Category Archives: Political Crack

Roll Over Josh Greenberg, Tell Matt Gaetz The News

I’ve assumed that Matt Gaetz’s pervy little friend Josh Greenberg would rat him out. The NYT confirmed yesterday that Greenberg has flipped like a flapjack or whatever your preferred name for a pancake is:

Mr. Greenberg began speaking with investigators once he realized that the government had overwhelming evidence against him and that his only path to leniency lay in cooperation, the people said. He has met several times with investigators to try to establish his trustworthiness, though the range of criminal charges against him — including fraud — could undermine his credibility as a witness.

Unlike the Gray Lady, the thought of a criminal testifying against another criminal doesn’t give me the vapors. Most witnesses in federal criminal cases are, well, criminals. Federal prosecutors are always looking for the biggest fish in any investigation. A congressman trumps a local tax collector with delusions of grandeur any day.

Speaking of delusions, Matt Gaetz has torn out a page from the Impeached Insult Comedian’s scandal manual and is on the attack. Of course, Trump was president* when he went after Team Mueller, which means the bully had the bully pulpit and the pardon power to dangle. All Gaetz has is big hair and an even bigger mouth.

It’s much harder to be Mini-Me than Dr. Evil and, at best, Gaetz is the former. His lord and master had the full-throated support of congressional Republicans whereas Mini-Me only has Gym Jordan and Marjorie Taylor Greene. In a word, pitiful.

There’s talk that Gaetzgate may be linked to a Florida election scandal. TPM’s Josh Kovensky thinks it’s a possibility:

Call it a harmonic convergence. Or simply too good to be true.

There are some indications that two scandals roiling Florida politics may actually be connected, tying the federal probe of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) to a slate of sham candidates that cropped up across the state in 2020.

Could that possibly be? This may not be the scandal we want, but is it possibly the one we deserve?

<SNIP>

And in the other, there’s an equally bizarre but perhaps more typical political scheme: a plot to run sham candidates across Florida to siphon votes away from the Democratic Party candidates.

It’s not clear how closely the two are connected. But what may bring them together is a confluence of money, Gaetz’s political connections, and a man loudly bragging at a Florida bar.

There’s always a man bragging in a bar with Trump scandals. My disgraced countryman George Papadopoulos’ loose lips eventually led to the Mueller probe, criminal charges, and a pardon from the Kaiser of Chaos. Trumpers do not know how to STFU.

Stay tuned.

The post title is a play on the Chuck Berry song, Roll Over Beethoven. That’s why Chuck, The Beatles, and ELO get the last word.

The Trumpcine?

It’s been swell taking a Trump break. I made a conscious decision to reduce the number of former guy posts. All he’s done since leaving office is lie about the election and everything else. He hasn’t made any news, fake or otherwise until last weekend.

The RNC had its winter retreat at Mar-a-Doorn, if only they’d retreat from their 2016 and 2020 nominee. The joint was jumping with party luminaries and potential 2024 candidates who are Trumpier than the original model.

The keynote speaker was the Kaiser of Chaos. It was a litany of familiar grievances, attacks on fellow GOPers, and lies but he added something new:

The former president said, without saying who, that someone recently suggested to him that the coronavirus vaccine should be called the “Trumpcine.” He bragged about his handling of the pandemic, dismissing the widespread criticism of his approach and not mentioning the more than 500,000 who have died of covid-19.

The Trumpcine? Uh, Donald they name vaccines after living viruses, not living people or monsters in your case.

Just imagine people calling it the Trump Harumph instead of the Fauci Ouchie. Ugh, just ugh.

If the Kaiser of Chaos wants a vaccine named for him, it would be nice if he’d actively promote its use. Never gonna happen, my friend. I’m stealing Paul Reiser’s catchphrase since we’re rewatching Mad About You. I only steal from the best, my friend.

We could, however, use a vaccine against Trumpism and all the forces that former President* Pennywise has unleashed.

If only there was a jab that could cure white supremacy, anti-Semitism, QAnon delusions, and the other maladies that exploded during the Trump Regime. I’d love to jab away my memories of his presidency* as if it were one of those movies or teevee shows that turns out to have been a dream like St. Elsewhere. Now, that would be a happy ending.

In other Trump related news, the investigations in Atlanta and Manhattan are heating up. The Manhattan DA’s office seems to be mounting a full court press to flip the man who knows where Trump’s financial bodies are buried, Alan Weisselberg. Circling around his son, who seems to have lived large and largely tax-free on Trump’s dime, is a classic prosecution tactic. There are no pardons to dangle this time. Break a leg, y’all.

I have a dream that sometime this year, I will augment my original nickname for the former guy and call him the Indicted Impeached Insult Comedian. Make it so, prosecutors, make it so.

Let’s circle back to the Trumpcine with a last word from Roseanne Cash:

Saturday Odds & Sods: A Hard Day’s Night

My second jab side effects were worse than the first but only lasted for 3 days then vanished. It was weird to walk like a drunk when  stone cold sober, which is why I spent most of my time on the couch.

When did the furniture people start calling a couch a sofa? I can go either way, but sofa potato isn’t as evocative as couch potato. I wonder which one the man who couldn’t spell potatoes, J Danforth Quayle, uses. Ah, the small mysteries of life.

I’m still watching bits and bobs of the Chauvin trial. My dislike for defense lawyer, Eric Nelson grows daily. If I were devising a drinking game for the trial every time he says “right” “correct” “agree” you take a shot. A surefire way to get shit faced drunk, right?

Despite the album cover featured image, it’s Saturday, not Wednesday. I didn’t mean to confuse anyone; that was a lie, I take great joy in sowing confusion across the land instead of either sleeping like a log or working like a dog.

This week’s theme song was written by Lennon and McCartney in 1964 for the movie of the same title. It has always been one of my favorite Beatles tunes. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

We have four versions of A Hard Day’s Night for your listening pleasure: the Fab Four, Perez Prado, the Smithereens, and Miss Peggy Lee.

Peggy Lee? Yes, Norma Engstrom herself. Paul McCartney was a big fan and gave her a song to record after seeing her perform in London in 1974.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Since that’s my favorite Beatley quote, here’s the song it comes from; in German too.

Ja, ja, ja.

Let’s jump to the break. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

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More Hick Schtick From John Neely Kennedy

The junior Senator from the Gret Stet of Louisiana is the man I love to hate. I considered two Sue Grafton inspired titles for this post, P Is For Phony or H Is For Hypocrite, before settling on this one. It would take a crack detective such as Kinsey Milhone to locate Neely’s integrity, after all.

Neely loves to go on teevee and denounce the liberals; one of whom he used to be. That was before he lowered his political IQ and became a Fox News favorite. He did it again the other day but first some background snark about Neely’s hick schtick.

As Treasurer of the Gret Stet of Louisiana for seventeen years, Neely was a publicity hound, but his brand was as a skinflint guarding the public coffers against both Democrats and Republicans, not the rabid wingnut of today. He was every bit as hard on Bobby Jindal as on his Democratic predecessor, Kathleen Blanco. Of course, he was a Democrat until 2007.

Neely didn’t start hicking up his accent and speaking style until he changed parties. Before then, he was not ashamed of being well-educated and articulate. The dumbing down began in his second run for the US Senate in 2008 against incumbent Mary Landrieu who had also served as Gret Stet Treasurer.

Neely perfected his hick schtick in his successful run for the Senate in 2016. Having secured the prize he’d spent his entire life chasing, he became one of the loudest Trump sycophants and enablers in a Republican party full of them. I wrote a long piece for Bayou Brief in 2018 about what I called his Neelyisms: the cornpone “wisdom” he dispenses on the boob tube.

The Neelyisms stopped being funny when he started using them to defend retrograde, racist, and downright stupid policies. After the slaughter in Boulder, Colorado he said that what America needed was idiot control, not gun control. He’s not really an idiot, he just plays one on teevee.

Neely popped up on Fox News the other day and deployed his cornpone “wisdom” against Major League Baseball for relocating the All Star Game from Atlanta to Denver:

Forget Mars. We need to search for intelligent life in the Major League Baseball commissioner’s office. I have never seen anything like this. Commissioner Manfred has a fiduciary responsibility to Major League Baseball. His job is to do the very best that he can not to suck. He has failed at that. Think about what he’s done. Major League Baseball is losing popularity to football and other sports. His job is to grow it. So what is the first thing he does? He decides to get involved in national politics and alienate hundreds of millions of Americans who actually like the Georgia bill and think that it is an honest effort for election security.

The commissioner hasn’t explained why he thinks these hundreds of millions of Americans who support the Georgia effort are a bunch of racists. He hasn’t bothered to explain why he thinks the bill is racist. The only excuse I can think is he made all of these decisions after his morning beer. I have never seen anything like it. It costs $150 to attend a major league baseball game in some cities. Is this going to encourage people to go? I just don’t think so.

This has nothing to do with Jackie Robinson. It has nothing to do with race.

It has everything to do with race, Senator. In fact, Jackie Robinson was born in Georgia, but his family fled Jim Crow and moved to California in search of a better life.

Republicans are afraid that they’re losing their grip on power in Georgia, so that state’s lege passed an atrocious bill that overwhelmingly effects black voters who are overwhelmingly Democratic. It might as well be called the Beat Raphael Warnock Bill.  One would think that logic would reach a man who was an adjunct professor at LSU law school for 14 years, but he’s only interested in the next election. His election.

Neely is also fond of mocking diversity and claiming that racism is not systematic. Our old pal Deep Blog saw the faux idiot on Faux News the other day and got a bellyful of his pseudo ignorant spiel. He sent me a screen shot of Vanderbilt University’s yearbook from 1973. John Neely Kennedy is second from the right on the top row:

The observant among you have surely noticed that, except for two Asian dudes, everyone on this page is of one race. It explains a lot about John Neely Kennedy. He not only mocks diversity, he’s uncomfortable with it. Imagine that.

Presumably, Vanderbilt is considerably more diverse in 2021 than it was in Neely’s day, which was a mere 9 years after that pricey private school was fully desegregated. In the Seventies, Black Commodores were still rare on the University’s Nashville campus unless some students owned records by the band then fronted by Lionel Richie.

John Neely Kennedy is a cornpone con man who thinks diversity is for suckers. To paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt, Neely talks loudly and carries a hick schtick. I look forward to voting against him in 2022.

Since Neely is so fond of guns, the last word goes to The Commodores with the title track of their debut album:

Gaetzgate: Blankety Blank

We begin with a couple of housekeeping notes. I wrote my maiden Gaetzgate post before hearing that the Panhandle Pinhead himself made a request:

I’ve decided to take pity on a doomed pol and spell it his way instead of in all-caps. Who knew that the Panhandle Pinhead’s fellow whiny man baby had the wit to make such a good pun?

Since Gaetz allegedly sough a blanket pardon, the phrase blankety blank immediately came to mind. I didn’t realize that it was the name of the UK equivalent of The Match Game. Where have you gone Gene Rayburn, Charles Nelson Reilly, and Brett Somers? They’re all long dead, alas.

Dead is also the word that best describes Matt Gaetz’s political career. It’s so dead that not even the Impeached Insult Comedian could revive it. He’s yet to defend his little friend, Matt; only Gym Jordan and Marjorie Taylor Greene have done so. How’s that for:

I know I’ve made that joke before but I can’t get enough of it. That concludes the classic rock jokes section of the post.

How was that for an epic opening tangent? It’s windy even by my standards.

Let’s move on to the opening lines I wrote immediately upon hearing about the latest Gaetzgate twist:

Blankets have been in the news recently. First Andrew Cuomo, now Matt Gaetz.

in the final weeks of Mr. Trump’s term, Mr. Gaetz sought something in return. He privately asked the White House for blanket pre-emptive pardons for himself and unidentified congressional allies for any crimes they may have committed, according to two people told of the discussions.

Around that time, Mr. Gaetz was also publicly calling for broad pardons from Mr. Trump to thwart what he termed the “bloodlust” of their political opponents. But Justice Department investigators had begun questioning Mr. Gaetz’s associates about his conduct, including whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old that violated sex trafficking laws, in an inquiry that grew out of the case of an indicted associate in Florida.

It was unclear whether Mr. Gaetz or the White House knew at the time about the inquiry, or who else he sought pardons for. Mr. Gaetz did not tell White House aides that he was under investigation for potential sex trafficking violations when he made the request. But top White House lawyers and officials viewed the request for a pre-emptive pardon as a nonstarter that would set a bad precedent, the people said.

An idea so bad that even Team Trump flinched at the notion? That makes it a *really* bad even rotten idea. The whole Trump era could be summed up by the title of this failed Mel Brooks sitcom:

While Gaetz may not have known that a gate was to be affixed to his name when he begged for a pardon, he knew that his little friend Josh Greenberg was in deep shit and sinking fast. My hunch is that Greenberg was to be covered in the blankety blank blanket pardon. But was the My Pillow Guy involved? What’s a blanket without a pillow? I deserve to be given sheet for that joke…

I eagerly await the Panhandle Pinhead’s next PR gaffe. Who will he drag into his mess next: Hannity? KMac? BillO? Donnie Junior?

Stay tuned.

The last word goes to The Kinks:

 

Soak The Fat Boys & Spread It Out Thin

Hack Looks Askance At Hick Schtick.

Repeat after me: Soak The Fat Boys & Spread It Out Thin.

Thus spake Willie Stark in Robert Rossen’s brilliant film adaptation of Robert Penn Warren’s All The King’s Men. The line was adapted from advice Willie’s fixer Jack Burden gave him in the book after Willie delivered a dull speech:

“Just tell ’em you’re gonna soak the fat boys and forget the rest of the tax stuff…Willie, make ’em cry, make ’em laugh, make ’em mad, even mad at you. Stir them up and they’ll love it and come back for more, but, for heaven’s sakes, don’t try to improve their minds.”

I realize that sounds like something that pardoned felon Steve Bannon would have said to the Impeached Insult Comedian, but it’s sound advice for any politician even an honest one like Joe Biden. It certainly fits the time we live in:

Quite literally, the super-rich got richer, and the poor got poorer during the pandemic.

Repeat after me: Soak The Fat Boys & Spread It Out Thin.

One way to do this is to enact the Biden administration’s increase in corporate taxes. Another more satisfying way is to enact the Wealth Tax proposed by Senator Professor Elizabeth Warren. It will make the fat boys squeal like the pigs they are.

But will the Emperor of the Senate Joe Manchin support such a surtax? He’s from one of the poorest states in the Union but raising taxes became heresy for Blue Dogs after Mondale was blown out in the 1984 election and reinforced by the Gingrich wave election in 1994.

in 1984, Fritz Mondale made it a point of honesty in his acceptance speech:

‘Mr. Reagan will raise taxes and so will I. He won’t tell you. I just did.’

When I searched for the exact quote, it turned up articles warning Democrats not to raise taxes. All were written before the boom, bust, and boom of the pandemic.

Income inequality began its rise in the Reagan era, and exploded last year. Since the right no longer has an appealing salesman like Ronald Reagan, that makes it time to:

Biden’s infrastructure bill *should* be enormously popular. We can all cite crumbling infrastructure in our states and communities. In New Orleans, the greatest infrastructure need involves our water system. The vast majority of the pipes are over 100 years old. They burst with alarming regularity, which leads to frequent boil water orders. The city needs federal money to replace the system. It will take many years, but we need to get going as soon as possible.

I, for one, am relieved that Mitch McConnell has declared his entire caucus against the American Jobs Act. That means there will be no bad faith negotiations with Republicans as Leader Schumer plans to use the filibuster proof reconciliation process again. As with the COVID relief plan, I consider McConnell’s move to be cynical: GOPers will pop up to support projects if the bill passes.

It’s up to Democrats to find middle ground between AOC and the Man of La Manchin. It may sound hard but it’s easier than getting libertarian creeps like Aqua Buddha to agree to a spending proposal that’s guaranteed to attack income equality while improving roads, bridges, and the like across the country. It’s ironic that the original proponent of internal improvements, Henry Clay, hailed from Kentucky given the Turtle and Aqua Buddha’s posturing but he was a Whig, they’re Trumpified Republicans.

The Republican attack on the COVID relief plan was muted because they knew their states would benefit. I expect the same dynamic to play out here. Besides, the faux populism of Trump has seeded the ground for more government spending. Infrastructure week may have been a running joke under Trump, but President Biden hopes to make every week infrastructure week.

Willie Stark was famously based on Huey P. Long who was a blowhard with authoritarian tendencies, but he was big on infrastructure before it was called that. He talked a lot of rubbish, but delivered massive projects throughout the Gret Stet of Louisiana.

Joe Biden seems an unlikely heir to Long but the mere fact that he’s regarded as a moderate helped pass the first huge spending bill and will help pass the next spending bill if the Man of La Manchin allows it. He should follow the example of former West Virginia Senators such as Jennings, Byrd, and Rockefeller and take the money and run.

Make it so, Joe, make it so.

Soak the fat boys by passing a wealth surtax and/or corporate tax hikes, then spread it out thin by passing the American Jobs act.

The last word goes to the Steve Miller Band:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Roll Away The Stone

Notre Dame by Pablo Picasso.

I’ve already blasphemed about Easter in my Son Of Jab Talking post so I’ll resist the urge here. Besides, how can a non-believer blaspheme? A question for the ages.

This week’s theme song was written in 1974 by Ian Hunter for Mott The Hoople’s The Hoople album. They’re one of my favorite bands of that era; all flash and swagger. I like flash and swagger in a rock band.

I saw Mott perform live on that tour on a bill with BTO and a totally unknown band from Boston, Aerosmith. Great show although I’m not sure what Mormon rocker Randy Bachman thought of Ian Hunter and Steven Tyler; not to mention Mott guitarist Ariel Bender. That’s a stage name: his real moniker is nearly as colorful, Luther Grosvenor.

We move from glam rock to roots rock with this week’s co-theme song. It was written by Michael Dempsey and Leon Russell for the latter’s eponymous debut album:

Two more songs with stone in the title:

Let’s crawl to the break then jump if such a thing is feasible.

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Quote Of The Day: Boehner On Birtherism

Barack Obama and John Boehner on St. Patrick’s Day, 2014.

The man I used to call Speaker Boner has published a memoir of his days in elected office. The Politico Magazine excerpt has a cool title: Panic Rooms, Birth Certificates, and the Birth of GOP Paranoia.

We can argue about the timing of the paranoia but not about its existence. It’s the sort of arguments we *used* to have with conservatives when we agreed on facts but not on policy.

Anyhoo, Heeeeeeere’s Johnny on what became the foundational big lie of Trumpism:

“In January 2011, as the new Republican House majority was settling in and I was getting adjusted to the Speakership, I was asked about the birth certificate business by Brian Williams of NBC News. My answer was simple: ‘The state of Hawaii has said that President Obama was born there. That’s good enough for me.’ It was a simple statement of fact. But you would have thought I’d called Ronald Reagan a communist. I got all kinds of shit for it—emails, letters, phone calls. It went on for a couple weeks. I knew we would hear from some of the crazies, but I was surprised at just how many there really were.

It’s quite a contrast with current House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy who is, to be blunt, a ninny and silly-billy. Who among us has forgotten the post I wrote about him in 2015 called Untrustable In Hungria. Most of you, I know, but it’s one of my all-time favorites so I trot it out whenever possible.

Even though I gave him an anatomical nickname, I was always fond of John Boehner. He’s a human being as opposed to the sock puppet McCarthy or the butt-plug Scalise.

Another image I keep trotting out. I got a million of them…

Another Boehner quote about the 2010 Tea Party wave election is quite revealing:

“You could be a total moron and get elected just by having an R next to your name—and that year, by the way, we did pick up a fair number in that category.”

Boehner’s Speakership coincided with the GOP’s headlong rush into full-tilt insanity. It turned his dream job into a nightmare. The same thing happened to our political system. We’re still trying to recover.

I get a kick out of the fact that Boehner is now a weed lobbyist. Party on, John.

The last word goes to the Chairman of the Board with a double dose of Cole Porter:

GAETZGATE?

I have Watergate on my mind because the nitwit who “masterminded” the break-in, G Gordon Liddy, died yesterday at the age of 90. Liddy was known for his mindless loyalty to Tricky Dick and post-prison talk radio windbaggery.

We go from no-hair Watergate to big-hair Gaetzgate.

Liddy’s death provided the backdrop for a blockbuster New York Times story about one of the Trumpiest Trumpers of all, Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz:

Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida and a close ally of former President Donald J. Trump, is being investigated by the Justice Department over whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him, according to three people briefed on the matter.

Investigators are examining whether Mr. Gaetz violated federal sex trafficking laws, the people said. A variety of federal statutes make it illegal to induce someone under 18 to travel over state lines to engage in sex in exchange for money or something of value. The Justice Department regularly prosecutes such cases, and offenders often receive severe sentences.

It was not clear how Mr. Gaetz met the girl, believed to be 17 at the time of encounters about two years ago that investigators are scrutinizing, according to two of the people.

The investigation was opened in the final months of the Trump administration under Attorney General William P. Barr, the two people said. Given Mr. Gaetz’s national profile, senior Justice Department officials in Washington — including some appointed by Mr. Trump — were notified of the investigation, the people said.

The three people said that the examination of Mr. Gaetz, 38, is part of a broader investigation into a political ally of his, a local official in Florida named Joel Greenberg, who was indicted last summer on an array of chargesincluding sex trafficking of a child and financially supporting people in exchange for sex, at least one of whom was an underage girl.

This is some serious shit, y’all. Greenberg is looking at an extended stretch in the slammer. If he can be induced to flip on Gaetz, the latter could be in deep shit. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

I realize that I’m on the record as opposing affixing a gate to every scandal. But this is an exceptional case because it’s punny and scans so well: GAETZGATE. I think it looks best in all caps.

Like his lord and master, Pennywise, Gaetz looks out for #1. In 2017, he was the only member of Congress to vote against an anti-human trafficking bill.

In response to the NYT story, Gaetz cried SQUIRREL and gave the media hounds something to chase: an alleged extortion scheme.

Gaetz even tried to use fellow wingnut shitbag Tucker Carlson as an alibi. Tucker may be a fucker, but he denied dining with Gaetz and a young lady who is NOT jailbait according to Gaetz. Would he lie? Hell, yes.

GAETZGATE. Try it, you’ll like.

Quote Of The Day: Montana Meth Nostalgia Edition

Montana is not only famous for dental floss tycoons, it used to have its own homegrown meth. Just ask Senator Steve Daines:

“Twenty years ago in Montana, meth was homemade. It was homegrown. And you had purity levels less than 30 percent,” Daines said alongside other Republican seantors who had traveled to the southern border. “Today the meth that is getting into Montana is Mexican cartel. It has purities north of 95 percent. Far more dangerous, far more addictive, and it’s less expensive.”

Ah, the good old days of meth lab explosions and local entrepreneurship. Dang furriners are taking over everything.

I’m glad I’m not the only one who has a senator who says stupid shit and I mean you John Neely Kennedy.

I used a line from the Zappa song Montana for my senior yearbook quote: “Moving to Montana soon, gonna be a dental floss tycoon.”

A friend’s mother asked him when I was leaving. A minor triumph but it was mine, all mine.

You’ve probably guessed by now that this entire post was a pretext to post those Zappa dental floss images I found on the internets. Just humor me.

The last word goes to Frank Zappa and the Mothers:

Oh Well, What The Hell

In case you’re wondering about the post title, it’s my new catch phrase. I stole it from Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. I only steal from the best. It’s a catch-all catch phrase that rolls off the tongue. Try it, you’ll like it: Oh Well, What The Hell.

I took the weekend off from the news cycle. The MSM’s insistence on reverting to its pre-Trump form bugs the living shit out of me. They miss the drama of the Trump presidency so they’re focusing on trivia again. I had hoped that dealing with the Madness of King Donald would have cured them of that, but I was wrong. They cannot help themselves.

The MSM spent a month demanding a press conference even though my countrywoman Jen Psaki holds regular briefings. When they got what they wanted, they focused on the hot GOP talking point: the illusory “surge” at the border. It’s a seasonal phenomenon that happens annually.

The “border surge” is what happens when one country conquers the best part of a neighboring country. If you must play the blame game, try blaming the  Mexican-American War after which California was annexed. It was annexation by conquest.

It’s time for a musical interlude:

That song is about Cortez, but it could have just as easily been about Zachary Taylor who parlayed the victory into a brief stint as president. He’s the only Oval One the Gret Stet of Louisiana can stake a claim to, but Virginia and Kentucky should share in the dubious reflected glory of his 16-month reign.

General President Taylor is also responsible for inflicting Millard Fillmore on an unsuspecting nation. The only thing I like about him is his deeply silly name. Oy just oy.

The MSM feels a need to overdramatize everything that happens. It’s a lingering affliction from the Trump regime. I adore Rachel Maddow, but she’s been over-hyping everything of late. She continually expresses amazement that Biden is a normal president who does normal presidential things as if that’s an aberration. Trump was the aberration. It may be a new normal but we’re back to it.

The Impeached Insult Comedian poked his head above the parapet yesterday. There was a wedding at Mar-a-Doorn so, naturally, the Kaiser of Chaos seized the microphone to talk about himself. Even if I died and returned reincarnated as a Trumper, I wouldn’t want him taking over my wedding. It brings to mind the line about Teddy Roosevelt that I’ve used thousands of times, “Corpse at every funeral. Bride at every wedding.” I want a divorce from former President* Pennywise.

Notice how I slipped all three of my main Trump nicknames into that paragraph? It made my day. How pitiful is that?

In other fake news news, Lara Trump is now a paid contributor to Fox News. I guess they’re so busy pandering to the Trumpist base that they’ve forgotten she’s one of the main exponents of the “Dominion rigged the election” mishigas. That company, in turn, is suing Fox for real money: $1.6 billion bucks.  I wonder if they’re paying to shut her up on that subject. Why bother? It’s never worked with any Trump in the past. They never STFU even when it’s in their self-interest; make that selfish interest.

The last word goes to Fleetwood Mac and Elvin Bishop & Charlie Musselwhite with a two part Oh Well, What The Hell:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Pennies From Heaven

Photograph by Stanley Kubrick.

I committed a faux pas the other day and accidentally published something. I planned to curate a quote from a marvelous teevee essay by MSNBC’s Laurence O’Donnell about our border issues. Instead the whole damn  thing went out raw and I pulled it after it lingered overnight. Here’s a link to the transcript. Scroll down 3/4 of the way and Bob’s your uncle. Make that Uncle Laurence. I’m neither Irish nor from Boston but I’ll claim him.

In jab talking news, Governor Edwards has opened COVID vaccinations to all Gret Steters over the age of 16. I welcome everyone to the Half Vaccinated club. On April 3rd, I will enter of the realm of the fully vaccinated. Cue sigh of relief.

Our theme song continues the flow of the week. In this case from my most recent 13th Ward Rambler column. Pennies From Heaven was written in 1936 by Arthur Johnstone and Johnny Burke. It’s been a hit more times and by more artists that you can shake a stick at. Why one would do such a thing is beyond me.

We have three versions of Pennies From Heaven for your listening pleasure: Frank Sinatra, Louis Prima & Keely Smith, and an instrumental by Stan Getz and Oscar Peterson.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love Oscar Peterson? I know: repeatedly. My Oscar love will never wane. That goes for my much missed kitty as well.

Before we jump to the break, look up like the girl in the Kubrick photograph so you can dodge the pennies from heaven.

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Cuomo Family Values

The Linus of Empire State politics has done it again. Yeah, I know, Linus is sweet, and Andrew Cuomo is an asshole but he’s a blanket toting blankety blank like the Peanuts character. Now that I think of it, he’s more like Linus’ sister Lucy.

There’s even a dog in the cast of Cuomo Family Values: Captain who may be demoted to Private if his human is forced into the public sector. Sorry, Captain.

Let’s extend the Peanuts analogy. I knew Snoopy. Snoopy was a friend of mine. Captain, you’re no Snoopy.

Nepotism and cronyism have long characterized Andrew Cuomo’s political career. They’re back with a vengeance:

The administration of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) arranged privileged access to state-administered coronavirus testing for members of his family and other influential people last year even as a majority of New Yorkers struggled to access scarce testing, according to multiple reports.

Three people with direct knowledge of the effort told the Washington Post that the Cuomo administration sent a top state doctor and other state health officials to the homes of those who had access to the special treatment. The Times Union of Albany first reported the prioritization effort of Cuomo’s relatives.

Among those known to have benefited from the special treatment are CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, the governor’s brother who tested positive for coronavirus in March. The CNN anchor was swabbed by a top New York Department of Health doctor, Eleanor Adams who reportedly visited his Hamptons home to collect samples from him and his family, people with knowledge of the matter told the Post.

Not only did they get special treatment, they also got house calls, which doctors stopped doing years ago. Has anyone out there ever had a house call unless you have a doctor in the family?

I was something of a mama’s boy, so I don’t begrudge special treatment for the Governor’s elderly mother, Matilda, but his idiot CNN anchorman kid brother? Really, Governor?

That bit of shameless nepotism gives me an excuse to repost this image from a 2019 post:

This latest controversy will not lead to Governor Cuomo’s resignation, but it’s a big problem given how desperate people were in the early stages of the pandemic. There was a collective freak out over the lack of testing and Cuomo was giving special treatment to a select few. Not, cool, Governor, not cool.

I didn’t mean to mock Captain the dog. I’m sure he’s a good boy. I’d like to apologize for channeling Lloyd Bentsen at his expense by giving Blues Image the last word:

 

 

How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Talking Filibuster

Back in January I wrote about my love of politics and how I had high hopes that the Biden administration would make them great again. Over the last few weeks Senate Democrats have been hinting that the filibuster game is afoot. The Senator You Love to Hate, Joe Manchin, allowed that he would support a “talking” filibuster, where the minority would have to keep talking to delay the vote. Over the last few weeks, more and more of the Senate’s Democratic filibuster defenders have expressed their interest in either eliminating or reforming the current filibuster. Tonight Amy Klobuchar, the Chair of the Senate Rules Committee, said that the talking filibuster was coming in time for the voting rights bill.

Extremely Online Democratic Twitter is apoplectic over this change. “But it will still require 60 votes!!!” Yes, but only to break the filibuster. If the minority party stops talking (or goes off-topic if the filibuster is changed to specify only germane debate is allowed), the vote is called and a simple majority wins. Somehow this is a fatal blow to the…Senate Democrats.

The current composition of Senate Democrats is a recipe for Democratic success using the talking filibuster. While in the majority Senate Democrats are more disciplined than I had anticipated they would be, and they are able to work in tandem and to a scripted timetable (the current one being the growing support for a talking filibuster presented as minimal change to the process—and don’t underestimate this framing). Also, Senate Democrats are chockablock with nerds–glorious nerds who can hold forth with months of on-topic debate:  well-sourced, eloquent, affecting, persuasive debate–which will serve them well as a minority party.

Senate Republicans are supremely uninterested in governing, and even less interested in anything that can’t be repackaged into a FOX sound bite.  Remember, Senate Republicans got beat twice last month when they could not just sit in their seats while the Senate was in session (that’s how Merrick Garland’s filibustered nomination moved to confirmation).

Mitch McConnell knows this too, and he’s now regularly threatening to filibuster everything if the Democrats eliminate the filibuster. While using the status quo as a future threat is a bold move on his part, his panic is fueled by what is becoming apparent:  his beloved filibuster is staying, but it’s now going to require discipline and unity from his caucus. Maybe he should have been more specific in January when he asked for assurances that the filibuster would stay.

But my real enthusiasm to submit Senate Republicans to the talking filibuster is to laugh at them. One of the little things I like about the Harry Potter series is that the spell to banish the things that terrorize you is called “Riddikulus”. Laughing at things reduces them to a human size and form. And the current Republican Party is full of people to laugh at.

Here’s Louisiana’s John Neely Kennedy and his attempted slam dunk at a gun control hearing:

Here he is, again, mansplaining how the IMF works to Janet Yellen:

Rand Paul gonna Rand Paul:

Because I am merciful, I’ll spare you the video of Ted Cruz. Here’s what he tried to sell during the hearing on the voting rights bill:

This bill is the single most dangerous bill this committee has ever considered. This bill is designed to corrupt the election process permanently, and it is a brazen and shameless power grab by Democrats. That the number-one priority is not COVID or getting people back to work or getting kids back in school. It’s keeping Democrats in power for 100 years. And how do they do this? They do this by instituting a bill that will promote widespread fraud and illegal voting. Under this bill, there’s automatic registration of anybody if you get a driver’s license, if you get a welfare payment, if you get an unemployment payment. If you attend a public university. Now, everyone knows there are millions of illegal aliens who have driver’s licenses, getting welfare benefits to attend public universities. This bill is designed to register every one of those illegal aliens. What would the impact be in state elections of automatically registered millions of illegal aliens to vote?

Like the videos above, it is full of lies and magical thinking. Imagine televising dumb arguments like this to millions of Americans to justify denying us our vote.

 

Sitting In Half Vaccinated Limbo

In spite of the side effects, getting the first jab was exciting but my guard remains up. A friend let his down last month and spent 20 days in the COVID ward. Fortunately, he’s slowly but surely recovering but has some lingering brain fog. I regard him as a reverse role model as I feel impatient after a year in exile. Get well soon, mon frere.

Sitting in half vaccinated limbo isn’t easy but it beats the hell out of the alternative. Let’s cue our first musical interlude:

We did something social last weekend. It was outdoors on Bayou St. John with some close friends. I’ve posted about Half Pagan before, it was their vernal equinox show. I called it Half Vaccinated meets Half Pagan.

I heckled them at points and even sang high harmonies from the semi-comfort of a camp chair. The chair was appropriate because these are folks we see a lot of during Carnival. We hadn’t seen any of them since Thoth Sunday in 2020.

I’m a bit impatient for my second jab but for maximum efficacy the Pfizer vaccine requires a 3-week interval. I’m down with that. I want the damn thing to work, after all. I’ve got April 4th circled on every calendar as the day of my release from absolute exile, but my guard remains up.

Our second musical interlude is another Tormato tune:

This is advertised as a potpourri post, so I need some categories. I don’t want to dishonor the memory of the late, great Alex Trebek.

Headline Of The Week: It comes from Talking Points Memo:

Trump Wax Statue Put In Museum Storage After It Kept Getting Punched.

It took place at Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in San Antonio thereby proving that there are many fine people in Texas. That reminds me of another song that could be described as a waxing earworm:

That concludes the Punch & Trumpy segment of this post.

The Curious Case of the Biden Republicans: Pollster Stan Greenburg is the guy who coined the term Reagan Democrats. He sees the same thing happening in reverse. He recently sat for an extended interview with Politico Magazine’s Zack Stanton.

Check it out. It improved my mood. It could have the same effect on you too.

Border Blues: The MSM is in search of a new crisis. One would think they’d be satiated by the Trump years but they’re back to playing gotcha with the current administration.

Border issues between the United States and Mexico have been going on since the 1830’s. They were exacerbated by the Trump regime and continue as the Team Biden tries to clean up that mess. It’s what happens when a poor country and a rich one share a long border. There will always be border issues.

Perhaps we should look for a new scapegoat: how about this guy?

Asian Spring: Showtime Circus performer Alex Wagner has written a fine piece for the Atlantic about the current wave of anti-Asian bigotry as seen the through the eyes of her own family’s experiences. I love it when writers weave together the personal and political. It’s the goal of much of what we do here at First Draft.

Finally, keep your guard up. We all have COVID fatigue, but the virus does not care. Florida appears ripe for another spike as Spring Breakers hit the beaches. College kids think that they’re invulnerable but they’re not. There are some on Bourbon Street as well. That’s why I’m sitting here in half vaccinated limbo.

The last word goes to the Neville Brothers and Bryan Ferry:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: On The Silent Wings Of Freedom

Photograph by Stanley Kubrick.

A bird got into our house while I was taking a jab nap. Claire Trevor was determined to get the poor wee house sparrow. I tried grabbling CT to close her in somewhere to no avail. I yelled at the cat to keep her away from the open door as the bird hopped from ceiling fan to ceiling fan. It finally flew out the front door. That’s as adventurous as it gets at Adrastos World HQ these days.

Mother-in-Law #1 is 99-years-old and in bad shape at her assisted living joint in Baton Rouge. The good news is that we’ve been able to visit her twice including yesterday. Her body is failing but her mind is still sharp. I’m not sure how long she’ll last but it’s a relief to be able to visit after not having seen her for 14 months because of the pandemic.

I’m voting later today in the special election called to fill Cedric Richmond’s congressional seat. I’m as underwhelmed by the choices on offer as I was by Cedric. The leading candidates are two hacks from New Orleans and a young firebrand from Baton Rouge. Since I do not want to be represented in Congress by someone from Red Stick, I’m voting for the hack I’m acquainted with, State Senator and former City Councilman Troy Carter. I loathe the other hack whose name shall not cross my lips.

This week’s theme song was written by Jon Anderson and Chris Squire for Yes’ 1978 album, Tormato. Yes are known for their great album covers. This is not one of them. The music is still pretty darn good.

We have two versions of On The Silent Wings Of Freedom for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a 2006 live instrumental version.

Follow the flying fingers of Chris Squire and jump to the break. No finger jokes this week. Pinky swear.

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Malaka Of The Week: Peter Thiel

I prefer to celebrate people who are alumni of my high school alma mater. Hell, I even say nice things about Merv Griffin who was a lame chat show host but also gave the world Jeopardy. It’s impossible to say anything nice about a certain 1985 graduate of San Mateo High School. And that is why Peter Thiel is malaka of the week.

Peter Thiel is not the only notable wingnut to have been a Bearcat, there’s also Alicia Silverstone who continually lives up to the title of her most famous movie, Clueless.

Mercifully, we have some other alumni who one can be proud of: Cal Tjader, Kris Kristofferson, Barry Bostwick, and Dennis Haysbert to name a few.

Back to this week’s malaka who is all pay and no pal. Peter Thiel is a Trump-supporting, libertarian, litigious son-of-a-bitch. I use PayPal but not out of school pride. I do so because it’s easy.

The reason for the selection is Thiel’s attempt to buy a United States senate seat in a state in which he does not dwell:

Silicon Valley iconoclast Peter Thiel is placing the biggest political bet of his career, pumping $10 million into a super PAC that is supporting a former Thiel aide who may run for the US Senate in Ohio.

Thiel has cut a check of just over $10 million to an outside group backing J.D. Vance, the author of the bestselling book Hillbilly Elegy, a much bigger contribution than he made to support Donald Trump and Thiel’s largest disclosed political donation ever. Vance is one of several people in Thiel’s network who have weighed Senate bids in recent years and stand to benefit substantially from their ties to the billionaire investor.

Some hillbilly, some elegy.

The Bearcat billionaire’s involvement is one of the best arguments for overturning Citizen’s United I can think of. He’s “investing” in other candidates in the hopes of becoming a modern-day robber baron with a pocketful of senators. He still lives in California so the chances of his securing a senate seat for himself are slim and none and none just switched to Venmo.

Peter Thiel is a nasty piece of work who wants to elect fellow nasty “populists” to office. If he’s a populist, I’m a Trumper. And that is why Peter Thiel is malaka of the week.

A note on the featured image: that’s not the Bearcat logo from my day but I like it. It’s fierce. It makes me want to bleed orange and black; figuratively, not literally.

The last word goes to a San Mateo High alum of whom we can all be proud, Cal Tjader. It’s a 1958 instrumental ode to Giants great Orlando Cepeda:

 

Let Them All Talk

There’s been some movement on the filibuster front. More and more senators are using the word reform instead of abolish as a way of picking up The Man of La Manchin’s vote. It seems to be working as Cassandra’s boy has admitted to a fondness for old-school talking filibusters. The man whose seat he filled in the Senate, Robert Byrd, was one of its foremost practitioners, after all.

I can live with that as can President Biden who had this exchange with my diminutive countryman:

STEPHANOPOULOS: I know you’ve been reluctant to do away with the filibuster. Aren’t you going to have to choose between preserving the filibuster and advancing your agenda?
BIDEN: Yes. But here’s the choice: I don’t think you have to eliminate the filibuster. You have to do what it used to be when I first got to the Senate … and that is, that a filibuster, you had to stand up and command the floor. … So you gotta work for the filibuster.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you’re for that reform? You’re for bringing back the talking filibuster?
BIDEN: I am.

That’s progress. Biden faces a recalcitrant Republican majority with a wily leader who I call the Turtle but who calls himself the Grim Reaper. Obstructionism is what he does best as reflected by this TPM headline:

McConnell Threatens To Grind Senate To Halt If Dems Don’t Let Him Keep Power To Grind Senate To Halt

How much worse can it get? It’s time for Democrats to call the Turtle’s bluff and whap him upside the head so hard that it will retract into its shell. It appears that Biden and Schumer are ready to rumble. They remember what happened in the first year of the Obama administration as does Ron Klain who is on his way to being the most effective White House chief of staff since Jim Baker.

Ron Klain is a special guy. He’s capable of playing both good cop and bad cop, which is a rare quality indeed. He knows the senate almost as well as his boss. It’s a pity that he can no longer brag about Kevin Spacey playing him in the HBO movie Recount. The reasons are obvious: Spacey was such a sexpest that he makes some of the others look like amateurs. So it goes.

It’s unclear how this drama will turn out but the mere fact that we’re having this discussion is major progress. It’s time to bring majority rule to the senate.

It’s been a long time since there was a talking filibuster. They *were* used for nefarious purposes by the likes of Strom Thurmond and Richard Russell but they’ve also been used to block shitty legislation.

I, for one, cannot wait to see how the many elderly senators in the GOP caucus react to the return of the talking filibuster. Chuck Grassley is apt to plotz when he sees the cots rolled out.

I hope that the senate will limit the talking filibuster to germane topics. We don’t need a latter-day Huey Long going on about potlikker for hours on end. And I’m talking about you, John Neely Kennedy.

I’m sure Neely fancies himself as Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington when he’s really sellout Claude Rains.

The last word goes to Elvis Costello:

The House Vax Refuseniks

It’s time for some more jab jabber but you knew that already because of the featured image of Richard Widmark with a needle. A friend asked me if I’d consider using the poster for The Panic In Needle Park but since that flick is about junkies, I told him to stick it. I suspect he’ll continue needling me. If you dish it out, you gotta be able to take it.

I’ve felt like a compendium of vaccine side effects since we last did some jab talking. Nothing major: just a bit of wooziness, soreness, minor swelling, and ennui, which is a fancy way of saying that I’ve slept a lot. I’m following my late mother’s admonition to sleep when under the weather. She was a smart woman.

The mere fact that I’m having side effects means the vaccine is working. It beats the hell out of one of the leading side effects of the virus: DEATH.

The vax news out of Congress is vexing. According to a piece in Axios:

Uncertainty about why only 75% of the House is confirmed as vaccinated against the coronavirus is fueling a debate about when the chamber can return to its normal rules of operation.

Between the lines: The other 25% of members have either refused to get the vaccine, have not reported getting it at home or are avoiding it because of medical conditions. Until the Office of Attending Physician is clear about this, it can’t make recommendations “regarding the modification or relaxation of existing social distancing guidelines.”

  • Congress has its own supply of the coronavirus vaccine. While it’s not certain which party is most to blame for any vaccine hesitancy, the phenomenon is higher among white Republicans than any other demographic group, as Axios has reported.

  • “I won’t be taking it. The survival rate is too high for me to want it,” 25-year-old Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) told Axios in December.

I yield the floor to my colleague from Gotham City to fire a bullet at those bullet points:

Is there really any doubt about which party is to blame? The GOP is the party of Mask Warriors as well as Dipshit Insurrectionists. And side effects of Trumpism include stupidity, malakatude, and COVID denialism.

It’s all about freedom, man. House GOPers also object to security measures adopted since the Twelfth Night White Riot. They impinge on their freedom, man. I suspect they concur with this nonsense from the stupidest solon:

Even though those thousands of people that were marching to the Capitol were trying to pressure people like me to vote the way they wanted me to vote, I knew those were people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, and so I wasn’t concerned,” Johnson said in a Thursday interview with conservative radio host Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo.

“Now, had the tables been turned — Joe, this could get me in trouble — had the tables been turned, and President Trump won the election and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters, I might have been a little concerned,” he added.

The Boy Wonder is feeling feisty today:

Racism is one of the nastier side effects of white privilege. Ain’t nobody whiter than Ron Johnson.

Anyway, y’all get jabbed ASAP. If you’re still not eligible, sign up pronto. It’s important: side effects be damned.

The last word goes to Pat Benatar:

Andrew Cuomo: Public Sector Trump

A blanketed Andrew Cuomo and his dog, Captain.  

There’s a whole lotta stupid happening on political Twitter about Andrew Cuomo’s possible fate. There are those who think the “campaign” against him is a Republican conspiracy to install a Governor who will pardon Trump, which ignores the fact that the Lt. Gov is a Democrat, Kathy Hocul. Besides, there’s no conspiracy against Cuomo: his wounds are self-inflicted.

The other foolishness involves those who think the three-term Governor of New York can be pressured into resigning. I’m not an expert on New York politics but you don’t have to be to know that Cuomo is never resigning. He’s survived previous bouts with unpopularity and one of his goals is to win a fourth term, which his father was unable to do.

There are three paths to his exit: impeachment and removal; not running for re-election or defeat at the ballot box preferably in a primary. He’ll never take the easy way out and resign even if it’s in his state’s best interests. Cuomo is about Cuomo.

The voters don’t seem to be as pissed-off at Cuomo as the political class. His numbers are down but not entirely out. His reputation with voters is as a competent asshole. They didn’t vote him in because they loved him. They know he’s a self-centered creep. In some ways, he’s a stereotypical New Yorker: an asshole and damn proud of it.

There’s been much ridicule of this comment by Cuomo:

“Part of this is that I am not part of the political club. And you know what? I’m proud of it.”

On the surface the comment is preposterous because Andrew Cuomo is a politician to his fingertips. But I’m not one for groupthink. Being a member of a club involves having friends, not just allies. Cuomo is a veteran pol but he’s friendless, which is both a strength and weakness. He’s always governed by fear and assholery, which means that nobody is sticking up for him right now. The upside is that he’s used to having no friends so what others say about him is less important than his enormous ego.

One of the many ironies of 2020 was Andrew Cuomo being held up as the anti-Trump. Like the former president* he was an asshole, but a competent one unlike the Kaiser of Chaos. That aura of competence has been exploded by a nursing home scandal and his mishandling of the sexual harassment mishigas.

Instead Andrew Cuomo and Donald Trump are almost the same guy: angry, sexist, horny, and self-absorbed. Cuomo is, of course, much smarter than the Impeached Insult Comedian, but they’re both brash assholes from Queens who are fond of “locker room talk.”

Andrew Cuomo is the public sector Trump. Their main differences are that Mario Cuomo was much smoother than Fred Trump, and that Andrew has a dog. His name is Captain. In the picture I used as the featured image, he even seems to like the Governor. Woof.

As Tricky Dick would surely say at this point, let me make one thing perfectly clear. I am in no way defending Cuomo’s loutish lechery. There’s a strong case for his ouster but he’s not going to make it easy for his critics by resigning. He’s going to hunker down and try to weather the storm. It’s not in the best interests of the people of the Empire State but it’s what self-absorbed creeps like Andrew Cuomo do.

I have some unsolicited advice for Cuomo’s Democratic enemies. They should coalesce around a primary challenger and start raising money pronto. He’s survived past primary challenges, but his number could be up in 2022.

There have been some great pieces written about Andrew’s tyrannical reign as Governor. I’d like to commend three to your attention:

Rebecca Traister at New York Magazine, Inside Andrew Cuomo’s Toxic Workplace.

Jessica Bakeman at New York Magazine’s The Cut, Cuomo Never Let Me Forget I Was A Woman.

Michael Shnayerson at Vanity Fair’s The Hive,  Andrew Cuomo’s Biographer On The Governor’s Brutish History.

In the last piece, Shnayerson describes how Cuomo dangled an interview at him, then reneged on his promise:

By the time I was about to hand in my manuscript, the governor had a book of his own in the works. It was titled All Things Possible. And his intention was to beat me to market. But I was ahead. Back came word that if I would let his book appear first, he would grant me all the interview time I wanted. So I agreed. But the governor pulled a fast one. I never did get that interview; his book came out in October 2014, a full five months ahead of mine. And there was, after all, no longer anything he needed from me. It was a quintessential Cuomo move: underhanded, stealthy, self-serving, and hard-ass.

Remove the word stealthy and who does that sound like? Donald Trump, that’s who. Believe me.

That’s why I call Andrew Cuomo the Public Sector Trump.