Category Archives: Political Crack

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Forecast (Calls For Pain)

Rockwell

The Problem We All Face by Norman Rockwell.

We’re back on the weather roller coaster in New Orleans. One day it’s unseasonably warm, the next it’s colder than average. It’s almost as crazy as the Current Occupant of the White House. Did you see that insane press conference by the least racist and anti-Semitic person ever? In response to the crazy, I tweeted this:

I hope all the Busters and Steiners are happy right now. They insisted that there was no difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. They were wrong. She’s sane.

Did y’all see the cartoon that was based on the Norman Rockwell painting that’s this week’s featured image? Here it is on the Tweeter Tube. I refuse to upload it:

That’s right, folks, Cartoonist Glenn (Not The Real) McCoy compared billionaire dilettante Betsy DeVos to NOLA’s own Ruby Bridges That’s preposterous and typical of the whiny titty babies on the Right in 2017.

Btw, BuzzFeed: You got something wrong.

On Sunday, the Belleville News-Democrat published this cartoon by Glenn McCoy. It appears to equate Betsy DeVos, Trump’s controversial pick for secretary of education, with Ruby Bridges, the first black child to attend an all-white school in the South.

Ruby Bridges *was* the first black student to attend an all-white elementary school in New Orleans in 1960. She was not the first overall: that honor belonged to the Little Rock Nine in 1957. The last I heard New Orleans was in the South. Y’all should spend less time cutting and pasting tweets and more time on research.

This week’s theme song fits both my mood and the temper of the times. The Forecast (Calls For Pain) comes from Robert Cray’s brilliant 1990 album Midnight Stroll:

It’s time to take a midnight stroll to the break. The forecast is for more mirth than pain on the other side.

Continue reading

Malaka Of The Week: William Happer

An eminent physicist who’s on the faculty at Princeton is openly campaigning to become the Insult Comedian’s science adviser. He has an impressive curriculum vitae and is certainly qualified for the position. There’s a rub: he’s a climate change denier. And that is why William Happer is malaka of the week.

Dr. Hapless Happer gave an interview to the Guardian wherein he shared his views on those of us who believe in climate change:

“There’s a whole area of climate so-called science that is really more like a cult,” Happer told the Guardian. “It’s like Hare Krishna or something like that. They’re glassy-eyed and they chant. It will potentially harm the image of all science.”

Are they Moonies, Scientologists, or Hairy Fishnuts, Dr. Hapless Happer? They’re all inclined to be glassy-eyed and the first cult is pro-GOP. Scientologists are down with Trumpism because they believe greed is good and selfishness is where it’s at.

Dr. Malaka also supports the gag order imposed by the morons at the Brown House:

Happer also supports a controversial crackdown on the freedom of federal agency scientists to speak out about their findings, arguing that mixed messages on issues such as whether butter or margarine is healthier, have led to people disregarding all public health information.

“So many people are fed up of listening to the government lie to them about margarine and climate change that when something is actually true and beneficial they don’t listen,” he said, citing childhood vaccines as an example. “The government should have a reputation of being completely reliable about facts – real facts.”

Real facts, Dr, Malaka? Do you mean the facts as spoken by your dear leader? I wonder if you understand the Faustian bargain you’re entering into. Trump listens to no one and insists on unconditional subservience. Are you ready to lick Bannon’s jackboots and be humiliated by the president*? That’s what the job entails.

Dr. Malaka derides scientists who believe in climate change as members of a cult. He’s about to join a cult where staffers are required to clap every time the dear leader speaks and retweet his increasingly incoherent rants. The hapless Happer might end up on the streets banging a tambourine and selling MAGA caps as punishment for displeasing Trump or Bormann Bannon. The only one who’s drinking Kool-Aid is Dr. Malaka. It’s Trumper Kool-Aid.

Happer doubtless thinks he’ll be an important and influential man if he becomes Trump’s science guy. Wrong. He’ll be just another one of the Insult Comedian’s dignity wraiths who will skedaddle back to a cold welcome at Princeton when he quits or is fired. Dr. Malaka is not only a climate change denier, he’s a world-class naif. And that is why William Happer is malaka of the week.

 

 

 

Power Before Country

Comatose 2017

Krewe of Comatose float. Photograph © by Ride Hamilton.

It’s not original to think that the 21st Century Republican party *always* puts power before country. It’s Athenae’s pet hobby-horse. She wrote quite eloquently about it just yesterday. It’s time for me to climb on back of said rocking horse and join in. I’ll try not to break it. That would be too much like Henry Drummond’s Golden Dancer story in Inherit The Wind for my taste, and I try not to be overly derivative.

What am I on about? Read and learn:

I was seven years old, and a very fine judge of rocking horses. Golden Dancer had a bright red mane, blue eyes, and she was gold all over, with purple spots. When the sun hit her stirrups, she was a dazzling sight to see. But she was a week’s wages for my father. So Golden Dancer and I always had a plate-glass window between us. But—let’s see, it wasn’t Christmas; must’ve been my birthday—I woke up in the morning and there was Golden Dancer at the foot of my bed! Ma had skimped on the groceries, and my father’d worked nights for a month. I jumped into the saddle and started to rock— And it broke! It split in two! The wood was rotten, the whole thing was put together with spit and sealing wax! All shine, and no substance! Whenever you see something bright, shining, perfect-seeming—all gold, with purple spots—look behind the paint! And if it’s a lie—show it up for what it really is!

That’s how Republicans *should* have reacted to the Trump phenomenon from the git-go. The Trump “movement” is all shine and no substance, much like the Insult Comedian’s taste for gaudy, glitzy, goldleafy decor. I shuddered when I heard that the Trumps might redecorate the White House living quarters. It’s the people’s house and the thought of any of it resembling Trump Tower is nauseating. In the immortal words of Garth Algar: “I think I’m gonna hurl.” Holy crap, I’ve gone from Spencer Tracy and Fredric March to Mike Myers and Dana Carvey. And I’m okay with that. 2017 is the 25th anniversary of Wayne’s World, after all. Excellent. Party time.

Where the hell was I? Oh yeah, the rottenness beneath the surface shine of conservative ideology. They’ve made a deal with the devil to get tax cuts for the 1% and to take away people’s health care among other horrors. It’s being done in the name of freedom but it’s really just selfishness. In that way, Donald Trump epitomizes what has happened to the GOP since the Reaganite wave election in 1980. Who’s more selfish than the Insult Comedian? If you know anyone, please keep them away from me.

In the wake of the Out like Flynn moment, there was a fleeting notion that Congressional Republicans might conduct a proper inquiry of the improper Russian connection. That moment has already passed because they realize this fiasco is apt to land at Donald’s doorstep. He was warned weeks ago that Flynn was susceptible to blackmail and nothing happened until Monday night. Why? I believe Trump (aka Putin’s Pawn) knew of, and initiated, Flynn’s contacts with Putin’s people. Flynn is not the only senior administration* official who has been compromised by the Russians: every word spoken, and action taken, by Trump indicates that he is susceptible to KGB-style blackmail. As Josh Marshall put it this morning: Flynn doesn’t matter. This is about Trump.

I’m not sure where this is headed. Events have been Russian by at a break neck pace. Flynn resigned while I was publishing my post about him, which had my head spinning like Linda Blair’s in The Exorcist. It’s certain that Trump administration* is headed for the rocks, it’s only a question of how extensive the damage is and who will be forced to jump overboard along with Flynn. It’s irrelevant whether he was pushed or jumped. The scariest thing about this week’s events is that Bannon is piloting the ship. The B3 Brownshirts are trying  to turn the White House into the Brown House. They’ve even unleashed Bannon’s creature Stephen Miller on the media. Unlike the rocker, he’s no Joker. Maurice would kick the little bastard in the balls.

There’s been a lot of discussion about prosecuting Flynn and other Trumpers for violations of the Logan Act. I, for one, am leery of that idea. The statute has been on the books since 1799 and it has only been invoked twice with no convictions. It was passed by a Federalist Congress and signed by President John Adams. It was aimed at the Jeffersonian Republicans who sided with the more radical factions of the French Revolution. In short, it was designed as political payback. It was mentioned by pro-Roosevelt forces during the isolationist America First moment but was never used. Wise choice.

Dusting off a 218-year-old statute to go after the Trumpers is a bad idea as far as this lapsed lawyer is concerned. It is a very frail reed and could easily be ruled unconstitutional if tested in the courts. That means anyone convicted under the law would walk and the GOPers would scream political persecution. The potential for backfire outweighs any positives.

The Logan Act is much like Golden Dancer in Henry Drummond’s story. A conviction obtained under it would be like Henry’s rocking horse: “The wood was rotten, the whole thing was put together with spit and sealing wax! All shine, and no substance!”

There’s an understandable temptation to fight fire with fire and sink to the Republicans level. I’m all for the resistance but we lose if we become carbon copies of them. Unlike our enemies, I believe in putting country before power.

I’ll give Spencer Tracy as the Clarence Darrow-like Henry Drummond the last word:

 

In Like Flynn

I took a few days off from following national politics as closely as usual. Of course, more shit has hit the fan. Splat. These bozos have only been in power for 24 days. It feels like 24 months.

The sordid saga of Trump’s nutty national security adviser Mike Flynn gets weirder by the moment. The MSM is positing that Flynn might get fired for lying to Mike Pence. Think on that for a minute. My nickname for the Veep* is Liar Liar Mike Pence On Fire. Everyone in this administration* lies incessantly, so firing someone for mendacity seems bizarre even for this crowd. His lies make Flynn fit in; hence the post title In like Flynn. It’s also an Errol Flynn joke but Mike Flynn is no Errol Flynn although, like the actor in They Died With Their Boots On, he may be headed for his last stand.

Every time I think it’s impossible for the Trumpers to be more incompetent, they top themselves. It’s a rare talent. What’s next? Who the hell knows. They’re conducting foreign policy as if it’s a game of pick-up sticks and the president* has no idea where they’ll land and no idea what do with them when they do. Incompetence in foreign policy is dangerous. Remember the last Republican administration? They couldn’t organize a two car funeral but this one is baffled by the logistics of a one car funeral.

Flynn is likely to go since his West Wing rivals are hanging him out to dry in the media they claim to despise. But they need to come up with a better reason than: “he lied to a liar.” In short, they need to lie about why Flynn is out instead of in.

I think the Trump administration* needs a theme song. Only one will do: Topsy Turvy Town.

INSTANT UPDATE: Flynn is no longer in but out. The crazy fucker just resigned.

The Fog Of History: Explaining Trump

Ron Rosenbaum wrote one of the best books about the Hitler phenomenon and its persistence through the years: Explaining Hitler. In that brilliant work, Rosenbaum talked to some of the explainers-from the crazy to the reputable-to try to understand how Nazism could have taken hold in a country known for its literature, music, art, and cinema. Rosenbaum also endeavored to understand *why* Hitler’s demonic spell continued after his catastrophic failure and revelation as the war criminal’s war criminal. If you’re interested in the subject, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. What’s not to love about a book that has a chapter titled The Hitler Family Film Noir?

Rosenbaum was approached by some publications to explore comparisons between Hitler and the man some call Hair Fuhrer and I call the Insult Comedian: Donald J. Trump. He was initially reluctant to do so for reasons he explains in a brand spanking new piece in the Los Angeles Review Of Books:

Until the morning after the election I had declined them. While Trump’s crusade had at times been malign, as had his vociferous supporters, he and they did not seem bent on genocide. He did not seem bent on anything but hideous, hurtful simplemindedness — a childishly vindictive buffoon trailing racist followers whose existence he had mainstreamed. When I say followers I’m thinking about the perpetrators of violence against women outlined by New York Magazine who punched women in the face and shouted racist slurs at them. Those supporters. These are the people Trump has dragged into the mainstream, and as my friend Michael Hirschorn pointed out, their hatefulness will no longer find the Obama Justice Department standing in their way.

Bad enough, but genocide is almost by definition beyond comparison with “normal” politics and everyday thuggish behavior, and to compare Trump’s feckless racism and compulsive lying was inevitably to trivialize Hitler’s crime and the victims of genocide.

As a believer in Godwin’s Law until the 2016 election, I understand where Rosenbaum is coming from. It’s why I still prefer using the term Fascist to describe the Trump-Bannon “movement” and their loathsome followers.

Now that they’re in power, Rosenbaum detects a methodological similarity between the Trumpers and German Nazis. It’s rooted in both the big lie technique and the war on the press. In Hitler’s case, his fiercest foes back home in Bavaria were the reporters of the Munich Post who were referred to as “the poison kitchen” by the Nazis.

I really should let the master explainer explain himself:

But after the election, things changed. Now Trump and his minions are in the driver’s seat, attempting to pose as respectable participants in American politics, when their views come out of a playbook written in German. Now is the time for a much closer inspection of the tactics and strategy that brought off this spectacular distortion of American values.

What I want to suggest is an actual comparison with Hitler that deserves thought. It’s what you might call the secret technique, a kind of rhetorical control that both Hitler and Trump used on their opponents, especially the media. And they’re not joking. If you’d received the threatening words and pictures I did during the campaign (one Tweet simply read “I gas Jews”), as did so many Jewish reporters and people of color, the sick bloodthirsty lust to terrify is unmistakably sincere. The playbook is Mein Kampf.

Trump, of course, is not only incapable of writing a book on his own, he’s a notorious non-reader. Instead, he’s the teevee-watcher-in-chief. But Hitler was *not* an intellectual. He was a demagogue with an acute sense of his audience and what we would call his base. Trump may not be a true believer in the white nationalist ideology that Bannon and Miller have cobbled together BUT he *is* its best salesman.

Back to Hitler and the poison kitchen. The Munich Post did its best to expose the petty criminality and nationalistic bigotry that drove Hitler and the Nazis but in the end, we know what happened. They lost the kampf: Hitler came to power and plunged the world into an orgy of chaos, hatred, and violence. Steve Bannon is on the record as wanting chaos and destruction in order to bring on his own B3 new order and I’m not talking about the band of that name. He’s a right-wing Leninist. I’m a John Leninist myself.

Rosenbaum is even more worried about the normalization of Trump now that he’s the Current Occupant:

Cut to the current election. We had heard allegations that Trump kept Hitler’s speeches by his bedside, but somehow we normalized that. We didn’t take him seriously because of all the outrageous, clownish acts and gaffes we thought would cause him to drop out of the race. Except these gaffes were designed to distract. This was his secret strategy, the essence of his success — you can’t take a stand against Trump because you don’t know where Trump is standing. You can’t find him guilty of evil, you can’t find him at all. And the tactics worked. Trump was not taken seriously, which allowed him to slip by the normal standards for an American candidate. The mountebank won. Again.

Suddenly, after the inconceivable (and, we are now beginning to realize, suspicious) Trump victory, the nation was forced to contend with what it would mean, whether the “alt-right” was a true threat or a joke to be tolerated. Did it matter that Trump had opened up a sewer pipe of racial hatred? Once again, normalization was the buzzword.

And I remembered the Munich Post, defending Weimar Germany. I reflected on how fragile democratic institutions could be in the face of organized hatred. Hitler had been tricky about his plans until he got the position and the power to enact them. Trump had been tricky, neither accepting nor rejecting the endorsement of KKK leader David Duke. David Duke! The KKK! In this century! He claimed he didn’t know who he was. He couldn’t be disqualified because of someone he didn’t know. That’s where we all went wrong, thinking he was stupid and outrageous, not canny and savvy and able to play the media like Paganini. The election demonstrated the weakness of a weak democracy, where basic liberties could be abolished by demagoguery and voter suppression.

Rosenbaum is concerned that normalization is taking place in too many sectors of the public and press. The MSM wavers between exposing Trumpian excesses and normalization. I am cautiously optimistic that vast swaths of the American people do not accept Trump’s legitimacy and will never normalize his “movement.” Look at me: I am fundamentally a center-left Democrat who belongs to the “get shit done” wing of the party. That’s been suspended along with my adherence to Godwin’s Law. I am committed to resisting Trumpism and everything about it. This is not the time to make a deal with the devil. Trump regards offers of compromise as signs of weakness. I will continue to show him the same level of respect that Republicans gave to Barack Obama: zero, zilch, bupkis, nada.

People need to be patient. Given the current make-up of  Congress, Trump can only be removed if Republicans turn on him. That will only happen when they think the cost of supporting him outweighs the cost of pissing off rank and file Trumpers. That’s why public displays of disapproval are so vital. And the much ballyhooed 25th Amendment solution requires the support of his cabinet. It’s one reason why, with the exception of Generals Mattis and Kelly, the cabinet is loaded with wealthy political non-entities, sycophants, and right-wing ideologues. They *might* rebel if Trump continues his manic ways but it will take time. You know things are bad if I think Mike Pence is less horrific than Donald Trump. Why? He’s less likely to plunge us into a war caused by the last thing he saw on teevee. Trump puts the boob into boob tube as well as the idiot into idiot box.

Pressure and patience must be the watchwords of the resistance. We didn’t get into this mess overnight and we won’t get out of it quickly either. Satire is one of our best weapons. It hits Trump where he lives: he wants to be loved and admired. It’s our job to see that he’s neither. We don’t want him to think he’s Chaplin’s Great Dictator, Adenoid Hynkel. If Trump tries to dance with a global balloon, we need to pop it.

Vive les Maquis.

Tweet Of The Day: Introducing Rosie O’Bannon

I don’t usually spotlight one of my own tweets in this feature, but this one is different. Why? Cos I said so. Actually, it’s because I had a casting suggestion for SNL *before* things started to happen in what we laughingly call real life.  It’s not exactly my tweet, a friend quoted my FB thingee on the tweeter tube. It’s a crazy old virtual world:

Sometimes life imitates social media, a scary thought innit?

With Melissa McCarthy nailing her surprise gig as White House spokesperson Sean Spicer last weekend and Alec Baldwin killing it on the reg as President Trump, Rosie O’Donnell has volunteered to take on the role of Trump’s mysterious chief strategist Steve Bannon if Saturday Night Live is interested.

The comedian and frequent target of ridicule by Trump before he graduated from reality show host to leader of the free world, tweeted out the offer after a Twitter user noted that since the notoriously easy-to-rile commander in chief was, according to a Politico report “rattled” that Spicer was portrayed by a woman on the show’s most recent episode. So… maybe Rosie should “take one for the team?”

I wish I could claim it was my tweet by proxy (Lexy?) that Rosie saw. If I were a Trumper, I’d take credit but I’m not, so I won’t. Repeat after me: you don’t defeat lies with more lies. You defeat it with the truth. In this instance, it was great minds thinking alike or something equally banal.

The fact that the Gum Chewer is in deep shit with the Insult Comedian because a woman played him on SNL is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard. Throwing the woman he loves to hate in his face will drive Trump bat shit crazier. Remember: he ranted about Rosie in the first debate. I assumed shit like that would lose him the election. I was only half right. Damn you, electoral college.

In the spirit of driving Trump around the twist, here’s Rosie’s Newsweek cover back when it really meant something:

rosie newsweek

That’s right, Rosie’s shtick in the late ’90’s was niceness in contrast to bad hombres Geraldo and Jerry Springer. Rosie clearly did NOT clean up trash teevee. If she had, Trump wouldn’t have gotten a show and he wouldn’t be the whiner-in-chief today. And nobody ever called him nice other than one of his yes men. He’s a nasty, nasty man. Believe me.

I hope SNL takes Rosie up on her offer to play the Prince of B3 Darkness. She’s got the hair for the job. All they have to do is make her look like an unkempt college professor, Bannon-style. If she wears a brown suit and jackboots, she’ll be perfect. It’s irrelevant as to whether Rosie O’Bannon will be as funny as Melissa Spicer. What matters is sending Trump a one-way ticket to what my late father called “the laughing academy.” I can be as politically incorrect as the next guy for a good cause.

Writing this post has given me a benign earworm. Over The Edge is a Ray Davies song about lunacy. A sample lyric will suffice:

My next door neighbour’s totally snapped
He’s gone over the edge
He’s putting up barbed wire barricades
Around the garden hedge
And planting land mines on the lawn
He’s gone barmy
According to his wife, he’s formed a secret army
Ever since he got laid off
Something inside snapped
His wife says he’s gone ’round the twist
Now there’s no turning back
All night he waits in the garden shed
For the enemy to attack
A suburban vigilante
Dressed up in a union jack
He’s over the edge
Yeah, I know that was a long sample but what can I say? Here’s the song itself:

Confessions Of A Super Bowl Troll

I’m a bad American sports fan. I don’t *have* to watch the entire Super Bowl unless there’s a team I like playing. Last night, we watched an old John Ford movie, then tuned in for Lady Gaga’s half time show and the rest of the game. A lot of people missed her subtle political subtext but my friend Roberta did not:

Sometimes the subtle can be radical. I found her opening with snippets of “God Bless America,” “This Land is Your Land” and the pledge to be audacious and absolutely brilliant. She let the righties know that they have no monopoly on love for the USA, and she reminded lefties that there are bigger reasons to fight for what’s right than whatever our own, personal identity may be. And then came the Big, Gay Anthem. It was a million times more brilliant than an overt FU to Trump. Had she done something blatant, it would have fulfilled the negative expectations of the haters and allowed them to dismiss her as just another rude, obnoxious liberal. By making the song selections she did, she made it impossible for them to do that. It’s really quite genius.

Thanks for boiling that down so I don’t have to, R. It’s good to have clever friends who understood that Gaga was working with a scalpel and not a meat dress cleaver last night. And, yes. I like Lady Gaga. Sue me.

Everything is political in the winter of our discontent including this Super Bowl. (I refuse to use the Roman numeral: it’s pompous beyond belief.) Much of the country was rooting for the underdog Atlanta Falcons and against the plutocratic Patriots with their overt ties to Trump via owner Robert Kraft, Coach Grumpy, and Brady the ball inflator. I was too despite the fact that many in New Orleans consider rooting against the Falcons to be a Nolier than thou litmus test. The Falcons are, of course, the Saints arch-rivals but that’s mere sports hate. Real world concerns trumped sports hate for me yesterday.

One reason I pulled for the losing team is some of the people who were rooting for the winning team. The president* was one but so were some more blatant bigots. Here’s a sampler from my old “friend” the erstwhile Gret Stet Fuhrer and that punchable Nazi, Richard Spencer:

Rumor has it that Trump wants to gay marry Tom Brady but is afraid of Mike Liar Liar Pence On Fire’s reaction. I suspect the white-haired prevaricator from Hoosierland could find a way to rationalize it. It’s his specialty as Trump’s Veep.

Let’s do some virtual Nazi punching:

Can’t have a majority black city’s team win the big game. Of course, it’s already happened with the Saints. (I’m too lazy to research other possibilities. Again, sue me.) Also, one of the white receivers is Jewish. Chew on that, you fourth-rate Streicher.

Spencer also called Brady an Aryan avatar. I am not making this up. Does Spencer’s fulsome praise make Brady a white nationalist or neo-Nazi? Of course not, but his silence about his less savory fans makes him look like a worm, weasel, or toady. The Patriots represent one of the bluest regions in the country so I hope that someone in the Commonwealth calls him on this shit. It would give Brady the chance to spout *new* clichés. The old ones are getting a bit shopworn.

Another thing that makes me a bad American is that I didn’t pay much attention to the ads. I’ll let others talk about them elsewhere. I was too busy trolling lefty Saints fans who allowed their sports hate to overrule everything else. I don’t get extreme sports hate. I dislike some sports teams but I *hate* racism and bigotry and those who go along with it infinitely more. There’s a perfect example here at First Draft of putting real world concerns above sports hate. Athenae and Mr. A are ardent Packers fans who hail from Wisconsin yet they live in Chicago, which is home to the Packers arch-rival, Da Bears. I guess they should move in order to satisfy the purity trolls. It’s just sports, it’s supposed to be fun and unimportant. Football isn’t life, it’s just a game.

I, for one, am glad that this particular Super Bowl is over. Its peculiar mix of sports hate stupidity and politics will not be missed. One good thing that happened was that Roger Goodell got booed last night in Houston. Sometimes you get the sweet with the bitter.

I think Mick and Keith got it right by analogy with this song so I’ll give them the last word:

 

 

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Trouble In Mind

Woodruff Underground RR

The Underground Railroad by Hale Woodruff, 1942.

Another week, another mural as the featured image. Hale Woodruff is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice. If you don’t recognize Trump’s Frederick Douglass quote, I have failed as a blogger.

It has been a Krewe of Spank-centric week at Adrastos World HQ. We’ve been helping with the float, buying costume bits, and even went to a pizza-n-shirt-iron-on party. Bet you’ve never done that. We also drank beer. Bet you’ve done that.

This week’s theme song was selected with our politically chaotic moment in mind. I am mindful of the fact that Trouble In Mind was written in 1924 by jazz pianist Richard Jones. It has been recorded oodles of time by oodles of artists. I have selected worthy versions by Big Bill Broonzy, Nina Simone, and the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of the post only without the dirt or the band. That’s right, this post will be unbroken…

Emmett Till: Every social movement requires a spark. For the Civil Rights movement, the spark was provided by the lynching of Emmett Till in 1955. In fact, Jesse Jackson describes a conversation with Rosa Parks that confirms the importance of Emmett Till:

“I asked Miss Rosa Parks [in 1988] why didn’t she go to the back of the bus, given the threat that she could be hurt, pushed off the bus, and run over, because three other ladies did get up. She said she thought about going to the back of the bus. But then she thought about Emmett Till and she couldn’t do it.”

There’s a new book about the murder of Emmett Till wherein author Timothy Tyson got the woman who was allegedly the target of unwanted attention by Till to admit that nothing much really happened. Vanity Fair’s Sheila Weller has the details.

It’s abundantly clear that the Current Occupant has no knowledge of the Civil Rights movement or how important it is to many of us. It didn’t involve him directly so it’s off his radar screen. I suspect Trump and his dreadful, racist daddy regarded the movement as a nuisance. It made it harder for them to discriminate against black folks in their apartment buildings in the outer boroughs, after all. So it goes.

We go from the crime that inspired the Civil Rights movement to a look at how Hollywood is taking on the  Insult Comedian.

The New Culture War: We tend to think of Pats Buchanan and Robertson when we think about the culture war. Buchanan’s 1992 GOP convention speech scared the living shit out of middle-American and was a factor in Poppy Bush’s defeat. Thanks, Pat.

The culture war used to be a right-wing thing. It no longer is. The Guardian’s Stuart Jeffries takes a look at how Hollywood and others on the left are standing up to the Insult Comedian. My favorite bit involves the divine Julia Louis-Dreyfus:

At last Sunday’s Screen Actors Guild awards in Hollywood, barely anyone who got to the stage failed to denounce Donald Trump’s immigrant ban. Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, for instance, accepting her award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a comedy series with her portrayal of a (with all due respect) venal and useless president, said: “I am the daughter of an immigrant. My father fled religious persecution in Nazi-occupied France, and I am an American patriot … I love this country. I am horrified by its blemishes. This immigrant ban is a blemish, and it is un-American.”

Her speech came from the heart and was clearly not written by Selina Meyer’s staff. They would have found a way to fuck it up and elect Hugh Laurie President…

There’s already a backlash over comments like Julia’s and Meryl Streep’s but, frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. The rank hypocrisy on the right about celebrities in politics is breathtaking. The GOP elected an actor President, sent Gopher from The Love Boat and Sonny Bono to Congress, and now they complain about free speech from Julia and Meryl. As the Cowardly Lion would surely say, DA NOIVE.  I fed Siri that sentence and she had a nervous breakdown. It was most amusing.

Speaking of the culture wars, our next segment takes a look at cursing. Hmm, I wonder if we still have a fuck quota at First Draft.

Fucking Around: There’s a motherfucking good review at the New York Review of Books by Joan Acocella of two bloody buggery bollocky books about swearing. You should read the fucker. Fuckin’ A.

Speaking of people who got fucked over, here’s a look back at Grateful Dead’s 1970 arrest in New Orleans. They did not return to the Crescent City until 1988.

Busted Down On Bourbon Street: The Grateful Dead were “set up like a bowling pin” in New Orleans on January 31, 1970. The city fathers were terrified that hippies would overrun the city and interfere with their drinking. They simply could not have that.

There’s a fun look back at Live For Live Music.com. I can say fun because nothing much came of the bust except for semi-lurid headlines and this mug shot of a certain lead guitar player:

man_file_1055638_jerry-mugshot-1970

Notice that Jerry had the good sense to smile, not glower in his mugshot. Never let the bastards see you sweat.

I obviously have to post a version of Truckin’ at this juncture. This is a good ‘un complete with tight musicianship and sloppy vocals, both trademarks of the good old Grateful Dead:

Let’s move on to a sporadic Odds & Sods feature:

Separated At Birth? I added a question mark because I’m not 100% sure this works but it cracked me up when I saw it on the Tweeter Tube.

Instead of being leery of the idea, Leary responded without so much as a leer:

Just imagine it: Denis Leary in The Bowling Green Massacre. He really needs to wear Kellyanne Liar’s inauguration day outfit:

conway-meme

Let’s move from the ridiculous to the sublime.

Saturday Classic: I posted the Queen of Soul earlier, it’s time to listen to the King of Soul, Otis Redding. Note that the album begins with Ole Man Trouble. It has nothing to do with the Insult Comedian but we do have more than our share of trouble right now.

That’s it for this week. We’ll be back with more hijinks and shenanigans next week. Who better to have the last word than three Jokers? Heath, Jack, and Cesar beat the hell out of the joker in the White House. Figuratively, not literally.

jokers-memejpg

Wingnut Mailbag: On Wisconsin Edition

Clarke

For some reason, I’m on Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke’s email list. I’m not quite sure why. It shouldn’t have anything to do with my making fun of Clarke last fall, but it might. All publicity is good publicity to the likes of Clarke. Trumpers love to be trumpeted.

I’m getting a perverse thrill at poaching on Scout, Doc, and A’s turf but I suspect they don’t mind. I’d rather not be getting wingnut email from the Clarkites but I am. So it goes.

Sheriff Clarke is looking to 2018. He could run for re-election but his approval rating is even lower than Trump’s: an abysmal 31%. Milwaukee County is a Democratic stronghold, which is why he’s nominally a Democrat. Clarke is even less popular among Democrats at home: only 13% of Dems want him re-elected. That’s why he’s likely to change parties and challenge Senator Tammy Baldwin.

The aforementioned  fundraising emails combine homophobia, sexism, and wingnut lunacy. On January 30th, Team Clarke sent an email entitled Arrest Sen. Tammy Baldwin. Hey, at least they used her title. Here’s a sample of the ravings therein:

Liberal lesbian Tammy Baldwin is aiding and abetting ISIS. She is working to stop President Donald Trump’s ban on terrorist refugees. Tammy Baldwin is more concerned about protecting the safety of ISIS members than she is about the security of the United States. It is clear that Tammy Baldwin doesn’t care that many of the refugees have plans to attack America. Tammy Baldwin belongs in prison! She is a traitor to our country!

Fun fact: a group called Restore American Liberty sent the email. It’s located in Denver, Colorado. Clarke might call it federalism, I call it carpetbaggery.

The ironically named Restore American Liberty has sent me the same email three days in a row. You’d think they’d get tired of repeating themselves, but wingnuts are simple people. Here’s another passage:

Sheriff David Clarke can win! He can defeat leftist lesbian Tammy Baldwin in the Wisconsin U.S. Senate race! If elected, he will work to secure the borders and ban Muslim immigration. Unlike Tammy Baldwin, Sheriff David Clarke supports balancing the budget, protecting the Second Amendment, and defending the right to life. 

Liberal lesbian Tammy Baldwin needs to be defeated! She is a radical pro-abortion, open borders Democrat. She supports higher taxes, gun control, and expanding ObamaCare. America needs Sheriff David Clarke to defeat her!

Wealthly LGBT donors from Hollywood, San Francisco, and New York are going to spend millions in support of Tammy Baldwin. It is crucial that grassroots conservatives fight back!

Wealthly? Don’t these bozos spell check? Of course, their target audience is knuckledraggers who read about as much as the Insult Comedian. Trump, of course, would say that Sheriff Clarke is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice. If you think I’m obsessed with that gobsmacker of a sentence, check out N Todd’s joint, Dohiyi Mir.

My unsolicited advice to Wisconsinites: get over the Packers loss and go to work supporting “leftist liberal lesbian” Tammy Baldwin. The helots are coming for her. If it’s not David Clarke, they’ll find another challenger. It’s an example of why our voters need to turn out for EVERY ELECTION. The country you save may be your own.

Your President* Speaks: Name That Bad Hombre

I didn’t plan to do another Your President* Speaks post until next week but the Insult Comedian has had a vintage day. We learned that he hung up on Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, threatened to chase Pancho Villa into Mexico if he can dig up Black Jack Pershing, and has no earthly idea who Frederick Douglass was. I know you’ve already seen it, but let the stupid wash over you anew:

“I am very proud now that we have a museum on the National Mall where people can learn about Reverend King, so many other things, Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice.”

We’ve also learned that Black History month is about-you guessed it-Donald Trump. I knew he was a blackguard but had no idea he was a black dude…

I started some shenanigans on my Facebook feed tonight. I thought I should share:

After kicking that around awhile. I decided that game should be called-drum roll-Name That Bad Hombre. We can throw names out and guess if the Insult Comedian knows who the hell they are. The answer must be in the form of a Trumpism. Remember, he speaks Jerkish, not English so keep it simple, stupid. Speaking of KISS:

Gene Simmons? Yes. He was on Celebrity Apprentice. Amazing tongue, he’s doing a tremendous job with it.

Meatloaf? Yes. Cried too much when he was on Celebrity Apprentice. But Meatloaf is amazing, especially with ketchup.

Philip Roth? Not sure. Was he the gambler who went to Cuba with Tony Soprano? Tony is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice.

Beethoven? One of the beatniks. A bunch of bad, smelly dudes. My yuuuuuuuge wall will keep them out.

Zapata? One of the cartel guys, right? A very bad hombre. Believe me.

Susan B. Anthony? Was she the ugly skirt with the ax? A very, very nasty woman. Sad.

George Patton? The General whose name I mentioned during my record-setting landslide win. Not sure what war he was in but I love his leather: Patton leather. Beautiful.

I could go on and on but I won’t. Name That Bad Hombre could easily turn into a tremendous drinking game and we all need to drink more while the Trump-Bannon regime is in power. Believe me.

 

Philip Roth On Trumpism

Roth

There’s been a lot of chatter about dystopian novels of late. I cannot imagine why. I’ll save my take on 1984 for another time, but if you haven’t read Philip Roth’s 2004 novel The Plot Against America, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. In the book, Charles Lindbergh is nominated by the GOP in 1940 and defeats Franklin Roosevelt on a platform of  isolationism and appeasement with the help of Nazi Germany. In the real world, the Nazis were paying off prominent isolationist Senators who, despite the rhetoric, put America second and their wallets first. It all sounds painfully familiar, doesn’t it?

The 83-year-old Roth has retired from writing but shared his views about Trumpism via email with the New Yorker’s Judith Thurman. Below are some excerpts of their electronic epistolary exchange. Try saying that four times. Dare ya.

Roth wrote in the Times Book Review that “The Plot Against America” was not intended as a political roman à clef. Rather, he wanted to dramatize a series of what-ifs that never came to pass in America but were “somebody else’s reality”—i.e., that of the Jews of Europe. “All I do,” he wrote, “is to defatalize the past—if such a word exists—showing how it might have been different and might have happened here.”

Last week, Roth was asked, via e-mail, if it has happened here. He responded, “It is easier to comprehend the election of an imaginary President like Charles Lindbergh than an actual President like Donald Trump. Lindbergh, despite his Nazi sympathies and racist proclivities, was a great aviation hero who had displayed tremendous physical courage and aeronautical genius in crossing the Atlantic in 1927. He had character and he had substance and, along with Henry Ford, was, worldwide, the most famous American of his day. Trump is just a con artist. The relevant book about Trump’s American forebear is Herman Melville’s ‘The Confidence-Man,’ the darkly pessimistic, daringly inventive novel—Melville’s last—that could just as well have been called ‘The Art of the Scam.’ ”

It’s hard to argue that point. Trump has become the most successful flim-flam man in American history. In fact, his white nationalist regime has stolen our history and put it on a perilous path of putrid populism. I love the smell of alliteration in the morning.

Another quote from the great novelist:

“It isn’t Trump as a character, a human type—the real-estate type, the callow and callous killer capitalist—that outstrips the imagination. It is Trump as President of the United States.

“I was born in 1933,” he continued, “the year that F.D.R. was inaugurated. He was President until I was twelve years old. I’ve been a Roosevelt Democrat ever since. I found much that was alarming about being a citizen during the tenures of Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. But, whatever I may have seen as their limitations of character or intellect, neither was anything like as humanly impoverished as Trump is: ignorant of government, of history, of science, of philosophy, of art, incapable of expressing or recognizing subtlety or nuance, destitute of all decency, and wielding a vocabulary of seventy-seven words that is better called Jerkish than English.”

That’s a tremendous analysis of a very, very bad dude. Believe me.

I would love to hear Roth’s take on the brown eminence behind Trump, Steve Bannon. I’ve been shouting from the rooftops about Bannon since last summer. I’m glad people are finally taking notice of this sinister albeit rumpled figure. Trump is not only Putin’s useful idiot, he’s Bannon’s as well.

I’ll give Philip Roth the last word:

“My novel wasn’t written as a warning. I was just trying to imagine what it would have been like for a Jewish family like mine, in a Jewish community like Newark, had something even faintly like Nazi anti-Semitism befallen us in 1940, at the end of the most pointedly anti-Semitic decade in world history. I wanted to imagine how we would have fared, which meant I had first to invent an ominous American government that threatened us. As for how Trump threatens us, I would say that, like the anxious and fear-ridden families in my book, what is most terrifying is that he makes any and everything possible, including, of course, the nuclear catastrophe.”

 

Bannon’s B3 Brownshirts & The Chaos Principle

It’s official: Donald Trump had the worst first week of any President* in American history. It was so bad that I debated with a friend as to whether he was already the worst ever. I still think it’s too early to tell since Buchanan and W are responsible for wars and economic calamity. Trump hasn’t passed Andrew Johnson either BUT he’s building a strong case for worst ever and he’s only been at it for 10 days. I don’t think our cause benefits from hyperbole and overstatement. You can only fight lies with the truth and delusion with reality.

I admitted the other day to knowing very little about higher maths. I have, however, heard of the Chaos Principle:

Chaos is the science of surprises, of the nonlinear and the unpredictable. It teaches us to expect the unexpected. While most traditional science deals with supposedly predictable phenomena like gravity, electricity, or chemical reactions, Chaos Theory deals with nonlinear things that are effectively impossible to predict or control, like turbulence, weather, the stock market, our brain states, and so on.

It looks like Steve Bannon and his B3 Brownshirts are inspired by the Chaos Principle, at least by analogy. Team Trump is trying to inject so much chaos and confusion into our polity that repression will be required to maintain order. I seriously doubt if the Insult Comedian himself has such a plan: all he ever does is wing it without thought to the implications. Bannon, however, has emerged as first among equals in the West Wing. He’s capable of complex, devious, and downright evil thought. Bannon has Trump’s ear and the Dear Leader Wannabe seems to agree with the last person he spoke to.

In short, Bannon and his fellow white nationalists want to create the circumstances in which a right-wing revolution is possible. Those circumstances do not currently exist. Bitching about the government is as American as apple pie, it doesn’t amount to instant homegrown fascism. That is definitely a long-term threat but we have the mechanisms to stop it: people power and lawyers, lawyers, lawyers. Political courage on the part of elected officials seems to be in short supply but the longer this constitutional crisis lasts the bolder they will become. Talk of collaboration with the Trumpers has become much less common since they came to power.

The good news is that Team Trump’s Muslim ban was issued without co-ordination with the agencies obliged to enforce it and they didn’t even run it by their own lawyers. That makes it eminently susceptible to legal challenge. It was, apparently, pulled out of Rudy Noun Verb 9/11’s ass:

I’ll tell you the whole history of it. So when he first announced it he said, “Muslim ban.” He called me up and said, “Put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally.” I put a commission together with Judge Mukasey, with Congressman McCaul, Pete King, a whole group of other very expert lawyers on this. And what we did was we focused on, instead of religion, danger. The areas of the world that create danger for us. Which is a factual basis. Not a religious basis. Perfectly legal, perfectly sensible, and that’s what the ban is based on. It’s not based on religion. It’s based on places where there are substantial evidence that people are sending terrorists into our country.

That is, of course, nonsense. The order discriminates against people because of their religion, and all the lies in the world won’t change that. The fact that an exception was made for Christians from the affected countries is proof of discriminatory intent as is Giuliani’s need to brag about his role in the ban. He’s really turning into his master. Giuliani’s success in masterminding the Comey coup has gone to his head, and he was already a raging egomaniac. This is terrific evidence for the legal eagles to pounce on. Thanks, Rudy. I can imagine Justice Anthony Kennedy’s head spinning as I write this. I am as likely to vote Republican as he is to uphold this executive order if it reaches SCOTUS.

This policy is based on Islamophobic fantasies, not reality. That’s a recurring theme for Team Trump’s Bannon wing. In addition to the Chaos Principle, they believe in what one might call the Goebbels corollary: the bigger the lie, the more believable it is. This is propaganda, not spin. The MSM is finally showing signs of coming to grips with that. It’s a pity that they didn’t do so during the late campaign. The MSM and the “Clinton is just as bad as Trump” crowd bear a lot of responsibility for the mess we find ourselves in. I hope the Steiners and Busters enjoyed the events of this weekend. They have a share of the blame. I may “Nazi punch” the next purity troll who tells me their vote didn’t matter because they were in a red state or some other lame excuse. Every vote in every election matters.

The Trumpers have clearly overreached. The order placing Steve Bannon on the National Security Council is the best example I can think of. That body has been moribund for many years BUT excluding the Director of National Intelligence and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff sends a dangerous signal that Steve Bannon is running the show. It doesn’t get much worse than that but the order’s impact is symbolic for now. For now. That’s always the rub with this crowd.

One thing I’ve noticed about Bannon and his B3 Brownshirts is that they admire Soviet-style tactics. They’ve done some things that Stalin would have applauded such as placing what amounts to “political commissars” at cabinet departments and agencies. This sort of convergence of the far left and extreme right doesn’t surprise me at all.  This creeping Sovietism/Putinism is also reflected by their Holocaust remembrance day proclamation. It’s the first time an American administration has referred to the Holocaust without mentioning Jews. They’re pandering to the Holocaust denialists and minimizers. What’s next? An invitation for Davids Irving and Duke to visit the White House? Nothing would surprise me in the Chaos Principle era.

The one piece of advice I have for the nascent anti-Trump movement is to pace yourselves. The world is a complicated place and it cannot be changed in a day. This is going to be a long, hard slog and burn-out is a risk. Make sure to do whatever it is you do for fun It’s a lesson that New Orleanians learned during the post-Katrina/Federal Flood era. We were widely criticized for having Carnival in 2006. We knew better. It was necessary for our collective mental health. We continued rebuilding and pressuring the local, state, federal government for assistance but we took time out to enjoy life. It’s something that we can teach the rest of the country. There *is* a constitutional crisis now but stopping it won’t be helped by freaking out. Instead of freaking out: become better informed about American political history, and organize, organize, organize.

Vive les Maquis.

Your President* Speaks: The Trump Torture Challenge

There’s so much going on right now that I almost don’t know to begin. In the spirit of the Insult Comedian, I lied about that. It seems to be contagious, y’all. We begin with a brief post followed by a longer one later in the day. Uh oh, I’m speaking in the third person. Can I blame it on watching  Victoria or The Crown? Why the hell not: Trump does impulsive shit whilst watching teevee, so why not me?

The Trump Torture Challenge:  In between whining about bad press coverage and causing chaos at the nation’s airports, Trump has been talking torture. He likes it and he thinks it works. I think he learned this from 24. He does not, however, think that waterboarding is torture:

“So, waterboarding used to be used because they said it really wasn’t torture,” Trump told Hannity. “It was the one step slightly below torture. That’s why waterboarding…”

Hannity jumped in to say, “That’s why it was legal.”

“I mean, torture is real torture, okay?” Trump continued. “Waterboarding is — I’m sure it’s not pleasant, but waterboarding was just short of torture.”

The President added that he has spoken to people who said “absolutely it works.”

If it’s merely unpleasant, I hereby challenge the Current Occupant to undergo waterboarding. He *was* willing to subject the nutria pelt atop his head to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge:

It would be all manly and shit if he clambered to the top of Trump Tower and got waterboarded. You claim it’s not torture, prove it, Donald.

It’s time for some lagniappe in a segment I call,

Delta Ate My Homework: Twitter is where the Insult Comedian pitches his public toddler tantrums and searches for scapegoats. He was at it again this morning:

He should try blaming Russian hackers. People *might* believe that. Of course, his BFF Vlad would not like that one bit. And Trump has gotta dance with the ones who brung him to the White House. It’s hard to imagine him dancing with Comey who is a tall motherfucker but Putin is the right size to tango with Trump.

That concludes this edition of Your President* Speaks.

“Fuck You Nation” – National Edition

A year or two back, I coined the term “Fuck You Nation” to capture the general sense of how people in this country were tending to treat one another. The argument at the time was that when it came to the rise of Donald Trump, the mistrust of the media and the general sense of political discord, people were less “pro” something and more “fuck you” toward people they saw as “the opposition.” At the core of the argument was a general sense of self-righteousness, absolute certainty and an overwhelming sense of anger and bile.

If President Trump’s first week in office is any indication, I might soon need to patent that term and put it on T-Shirts. That, of course, presupposes we all survive long enough to have shirts printed and that the First Amendment isn’t outlawed.

“ALTERNATIVE FACTS:” We used to call these things “lies” or “bullshit” but now we have a whole new term. For fronting a party that hates politically correct language, Kellyanne Conway is doing a great job of coming up with some of her own. In defending Sean Spicer’s argument that the crowds at Trump’s inauguration were record-breaking and larger than Obama’s, she said it’s clear that Spicer just used “alternative facts.” In other words, “I see that you are saying X by supporting it with all sorts of information, but clearly it isn’t within my narrative, so I’m going to just tell you that you are wrong because the public has the attention span of a meth-addled squirrel.” In short, “Fuck you and your faggy little reliance on facts. REAL AMERICANS KNOW BETTER!”

We are so close to changing the national anthem from the “Star-Spangled Banner” to Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me.”
“OPPOSITION PARTY:” Steve Bannon, who seems to be sporting the “probable cause” look, granted an interview to the NY Times this week in which he told the paper that the media is “the opposition party.” He also said the media needs to keep its mouth shut,” something that is not only grammatically incorrect but runs counter to the whole purpose of the media.

Bannon’s case is a simple one and it rests at the core of Fuck You Nation: We won, you lost, so go fuck off for a while. He relies on the narrative that reeks of populism and group-based conflict studies: Demonstrate superiority, cite things in an authoritative way without providing documentation, rally support within your group through glittering generalities and call into question the motives of people who disagree with you, rather than focusing on the disagreement. Perhaps most reflective of all these elements is a single quote:

“The elite media got it dead wrong, 100 percent dead wrong,” Mr. Bannon said of the election, calling it “a humiliating defeat that they will never wash away, that will always be there.”

Bannon’s quote ignores key elements of reality (the popular vote, the media weren’t running for anything) and uses a single fact to create an overreaching singular reality (Donald Trump won the presidency, ergo all things he said are clearly 100 percent right and should be supported by this nation.)

In short, “Fuck you and your whiny bullshit. Shut up and get out of our way while we fix things.”

“GASLIGHTING:” During the past nine years, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out what makes the asshole in my department tick. His ability to manipulate reality to fit his needs, rely on rules one minute while discarding them the next and the absolute certainty in which he took positions I knew were wrong fascinated me. I’d never dealt with someone like this and I had to understand it. About three years ago or so, I came across the book, “The Gaslight Effect” by Robin Stern. I remember reading through it and thinking, “Holy shit, this is a real thing. I’m not going crazy.”

Gaslighting is now the hot term and it has come to represent an “Emperor has no clothes” moment for the Left. However, it’s a lot more complicated than ego, manipulation or trying to create the Fourth or Fifth Reich (whichever we’re on now…). Gaslighting is both psychological manipulation and unyielding abuse that removes an individual’s sense of self and crushes the human spirit for another person’s selfish gains.

In a psychological sense, this is easy to understand, as manipulation, groupthink and other concepts have been studied for decades. Asch’s seminal work on conformity makes it easy enough to see what happens when something that appears so real and obvious to one person is contradicted repeatedly by others. Sane people tend to want to “see it from another point of view” or “avoid upsetting the apple cart” to the point of subjugating their own (accurate) reality to that of others. In other words, when Line B is clearly the longest, you still want to figure out why it is that everyone else in the group (all confederates for the experiment) is picking Line A. Eventually, like Picard, you come really close to saying there are Five Lights.

This leads to the second part (crushing opposition) and it is why the lines about voter fraud and crowd sizes are so scary. If people are willing to go against all present data to agree with an obvious lie, what happens when the stakes are higher? Say, a border fence? Or a war?

The problem with the Gaslighting Effect is that those who use it will never admit they are wrong. They might eventually give up the topic or change strategies on it, but they’ll never say, “Yep, you got me there!” A perfect example of this came yesterday when Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto cancelled his meeting with Trump in the wake of Trump’s continued movement toward a border wall. Nieto came out and said, “Look, if you’re going to keep this shit up, I’m not going to come and even bother talking with you.” Rather than let it look like he got stood up for prom, Trump said this:

“We have agreed to cancel our planned meeting,” Mr. Trump said in a new conference Thursday afternoon. “Unless Mexico is going to treat the U.S. fairly, with respect, such a meeting would be fruitless, and I want to go a different route. We have no choice.”

By recasting this as a mutual thing, it looks less like Trump got stuck holding the bag and more like he was the one saying, “Look, unless you’re going to build this wall, you can stay on your side of the river and suck a burrito.”

This is what makes Trump so dangerous and it’s also what makes him so popular. Again, Fuck You Nation rears its ugly head: “You want me to say I’m wrong? Fuck you.”

 

In the end, the core of Trump will always be tied to “Fuck You Nation.” I read his inaugural and, honestly, it was really appealing and unvarnished from a middle-America perspective. There are a shit ton of empty factories in places where I live (and have lived). There aren’t a lot of good jobs for people of all walks of life can get. It often seems like we’re running around the world looking for something to fix instead of investing in people back home. If you want to be the president of the United States, shouldn’t you put the needs of the U.S. and its people at the front of the line? These things, on the flat face of them, do make a lot of sense to a lot of people who feel they have been forgotten because we now all have to worry about who gets to use which bathroom.

Trump makes the big picture small: You personally got shafted. I’ll help you get yours. However, this is like playing chess with a myopic obsession of moving a rook repeatedly. It’s never supposed to be about one piece for a president. It’s supposed to be about the board.

But when you are that one piece, everything he does makes sense:

“The world has told you, John Q. Public, ‘Hey, buddy, fuck you.’ Now, let’s turn this around and tell those people, ‘No, FUCK YOU.’”

Your President* Speaks: Into The Muir Woods Edition

The advent of the Trump administration means it’s time to revive a recurring feature that predates my time at First Draft. It was predominantly used by Holden when he was the press gaggle maven here and President Malaprop was in office. Like Charlie Pierce, I have added an asterisk to the word President* since I vow to never refer to the Insult Comedian as such. Holy Ford Fucking Frick, Batman. That was the name of the baseball commish who put an asterisk in the record book after Roger Maris’ 61 homers in ’61. His middle name was not fucking but what’s a bit of dramatic license between friends? Frick the motherfrakker anyway.

Speaking of amateur theatrics, the whiner-in-chief gave an interview to ABC anchor David Muir. It had nothing to do with either Muir Woods or Stephen Sondheim but a pun is a pun is a pun. Hmm, Demure Woods sounds like a porn star name…

Let’s start with Trump’s “illegals cost me the popular vote” lie. I’ve heard of sore losers before but a sore winner is a new one on me.

MUIR: What you have presented so far has been debunked. It’s been called ….. false.

TRUMP: No, it hasn’t. Take a look at the Pew reports.

MUIR: I called the author of the Pew report last night. And he told me that they found no evidence of voter fraud.

TRUMP: Really? Then why did he write the report?

MUIR: He said no evidence of voter fraud.

TRUMP: Excuse me, then why did he write the report?  According to Pew report, then he’s — then he’s groveling again. You know, I always talk about the reporters that grovel when they wanna write something that you wanna hear but not necessarily millions of people wanna hear or have to hear.

You know what the old song says, true love travels on a grovel road.

Next up, Trump’s dubious claims that his CIA speech (wherein he said the word I 120 times) was a tremendous success:

 MUIR: Mr. President, I just have one more question on this. And it’s — it’s bigger picture. You took some heat after your visit to the CIA in front of that hallowed wall, 117 stars — of those lost at the CIA. You talked about other things. But you also talked about crowd size at the inauguration, about the size of your rallies, about covers on Time magazine. And I just wanna ask you when does all of that matter just a little less? When do you let it roll off your back now that you’re the president?

TRUMP: OK, so I’m glad you asked. So, I went to the CIA, my first step. I have great respect for the people in intelligence and CIA. I’m — I don’t have a lot of respect for, in particular one of the leaders. But that’s okay. But I have a lot of respect for the people in the CIA.

That speech was a home run. That speech, if you look at Fox, OK, I’ll mention you — we see what Fox said. They said it was one of the great speeches. They showed the people applauding and screaming and — and they were all CIA. There was — somebody was asking Sean — “Well, were they Trump people that were put–” we don’t have Trump people. They were CIA people.

That location was given to me. Mike Pence went up before me, paid great homage to the wall. I then went up, paid great homage to the wall. I then spoke to the crowd. I got a standing ovation. In fact, they said it was the biggest standing ovation since Peyton Manning had won the Super Bowl and they said it was equal. I got a standing ovation. It lasted for a long period of time. What you do is take — take out your tape — you probably ran it live. I know when I do good speeches. I know when I do bad speeches. That speech was a total home run. They loved it.

Peyton Manning spoke at Langley? We all know the Darnold brought a claque of sycophants along to cheer him on just in case the “CIA Nazis” were unresponsive. The ovation was tremendous. Believe me.

After going on some more about the inaugural crowd, Trump compared himself favorably to past Oval Ones:

I can be the most presidential person ever, other than the great Abe Lincoln.

I have my doubts. With the obvious exception of W, most past Presidents could speak the language above a 3rd grade level. It’s nice that Donald thinks at least one previous President ranks above him though.

There was more crazy in the interview but I think three entries will do. I don’t want to, uh, torture you with Trumpisms, after all. Elsewhere on the internets, I referred to this interview in a Graftonesque manner: B is for bonkers, berserk, and bat shit crazy. That about sums it up.

That concludes this edition of Your President Speaks.

 

 

Quote Of The Day: Rude Pundit Edition

I somehow missed this a few weeks back but it’s still an unforgettable quote about Trump’s so-called forgotten people:

What you’re calling “elitism” is just simply not being ignorant. We don’t have our heads shoved up Jesus’s ass. And when the left gets angry because of how fucking dumb some of the shit coming out of rural and red mouths is, we’re told we need to understand what they believe. No, we’re just gonna say that stupid is stupid.

You can stop explaining the white working class rural conservative Christian farming folk, hot-takers and self-justifiers. Instead, why don’t you explain liberalism to them? Why don’t you explain that jobs are drying up and communities are dying not because of abortion and same-sex marriage but because of Republican economic policies that have favored the wealthy, most of whom live in cities, including a certain president-elect they voted for who took advantage of those very policies in order to stay rich? Ultimately, though, it won’t matter. Because despite every fucking word to the contrary, the real problem is that those who voted for Trump are racist. They are sexist. They are Islamophobic. They are ignorant.

The whole thrust of these “let’s learn about the yokels” articles is to imply that there are real Americans and there are coastal elites. Sorry, motherfuckers. We’re all Americans. And if I have to suffer under your stupid, you have to hear about our smarts.

The worst thing about the “empathize with the stupid” crowd is that most of them wouldn’t know a trailer park from a parking lot. The Rude Pundit is from that background. I’m not but I choose to bask in the glow of his reflected glory. I also live in the Deep South and have met my share of Trump’s so-called forgotten people; many of whom are unforgettable in a non-Nat King Cole kind of way.

Bigotry and willful ignorance are never acceptable. Neither is pandering to the 1/3 or so of Trump voters who are the genuine deplorables described by the winner of the popular vote. They’re the ones who chanted “lock her up” and “build the wall” during the late campaign. The only way to win over the worst of the worst is to abandon what the Dudebro alt-left calls “identity politics.” I am unwilling to abandon people of color, feminists, religious minorities, and the LGBTQ community.  I agree with the Rude One that we need a to do a better job explaining ourselves. One thing I am certain of is that Cafeteria Trumpism won’t work just as Reaganism with a Human Face did not work.

In honor of the Rude Pundit, I’ll give the early and very clean-cut Wailers the last word:

 

Sean Spicer Can Lie & Chew Gum At The Same Time

In a word, GROSS:

Everybody knows that breakfast is the most important meal, a time to stock up on nutrient-rich foods that give us the energy we need to tackle the day. Or, if you’re White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, it’s a time to chew and swallow 35 sticks of Orbit cinnamon gum.

In an August 2016 profile in the Washington Post, Spicer cops to a gum habit the likes of which we haven’t seen since May of 2016:

This is the face of today’s Republican Party: The nose is pinched, the hair is sandy blond, the eyes are intense. But all you really need to know can be seen in the mouth. This is where Spicer’s talent and nervous energy meet. Watch it open wide enough to inhale his phone as he yells at an editor. Behold its versatility, as he at once chastises Trump for calling Mexicans rapists and murderers while also lauding him for calling attention to the issue of illegal immigration. Even when he is not speaking, it works on overdrive, churning through pieces of Orbit cinnamon gum, which he chews and swallows whole. Notwithstanding his line of work, the man just can’t stand a gross-feeling mouth.

“Two and a half packs by noon,” said Spicer. “I talked to my doctor about it, he said it’s no problem.”

I hate gum and sometimes use gun chewer as a slur, especially when someone is gumming up the works. Gum chewers are gross: they stick it on tables, chairs, and throw it on the ground when its rendered tasteless. Invariably, I’m the guy who gets it stuck on his shoe. This gives me an entirely new reason to dislike Sean Spicer although his rampant mendacity is a better one.

Before becoming the alternative facts guy, Spicer was best known for his stupid feud with Dippin’ Dots ice cream. One could call this dispute: the Dipshit versus Dippin’ Dots.

Speaking of gum chewing morons, Rick Perry was caught blowing bubbles during the Insult Comedian’s inauguration. I’m not sure if he swallows but here’s proof positive that he blows:

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It’s almost as strange as the time Perry was caught playing with a bottle of maple syrup whilst campaigning in New Hampshire in 2011:

It’s going to be a long four years, y’all. I have my doubts that either Spicer or Perry will last the duration. I also doubt that Perry can walk and chew gum at the same time. I do, however, have a suggestion for a theme song for that bubble headed booby from Texas:

 

Mock Jazz Funeral For Lady Liberty

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We do things differently in New Orleans. We know how to put a joyful spin on the direst situation. That’s what happened last Friday as the Insult Comedian took the oath of office and gave his B3 alt-right “American carnage” speech. A crowd gathered at Armstrong Park in Treme and threw a political jazz funeral full of music, mirth, mockery, and, of course, costumes.

I did not costume as I decided to attend the day before. I went instead for a Krewe du Vieux gentile rabbinical look:

Three amigos

Photograph by Julie Graybill.

That’s me with two of my favorite people in New Orleans: Andy and Bob. Self-described lefty carpenter Andy built the coffin for Lady Liberty. It was an overcast day in the Crescent City, which explains my pallor. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. It’s hard being a gentile rabbi in the city.

There were some amazing costumes as you can see below. One might call this Pussygrabber and the Walking Vaginas. Sounds like a swell band name to me.

Pussygrabber and the Walking Vaginas.

Photograph by Dakinikat.

Please give them a tiny hand of applause for their creativity.

My official blog photographer had to work and I didn’t take any decent pictures because I was preoccupied with a feline health scare. Oscar refused to eat and hid from us that morning. I think it may have been the general vibe of Inauguration Day: he’s a very empathetic cat who takes a dim view of the man whose hair resembles a nutria pelt. In any event, he was back to normal by that evening. Let’s just call it an anti-Trump hunger strike.

The march was great fun and lifted our spirits considerably. As we walked down Canal Street, some tourists gathered to watch. I loudly encouraged them to join in and some did. There was also a couple in a hotel room who waved and took pictures of the march. The only reason it’s noteworthy is that they were wrapped in towels or sheets. Probably honeymooners.

One highlight of the day was running into an old acquaintance, Campbell Robertson. He’s the Gray Lady’s man in New Orleans. I had the pleasure of introducing him to event spokesperson Annie Spell as “Campbell Robertson of the failing New York Times.” I introduced him as such to several friends including my two-woman Krewe of Spank posse of Jennifer and Lyndsey. They deserve special mention because they were my cocktail techs and brought me a Pimm’s Cup when we reached the riverfront Moonwalk. Thanks, y’all.

The one discordant note of the day occurred on the riverfront. The Moonwalk is named for the current mayor’s father, former Mayor Moon Landrieu. It’s a swell place to sit on a bench and watch life on the Big Muddy. It’s also a popular spot for some of the more aggressive homeless men to congregate; one of whom was NOT amused by the marchers. I believe he called us Moonwalk moonbats or some such shit.

That’s right, a really scuzzy homeless guy with a confederate flag patch on his tattered jeans upbraided us for not giving Trump a chance. I did not engage with him but some of our number did. He informed us that he wasn’t homeless, he was a bum and damn proud of it. Why that’s better is beyond me. It’s a pity that he didn’t have a sign proclaiming: Riverfront Bums For Trump. He delivered something that could be called either a stinky soliloquy or a rancid rant, here’s the gist of it:

What the fuck is wrong with you fucking people? The man has been President for 30 minutes. Give him a chance. Why don’t you damn moonbats go somewhere else and stop ruining my view.

He then pulled out his pet rat and began juggling it. I am not making this up, y’all. That was when marchers stopped engaging with him. Who wants to engage with a rat juggling Trumper, after all. I bet you don’t have those in your town. I almost suggested that he show up at Trump Tower and declare his fealty to the Insult Comedian. I bit my tongue because this is one of the so-called forgotten people who I would prefer to forget.

I had to peel off from the protest at the mid-way point to go home and check on the aforementioned ailing feline. My brain wanted to march the next day but my legs weren’t crazy about the idea. Besides, we had a Krewe du Vieux commitment. The New Orleans Women’s March was a rousing success with an estimated crowd of 10K. It was one of the biggest non-Carnival marches in the city’s long history. I’m very proud of my people. Of course, we’re a blue island in a sea of red so it didn’t surprise me.

If you’re interested in a journalistic account of the Mock Jazz Funeral, Dave Lohr covered it for the Huffington Post as did Doug MacCash of the Zombie-Picayune and Chevel Johnson of the AP.

Here are a few more pictures courtesy of my dear friend Julie Graybill who wore widow’s weeds that day as did the woman in the first picture:

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Finally, here’s one for our resident GOT fanatic, Athenae:

NOLA winter has come.

Contemplating the rat-juggling waterfront bum for Trump has given me a benign earworm, so I’ll give the good old Grateful Dead the last word:

Alternative Facts Check

The tweeting classes had a lot of fun with Kellyanne Conway’s latest whopper. You know, the one about Sean Spicer and “alternative facts.” The only surprising thing about this episode is that *anyone* is surprised. This is how Team Trump campaigned and it’s how they plan to govern. The mendacity starts at the top: Trump is the liar-in-chief.

The Insult Comedian is a pathological liar. He’s gotten away with it his entire life. He lies like you or I would scratch an itch. His egregious lying got him to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and there is no reason to think that he will stop. It’s what he does best. Everything about him must be the biggest or the best. If it’s not, he makes shit up.

The constant lying about insignificant things like crowd size will eventually take its toll on his staff. We’ll learn soon enough who among then has even a scintilla of integrity. Proximity to power is intoxicating but even power junkies get tired of being demeaned and insulted. Speaking of which, Trump has already dissed his hapless press secretary:

Loyalty is a one-way street in Trumpland. He is incapable of telling the truth without embellishment even when it’s in his self-interest. And he expects others to do likewise even on trivial matters. It’s what psychopaths do.

Past Presidents and Press Secretaries lied about things they believed to be important. This group lies just to stay in practice. Welcome to the post-truth world.

Saturday Odds & Sods: 21st Century Schizoid Man

Hell by William Blake

Dante’s Hell by William Blake.

The weather is New Orleans has been as schizoid as our national politics. If only the latter was ephemeral as the weather. It’s been foggy, damp, and unseasonably warm. I know that may sound good to the ice people out there but I could use some consistency. I loathe running the AC in January but had to break down and do so because the house was so damn damp. So it goes.

As much I hate to do this, I’m going to keep this post as brief as the Insult Comedian’s attention span. Here’s why: I usually write the Saturday post on Friday and I decided to attend one of the New Orleans marches against the incoming maladministration. I hope that everyone who marches this weekend will engage in practical politics during the Insult Comedian’s misrule. I’m reminded of Barney Frank’s aphorism: liberals protest, conservatives vote. The time has come for us to do both. I’ll write about the local festivities on Monday.

The good news for Odds & Sods irregulars is that I *have* selected a theme song and it’s a doozy. The lyrics of 21st Century Schizoid Man were written by Pete Sinfield and the music by the members of King Crimson Mach One: Robert Fripp, Greg Lake, Ian McDonald, and Michael Giles. It’s a dark and gloomy prog-rock anthem that’s just as relevant today as when it was first recorded in 1969. The lyrics certainly are:

Cat’s foot iron claw
Neuro-surgeons scream for more
At paranoia’s poison door
Twenty first century schizoid man

Blood rack barbed wire
Politicians’ funeral pyre
Innocents raped with napalm fire
Twenty first century schizoid man

Death seed blind man’s greed
Poets’ starving children bleed
Nothing he’s got he really needs
Twenty first century schizoid man

We begin with the original version from In The Court Of The Crimson King. Its classic screaming man cover was featured in an early edition of Album Cover Art Wednesday:

Let’s move on to a live version from King Crimson Mach 3. It’s my favorite KC band: John Wetton bass and vocals, David Cross on violin, Bill Bruford on percussion alongside founding member/band leader Robert Fripp on lead guitar.

Greg Lake sang lead on the original studio recording and trotted it out from time-to-time onstage with ELP:

I had one recurring segment prepared and since it features one of the other founders of prog, I thought it was best to leave in it. I don’t want Roger Waters going off on me, after all.

Saturday Classic: Pink Floyd did a one-off reunion of its classic line-up in 2005. David Gilmour and Roger Waters briefly buried the hatchet before resuming their feud.

That’s it for this week. Now that the lunatic is on the White House grass, I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon. Below is a reminder of better times. I already miss Uncle Joe.

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