.Unknown Insult Comic Meme

It’s time to circle back to the post title at long last. It’s a modest proposal for future Trump pressers. He’s notoriously thin-skinned as we saw last week when he refused to take a question from CNN’s Jim Acosta. Then there was the infamous “you’re the puppet” exchange with HRC when she called Putin’s Pawn a puppet. Here’s my helpful suggestion: the Trumpers should roll a gong out for future press conferences, which will allow the Insult Comedian to bang the gong when he gets a vexatious question. It would be a ratings smash. Literally.

If only we could end the Trump misadventure by beating the shit out of a gong. We cannot but it sounds like a swell way to vent, doesn’t it?

All this talk about gongs has given me a benign earworm, so I’ll give the late, great glam rocker Marc Bolan the last word:

One more thing. This post was inspired by a tweet by my online friend Megan Romer about the inauguration of his illegitimacy:

Guess I lied about the whole last word thing again. We are living in the post-truth world, after all.  So it goes.

The Fog Of MLK Day History

I was among those NOT surprised when a tweet from some bozo in Biloxi “revealed” that today is Great Americans Day in the Magnolia State. White Southern conservatives have long resisted the holiday, massively. At least MLK *was* an American hero even if the Confederates his memory has been erroneously linked to were not.

The social media discussion of the Insult Comedian’s idiotic attack on John Lewis has been deeply shallow. Anyone surprised? I thought not. On the right, Lewis has been called a minor figure in the Civil Rights movement. On the left, I saw multiple tweets referring to him as a King lieutenant. Neither are true: he was a major figure as one of the leaders of SNCC and was often an irritant to MLK’s SCLC. Lewis was an ally, not a lieutenant.

I wish people would consult with Mr. Google so their social media sophistry would have a scintilla of substance. Better yet, read David Halberstam’s The Children to learn more about John Lewis. Shorter Adrastos, put down the smart  phone and read a book.

Happy MLK Day, y’all.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Don’t Dream It’s Over

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Everything Is Topsy Turvy by Goya.

It’s been a gloomy week in New Orleans and across America. The reality of who and what the next President is has started sinking in. It’s no longer an abstract concept: a man who is as erratic as New Orleans winter weather is about to be in charge of the IRS, military, FBI, and other law enforcement agencies. The intelligence community is in open-not covert-revolt, which is astonishing given that a Republican administration is coming to power. Spooks usually love GOPers. We are well and truly through the looking glass.

Goya was right: everything *is* topsy turvy. I find myself in agreement about the Insult Comedian with dissident neo-cons such as Max Boot. I have even praised a piece Boot wrote for the NYT wondering if Trump was a modern Manchurian Candidate. I’d rather give Max the Boot, but in a crisis you take your allies where you find them. They keep popping up in the oddest places.

As you can tell, I’m not in the mood for a full-blown Odds & Sods extravaganza. I’ve been battling a cold all week while still writing some pretty good stuff. I plan to keep this post terser than a Hemingway sentence. I may even grown a beard, but please don’t call me Papa or hold me to the short sentence thing.

This week’s theme song comes from the great Neil Finn and Crowded House. Don’t Dream It’s Over has a world-weary, anthemic quality that suits my mood as does the opening stanza:

There is freedom within, there is freedom without
Try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
There’s a battle ahead, many battles are lost
But you’ll never see the end of the road
While you’re traveling with me

We begin with the original Crowdies video that helped the song become a world wide smash as opposed to Letterman’s production company, World Wide Pants:

Crowded House is one of the bands that had a “farewell” concert before the inevitable regrouping a mere 10 years later. The setting was dramatic: the Sydney Opera House. It was also the late Paul Hester’s last waltz with the band. I still miss his zany and madcap antics as well as his stellar drumming.

Don’t Dream It’s Over has been covered quite a few times; even on the teevee show, Glee. That was a nice pay-day for Neil but I prefer Diana Krall’s take on the song. Cue string section:

That’s it for this week. If you’re like me, you feel a bit lost as the news of Russian spying rushes by. That feeling, plus Athenae’s great Hemingway post, has me pondering the Lost Generation of the 1920’s That’s why I’m giving Hemingway and his frenemy Scott Fitzgerald the last word.

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A bad week for journalism

If I were paranoid (which in this environment, I might soon officially become), I’d think that that world is conspiring against every profession in which I have ever worked. The levels of stupid coming out of various parts of our universe make it almost impossible to touch on everything that is killing us at this point, but I’ll spend this post talking about the drive-by shooting against my original profession: Journalism.

Speaking of things that happen quickly and painfully…
President-elect Donald Trump and his posse spent much of the week in the news, thanks to his quick movement through confirmation hearings, allegations that Russia could blackmail him and a press conference that made the WWE’s Vince McMahon go, “Dude, show some dignity.”

The confirmation hearings were laughable at best, except for the moment where the vast throngs of freedom-loving, justice-warriors took to the internet to confirm that all Asians look alike.

A video and several photos surfaced of a woman who was said to be taking photos of Rex Tillerson’s notes during a break in his confirmation hearing. The video is speculative at best, given that it looks like she’s just screwing around on her phone. (I would give almost anything for this woman to come forward and say she was playing Candy Crush at that point in time.) What made this even worse was when every Twidiot out there decided that the woman was not only a Chinese spy, but that she was Margaret Cho Constance Wu Tricia Takanawa Washington Post homepage editor Doris Truong.

Turns out Truong was off that day and didn’t know what was going on until someone reached out to her for a comment about the incident. By the time she got her shoes tied on this one, the trolls had run this bullshit around the world. People swore they had used “facial recognition software” to demonstrate it was clearly her. They also, naturally and rationally, called for her arrest, prosecution and so forth because after all, if it’s on the Internet, it’s obviously true.

HERE’S THE PROBLEM: When people ask why we need journalism or why certain blogs, social media and other shit isn’t just as good as a local newspaper or a national network newscast, this is Patient Zero.

It took almost no time for everyone to climb all over this story and shit all over Truong. Forget for a moment that no one could actually demonstrate that a) this was someone taking a photo of his notes, b) if this was some sort of crime or c) that Tillerson didn’t actually just have this on those pages. The biggest issue is that no one gave a shit if these people were right or wrong and just passed along the information.

In fact, it ended up coming across like a group of third-graders arguing on the playground: “My dad says we’re going to watch the Packers this weekend.” “Oh yeah? My Dad says we’re going to the game!” “Oh yeah, well MY dad says we have front-row seats at the game!” “OH YEAH?!?!? MY dad knows Jerry Jones and we’re going to be in his luxury box drinking Cristal!” “OH YEAH!?!?!?! WELL MY DAD….”

Some asshole said the woman was taking photos (no proof).

The next asshole said they knew it was Truong (wrong).

The third asshole swears that they used facial recognition software to confirm it’s her (lying and wrong).

The asshole after that swears they know it’s Truong and that she’s a spy for China because his friend works in the state department or something (wrong-ass, lying-as-fuck motherfucker).

Of course, by the time the potty-trained media got around to figuring out what the Insane Posse of Clowns was talking about, all the “no, it’s not her, you fucking idiots” reporting in the world couldn’t put out the forest fire of bullshit.

Speaking of the Internet…
Buzzfeed news stirred up a great amount of shit when it released a 35-page dossier of negative shit Russia supposedly had on Trump. Publishing source documents is nothing new in the field of media. The Pentagon Papers case centered on the issue of publishing source documents regarding the United States and the Vietnam War. The Progressive fought to publish the instructions for an H-Bomb. WikiLeaks is nothing but a series of documents that reveal a lot of unsavory things people have done behind closed doors.

And when it comes to leaks, unsavory things and closed doors, it’s the allegation that Trump hired two hookers in Russia to piss all over a bed that Obama supposedly liked. This sent journalists into a firestorm of debate, most of it centering on the AP style rules pertaining to “golden showers.”

The thing that makes this reveal more controversial than others is that Buzzfeed acknowledged what everyone else who was working on these documents knew about them: They were unverified. In short, they could be true or they could be false, but nobody knows for sure. So, yeah, here you go. Enjoy.

CNN reported on the documents as well, without releasing them, but that didn’t stop Trump from shit-ripping the network, calling them out in public and refusing to let them ask a question, noting CNN was “fake news.”

HERE’S THE PROBLEM: Most of my friends in the media are going back and forth on whether Buzzfeed should have released this or not as it wasn’t verified information. Some argue that this was nothing but a document dump, not real journalism, as it lacked the veracity of information we have come to expect with these things.

Others argue that instead of bitching about being scooped, the media outlets should go out there and do their jobs in reporting on this kind of shit.

You aren’t really getting scooped if you’ve chosen not to publish something because you don’t think it should be published. That’s more of an editorial choice. That said, pissing and moaning because others made different editorial choices doesn’t make you the stalwart emblem of dignity either.

I’m on the side that says don’t run this until you’re sure, primarily because a) I’m more conservative and b) I can’t tell you how much shit I’ve seen as a reporter that turned out to be total bullshit. We’re not all Dan Rather who can bounce back after shit goes south and it turns out we were wrong.

I’ve always espoused two philosophies when it comes to publishing: 1) If your mother says she loves you, go check it out. 2) I’d rather be late than wrong.

If you think all the shit in that file is real, go get enough verification that you feel comfortable saying, “Here’s what we did and we feel we met the burden of accuracy.” Don’t be like the mechanic who says, “We think we fixed the brakes, but you’ll figure that out soon enough.”

Speaking of the Trump press conference…
It looked more like a slightly toned down version of President Camacho’s address to Congress than what we’re used to from the Oval Office occupant. The president-elect had several people build him up before he arrived, like those shitty local bands that precede the main act at Summerfest. Upon his arrival, he gave a speech with the laser-like focus of a seizure-prone toddler with ADD who had just smoked a pound of meth. The speech included sentences like this one, which would have given Sr. Mary Kenneth a coronary if she had to try to diagram it:

But I do have to say that — and I must say that – I want to thank a lot of the news organizations here today because they looked at that nonsense that was released by maybe the intelligence agencies — who knows but maybe the intelligence agencies, which would be at tremendous blot on their record if they in fact did that, a tremendous blot.

(Side note: I couldn’t listen to the speech, as a) I had a class to teach and b) I was afraid of what it might do to my three remaining brain cells. Instead, I read the transcript that NPR put out on this. The level of annotation is incredible in here. We honestly just need to start giving the media red “challenge” flags they can throw.)

When he attacked CNN for running something they didn’t actually run (they reported on the dossier but did not reveal the gross shit and illegal shit inside), CNN asked for an opportunity to ask a question. Here’s what came next:

SPEAKER

Since you’re attacking us, can you give us a question? Mr. President-elect —

DONALD TRUMP

Go ahead.

SPEAKER

Mr. President-elect, since you are attacking our news organization…

DONALD TRUMP

Not you.

SPEAKER

Can you give us a chance?

DONALD TRUMP

Your organization is terrible.

SPEAKER

You are attacking our news organization, can you give us a chance to ask a question, sir? Sir, can you…

DONALD TRUMP

Quiet, quiet.

SPEAKER

Mr. President-elect, can you say…

DONALD TRUMP

She’s asking a question, don’t be rude. Don’t be rude.

SPEAKER

Can you give us a question since you’re attacking us? Can you give us a question?

DONALD TRUMP

Don’t be rude. No, I’m not going to give you a question. I’m not going to give you a question.

SPEAKER

Can you state…

DONALD TRUMP

You are fake news. Go ahead.

SPEAKER

Sir, can you state categorically that nobody —

DONALD TRUMP

Go ahead.

(APPLAUSE)

HERE’S THE PROBLEM: Even people like Nixon, who clearly hated the press and had an “enemies list,” didn’t treat the media like this in public. You who does? Putin.

And that’s not just my opinion. Read this piece from Alexey Kovalev, a journalist who spent more than a decade dealing with this dead-eyed despot, and you’ll see some pretty freakish parallels with this Trump presser.

Next, as Kovalev points out, nobody in the gaggle stepped out to help CNN at this point. I’m all for competition and trying to gain an edge with sources, but this is like watching a bully kick the shit out of a kid at the playground and not doing anything about it.

I’m not saying they should go all “Ray” from Season 2 of “True Detective” at this point, but if you get called on next, what’s wrong with, “Mr. President-elect, why do you see CNN as fake news and why are you afraid to give this reporter a question?” First they came for CNN, but I did not speak up because I was not CNN…

The only media that seem to be standing up to Trump at this point are the newspapers, particularly the old guard ones. For all the talk of newspapers dying in this country, some of them appear to be dying like Walt Kowalski: They’re old, angry and yet willing to fuck you up when you think you’re a bad ass.

It’s been a long week for the media and here’s the worst part: His term hasn’t even started yet.

Tweet Of The Day: Putin’s Pawn Edition

It comes from legendary chess champion and Russian political dissident Gary Kasparov:

That sums it up in a nutshell. It’s depressing to write the phrase Russian political dissident in the post-Cold War era but if the shoe fits, kick the Insult Comedian with it.

If Trump isn’t being blackmailed by Russian intelligence, he certainly acts like it. Gary Kasparov knows a pawn when he sees one. Trump may think he’s King but he’s really Putin’s Pawn.

The Fog Of History: Mark Twain On The First Gilded Age

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In 1873 Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner published a novel called The Gilded Age: A Tale Of Today. It was one of the few times Sam Clemens worked in a band and not as a solo artist. End of tortured musical analogy. The book was not merely a “tale of today,” like much of Twain’s best satire it remains applicable to *our* today.

The Gilded Age was not specifically about the political culture of the era, but the term has come to be associated with the excesses of the one-party pro-plutocratic Republican rule of the postbellum age. I believe that the-ugh-Trump Era will be a New Gilded Age with the Darnold as robber baron-in-chief. We’ve had other Gilded Ages, but I expect the next four years will be among the most corrupt in our history. The fish rots from head, after all, and nobody is rottener than the Insult Comedian. Imagine the stench when the nutria pelt atop his head begins to melt. It’s bound to smell like cotton candy piss.

Pondering the man I insist on calling Sam Clemens (we’re old literary friends and brothers in satire) resulted in a Google search for quotes that are applicable to both his time and our own. History *always* repeats, y’all.

Below are a few Twain nuggets that I have excavated from the recesses of the internet mine. I’m all about tortured analogies today and they’re mine all mine. I am, however, neither a miner nor a 49er and don’t have a daughter named Clementine…

If you think income inequality is a recent phenomenon, Sam begs to differ:

“The external glitter conceals a corrupt political core that reflects the growing gap between the very few rich and the very many poor.”

Twain was the greatest satirist of his time. He was as fond of food analogies as I am:

“The political and commercial morals of the United States are not merely food for laughter, they are an entire banquet.”

We’re inclined to think Trump is sui generis to our day and age.  But Sam knew the type only too well:

“All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure. ”

“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”

The Insult Comedian is not only insulting, he’s an habitual, almost obsessive liar:

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

Trump, alas, doesn’t even try to keep his lies straight. He counts on the short-term memory of his followers. It’s what fake populist strong men do.

The next Twain bon mot illuminates the difficult position those of us in the resistance find ourselves in:

“It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”

Nobody likes to admit to getting conned. The country is littered with people who fell for Trumpian flim-flammery. Many are still sleepwalking. It’s going to be ugly when they wake up and realize they’ve been had. Bigly.

Finally, I believe that the best way to undermine this illegitimate mountebank is with ridicule. Who can forget how he attacked SNL after Alec Baldwin nailed his cotton candy piss hair to the wall. Sam is in accord:

“Only laughter can blow [a colossal humbug] to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.”

Ain’t no bigger humbug that the Insult Comedian. Believe me, he’s a tremendous gasbag.

Welcome to the New Gilded Age.

Vive les Maquis.

Malaka Of The Week: Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

There’s a lot of malakatude to choose from this week: even more than usual. I decided it was time to be bipartisan and select a Democrat with nutty ideas who is trying to sell-out to the Trumpers.  And that is why Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is malaka of the week.

It’s hard to live up to a famous father, especially one whose candidacy remains one of the great ifs of American history. That’s the burden RFK Jr. carries and I don’t envy him. For years, he seemed to be fighting the good fight as an environmental lawyer until he got hooked up with the anti-vaxxers. I’ll let Slate’s Susan Matthews explain the connection between his thinking and that of the Insult Comedian with whom he met this week:

This mistrust of expertise fits right in with RFK Jr.’s vaccination theories, which are built around the blatantly false idea that vaccines are unsafe, and the more paranoid idea that there is a conspiracy to cover this up extends from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to elected officials to journalists. My Slate predecessor Laura Helmuth got a full rundown of RFK Jr.’s vaccine theory when he called her to complain about our coverage of his views in 2013, which Slate referred to as “anti-vax,” a label that Kennedy rejected, saying he was “very much pro-vaccine.” Kennedy wrote a book that attempts to connect a component of vaccines to neurodevelopment disorders including autism, called Thimerosal: Let the Science Speak, and regularly attempts to meet with elected officials regarding his concerns.

In Helmuth’s piece, journalist Seth Mnookin succinctly describes Kennedy’s problematic assessment of the CDC: “What he has done is taken concern that there could be a problem as evidence that there was a problem.” This, coincidentally, is why putting Kennedy in charge of a commission on vaccine safety would be so frightening.

That’s right, Kennedy left his meeting with Trump claiming that he would be appointed to some role in investigating the vaccines that he claims not to oppose. Not so fast said Team Trump:

“The President-elect enjoyed his discussion with Robert Kennedy Jr. on a range of issues and appreciates his thoughts and ideas,” Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said in a statement obtained by CNN. “The President-elect is exploring the possibility of forming a commission on Autism, which affects so many families; however no decisions have been made at this time. The President-elect looks forward to continuing the discussion about all aspects of Autism with many groups and individuals.”

Kennedy and Trump have both pushed the discredited theory that vaccinating children can cause autism, even though the notion of a link between vaccines and autism has been thoroughly discredited by the medical community. Trump has said that he has personally witnessed children who received “massive injections” of vaccines at once develop “horrible autism” as a result, while Kennedy continues to promote the myth that thimerosal, a mercury-based compound once contained in many childhood vaccines, causes autism.

The Kennedy-Trump confab could be called When Fabulists (Fantasists?) Collide. I don’t know who to believe since neither of them is credible. That tends to be the case with zealots and conspiracy buffs. As for Hope Hicks, I’d like to paraphrase something  the late writer Mary McCarthy said during her epic feud with Lillian Hellman: Every word she says [writes] is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the’. That goes double for Hicks’ boss and his henchmen and henchwomen. I have a hench y’all agree with me…

Kennedy has gone from denouncing Trump to cozying up to him since they agree about a long discredited study. It’s what zealots and malakas do. And that is why Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is malaka of the week.

 

The Son-In-Law Also Rises

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Hemingway week here at First Draft continues. If you haven’t read A’s great piece refuting Trump’s ridiculous claim to be the “Hemingway of Twitter” make sure you do so. On with the show, this is it:

As a Greek-American, I know a great deal about nepotism and cronyism. Both have long, uh, greased the wheels of commerce both in the old country and here in ‘Merica. Nepotism is one reason the wheels (there’s that image again) came off the Greek economy a few years ago. It’s not always a bad thing (the Karamanlis, Papandreou, and Venizelos dynasties produced some good leaders) but that’s only if the nepotee is competent and knowledgeable. That’s an open question when it comes to Trump-in-law Jared Kushner.

We know that Kushner did a decent job as the Insult Comedian’s campaign manager/enforcer. That doesn’t mean he’s qualified for a job at the White House since, like most Trumpers, he has no governmental or policy experience. Then there’s the pesky matter of the federal anti-nepotism law passed in response to JFK appointing his kid brother Attorney General. In that instance, Bobby *was* qualified: the bigger problem was having an AG who was a campaign manager. There’s no sign that Kushner has RFK’s moxie and intelligence. He does, however, seem to have the requisite ruthlessness and sharp elbows of RFK.

That brings me to the point of this post. There’s a must read article at NYMAG.com by Andrew Rice about Kushner and his background, power, and influence. His plan is to be one of the last people Trump speaks to when a decision is nigh:

Trump doesn’t really appear to listen to anyone, but he likes to hear a lot of advice. “We have no formal chain of command around here,” Trump said at a December boardroom audience with Jeff Bezos, Sheryl Sandberg, and other tech-industry leaders. Yet everyone knew who had played the biggest role in arranging the meeting: Kushner, who sat with his back to the cameras, directly facing the president-elect

Team Trump has come up with a novel argument to ward off the anti-nepotism law:

Trump is relying on an interpretation of the law itself, backed by a court opinion from 1993, as well as a separate provision of federal law from 1978 that allows the president to appoint White House staff “without regard to any other provision of law” dealing with employment.

But several law professors and ethicists interviewed Monday by The Associated Press were not so certain.

A “murky legal landscape” was the description given by Norman Eisen, who served as President Barack Obama’s government ethics lawyer.

If that strategy fails, Kushner’s plan is to defy the law with support from his doting father-in-law. The question arises: why does Kushner need a title and a West Wing office? History is replete with examples of outside advisers with outsize influence on past Oval Ones. Wilson had Col. House. FDR had Felix Frankfurter and a small army of other outside advisers. JFK, of course, had his father until the latter’s stroke. LBJ had Abe Fortas even after he was appointed to the Supreme Court. Fortas had an office in the West Wing that nominally belonged to someone else but he was the big macher in the Johnson White House. More recently, Bill Clinton had Vernon Jordan and Barack Obama didn’t stop listening to David Axelrod after he left his job at the White House. There’s ample precedent for this and no need to stir things up. Of course, that’s the Trumpers specialty: shit stirring.

Kushner’s lust for power isn’t the only thing that makes the incoming regime resemble an old school South American dictatorship. The Insult Comedian has appointed four Generals to senior roles, which is rather reminiscent of the right-wing populist dictator Trump most resembles: Juan Peron. We may all be singing Don’t Cry For Me Argentina before this is all over.

Trump is setting the stage for the most openly corrupt administration in American history. His holdings will not be placed in a blind trust, he will not release his tax forms, and his adult male spawn will run his empire. Past administrations at least had the good sense to hide their grifting. Instead the Trumpers will be transparently corrupt and damn proud of it. So much for the much ballyhooed populist uprising. Welcome to the new gilded age.

There are some people in Rice’s article who express hope that Kushner will be a moderating influence on his father-in-law. Given his close relationship with Steve Bannon that sounds like whistling past the graveyard. The only thing that will stop Trump is resistance and relentless ridicule. The Donald does not like being needled. That’s why resisting his legitimacy is so important. Our goal should be to turn him into the Jake Barnes of Presidents: a eunuch tweeting impotently to a world that no longer pays attention.

Vive les Maquis.

 

The Word Of The Day Is Salacious

Unless you live under a rock in an isolated part of Siberia, you’ve heard about the raw intelligence file posted by BuzzFeed. Many reputable news organizations, including Mother Jones, refused to publish it because it’s unverifiable. Slate’s Will Oremus describes how it finally came out after months of teasing:

The dossier was not new. Buzz Feed and multiple other news organizations had obtained it well before Tuesday and had been investigating its various claims. Mother Jones wrote about it prior to the election, on Oct. 31, and published a handful of quotes from it. Key figures in Congress had also seen it and even publicly alluded to it, and the Guardian reported on Tuesday that Sen. John McCain had passed it to FBI Director James Comey last month. But no one had published its entire, stunning contents before Tuesday—partly because, as my colleague Joshua Keating put it, “nothing in the memos has been confirmed, and even their provenance is murky.”

<SNIP>

Smith didn’t address why BuzzFeed waited until now to publish the document, and he declined to comment further for this article. But the move came almost immediately after CNN reported Tuesday that top U.S. intelligence officials had shown Trump and President Obama a two-page synopsis of the dossier. The synopsis was presented as an unofficial appendage to the classified security briefings they gave Obama and Trump about Russian interference in the presidential election, CNN reported. Sources also told CNN that the “Gang of Eight” Congressional leaders had been provided a synopsis of the dossier as well.

In short, the timing was driven by media momentum. It turns out that our old friend FBI Director James Comey has been sitting on the information. He apparently only publicizes unverifiable information about Hillary Clinton.

Twitter was agog last night over the ickiest part of the dossier: Trump’s use of golden showers as a soggy revenge mechanism.  While amusing that was NOT the most important passage of the dossier:

In terms of specifics, Source A confided that the Kremlin had been feeding TRUMP and his team valuable intelligence on his opponents, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary CLINTON, for several years [see more below]. This was confirmed by Source a close associate of TRUMP who had organized and managed his recent trips to Moscow, and who reported, also in Tune 2016, that this Russian intelligence had been “very helpful”. The Kremlln’s cultivation operation on TRUMP also had comprised offering him various lucrative real estate development business  deals in Russia, especially in relation to the ongoing 2018 World Cup soccer tournament, However, so far, for reasons unknown, TRUMP had not taken up any of these.

However, there were other aspects to TRUMP’s engagement with the Russian authorities. One which had borne fruit for them was to exploit personal obsessions and sexual perversion in order to obtain suitable ‘kompromat’ [compromising material] on him. According to Source D, where s/he had been present, (perverted) conduct in Moscow included hiring the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where he knew President and OBAMA {whom he hated] had stayed on one other official trips to Russia, and defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him. The hotel was known to be under FSE control with microphones and concealed cameras in all the main rooms to record anything they wanted to.

I don’t do terlet humor: it’s low-hanging fruit for low-brows. The jokes missed the ominous point of the memo: that the KGB’s successor agency, the FSE, has allegedly been blackmailing Trump because he was stupid and arrogant enough to have hookers pee on a bed the Obamas slept in. Both claims are plausible if disgusting. Trump *is* stupid and arrogant and blackmail has long been used by Russian intelligence as a means of gaining leverage over people. Anyone who has read John LeCarre or watched The Americans knows that. Of course, Trump doesn’t read books and is incapable of sitting still long enough to marvel over Philip’s wigs on the FX show.

I never thought I’d be writing about a President-elect, and peeing Russian hookers. This is the level to which Trump has dragged our national dialogue. I am, however, worried that the publication of the dossier will backfire and make people feel sorry for Trump. He deserves only scorn, not sympathy.

Last night I tweeted this out:

The NYT called the dossier salacious hence the post title. As of this writing, Trump’s first full-blown post-election press conference is still on. I’m skipping it. I’d rather read about it than watch it on the electric teevee machine. Why? After reading the raw intelligence file, I feel like I need delousing. I don’t want to go through that more than once.

Instant Analysis: President Obama’s Valedictory Address

I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t a valedictory address given by the high school kid with the best grades? It is but the term is an expansive one that includes any kind of farewell speech. Besides, Barack Obama *is* the smartest kid in the class, not just the one with the best grades. He’s about to be succeeded by the village idiot and we’re all the poorer for that. I suspect the electoral college winner is in a rage tweeting, press conference cancelling mood right now.

From the cheering crowd to the rhetoric, the speech was vintage Obama in three acts.  The first act wherein he listed his accomplishments in office was the least successful. It was good but it was too much like a campaign speech.

The meat of the speech was when the President discussed the challenges that face the country as he leaves office. It included a series of implicit criticisms of the Insult Comedian and his band of not so merry B3 Brownshirts. There were two passages that were particularly meaningful to me:

“If every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle-class and an undeserving minority then workers of all shades are going to be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves.”

That passage is both a look back at the kind of campaign Trump ran as well as a preview of coming attractions. The Insult Comedian himself has withdrawn to his Manhattan penthouse since the day our national nightmare began; only emerging to be adored by the mugs he conned during the campaign.

Back to the speech:

“Democracy can buckle when it gives in to fear. So just as we as citizens must remain vigilant against external aggression, we must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are,” he said, citing his efforts to fight terrorism on firmer legal and moral ground. “That’s why I reject discrimination against Muslim Americans who are just as patriotic as we are.”

Fearmongering is nothing new in American political history. In the past, we’ve bounced back and the President believes we can do so again. I wish I were as optimistic as he is but that’s why he’s a leader and I’m a blogger. I’m inclined to agree with my publisher:

The final act of the speech was a thank you to his staff, supporters, Veep, and most of all his amazing wife. POTUS is not Mr. Spock when talking about FLOTUS: he got verklempt and wiped some tears from his eyes. That was the moment when I got bit choked up myself: thinking about what we’re losing and what we’re about to confront.

The change from Obama to Trump may be the wildest Presidential personality change the nation has experienced since the extroverted lightweight Warren Gamaliel Harding succeeded the austere intellectual Woodrow Wilson. Harding, however, was a nice man who knew he was in over his head. The next occupant of the Oval Office  is an asshole who thinks he knows everything when, in fact, he knows nothing.

The President’s farewell speech was another in a long line of outstanding speeches. This President needs an audience whilst orating. He feeds off their energy and it makes him a more eloquent speaker. It’s one thing he has in common with the Insult Comedian who, while lacking even rudimentary eloquence, is also a showman who likes the roar of the crowd.

Barack Obama wore well as President. It’s one reason why his approval ratings are as high as he leaves the arena as when he became President 8 years ago. Additionally, he’s run one of the cleanest, most ethical administrations in American history. That’s unlikely to be said about his successor whose administration is mired in scandal before the inauguration.

Thank you President Obama for your service and common decency. The latter is about to be in short supply in our nation’s capitol. I’ll give Athenae the last word or is that tweet?

 

 

 

From Russia With Love

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Twelfth Night 2017 was a surprisingly busy news day. The big story was, of course, the intelligence report about Russian interference in the late election.  This tweet from Rachel Maddow sums it up perfectly:

I’d call it a gut punch but that could cause stomach churning. The worst thing about the Insult Comedian’s reaction was his refusal to admit that he was wrong after months of dismissing reports that were confirmed on Friday. He continues to be Putin’s lap dog:

They will respect us more after you condoned the hacking and had a political roll in the hay with Julian Assange? How does that work? The con man has become Putin’s mark.

The overall Republican reaction was horrifying. They yawned and said “so what?” Remember when they were the anti-Russian, pro-intelligence community party? Now they’re the party of Trump. I wonder how long until other GOPers start stiffing contractors?

I am *not* in favor of a new Cold War but the insouciance of the Republican reaction is infuriating. Apparently, anything goes as long as it benefits them. This is not entirely new but the advent of Trumpism has reinforced their inclination to be the Selfish Party.

It’s going to be a long four years but at least the Insult Comedian will be focused on important issues like fighting with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Meryl Streep. Of course, what they think is irrelevant because they voted for Hillary. So much for being President of all the people.

I’ll give Rodney Crowell the last word with this mock ode to selfishness:

Today on Tommy T’s Local Yokels – letter of interest

Good people – I’d like to tell you about someone I met yesterday at the Democrats HD65 strategy / committee elections meeting Saturday.

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His name is Young Sung, and he’s an impressive individual.

MBA, Deacon in his Methodist church, Korean-English translator for dispute resolution, the FBI, and Homeland Security. One of the mainstays behind development of the incredibly successful “H Mart” here in Carrollton (our fair city) Tx.

Endorsed by the Carrollton Fire Fighters Association, the Carrollton Police Officers Association, Ron Branson (former Mayor of Carrollton), Becky Miller (former Mayor of Carrollton), and many others, he ran for a seat on the Carrollton City Council last May.

Guess what happened?

He surged in early voting, and the Tea Party incumbent Anthony Wilder’s re-election was in danger.

Then, this was mailed out to Carrollton voters.

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So – gay Korean mosques and temples for everyone!

Woo Hoo!

It gets better, though – please click on the “continue reading” to continue reading.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Born Under A Bad Sign

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Tollan, Aztec Legend by Marsden Hartley, 1933.

The only predictable thing about the weather in New Orleans to start the new year has been its unpredictability. It’s been warm and muggy, wet and damp, foggy and chilly. You name it, we’ve had it, except, that is, for snow. The last time it snowed here was in 2008. Thousands of pictures were taken of the St. Charles street car in the snow. It melted quickly and hasn’t happened since. So it goes.

It was Twelfth Night yesterday, which means that we can finally eat king cake, and, more importantly, hang our krewe flags on our houses. I’ve been wanting to fly the Spank flag for months but Dr. A wouldn’t hear of it until yesterday. So it goes.

Here’s the flag with Dennie the den of Muses cat:

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End of laginappe Carnival catblogging, make that reblogging. If you blog long enough you end up repeating yourself, repeating yourself, repeating yourself…

This week’s theme song, Born Under A Bad Sign, was written for blues great Albert King by Stax Records legends William Bell and Booker T. Jones. It seems to fit the mood of at least half the country as we contemplate the next administration. I’m not sure whether to feel cursed or resigned but I’m certain that the shit brought to the surface in 2016 will continue to stink. Shit’s a funny thing, no matter how you disguise it, it smells just as bad. So it goes.

We begin with a version King recorded in New Orleans in 1978, produced by Allen Toussaint:

We continue with an instrumental version by the man who wrote the music:

Finally, a swell 1993 rendition by the great Paul Rodgers:

Now that we’ve admitted to being down since we began to crawl, we’ll shoot for a rebirth (no, not the brass band or the pale ale) after the break.

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Mighty Like An Omarosa

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Omarosa throws shade.

I took one for the team last year and watched several seasons of the Celebrity Apprentice. Even though it ostensibly presented Donald Trump in a favorable light, it was revealing, albeit appalling, viewing that gave me insight into the fragility of the Trumpian psyche.

One of the seasons I watched featured endless bickering between former Daily Mail editor and CNN chat show host Piers Morgan and Omarosa Manigault. They appeared to genuinely hate one another as opposed to reality show hatred. At one point Morgan called her “an apprentice but not a celebrity.” Not a bad burn.

The reason I’m going on about this is that Omarosa has been hired to be the Insult Comedian’s White House shit stirrer. CNN puts it more politely:

Manigault, who prefers to go by only her first name, was a prominent African-American surrogate for Trump during his campaign and served as his campaign’s director of African-American outreach.

Her title will be assistant to the President and director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison focusing on issues such as community outreach.

Mark my words, the Trump West Wing will resemble a cockfighting ring within a matter of months. Reality teevee thrives on conflict and putting Reince, Bannon, Conway, and Omarosa on the staff is bad for the Republic but good for satire. I cannot wait for the first self-serving leaks. Let the finger pointing and back stabbing begin.

For those of you who were spared the Piers-Omarosa wars, I found a nifty compilation video. It’s almost as much fun as watching Sheree and Kenya go at it on the Real Housewives of Atlanta. Who’s gonna check you, boo?

Malaka Of The Week: James Woods

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Some actors who play villains are as sweet as pie off-stage. The late Robert Ryan, who played some of the vilest villains of the 40’s and ’50’s, was a kind, gentle, and liberal man. James Woods is none of those things. And that is why he is malaka of the week.

James Woods loves Twitter as much as his Führer, Donald Trump. He’s a glowering presence online and loves picking fights with all and sundry, especially people to his left politically. It’s a large group: Woods is the wingnut’s wingnut.

Befitting an actor who played Roy Cohn, HR Haldeman, and Rudy Noun Verb 9/11, he’s a bully with a glass jaw:

When “Abe List,” an anonymous Twitter user, called James Woods a “cocaine addict” on the social-media service back in July of 2015, he probably didn’t realize that he was starting a legal fight with the Hollywood star that would follow him not only to the grave but beyond it. But apparently he underestimated Woods’s obsessive desire for vengeance.

First, Woods famously responded to List’s ridicule by suing the tweeter for defamation, seeking $10 million in damages against “John Doe,” as he was named in the suit. Doe’s lawyer, Ken White (who writes about legal and free-speech issues under the pen name Popehat on his website and on Twitter), filed an anti-SLAPP motion seeking the case’s dismissal, arguing that “cocaine addict” was “a constitutionally protected political insult” in a Twitter context and shouldn’t be viewed as a statement of fact — especially given that Woods had used similarly inflammatory language to insult others on the social-media platform. The judge denied that motion in February, meaning the case could continue. Doe appealed that decision, but subsequently died, causing White to withdraw the appeal.

On Twitter, Woods celebrated. “The slime who libeled me just dropped his appeal contesting my victorious SLAPP motion,” he tweeted. Then, after someone replied noting that Woods had been “victorious” because his adversary had died, Woods tweeted (and later deleted), “Learn this. Libel me, I’ll sue you. If you die, I’ll follow you to the bowels of Hell. Get it?” He also expressed a hope that Doe died “screaming my name.”

He meant it! Woods decided not to let Doe’s death slow down the lawsuit, and at a deposition in mid-November, White refused to give up his client’s name, so Woods pressed yet further, filing a motion to compel him to. Now, reports The Hollywood Reporter, the presiding judge has ruled on that motion — White will have to reveal Doe’s identity. That is: the name of his client, who is dead, who was sued for $10 million for tweeting something mean at a celebrity. Woods’s lawyers had also sought sanctions against White for refusing to give up his client’s identity, but that attempt was rebuffed.

That’s right, James Woods is still suing the dead guy. And I thought I was a grudge holder. I’m a piker next to a man who once played a left-wing, albeit assholish, lawyer in True Believer. Woods made up for that momentary lapse by playing Trump buddies Cohn and Giuliani. Cohn was Trump’s mentor until diagnosed with full-blown AIDS whereupon the Donald dumped him. More recently, he discarded Rudy after the past malaka of the week helped him win the crucial FBI Manhattan field office vote. As I’ve said before, easy Comey, easy go.

We’re not out of the Malaka Woods quite yet. I visualize Woods sitting in a recliner as he simultaneously tweets nasty shit and fondles a taser. He’s suing the dead guy for the same reason he’s on social media: to take sadistic pleasure out of someone else’s pain. It makes one pine for the good old days when all he could do was insult waiters, bully stage hands, and leer at women he deems worthy of notice. He’s taken his ugliness to the internet for all to witness. Actors *are* exhibitionists, after all.

Life is a movie to James Woods. He’s the hiss-provoking villain preying on the so-called politically correct masses one tweet at a time. The Insult Comedian’s electoral college victory has only made him more insufferable. Thanks, Donald. And that is why James Woods is malaka of the week.

Tell Me About The Rabbits, Duncan

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The most amusing fall-out from House GOPer’s failed attempt to dial the ethics wayback machine to the Bug Man era comes from San Diego:

Rep. Duncan Hunter used campaign funds to pay for $600 of airline fees to fly a family rabbit, one of the more colorful expenses to surface in an ongoing review of his practices.

Hunter’s staff told the Press-Enterprise newspaper that the House Office of Congressional Ethics questioned the pet expenses — offered as an example of over-reach by the agency.

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In the Press-Enterprise, Kasper criticized the as-yet-unreleased ethics office report on Hunter, saying “findings or implications are significantly misrepresented or even exaggerated.”

As an example, Kasper mentioned the family rabbit transportation fees — which were apparently charged to the campaign credit card by mistake, instead of using airline miles racked up on the campaign dime.

“(The office) has in their report $600 in campaign expenditures for in cabin rabbit transport fees,” Kasper said. “Since travel is often done on (airline) miles – which is entirely permissible – the credit card connected to the account was charged several times even when his children were flying.

Holy pitiful spin, Batman. That’s the best Hunter’s minion can come up with? Rabbit travel miles? Sounds like white rabbit privilege to me, y’all. Hunter inherited his seat from his great white bread father, after all.

I would like to thank Congresscritter Hunter for giving me an excuse to post a medieval killer rabbit image as well as this Sixties classic:

The psychedelic lyrics of White Rabbit could explain the inept way Hunter’s office handled the rabbit travel incident. They’re tripping, man.

Feed your head, feed your head but don’t lose it to a killer rabbit:

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Joey No Socks Meets Don Donaldo, Il Comico Insulto

There’s a new Trump story for the MSM to ignore and/or explain away. The Insult Comedian spent New Years Eve with a guy named Joey No Socks Cinque:

Cinque can be seen in a video obtained by the Palm Beach Daily News, cheering loudly as a tuxedo-clad Trump runs through a number of campaign promises before the hundreds of guests attending the New Year’s Eve bash the President-elect threw at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida on Saturday.

“The taxes are coming down, regulations are coming off, we’re going to get rid of Obamacare,” Trump can be heard saying as an exuberant Cinque stands next to him, pumping his fists into the air.

Cinque’s Sunday appearance with Trump might raise some eyebrows.

Beyond a 1989 felony conviction for possessing nearly $100,000 worth of stolen artwork, Cinque “used to be friends with John Gotti,” according to a New York Magazine profile from 1995.

Cinque was also “shot three times and left for dead” in a 1980 incident that authorities described as “a hit,” according to the profile.

This is the company kept by the man who lost the popular vote. Of course, nobody should be shocked that Trump hangs out with wise guys or their associates. I wrote about that very subject last June in a post called Don Donaldo, Il Comico Insulto. I decided it was high time to revive the Italianate form of the nickname since Trump is poised to become America’s very own Berlusconi.

At least Cinque has a cool nickname: Joey No Socks is a new one on me. It evokes Joe Pantoliano’s childhood nickname, Joey Pants. He, of course, played Ralphie in The Sopranos. Cinque has also been called-get ready for it-the Preppy Don. Maybe that’s why Trump hangs out with him…

The real reason Trump likes Joey No Socks is that he runs a group that gives fake awards to rich egomaniacs. It’s something called the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences. I wonder what science is involved? Chemistry or scammery? Probably the latter. Here’s a picture of Don Donaldo and his sockless felon pal from 2013:

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Imagine if the Clintons were seen bringing in the New Year with a guy described in his Wikipedia entry as a “small-time mobster, a scam artist, and an art fence.” It would be the lead story on Fox News and the respectable MSM would be all over it like a cheap suit worn by James Comey. I’m hearing crickets so far. The MSM is too busy giving Trump credit for the Congressional ethics walk back to be bothered. A new motto for the respectables: if Trump tweets it, it must be true.  #SARCASM

One oddity of this story is that Joey No Socks shares a name with the leader of the Amistad Revolt, Joseph Cinqué. The only difference in spelling is l’accent grave. There’s another difference, one of them led a slave revolt whereas the other is slavishly revolting.

When I first heard about the Trump-Cinque connection, I misheard the latter’s nickname as Joey No Shoes. That’s why I’m giving Frank Zappa the last word:

That concludes this edition of Life Imitates The Sopranos.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: The Mormon Tabernacle Choir

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir are scheduled to perform at the Trumpnaguration. The choir, however, is riven with dissent and singers who refuse to perform for the Insult Comedian and the nutria pelt on his head.

In “honor” of their January 20th gig I did a search for album covers. They’re on the boring side; either featuring the artists they’re working with or Christmas themes. The main image on the Choir’s covers is the temple’s mighty organ. Pipe organ. Below are two representative covers.

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It’s lagniappe time. I stumbled into the LDS version of the Onion: the Mormon Tabernacle Enquirer. That’s where I found the parody image below.

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Tweet Of The Day: Dear Leader Edition

I think you know who I’m talking about. The second tweet hit my TL via RT (retweet, not Richard Thompson) I’m not sure from whence it came BUT it could be a preview of coming malakatude:

There’s only “one way to live, the Trump way?” Does that mean that we have to bedazzle our homes and put mirrors everywhere? The Trump Tower penthouse looks like a glitter bomb exploded therein. It’s probably a good thing he won’t live full-time in the White House: we need to keep his decorator away. If the Trumps redecorate, it will go from the nation’s house to a nouveau riche house. T is not only for Trump, it’s for tacky.

The reason this is such a compelling image is that the Insult Comedian is looking down on people sleeping on the street. If Congressional Republicans have their way, this scene will become commonplace. And some of the homeless will be Trump voters.

Politicians in the Gret Stet of Louisiana take credit for every infrastructure project and plaster their names on them. That may be too restrained for the Donald. This kind of dear leader poster may become depressingly ubiquitous.

Welcome to the New Gilded Age.

UPDATE: The Mumbai billboard story has been Snopesed. It’s true, not fake news.

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Best Of Adrastos 2016

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Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.

It’s time to take a look back at 2016. It may be an exercise in egotism but it’s mine, all mine. Last year’s best of Adrastos was a top thirty list, this year we have a plus-one. Sounds like a dinner party, doesn’t it? It’s time to belly-up to the buffet…

2016 was a good year for satire, but a terrible year for the country. And I was a better pundit than prognosticator. So it goes.

Here’s this year’s crop of posts in chronological order:

January 7, 2016: The Fog Of History: The Wallace Factor.

January 16, 2016: Saturday Odds & Sods: Black Tie White Noise.

February 27, 2016: Saturday Odds & Sods: All The Things You Are.

March 28, 2016: The Fog Of Historical Pictures: Grace Coolidge’s Pet Raccoon.

March 28, 2016: Charles Foster Kane Meets Donald Trump.

March 31, 2016: Malaka Of The Week: John Milkovich (Not Malkovich)

April, 18, 2016: Oy, Such A Mentor

April 21, 2016: Malaka Of The Week: Jeff Weaver.

May 7, 2016: Saturday Odds & Sods: They All Laughed.

May 18, 2016: Speaking In Dudebromides.

June 3, 2016: Trump Violates The First Rule Of Litigation.

June 13, 2016: Still Comfortably Numb Revisited.

June 29, 2016: A Fatal Lack Of Cunning & Guile.

July 11, 2016: Jill Stein: Crunchy Granola Machiavelli.

July 29, 2016 DNC Wrap Up Finale: She Won’t Stay Throwed.

August 18, 2016: Heckuva Job, Advocate.

August 18, 2016: The Insult Comedian’s Not For Turning.

August 22, 2016: Every Flim-Flam Man Needs A Sucker.

September 8, 2016: Is Trump Really Running For Grand Nagus?

September 17, 2016: Saturday Odds & Sods: Birdland.

October 4, 2016: Instant Analysis: The Debate As Altman Film.

October 6, 2016: Absence Of Malice.

October 10, 2016: Breitbart-Bannon-Bossie Man.  Bloggers Note: This post was included by Batocchio in the Jon Swift Roundup 2016. 

October 17, 2016: Moe’s Wife Blames Larry.

November 2, 2016: Out Of Control FBI Playing By The Clinton Rules.

November 10, 2016: Sitting Political Shiva.

November 11, 2016: Confessions Of A Keyboard Maquis.

November 16, 2016: Malaka Of The Week: New Orleans Baby Cakes.

November 17, 2016: The Most Dangerous Game. 

December 1, 2016: Louisiana Politics: A Terrible Candidate For Terrible Times.

December 12, 2016: Hayes/Smith: Only Victims.

That’s it for 2016. It’s been a tough year but we’re still alive and kicking. I’ll give the last word to two guys we’re really going to miss:

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