Category Archives: Political Crack

Bill Barr: Waddling His Way To Infamy

Attorney General Bill Barr is my bete noire in the Trump regime. There are many villains from which to choose but most are clownish louts unworthy of my scorn. Barr is a different story: he’s as smart as his boss is stupid. He’s also a political, legal, and religious zealot.

Barr does not look like a fanatic. He does not have crazy eyes or any physical manifestation of a zealot. He’s a short and pudgy 70-year-old man who, absent his power, would disappear into the crowd. Hence, the Magritte fog of scandal featured image. Barr looks like a Magritte man but underneath his banal exterior, he’s a David Koresh-level fanatic.

Barr’s latest shameful trick was ordering Lafayette Square cleared so the Impeached Insult Comedian and his henchmen could stroll to the “Cathedral of Presidents.” The stunt was described thusly by retired Admiral Mike Mullen:

It sickened me yesterday to see security personnel—including members of the National Guard—forcibly and violently clear a path through Lafayette Square to accommodate the president’s visit outside St. John’s Church. I have to date been reticent to speak out on issues surrounding President Trump’s leadership, but we are at an inflection point, and the events of the past few weeks have made it impossible to remain silent.

Whatever Trump’s goal in conducting his visit, he laid bare his disdain for the rights of peaceful protest in this country, gave succor to the leaders of other countries who take comfort in our domestic strife, and risked further politicizing the men and women of our armed forces.

There was little good in the stunt.

Barr and his master, the Kaiser of Chaos, do not care what decent people such as Admiral Mullen think. The former is wrapped in a cocoon of ideological fervor, the latter is encased in a bubble of narcissism and fantasy.

Watching the clips of Barr’s shameful stroll with Trump led me to exclaim, “The son-of-a-bitch is waddling.” He looked out of breath while President* Pennywise was out of his depth as a national leader. Yet, this is the man who Barr thinks should have dictatorial powers. The AG would argue that *all* presidents should have those powers, which he seems to think are endowed upon all Oval Ones by some deity somewhere. Like the Blues Brothers, Bill Barr is on a mission from God. That’s some scary shit, y’all.

Unlike Barr, Defense Secretary Esper seems embarrassed by his part in the bible stunt. He claims ignorance, which may or may not be true. Of course, he’s not a religious fanatic like Barr who revealed the depths of his zealotry in a speech given at Notre Dame law school last October. I’ve never been a fan of Opus Dei style right-wing Catholicism. That describes Barr in a wingnut shell.

In 2020, Barr is using his religious zeal, legal skills, and formidable intellect to further the ambitions of an unhinged monster. They have both committed a series of impeachable offenses in recent weeks. I’ve long thought that Barr should be impeached. There’s no time like the present.

Bill Barr may think he’s on a mission from God. Instead, he’s waddling his way to infamy.

The last word is in the nature of a warning to Barr:

Beware, Bete Noire.

Ball Of Confusion (That’s What The World Is Today)

I debated what title to repeat today: I’ve used State of Confusion twice and That’s Why I Call Him The Kaiser Of Chaos thrice. I settled on an encore performance of Ball Of Confusion because “that’s what the world is today, hey, hey.” The great thing about arguing with yourself is that you always win.

Yesterday was chaotically eventful even for the Trump era. We’re not used to presidents threatening to declare war on the American people. That’s all it is as of this writing: a threat.

My default position is that the Kaiser of Chaos is lying. He claims that he’ll invoke the justifiably obscure 1807 Insurrection Act to allow him to send in troops without federalizing the National Guard. Is this mere bluster and a bluff? Beats the hell outta me. But the man is a habitual and constant liar. I refuse to believe anything that comes out of his lying mouth without  supporting evidence.

Trump’s church trip photo-op is the latest in a long line of new lows. Breaking up a peaceful protest in order to wave a bible is in a word: despicable.

I’m pretty sure that I’ve never quoted a Jesuit before but these are weird times:

 

I understand that emotions are raw but getting sucked into Trump’s deranged fantasy world without confirmation is a sucker’s game. Sowing chaos and confusion are part of this criminal’s modus operandi. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos.

We’d be well-advised to follow the advice of two of my heroes. First. the fictional one:

Then there’s the Maddow Doctrine:

Rachel’s advice should be heeded. President* Pennywise says extreme shit almost every day. He typically caves after getting bad press or he loses interest; one of the few advantages of his short attention span.

A reminder that a cornered and desperate liar is still a liar.

Events are so fluid that I hope that this post will not be instantly “inoperative.” That’s Watergatese for never mind.

The last word goes to the Temptations:

Blind Pig, Acorn

Hell has officially frozen over. I am writing for the first time in praise of the Turtle aka Mitch McConnell. He’s proven that there’s some truth in the hoary aphorism: “even a blind pig finds an acorn once in a while.”

In this case, the blind pig is wearing a mask:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday made an extensive pitch for Americans to don face masks as a means to begin returning the country to normalcy while the coronavirus remains a threat.

“There’s no stigma attached to wearing a mask. There’s no stigma attached to staying six feet apart,” the Kentucky Republican said at an event back in his home state, referencing social distancing guidelines recommended to stem the transmission of the coronavirus.

<SNIP>

McConnell’s comments targeted at young people came after images of Americans partying over Memorial Day weekend flooded social media and drew rebukes from local health officials

“That’s not too much to ask of a younger person,” he said of wearing face coverings. “So to get through this next phase, as we ease back into normal, even if you’re in a low-risk category, do what we’re asking you to do for the good of others as we begin to move back to normal.”

Asked what lawmakers and federal officials can do to impart the benefits of wearing masks on fellow Americans, the majority leader said that he tries to set “a good example,” noting that there are photos of him “all over the place” wearing his mask and offering to put his back on and pose for more if necessary.

You know things are bad when President* Pennywise makes Moscow Mitch look good. The concept of setting a good example is utterly alien to Trump. It’s part of being an adult and a leader. He’s neither.

There’s also a cynical interpretation of the Turtle’s remarks. The most cynical man in American politics is slowly but surely putting some distance between himself and the Impeached Insult Comedian. McConnell can read both the tea leaves and the polls. The highly respected Cook Report believes that 9 senate seats are in play right now: 4 toss ups and 5 leaners. They’re are also 3 seats listed as likely GOP, which means they’re not out of reach if there’s a Democratic landslide. One of them is Kentucky, which should be solidly in the Republican camp.

The red wall is cracking. 5 more months of presidential* lunacy could see it crumble. Stay tuned.

American Carnage, 2020

Image by Michael F.

I’m tired of being angry. I’m tired of sleeping badly.  I’m tired of having bad dreams inspired by death, disease, and the relentless flow of bad news. Above all else, I’m tired of Donald Trump. In short, as Civil Rights hero Fannie Lou Hamer said in 1964,  I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.

I woke up way too early this morning pondering President* Pennywise’s inaugural address. At the time, it seemed to be a blast from the misbegotten past of the crack cocaine epidemic or a twisted fantasy spun by Bannon and Miller:

But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system, flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.

This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.

The real carnage began that day. I didn’t see the speech because I was attending the Jazz Funeral For Lady Liberty protest march in New Orleans. I found the American Carnage line to be bizarre considering the progress made on the economy during the Obama presidency. I didn’t realize that it foreshadowed the dark days of 2020.

Trump’s presidency has reeled from one disaster to another. We all dreaded a major crisis occurring on his watch but assumed it would be a war in the Middle East, which is what Republican presidents do. Instead, we have a pandemic that has already killed more Americans than the wars in Korea and Vietnam combined. The pandemic, in turn, has caused a Second Great Depression that will not be cured by “reopened” shopping malls, barber shops, and restaurants.

The Impeached Insult Comedian has ostentatiously refused to take any responsibility for this American Carnage. Instead, he views it as a disaster afflicting him. This just in from Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman:

As he headed into Memorial Day weekend, Donald Trump complained that he was COVID-19’s biggest victim. “He was just in a fucking rage,” said a person who spoke with Trump late last week. “He was saying, ‘This is so unfair to me! Everything was going great. We were cruising to reelection!” Even as the death toll neared 100,000 and unemployment ranks swelled to over 38 million, Trump couldn’t see the pandemic as anything other than something that had happened to him. “The problem is he has no empathy,” the adviser said. Trump complained that he should have been warned about the virus sooner. “The intelligence community let me down!” he said.

Blaming the so-called Deep State won’t wash the blood off his hands. The buck for this American Carnage stops at the Oval Office. Unfortunately, we’ve gone from Harry (The Buck Stops Here) Truman to Donald (This Is So Unfair To Me) Trump whose latest title is the Buckpasser-in-Chief. This American Carnage is on him.

Perhaps my wakeful thoughts of the American Carnage speech were inspired by watching Rachel Maddow last night. She focused on the pandemic’s frightening impact on nursing homes and meatpacking plants. The latter debacle shows that this is a Republican problem, not just a Trumper problem. The GOP’s deregulatory fervor has tied OSHA’S hands. They issued some timid guidelines at the start of the crisis and nothing since then. I should have said that Republican Koch suckers have amputated OSHA’s regulatory hands. This American Carnage is on them.

One reason I’ve long thought the Kaiser of Chaos would lose re-election is that many Americans are sick and tired of being sick and tired. This president* believes that people can’t get enough of him. He’s wrong. He’s overexposed. Unlike past presidents, he’s incapable of leaving the spotlight. It will be his undoing.

Nobody other than Trumper true believers want to hear him accuse Joe Scarborough of murder. This is just the latest example of Trump’s specialty of tormenting families who have lost loved ones. Add the name Klausutis to the list that includes Khan and Johnson. This is not just a Trumper problem, it’s a Republican problem. Remember Terry Schiavo? This American Carnage is on them.

Waking up angry isn’t good for the soul but at least I have one. President* Pennywise only cares about himself, not the nearly 100,000 people who have died as a result of his grotesque incompetence. He’s falling back on medical quackery  vicious attacks, and magical thinking to salvage his wrecked presidency. One more quote from Gabe Sherman’s piece:

But the biggest obstacle standing in the way of a Trump-campaign reset is the candidate. “Trump is doing it to himself by tweeting idiotic conspiracy theories about Joe Scarborough. Women are tired of this shit,” said another former West Wing official. An outside adviser agreed. “Trump can’t pivot to a different strategy,” the adviser told me. “He only knows one strategy—which is attack. It worked in 2016. But now it’s not what people are looking for.” The adviser told me that Trump’s New York friends are planning an intervention to get him to stop tweeting about the Morning Joe cohost.

And when he’s not feeling helpless or aggrieved, Trump continues to cling to magical thinking. “He lives in his own fucking world,” the outside adviser said. Trump recently told a friend that the Moderna vaccine is going to be ready in months.

Those of us who live in the real world think that another COVID-19 spike is coming because of the selfish Trumpian haste to “reopen.” The only thing they’re “reopening” is another death spiral. This American Carnage can only be stopped by voting Republicans out of office. This is on the American people. If you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, throw the bums out. It’s time for them to go.

Since this post was partially inspired by a bad dream, the last word goes to Procol Harum and the original Nosferatu, Max Schreck.

If you thought that was insufficiently gloomy, here’s another song from the same album:

 

Decoration Day

Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day. It was created in 1868 by a Union veterans’ group. They urged survivors of the fallen to decorate their graves on that day. Decoration Day did not morph into a way to reunite the opposing sides in the War of the Rebellion until after the end of Reconstruction.

You may have noticed that I’m an originalist on what to call the Civil War. In the Northern states it was called the War of the Rebellion. If Lost Causers can call it the War Between The States, I can use its Unionist name.

I was pleased to find a featured image that captured the original spirit of the holiday. Post-Reconstruction imagery often featured Grant and Lee shaking hands in front of entangled flags: the stars and stripes and the stars and bars. Forgotten were the reasons for the War of the Rebellion: the preservation of slavery and white supremacy. Such imagery troubled General/President Grant as well: as president he supported racial equality and civil rights. The South lost the war but won the historical battle.

Since I’ve been accused of “politicizing” the holiday by some online trolls, let’s go there again. President* Pennywise has desecrated the holiday by attacking Democratic North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper during what was supposed to be a Memorial Day address. The Governor is understandably nervous about the Republicans gathering in Charlotte for their convention. The Impeached Insult Comedian is livid that a mere Governor is raining on his parade. How about decorating his mouth by stuffing a Confederate flag therein? There were good people on both sides, after all.

The last word goes to Jason Isbell:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Shapes Of Things

Abstraction by Rolph Scarlett.

I don’t have a helluva lot to add to what I said as the 13th Ward Rambler earlier this week. I’m still keeping my head down during the lockdown. We’ve had a few front porch visitors, which breaks the monotony and allows Paul Drake to make goo-goo eyes at company and get his nose prints all over the lower glass panes of our front door.

This week’s theme song was written by Paul Samwell-Smith, Keith Relf, and Jim McCarty in 1966 and represented a  sonic breakthrough for The Yardbirds. The tune’s Wikipedia entry is absurdly detailed and argues that Jeff Beck should have received a songwriting credit as well. It’s okay: Beck assumed de facto ownership of the song after recording it with The Jeff Beck Group on 1968’s Truth album.

We have three versions of Shapes Of Things for your listening pleasure: the Yardbirds original, the Jeff Beck Group, and David Bowie from Pin-Ups. They’re all shapely and thingy:

Now that we’ve shaped things and contemplated Jeff Beck’s guitar virtuosity, let’s jump to the break.

Continue reading

Headline Of The Day: GOP Sycophancy Edition

I awoke this morning feeling unproductive. It may have had something to with the 32 ounces of frozen margarita I imbibed last night. To paraphrase an old beer ad: Great taste, not so great feeling. Whiskey and beer are my jam, not tequila.

Shorter Adrastos, I’m feeling unproductive this morning. Did I say that already?

I may rally before the Friday Cocktail Hour but Charlie Pierce has bailed me out with this headline:

Ron Desantis’s Devotion To Trump Makes Brian Kemp Look Like Adam Schiff.

Both Florida and Georgia have governors who won close races against African American opponents. Kemp was helped by some good old-fashioned voter suppression and his refusal to resign as Secretary of State during the campaign

Neither DeSantis nor Kemp would have won without Trump’s support. Hence their endless sycophancy. They’ve both fiddled with the books to minimize the impact of the pandemic in their states. So much for the latest iteration of the New South. To paraphrase, H.L. Mencken: it’s the Sahara of the Trumper Bozart.

This tweet from the peerless Mr. Pierce set NOLA Twitter ablaze but left me nonplussed:

Been there, done that with Buy Us Back, Chirac. Pick up the phone, Macron doesn’t have the same ring to it.

The last word goes to The Champs:

The Age Of Overkill

It’s hard to know where to start some days. There’s so much happening that my mind reels like the drunk monkey in the ancient koan. Overkill is the koan of the realm in 2020. Pun intended; it always is.

It should come as no surprise that there’s rot at the core of the federal government. The Impeached Insult Comedian has been on a firing bender of late. A sinister one indeed: he’s been firing Inspectors General. They’re the ones in charge of keeping the various departments on the straight and narrow. That’s impossible during the Trump regime. Straight is out, crooked is in. It’s the age of overkill, after all.

The most worrisome of the firings is at the State Department where Mike Pompeo was being investigated for various abuses of power including turning his staff into servants. Inspectors Generals frown on civil servants walking their bosses’ dog. They’re only supposed to walk government dogs but since they don’t exist, dog walking is out.

I wonder if anyone in Trumpistan is literate enough to be familiar with Nikolai Gogol’s satirical play The Inspector General aka The Government Inspector. It mocked corrupt provincial officials in Tsarist Russia. In 1949, Hollywood reduced Gogol’s biting satire to imbecilic farce. Imbecilic farce certainly describes the Trump regime’s bumbling response to COVID-19. Make that deadly imbecilic farce.

Notice Danny Kaye’s orange skin in the poster below. I hesitate to make a Trump comparison since Kaye was a leading Hollywood liberal. Besides, he had much better hair than the Kaiser of Chaos:

Back to Gogol. Perhaps Mike Flynn discussed him in one of his many conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. You know, the ones he lied about to protect himself and President* Pennywise.

In other news, Trump has been making outlandish and untrue statements on a daily basis. No surprise there: he’s the personification of overkill, after all. He gave a whole new meaning to the term American exceptionalism with this deeply stupid remark:

When we have a lot of cases, I don’t look at that as a bad thing — I look at that in a certain respect as being a good thing because it means our testing is much better. … So I view it as a badge of honor, really.

Really? A badge of honor? The only good thing about this loony remark is that it gives me an excuse to post this:

Where is my badge? Indeed, sir.

You’ve surely heard the Trumpian claim that he’s taking hydroxychloroquine to keep the coronavirus at bay. He’s lying, deeply stupid or both. Given what Nancy Smash called his “morbid obesity,” I wonder if he’s ingesting these instead:

It’s hard to top that sight gag. Attempting to do so would be overkill.

The last word goes to Men At Work and Colin Hay with two versions of an insomnia song I forgot to post last week:

Many A Mile To Freedom

Who knew one could be slammed while hunkering down at home? That’s where I find myself today. I’m working on a fairly tricky 13th Ward Rambler Column for the Bayou Brief and helping Dr. A research a new iPhone. Her current phone goes down to nothing when she does anything elaborate so it’s time for a change. I blame PD since it’s often caused by photographing that four-legged prima donna.

I did some good work at First Draft last week but one post hasn’t gotten quite as much love as the others. It’s feeling needy. If you haven’t already read it, check out Conspiracy Of Cretins, not Cretans, I like the latter.

On with today’s entry in our Songs For The Pandemic series. Every time we hear some Trumper whine about losing their liberties to the lockdown, Dr A and I say, “Freedom, man.” Those knuckleheads are among the cretins referred to above. Oy, just oy.

I had already planed to use one of Steve Winwood’s most underrated Traffic tunes, Many A Mile To Freedom, as a reminder that this shit is going to be around for awhile. Patience is in order.Then it occurred to me that Winwood has recorded two other outstanding songs with the word freedom in the title. Freedom, man.

I give you Steve Winwood’s Freedom Song Cycle. Here we go:

Since we’re glad to be free, I couldn’t resist posting the first two tracks from John Barleycorn Must Die. They belong together. Freedom, man.

I thought of this next song while watching Governor Whitmer deal with armed cretins in Michigan. Freedom, man.

Freedom, man.

Tagged , ,

Conspiracy Of Cretins

Image by Michael F.

Conspiracies *do* exist. Unlike some people, I don’t see them everywhere. Conspiracy theorists such as Alex Jones use them to explain things they hate and fear. If I were one, I’d try explaining Alex Jones, but I don’t want to fly a false flag whatever the hell that means.

Conspiracy theories used to be disseminated slowly by word of mouth, pamphlets, and books. Occasionally, a Mark Lane would pop up on a teevee talk show to share his theories about the Kennedy assassination. Lane was a higher class of conspiracy theorist but kept some odd company. A side note: I met Mark Lane when I was a French Quarter shopkeeper. He was very nice and did not have crazy eyes. As far as I recall, he waved no flags; false or otherwise.

The advent of the internet and social media have made the wackier conspiracy theories more easily available and harder to refute. If it’s on the internet, it must be true, right? Wrong.

In 2020, conspiracy theorists are everywhere; waving false flags and spreading disinformation. Among the leading conspiracy theorists is the temporary occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Donald Trump.

Spreading fear and disinformation suits Trump’s political needs. It’s unclear if he believes the nonsense that comes out of his big fat bazoo, but it serves his political purposes. Fear is the key to what passes for his strategy. That’s why I call him President* Pennywise.

As I said when I introduced the nickname last summer:

Pennywise the evil clown (is there any other kind?) thrives on fear. He gets stronger the more he fearmongers. It’s what emboldens him to get out of the gutter and come into the open. The Insult Comedian never leaves the gutter BUT he too thrives on fear. That’s why I mock him: he feeds off our fear and recoils from our scorn. President* Pennywise is a pussy. He should grab himself.

Trump’s cooked up his latest conspiracy theory to distract attention from his administration’s disastrous pandemic response. He calls it Obamagate but it makes no sense whatsoever as Slate’s Jeremy Stahl explained at length and Vanity Fair’s Gabe Sherman summed up with surgical concision:

That’s why I call it a Conspiracy of Cretins. Only an idiot would believe the smoke currently emanating from the fever swamps of Trumpistan. Barack Obama’s latest offense was criticizing the Barr-Flynn affair. His real offense is to be everything that Trump is not: intelligent, articulate, and handsome. Did I mention that he’s black? Birtherism was Trump’s initial foray into the conspiracy theory game. That racist nonsense helped elect him. Heaven help us.

There’s a long tradition of blaming the other guy for the country’s woes. After the War of the Rebellion, Republicans “waved the bloody flag” as they blamed Democrats for everything. When I came of political consciousness, Democrats were still blaming Herbert Hoover for everything. The Republicans turned the name Jimmy Carter into a catch-all insult. Both Hoover and Carter were poor presidents but not as bad as painted by their enemies. As the late Gret Stet Senator Russell Long was fond of saying:

President* Pennywise has taken the blame game to a new level. His attempts to destroy his predecessor’s legacy led directly to the Trump Regime’s epic pandemic fail and the deaths of 87K Americans thus far. That’s Trump’s legacy: Transforming the country into a vast charnel house. Heckuva job, Trumpy.

People believe what they want to believe. Their capacity for self-deception and delusion seems infinite. That gives conspiracy theorists an eager audience for their hateful nonsense. That’s why I called this post Conspiracy of Cretins.

The last word goes to Chris Squire & Billy Sherwood’s Conspiracy:

Quote Of The Day: Howard Stern On Trumpers

Stern-Trump mashup via New York Magazine.

I don’t listen to talk radio so my exposure to Howard Stern has been somewhat limited over the years. I am, however, aware that the Impeached Insult Comedian used to bloviate on Stern’s show. Stern considers Trump a good radio guest and a terrible president*.

One thing Stern and Trump have in common is a penchant for crude sexist humor. Hence the featured image mashup. Much to Donald’s chagrin, Howard has better hair.

I stumbled onto an interesting piece in the New York Dauly News. In it, Stern tells the world that Trump hates his supporters. Here’s the money quote:

“The oddity in all of this is the people Trump despises most, love him the most. The people who are voting for Trump for the most part… he wouldn’t even let them in a fucking hotel. He’d be disgusted by them. Go to Mar-a-Lago, see if there’s any people who look like you. I’m talking to you in the audience.”

I undeleted the expletive the NYDN deleted. It wouldn’t be a Howard Stern quote without an F-bomb, now would it? Fuck, no.

One more quote:

“One thing Donald loves is celebrities, he loves the famous,” Stern said on his SiriusXM show Tuesday. “He loves it. He loves to be in the mix.”

You know what that makes President* Pennywise? A Starfucker:

I’m forever undeleting expletives deleted. It’s delightful, it’s delirious, it’s de-lovely.  In an effort to lower the testosterone level of this post, the last word goes to Anita O’Day:

The Flynn Case: Shit Gets Even Weirder

I predicted that Judge Emmet Sullivan wasn’t going to take the Flynn dismissal motion lying down. BUT I didn’t expect him to appoint a noted former federal prosecutor and judge to act as a special master. That’s some special and masterfully weird shit:

While judges do sometimes appoint such third parties to represent an interest they feel is not being heard in a case, Judge Sullivan’s move was highly unusual, said Samuel Buell, a former federal prosecutor who now teaches criminal law at Duke University.

Judge Sullivan, he said, is essentially bringing in an outsider to represent the point of view of the original prosecutors, who believed Mr. Flynn had committed a crime before Mr. Barr intervened and essentially replaced them with a prosecutor willing to say he had not.

“This is extraordinary for the judge to appoint somebody to argue against a prosecutors’ motion to dismiss a criminal case,” Mr. Buell said. “But it’s extraordinary for a prosecutor to move to dismiss this sort of criminal case.”

And John Gleeson is not an ordinary retired federal judge. He co-authored an op-ed for the WaPo denouncing Barr’s dismissal of the Flynn case. More importantly, Gleeson is the guy that got Gotti. That’s right, he was the lead prosecutor at the trial that stripped the Teflon off the Teflon Don. The man is a bona fide bad ass.

Gleeson’s op-ed is apt to foreshadow the arguments he’ll make as what the Times called an Outsider and I called a Special Master. Tomato, tomahto:

Prosecutors deserve a “presumption of regularity” — the benefit of the doubt that they are acting honestly and following the rules. But when the facts suggest they have abused their power, that presumption fades. If prosecutors attempt to dismiss a well-founded prosecution for impermissible or corrupt reasons, the people would be ill-served if a court blindly approved their dismissal request. The independence of the court protects us all when executive-branch decisions smack of impropriety; it also protects the judiciary itself from becoming a party to corruption.

There has been nothing regular about the department’s effort to dismiss the Flynn case. The record reeks of improper political influence. Hours after the career prosecutor abruptly withdrew, the department moved to dismiss the indictment in a filing signed only by an interim U.S. attorney, a former aide to Attorney General William P. Barr whom Barr had installed in the position months before.

Sorry for that long quote. Consider it a preview of coming attractions. It’s what happens when you violate first rule of litigation: Never piss off the judge. I learned that on my first day of law school. Judge Sullivan is righteously pissed. Hell hath no fury like a federal judge scorned.

I expect the flying monkeys of Trumpistan to rain hellfire on this move by Judge Sullivan. Guess what: he’s out of fucks to give. As for Judge Gleeson, do they really think that mean tweets will bother a man who received death threats from the Mafia? Donald Trump is a fake tough guy; John Gleeson is the real deal.

Repeat after me: Gleeson is the guy that got Gotti.

The last word goes to Rodney Crowell:

Declaring Victory

Image by Michael F

My colleague Michael F created today’s featured image for a 2018 post, Mission Accomplished! The Remake. I wouldn’t have used an exclamation point in the title but that’s just me. I would, however, like to thank him for his Trumpy take on George W Bush’s declaration of victory in the Second Gulf War. You may recall it was premature. The war raged on for years.

There was another premature victory declaration this week. This time by the Impeached Insult Comedian who proclaimed, “We have prevailed.” That’s a mighty fancy word for Trump. It’s unlikely to be in his lexicon. I hope they explained it to him.

I understand President* Pennywise’s desperation to move on from his viral Waterloo but how does one prevail over a virus? The virus has moved in with him: infecting his White House staff causing several senior aides to quarantine. Dr Fauci zoomed into the Senate yesterday instead of testifying in person. So much for prevailing, which rhymes with failing.

The Kaiser of Chaos was testy on Monday after lying about testing in America. He had another public meltdown and stomped out of a press briefing after a spat with a CBS News reporter, Weijia Jiang. Since she’s Asian-American, it’s unclear if it was sexism, racism, or general assholery. I think he hit the creep trifecta myself.

I originally planned to use a quote from an extinct species at the top of the post. It’s *my* source for the whole declaration of victory thing. George Aiken was a moderate Republican Senator from Vermont who served from 1940-1974. I guess that made him a long-lived extinct species.

Senator Aiken offered some unsolicited and ultimately untaken advice about the Vietnam War:

As applied to the pandemic, it’s well-nigh impossible to declare victory and leave when COVID-19 has moved in with you. This might explain Trump’s record 126 tweets on Mother’s Day. Let that sink in: we passed the 80K death mark and the president* spent a hallmark card holiday rage tweeting. No wonder we’re in the mess we’re in.

I’m about to declare victory and conclude this post. Once again, the last word goes to Los Lobos:

 

Barr-Flynn: Some Serious Banana Republic Shit

It’s *almost* a relief to be back on the Trump Regime scandal watch. The Barr-Flynn story is *almost* as ominous as the mounting COVID-19 body count but less lethal.

We’ve all been waiting for the pardon shoe to drop in the Flynn case, but Barr deserves credit for originality in criminality. I like to think of myself as well-informed, but I’ve never heard of prosecutors dropping charges against a defendant who pled guilty; at least in an American jurisdiction. This is some serious Banana Republic shit.

Any other Attorney General would have had their underlings pull such a shameful stunt, but Bill Barr is made of sterner stuff. He did it in broad daylight then bragged about it on television. It makes him the Trumpiest Trumper in Trumpistan.

Judge Emmet Sullivan will not be amused. He essentially called Flynn a traitor in open court. But it’s unclear what, if anything, he can do to thwart DOJ’S surreal stunt other than hold a hearing and ream them out. That’s why I used the Magritte Fog Of Scandal image. This is some surreal shit.

As the economy crashes and the scandals mount, the Trump regime is out of fucks to give. Accepting a guilty plea from a defendant then saying “never mind” is a terrible precedent. It resulted in the lead prosecutor resigning but that doesn’t matter to Team Trump. All that matters is that the Caudillo is happy. This is some serious Banana Republic shit.

The last word goes to Richard Thompson with a different type of pleading:

 

Bayou Brief: Blast From The Past

My latest Bayou Brief column is online. This time, I write about Jazz Festing In Place and the early release of former New Orleans Mayor C Ray Nagin. The Nagin segment is called Loose Tongue, but a good alternate title would be The Walking Id Walks.

Speaking of New Orleans and walking, the last word goes to John Hiatt:

 

Veepstakes, High Stakes

I’ve missed writing about electoral politics instead of pandemic politics. The former is fun, the latter funereal. Pun intended. It always is.

Signs of Republican panic are everywhere but, like Tammy Wynette in the old country song, they seem prepared to stand by their man even if the stupid fucker is insane. It also reminds me of this scene in the 1967 film adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s Far From The Madding Crowd:

Suffice it to say, the sheep rush headlong off the cliff whilst saying BAA BAA HUMBUG. I made that last bit up. Somebody needs to turn the end of that scene into an animated GIF but I’m not the one for the job. I couldn’t do it in a jiffy…

Where the hell was I? The 2020 election, that’s where. The GOP’s plan seems to be to kill off voters by “reopening” the economy then stealing as many votes from the survivors as possible. Fraud is the only way that a party with this much blood and red ink on its hands can win.

I’ve written multiple posts in the past called Veepstakes, Low Stakes. I’ve always believed that people vote for the top of the ticket, not the second banana. That’s still true BUT I’m reversing myself in 2020. The stakes are high: It matters more than ever who the Democrats pick for Veep.

In March, I advocated a Biden-Harris ticket. The arguments I made on her behalf while Sanders was still in the race stand:

The president in waiting bit is the key to the 2020 selection. There’s a decent chance that Biden or Sanders will only serve one term; either voluntarily or for health reasons. That’s why my first choice for Veep is Kamala Harris. She’s tough, experienced, and a helluva public speaker. She’s the obvious choice if Biden is the nominee. I know the arguments against Senator Harris but the pluses far outweigh the minuses. Plus, black voters rescued Biden’s campaign, which is another argument for the junior senator from California.

Things have changed in the past 2 months. The pandemic has exploded weakening the argument for a return to what Gamaliel called normalcy. Additionally, there’s an attempt to Frankenize Joe Biden. Will it work? I doubt it but it’s now a factor.

I find myself warming to the idea of Senator Professor Elizabeth Warren as Veep. I’ve made the argument against picking her myself: the Republican Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will pick her replacement. If Charlie Baker can find one, it will be a relatively sane Republican but a GOPer is a GOPer is a GOPer.

Politically, I’m increasingly optimistic that the Democrats will take back the Senate. Republican held seats in Maine, Colorado, and Arizona may already be lost and since the GOP Governor of Iowa seems determined to kill off as many citizens as possible, Joni Ernst is neck deep in pig shit. Landslides have a way of defeating incumbent senators who did not expect to lose. It’s one of many lessons taught by the Reagan sweep in 1980.

I’ve even seen one poll showing Moscow Mitch losing his race. Elderly senators have a way of losing their seats and before LBJ, the majority leadership seemed jinxed. I’m reluctant to think this *will* happen but the country elected a mentally ill criminal president* in 2016. Anything can happen.

I’m on the record as believing that Elizabeth Warren is the best person to be our next president. Biden’s age makes it imperative that his number two be the best person available. We’re facing a second Great Depression, which means that we need a Second New Deal. Nobody is better suited to deliver on this than Warren. Since Biden was empowered to be a strong Veep by Barack Obama, he’ll do likewise with his number two. Biden and Warren have even co-authored an op-ed piece, which advocates strong action in the place of abject presidential* failure.

If picking Warren appears too risky, I will be happy with Senator Harris in the second slot on the ticket. I would be just as happy with her as the next Attorney General.

Stay tuned.

The last word goes to Tammy Wynette and Lyle Lovett with the GOP’s 2020 theme song:

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Can’t Trust That Day

I realize the hands in the Max Ernst image above should be gloved but they won’t be shopping at a grocery store near you so why should you care?

I almost called this post Monday, Monday but that’s boring so I decided to quote the lyrics, then post the tune:

I wonder if anyone made bathtub gin in that tub during Prohibition? A bootlegger may have peed in that terlet. I’ve always preferred the terlet version of the cover. It’s the one I posted on Wednesday October, 24, 2018. Actually, I posted a double dose. We’d be in trouble without terlets. Who the hell wants to pee on a tree?

Must Read: The WaPo nailed the Impeached Insult Comedian and his corrupt cohort to the wall in Sunday’s paper. A quick interlude: are they a corrupt cohort or coterie of crooks?

In any event, you should read this monumental WaPo article: 34 days of pandemic: Inside Trump’s desperate attempts to reopen America. The headline says it all. Fuck you, Donald. Putting your idiot son-in-law in charge made a messy situation even messier. Fuck you too, Jared.

Here’s my favorite quote because it’s so clueless and selfish:

“There’s a little bit of a God complex,” one senior administration official said of the [doctors] group. “They’re all about science, science, science, which is good, but sometimes there’s a little bit less of a consideration of politics when maybe there should be.”

Scientists gotta science, doctors gotta doctor. I guess all President* Pennywise wants from the docs is some Good Lovin‘:

In case you don’t know the lyrics, here’s a sample:

I was feelin’ so bad,
I asked my family doctor just what I had,
I said, “Doctor, Doctor
Mr. M.D., Doctor
Now can you tell me, tell me, tell me,
What’s ailin’ me?”

You could even morph that “tell me” into “Fauci, Fauci, Fauci.” You could. I would never do such a thing.

Reformed Boris? British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who I”ve compared to Basil Fawlty, is out of the ICU and back at work after his brush with death. And I thought he was pale *before* becoming a coronavirus survivor.

Boris gave an interview to The Murdoch Sun in which he came close to declaring Thatcherism dead. He had nothing but glowing things to say about the National Health Service, which has been cut ruthlessly by the Tories. I’ll believe his near deathbed conversion when he fully funds the NHS.

Thatcherism and Reaganism were born at the same time. They should die together as well. I’ll give them credit for one thing: Maggie and Ronnie sure could dance.

Signs & Memes: We begin this segment with a picture taken in New Orleans by one of my most faithful readers, Paul McMahon:

The next anti-Kaiser Of Chaos image was stolen by off the internet by film writer Bill Arceneaux and I’m stealing it from him:

Blast From The Past is not only the title of the next segment, it’s the title of my upcoming Bayou Brief column, which looks at Jazz Festing In Place and the early release of former New Orleans Mayor C Ray Nagin.

Where was I? Oh yeah, watch one of the greatest Giants of all hit a titanic tater in the 1969 All-Star Game off the wonderfully nicknamed A’s pitcher Blue Moon Odom

Stretch was such a ferocious hitter that he made hurlers hurl in the Wayne’s World meaning of the word.

Guess what time it is:

While you were in the lobby, I hope you saw the poster:

Sam Fuller’s House of Bamboo: I had heard of this 1955 film but had no idea how good it is. I was shocked to learn that it was shot in Cinemascope and produced by a major studio. I’m used to Fuller’s films being shot in gritty black and white and on a low budget. Once I recovered, I enjoyed the movie.

House Of Bamboo was the first American film shot in Tokyo after we bombed the shit out of it. The city is as important a character as Roberts Ryan and Stack. It’s one of Stack’s best performances and nothing like his most famous role, Eliot Ness. He’s a smart ass and a bad ass as well. I’m not assing off about that either.

Here’s the trailer:

House Of Bamboo can be viewed on TCM On Demand, on their app, and it will air on TCM on May 13th  I loved it and give it high marks indeed: 4 stars, an Adrastos Grade of A, and two big thumbs up.

The last word goes to Graham Parker & The Rumour:

Cuckoo Cocoon

For good or ill, the crazy has always been a part of American politics. From the Whiskey Rebellion to John Brown to the War of the Rebellion to the Mountain Meadows Massacre to the John Birch Society to the Nineties militia movement, it’s always been there. But the crazy has rarely had official sanction from a sitting president*. Of course, we never had an Oval One like President* Pennywise before.

The Kaiser of Chaos lives in a self-constructed fantasy world that makes past presidential bubbles look realistic in comparison:

In Trump’s case, it’s more like a cocoon. Insects in cocoons can and do change but Trump cannot. In his case, to borrow a phrase from Genesis, the band not the opening salvo of The Bible, it’s a cuckoo cocoon. The crazy is vacuum sealed in the Impeached Insult Comedian’s lizard brain.

Can you imagine any other Oval One demanding that a duly elected Governor give in to the demands of armed cretins?

Fuck you, Donald. There’s no reason for anyone to carry a weapon into any state capitol. It’s only okay in the cuckoo cocoon that you and your followers are trapped in. They’ll always be caterpillars, never butterflies

The crazy okayed by the Kaiser of Chaos is the logical culmination of decades of conservative ideology. In 1981, Ronald Reagan stated that “government is not the solution, it’s the problem.” In 1995, Bill Clinton caved to the 1994 mid-term results and declared “the era of big government is over.” Bill, of course, had his fingers crossed but it’s been all downhill from there.

The hatred of big guvmint has led to the crazy quilt approach the country is taking to the pandemic. Everyone is on their own. Chaos not only reigns, it rules. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos. And there are mini-Kaisers causing chaos across the land.

We shouldn’t let the libertarian right off the hook either. The Governor of Nebraska, Pete Ricketts, thinks it’s a grand idea for meat packing plants to remain open free of government interference. That sort of thinking is common among Kochified libertarians who cloak avarice and selfishness with highfalutin rhetoric about freedom. The libertarians are trapped in the cuckoo cocoon with the rest of the right.

The libertarian delusion is as old as the Republic itself. There’s a raging dispute over who first said, “the best government is that which governs least.” It doesn’t matter who coined the phrase, it’s bullshit. Small government isn’t the solution, it’s the problem. Only a New Deal-style approach can bring us back from the Second Great Depression.  It’s time to escape the cage of the cuckoo cocoon.

I added the word cage so I could give Peter Gabriel era Genesis the last word with a live medley of Cuckoo Cocoon and In The Cage. The songs are back-to-back on The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, after all.

 

 

Stephen Miller’s Song

Shakespeare At Dusk by Edward Hopper

While we’ve all had our eyes on the pandemic, despicable White House aide and self-hating Jew Stephen Miller has kept busy. You can detect his hand behind President* Pennywise’s immigration “ban.” It was, of course, devised to distract attention from the regime’s supremely inept pandemic response. They’ve tried lying their way through it and it’s blown up in their pasty, white faces or in Trump’s case, orange.

The other reason I’m plagued by thoughts about Miller is a Slate piece by Jeremy Stahl that reminds us of Miller’s racist malefactions. It’s part of a series about Trump administration malfeasance. This post is full of M-words. Here are two more: Miller is a malodorous motherfucker. That felt mighty, mighty good.

You’re probably wondering what I’m on about with the post title. It’s down to Richard Thompson-Edward Hopper month at Saturday Odds & Sods. I’ve been listening to RT’s back catalog a lot of late and one song in particular strikes me as relevant to this moment in time. Time is still on my mind as you’ll see later today. I’ve also thrown one more Hopper painting into the mix as the featured image. Never enough EH or RT.

The exact point-of-view of the 1979 Richard Thompson song, Civilisation, remains somewhat murky; something the songwriter is unlikely to clarify other than to state it doesn’t reflect his own political views. I’ve always interpreted it as a narrative tune with a far-right xenophobic protagonist spouting bigoted bile and nonsense about immigrants. Hence my idiosyncratic connection of it with far-right racist and xenophobic Trump aide, Stephen Miller. There’s occasionally method to my madness.

Civilisation is the opening track of the penultimate Richard and Linda Thompson album, Sunnyvista. It rocks like crazy and, as you might have gathered, has disturbing RT lyrics:

They’re not human, they’re with the Woolwich
They eat food I wouldn’t give to my dog
They’re hygienic, medicated
They wouldn’t live next door to no wog
They’re not human, where do they come from?
I don’t know what they’re living here for
They don’t belong here, on this planet
What are they doing in the house next door?

Wife’s tranquilized, milk’s pasteurized
Kid’s hypnotized by the t.v.
Dad’ll beat you, dog’ll eat you
They’ll treat you like family

All across the nation
It’s civilisation

They’re not human, they’ve got a new car
They’re going to polish it all the day long
Got a brand new rubber woman
They’re going to blow her up all the night long
They’re not human, it’s a double cross
They sold out for a handful of beads
They sold everything for nothing, just a
Headful of dreams and a handful of greed

Keep ’em happy, keep ’em drinking
Keep ’em laughing, no thinking
No dying, no weeping
Keep ’em hypnotized, keep ’em sleeping

All across the nation
It’s civilisation

Pack you off to school, get working
Get a steady job, no shirking
Get to sixty-five, get a handshake
You’re a vegetable with a heartache

All across the nation
It’s civilisation

I hear the sound of Stephen Miller clapping and nodding his head.

There’s an overly literal interpretive video of Civilisation on YouTube by a dude with a handle that I originally thought was German, Mehefinheulog. It turns out to be Welsh. He  uses images of movie space aliens and includes frequent nods to Sir Kenneth Clark’s genteel and erudite teevee series, Civilisation. RT’s protagonist may be wordy but he’s neither genteel nor erudite.

Stephen Miller and his ilk believe they’re stalwart defenders of Western civilization instead of malevolent bigots. I assume his family remains ashamed of him. They should be mortified. That’s the last M-word of this post.

This Is Some Serious Shit

If it’s Monday, it’s time for another Panic In The Streets image. I’m not sure if Pandemic Chronicles will become a thing, BUT the image of Paul Douglas’ cop character trying to shake some sense into one of Jack Palance’s criminal cronies fits my mood today.

I find the dialogue in the country increasingly worrisome. Initially, I was among those who thought we’d go back to a modified version of Gamaliel’s normalcy when lockdown restrictions were eased. That was wishful thinking and whistling past the graveyard. I am a self-confessed optimist, after all. Better stir crazy than dead. And it’s a slow painful death.

The world right now is like a snow globe or kaleidoscope that’s been shaken thereby producing a new and much messier place. In many ways, it will resemble the old world, but the underlying reality will be very different.

Thanks to the slow and incompetent reaction of the corrupt nitwits in charge of our federal government, we’re facing the worst economy since the Great Depression. I guess that makes Trump Herbert Hoover with bad hair. It took a World War to finally end that depression. God only knows what will do the trick this time around but it won’t be jeremiads against China, immigrants, or the MSM.

It’s time to return to the pre-Reagan counter-revolution federal government: higher tax rates on the 1% and massive federal programs to put people back to work. We used to have a strong social safety net and many employers who gave a shit about their employees. It will be easier to rebuild the former than the latter. It’s time for the era of big government to return.

I’m also alarmed by the people on my side of the fence who blithely believe that the cavalry, in the form of a vaccine, will ride in to save the day in the last reel of the movie. It’s going to take more than a year regardless of how much money Bill Gates throws at it. COVID-19 is analogous to HIV and there’s still not a vaccine that prevents that plague. We’re in for the long haul. It will take 18 months to 2 years for this to happen; even then it may not be as comprehensive as one would hope. This virus morphs like crazy, which is why it’s so hard to nail down the symptoms.

The event cancellations have only just begun. I got a kick out of Saints fans debating the merits of the team signing accused rapist and shoplifter Jameis Winston to backup Drew Brees. No point in getting outraged when the NFL season may be another casualty of the plague. I hope I’m wrong about this but the only way the season can safely progress is to play in empty stadia and to isolate the players from their families. I’m not sure if the players will want to perfect the gladiator analogy by going along with such a plan. They love their families too. The alternative is for the NFL to stock up on body bags.

As a member of the New Orleans Carnival community, I’m worried that the 2021 season might be cancelled. The odds became 60-40 in favor of cancellation after Germany cancelled Oktoberfest, which is just as culturally important to them as Carnival is to us. And they have a competent federal government; something we are sadly lacking.

Unless there’s an effective vaccine, holding Carnival as usual is asking for trouble. It would be a crying shame but another spike in Coronavirus deaths is the possible alternative. Talk about a lose-lose situation.

We’re having the wrong discussion in this country right now. It’s not a choice between the economy and public health, we should be debating how to contain the pandemic with the fewest casualties possible. Americans are impatient and not good at focusing on the big picture. That needs to change but it won’t as long as the GOP controls the Senate and White House. It’s time for them to go.

That concludes this rare edition of Apocalypse Adrastos. I hope I’m wrong about most of this stuff, but the country is suffering from a surfeit of magical thinking, so some pessimism is in order.

Repeat after me: This is some serious shit.

The last word goes to Old 97’s from the Graveyard Whistling album: