Category Archives: Race

Fear Itself

It’s getting ugly out there. We already knew that the only way the Insult Comedian knows how to run for office is by scaring his supporters shitless. We’re used to the GOP running a disgusting base election: they’ve been doing it since at least 1988, but it’s reached new heights (depths?) 30 years later.

Donald Trump is a real estate developer. The phrase “soft sell” is not in his limited lexicon. Watching him on the stump is like lumping together the worst used car salescreeps you’ve ever dealt with and multiplying it by a factor of 10.

The Insult Comedian goes past the hard sell to the racist sell. He’s finally come out of the closet of horrors as a an unabashed nationalist. That’s white nationalist to people like us, even though the salesman has the orange glow of the tanning bed or spray tan.

We’re hearing a lot about the “illegal immigrant” caravan; the timing of which is suspicious to me but unlike the president* and his ilk, I prefer not to level unsubstantiated charges. On second thought, if the caravan is being financed by an American fat cat, it’s more likely to be a Robert Mercer-type than a George Soros-type even if the latter is so omnipotent that some fucker tried to bomb his house.

Whipping up anti-Hispanic xenophobia is not enough, now they’re claiming that there are “unknown Middle Easterners” marching north. Another day, another lie.

The Trumper base is so terrified that one of them said this to the Failing New York Times:

But Mr. Trump’s dystopian imagery has clearly left an impression with some. Carol Shields, 75, a Republican in northern Minnesota, said she was afraid that migrant gangs could take over people’s summer lake homes in the state.

“What’s to stop them?” said Ms. Shields, a retired accountant. “We have a lot of people who live on lakes in the summer and winter someplace else. When they come back in the spring, their house would be occupied.”

I guess the Latins will become squatters at some lake houses and the “unknown Middle Easterners” will bomb the rest. They’re clearly taking a bead on Minnesota: they’re into middleness, will their next stop after the Midwest be Middle Earth? The “unknown Middle Easterners” may even be armed with bone saws for all we know.

Nobody should be surprised that Donald Trump’s midterm strategy involves throwing lies against the wall and seeing how many stick. It reminds me of the spaghetti scene in The Odd Couple:

“Now it’s garbage” aptly describes Donald Trump’s entire political career and this campaign in particular. The next president is going to have a helluva mess to clean up. I’m sure Felix will be glad to help.

There’s a whiff of panic in the air among Democrats. That’s what the MSM and the GOP expect from us. It’s time for everyone to redouble their efforts to retake the House and defend vulnerable Democratic Senate seats in Florida, Indiana, Montana, and Missouri. We’re going to need fighters like Claire McCaskill and Jon Tester next year whether we’re in the majority or not.

I remain convinced that the key issues in 2018 are health care and the need to reign in a rogue regime. The Republicans are whipping their shrinking base into a frenzy. Let them do the panicking for a change. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: To Hell With The Trump Base.

In 13 days we will learn how many bigoted assholes there are in the country. Here’s hoping that enough voters will ignore the fear mongering of 45 and heed the words of the 32nd president and founder of the modern Democratic party, Franklin Delano Roosevelt:

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INSTANT UPDATE: Some Trump inspired motherfucker sent explosive devices to the Clinton’s house and Barack Obama’s office. The devices have been defused, the plot has been foiled. It’s to get both mad *and even.

UPDATE TOO: If you’re jittery about the election, Josh Marshall has a post up called: Everything Shows a GOP Resurgence Except for the Evidence. Shorter Adrastos: What Josh Said.

Red State Election Fuckery

While I’m avidly following the 2018 campaign, as a voter I’m on the sidelines because I have a Democratic Congressman, the Gret Stet statewide election is next year, and Double Bill Cassidy is not up until 2020. There *is* an important ballot initiative that will abolish non-unanimous jury verdicts but otherwise I’m mostly punditing in 2018.

I used a picture of the Selma Voting Rights Mural as a reminder of how precious the right to vote is. Voting rights were among the most important accomplishments of the Civil Rights movement. People have died for the right to vote. It’s why everyone should vote in every election: never forget the 2000 Florida recount that gave us the Bush-Cheney regime and the Iraq War. The world would be a different place if Al Gore had prevailed. Anyone who says Democrats don’t get mad and hold grudges has never spoken to me.

Minority voting rights remain under attack in red state America. Gerrymandering has had a deleterious impact on representative government. That’s why flipping state houses and leges is just as important as retaking Congress with a census coming up in 2020.

There are two egregious examples of red state election fuckery in 2018. In Georgia, Secretary of State Brian Kemp is the GOP nominee for Governor. He has refused to recuse himself from active involvement in managing the voters rolls and the election process. Some 53K voters have been purged from the polls: almost all of them African-Americans. If this is a coincidence, I’m a Republican.

Kemp’s Democratic opponent, Stacey Abrams, is trying to be the first African-American woman Governor in American history. She’s slightly behind in the public polls but has a good chance to win, especially if ant-voter purge litigation succeeds.  Abrams’ race has been overshadowed fund-raising wise by Betomania. If you’re looking to donate to a candidate with a chance to win, please consider helping Ms. Abrams. A black woman governing Georgia would send a powerful message to the world. It’s time to put the new back in New South.

Waller County, Texas sits between Houston and Austin. It is notorious for voter purges and has been since the local machine was run by Democrats, not Republicans. Waller County officials have been trying to prevent students at Prairie View A&M from voting since 1972. The reason is obvious: PVAMU is a historically black college.

Things have gotten out of control as an aide to Democratic Congressional candidate, Mike Siegel, was arrested after delivering a letter to Waller County authorities about the latest round of election fuckery. It appears that he was arrested for the crime of being a Democrat.

Last night, Rachel Maddow had a great segment on Waller County election fuckery:

If that doesn’t make you want to throw the Republican rascals out, I don’t know what will.

This is why the Supreme Court erred in gutting the Voting Rights Act. Fuck you, John Roberts.

Repeat after me: there are 25 days until the midterms. Tick tock, motherfuckers.

Can We Talk about How Shitty that Serena Cartoon Is?

We’ve been talking about how racist it is, but can we also talk about how it sucks? How it’s obvious and badly drawn and doesn’t make any point that anyone hasn’t ever made before about anything?

Australian cartoonist Mark Knight has defended his widely condemned cartoon of US tennis star Serena Williams, claiming that it was a true reflection of the events of the US Open women’s final.

The cartoon appeared in Monday’s edition of Australian tabloid The Herald Sun, and drew outrage on social media for depicting the 23-time Grand Slam winner with enlarged lips, a larger figure, a broken racket and a pacifier on the ground.

The guy who drew it says he “isn’t racist,” of course, because nobody “is racist” even if they are “doing racist things” and “saying racist stuff.” I’m less interested in how whether or not he’s racist than I am in how he’s so bad at his job.

I mean it. Our shittiest comedians and editorial cartoonists and columnists are so shitty because they grew up watching South Park and Bill Maher and reading The Onion and they think that anybody who says mean things is funny. So if they say loud rude fratty things about bitches and “aren’t politically correct” then that makes them comic geniuses or bleeding-edge social commentators. Usually this sort of thing gets beaten out of you in college but apparently these guys didn’t have editors who challenged their juvenilia.

“Area Homosexual Saves Four From Fire” is not a gay joke. The 9/11 issue wasn’t making fun of the terrorists. Bill catches shit not because he’s anti-Muslim and showily anti-religion but because he took on the powerful at a time when we didn’t do that so much. “Suicide bombers are braver than soldiers lobbing missiles from a distance” was a new thing to consider, at the time.

If you want to make people laugh or shock them, you have to be funny or original. You have to be smart, and willing to step to hard truths sure, but “black caricature” isn’t a hard truth. You think you’re the first person to make this crack, Mr. Australian Cartoonist? You’re not even the first person in a two-mile radius of my house to make this crack.

Someone needs to teach an entire generation or three the difference between an unpopular important opinion that people need to hear about because it’s truly critical, and something that will be “unpopular” because it’s just nasty and dumb.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Too Late To Turn Back Now

Parade by Jacob Lawrence

It was Katrinaversary week along the Gulf Coast. I wrote about that on the day itself. Nuff said. In related news, former Nagin henchman Greg Meffert aka Muppet crawled out from whatever stone he’s been hiding under since testifying against C Ray. He has a new book out, which I will be reviewing for the Bayou Brief next week. It’s bound to be unintentional comedy gold.

This week’s theme song, Too Late To Turn Back Now, was written by Eddie Cornelius. It was a monster hit in 1972 hitting #2 on the Billboard charts. It’s featured in the new Spike Lee joint; more about that later.

We have 2 versions for your listening pleasure. The original hit song by the Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose and a reggae-fied cover by the Chi-Lites.

It’s too late to turn back now, which is why we’re jumping to the break. Make that falling…

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Saturday Odds & Sods: The Calling

Tales from Topographic Oceans by Roger Dean.

Summer colds are the worst. I’ve been laid low by one. Achoo. My nose looks as if it belongs to Rudolph and I sound like Froggy in The Little Rascals. Shorter Adrastos: I’m going to keep this introduction concise lest writing it winds me. Hopefully, the rest of the post will make sense: I’m blogging hurt. Make that wheezy. Jeez, that sounds like an episode of The Jeffersons.

This week’s theme song is the stirring album opener from 1994’s Talk by Yes. Like many other fans, I call the Trevor Rabin-era band, Yes West. They moved their base of operation to Southern California in the 1980’s, and had a different sound than classic Yes; pop-prog as opposed to pure prog. Hence Yes West. The Calling was written by Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, and Chris Squire and it rocks like crazy.

We have two versions for your entertainment. First, a video featuring a goofy cosmic introduction by Jon Anderson. Second, a live version from the Talk tour that commences with an instrumental Perpetual Change.

While we’re on the subject of Yes, the featured image is Roger Dean’s cover of Tales from Topographic Oceans without the lettering.

Now that I’ve gone all art rocky on your asses, let’s jump to the break.

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GOP SOP

It’s human nature to want to think the best of people. Hell, even I give *most* people the benefit of the doubt, and I was first called a curmudgeon in my teens. But I don’t think this presumption should be extended to Republican politicians and anyone with the last name Trump.

Since the president* is on “holiday” at his golf club in Jersey, he’s had an itchy twitter finger. He’s made several admissions against legal interest and also slammed two high-profile African-American gents:

I thought the Kaiser of Chaos never watched “fake news” CNN. Guess he’s lying about that. Go figure.

The occasion for LeBron’s interview was the opening of a school for at risk kids in his hometown of Akron, Ohio that the hoops legend is funding. An act of generosity equivalent to his style as a “make everyone look good” basketball player. LeBron made a few mildly critical remarks about the Insult Comedian. I’m sure you’ve heard the details so I’ll skip them. It wasn’t as strong as this earlier LeBronism:

U Bum. How short and sweet it is.

The reasons, such as they are, behind Trump’s tweet are multi-faceted: projection of his own intellectual inferiority on to others and, most importantly, racist red meat for his idiot base. Trump has a habit of calling black people “dumb” or “low IQ” when, in fact, he’s the dumbass. It’s all a part of his pandering to the worst instincts in white America while dog howling (the whistle has been traded in for a larger model) his own bigotry.

The most interesting thing about the LeBron affair was the press and social media reaction to Melania Trump’s reaction. Melania’s people issued a statement that mildly praised LeBron:

“It looks like LeBron James is working to do good things on behalf of our next generation and just as she always has, the First Lady encourages everyone to have an open dialogue about issues facing children today.”

In a spurt of the sort of human generosity I alluded to at the top of post, people gushed praise of FLOTUS* including those who should know better. This is the same reaction that greets many of Ivanka Trump’s mild disagreements with her monstrous father when, in fact, she’s Agrippina to his Tiberius. (I guess that makes Junior, Nero.) Here’s how my pal Dakinikat put it in a post about the Sam Bee flap a few months back:

 I’d like to remind y’all that vaginas are deep and warm and Ivanka Trump is neither so I suggest we think of a better set of words to describe KKKremlin Caligula’s daughter than “feckless cunt”.  We could adopt Demoness reincarnation of Diva August or good ol’ Aunt Livia to keep it all in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Historically, Livia was the mother of Tiberius and if you know anything about Roman history of the time, you’ll know he was as perverted and evil as the rest of them. Remember, Rome was still supposed to be a Republic at the time but that dreadful set of ghouls–including the fiddling Nero–ruined nearly everything within a few generations.  We could give her a nick name based on Agrippina but that would be a weirder sexual dynamic than I’m prepared to put through my mind.  However, I am praying for a few good men with lean and hungry looks to end our Trumpvian nightmare.

I know that was a long-ass quote but I think good writing should be rewarded.

Back to the post title: it’s SOP (standard operating procedure) in the GOP for female relatives of a leader to soften their image. It’s been going on for years, most notably in the Bush family, as Slate’s Christina Cauterucci explains in a wonderfully titled piece, Make-Believe Mutiny:

In 2001, Laura Bush famously departed from her husband’s stance on abortion by saying she thought Roe v. Wade should stand. The first lady was contradicting her president spouse on an issue of great import, and at the time, I thought it was a gutsy move that could have a positive impact on GOP abortion politics.

<SNIP>

And before Laura, Barbara Bush criticized the GOP during George H.W. Bush’s second presidential campaign for enshrining a “fundamental individual right to life” for “the unborn child” in its party platform. The strategy neatly aligns with the right-wing model of a heterosexual partnership: The big tough man makes big tough decisions from a place of rational judgment and patriarchal authority, while the woman respectfully registers a slightly different opinion, borne of feminine emotion. He is free to take or leave her suggestion, which carries no meaningful weight or influence. If he does modify his stance to lean towards hers, he can claim that his hypermasculine immunity to empathy—a quality Republicans fetishize in their leaders—blinded him to the nuances of an issue that needed a female touch.

This is particularly important when the Republican president* is an asshole of epic proportions like Donald Trump. It’s well-nigh impossible to humanize Trumpberius but they’ll continue trying. The media and public should be leery of this because it’s just spin. In fact, it’s the only slightly skillful spin to come out of the Trump administration. So everyone should treat it as what it is: disinformation calculated to distract and divert attention from the evil incompetence of the Insult Comedian and his team of sycophants.

So, the next time Melania or Ivanka slightly deviates from the Trump line, just remember: it’s GOP SOP.

Malaka Of The Week: Jason Spencer

We live in an era of fake tough guys. It’s a phenomenon made worse by social media, which is full of nebbishes with keyboard courage. I don’t do Reddit but Twitter is jam-packed with tough talking bullies who are cowards in real life. As Dashiell Hammett put it: “The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter.”

The latest phony hard man to be exposed is Georgia State Representative Jason Spencer (R-Dipshit.) Sacha Baron Cohen literally pantsed this jerk on Who Is America? And that is why Jason Spencer is malaka of the week.

The first time Malaka Spencer came to my attention, he was in Lost Causer mode. He made empty threats against LaDawn Jones a former black legislator who supports removing Confederate monuments.

The lowest point was when Spencer told her that if she and others kept up their fight to rid the state of Confederate monuments, “I cant guarantee you won’t be met with torches but something a lot more definitive.”

Later, removing any doubt, he said the people who want the statues gone “will go missing in the Okefenokee,” referring to a swamp and national wildlife refuge near his home town. “To many necks they are red around here. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

That’s one of many reason this little creep deserved the comeuppance served to him by Erran Morad, Cohen’s Mossad agent character. Cohen convinced this idiot that, if he screamed the N-Word and pranced about with his pants down/ass out, that would somehow protect him from terrorists. You have to see it to believe it.

Spencer’s attempts at damage control were almost as ridiculous as the bit where he posed as a Chinese tourist who spouted off random Japanese phrases. They’re not the same, dude:

“Sacha Baron Cohen and his associates took advantage of my paralyzing fear that my family would be attacked. In posing as an Israeli Agent, he pretended to offer self-defense exercises. As uncomfortable as I was to participate, I agreed to, understanding that these ‘techniques’ were meant to help me and others fend off what I believed was an inevitable attack.

“My fears were so heightened at that time, I was not thinking clearly nor could I appreciate what I was agreeing to when I participated in his ‘class.’ I was told I would be filmed as a ‘demonstration video’ to teach others the same skills in Israel.

That’s the problem with fake tough guys like Spencer and his hero, Donald Trump. They’re motivated by fear. They try to fend it off by picking on people. It’s not only cowardly, it’s downright stupid. Who the hell is intimidated by a malaka with his pants down? Or by an Insult Comedian with a dead nutria pelt atop his head?

Top Georgia Republicans are calling for Spencer’s head based on his racist behavior. They should add another charge to their political indictment: he’s too stupid to represent a district in the state lege. And that is why Jason Spencer is malaka of the week.

UPDATE: Spencer will be taking his malakatude to the private sector. He’s announced that he’s resigning his seat at the end of the month.

How DID the GOP Become the Party of White Supremacy So Fast?

It’s an eternal mystery.

IRWINTON, Ga., Jan. 21— G. Harrold Carswell, President Nixon’s Supreme Court nominee, during a campaign for the Georgia Legislature in 1948, made a speech in which he said that he would always be governed by the “principles of white supremacy.”

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Get Together

Flying Eyeball by Rick Griffin.

To say that New Orleans is a football town is a grotesque understatement. Between the Saints and LSU Tigers, gridiron love runs deep in the Crescent City. But last Monday, local sports fans were talking about the NBA Pelicans. Our local hoopsters lost 2 players to free agency: Rajon Rondo and DeMarcus (Boogie) Cousins. The latter Boogied to the Warriors and the surly Rondo signed with the Lakers. I was one of the few  local hoops fans to take this in stride. Rondo was a team leader last year after 12 years as a locker room cancer and occasional gay basher. Boogie Cousins had a torn ACL, which is an injury that usually diminishes big men when they return. I had a torn ACL myself. It ended my unpromising career as a little leaguer. So it goes.

In other local news, new Mayor LaToya Cantrell continues her incomprehensible PR campaign:

I still haven’t the foggiest notion as to what “being intentional” means. Of course, I may just be unintentionally dim. I had an intentionally amusing twitter exchange inspired by the Mayor’s tweet. Two of my twitter friends evoked the image of Matt Foley, Chris Farley’s failed motivational speaker, culminating in this tweet from my old pal Liprap:

This week’s theme song is a bona fide hippie anthem. Get Together was written by Dino Valenti who is best known as lead singer for Quicksilver Messenger Service. Valenti was a man of many names: he was born Chester Powers and also wrote songs as Jesse Orris Farrow.

We have three versions of Get Together for your listening pleasure. First, the Youngbloods, a band so hippie dippy that their keyboard player was nicknamed Banana, followed by the pre-Grace Slick Jefferson Airplane, and a recent live version by Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore.

In case you’re wondering, the featured image is by Rick Griffin who was one of the legendary Sixties rock poster artists. The image itself was originally on a poster for a Youngbloods show at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco.

Now that we’ve discussed the Flying Eyeball, let’s make like Evel Knievel and jump to the break.

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Kirstjen’s Katrina Connection

It had to happen. Some pundits are calling the caged children scandal “Trump’s Katrina.” First, former Failing NYT editor Jill Abramson in the former Manchester Guardian followed by New Yorker editor David Remnick. To be fair, Remnick acknowledges a crucial difference:

Some pundits have suggested that what is happening now in Texas will be “Trump’s Katrina.” But, without excusing the racism and the indifference shown by the authorities in that horrific episode, it ought to be pointed out that at least the federal government did not order the flooding of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. What is happening now is purely gratuitous, a deliberate act of cruelty intended as leverage to build a “beautiful wall.” And it is a wall intended not only to block Mexicans and Central Americans from making their way into the United States but to divide the United States itself, in order to retain power.

Bush’s Katrina moment was based on incompetence and casual racism whereas the separated family scandal (I’m trying out different rubrics) is deliberate and based on incompetence as well as malicious racism. Shorter Adrastos: the shitheads want to keep out people from shithole countries. Team Trump *wanted* the outrage thinking it would gin up the baser elements of their base. This is what happens when Jeff Sessions, Stephen Miller and the Insult Comedian are driving the train. Hopefully, it will cause a wreck in November.

There’s a more interesting direct link to Katrina involving the very white lady at DHS:

Nielsen moved over to the White House as special assistant to the president and senior director for prevention, preparedness and response. She had that job in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast. Nielsen’s job didn’t involve coordinating storm response—she served more as an information conduit to the White House—but the George W. Bush administration’s botched response to Katrina reflected poorly on all involved.

A bipartisan report (pdf) prepared by the House of Representatives after Katrina specifically cites Nielsen for not recognizing the storm’s potential for destruction, although her office had received warnings. The Washington Post reported that “Nielsen was one of a handful of White House officials warned of the so-called ‘New Orleans scenario’: a hurricane rated Category 3 or higher hitting the city and bursting its aging levees.” Even after in the storm’s aftermath, with hundreds of people awaiting rescue, Nielsen’s office had trouble getting the attention of Bush, who went to California to give a speech. “It does not appear the president received adequate advice and counsel from a senior disaster professional,” according to the House report.

Nielsen is yet another example of upward mobility based on failure. She helped screw the Katrina pooch and ended up Homeland Security secretary.

I rarely watch Trump administration press briefings but I saw Nielsen the other day. It’s bad enough when the Press Secretary pleads ignorance, it’s infinitely worse when the person in charge of things does so. Nielsen made like Huck’s horrible spawn and said she hadn’t seen the images from South Texas or heard the heartbreaking recording of the weeping six-year-old Salvadoran girl. She told the assembled press corps that she’d look into it and get back to them. She’s done neither. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is a shitty role model, y’all.

Harry Truman famously had a sign on his desk saying “the buck stops here.” Team Trump is intent on passing the buck. Bigly. So much so that Dahlia Lithwick compiled a list of Trumper excuses, evasions, and downright lies in defense of this disgusting policy. Their spin doctors are so dizzy that *they* need a doctor. It’s a pity Ronnie Jackson is no longer there to minister to their needs.

Speaking of pointing the finger of blame, I recently read Bob Mann’s fabulous biography of Gret Stet Senator Russell Long. The events involving the very white lady at DHS put me in mind of Long’s legendary aphorism:

To say these are trying times is a grotesque understatement. We have a president* who tweets out shit like this:

Applying the word “infest” to human beings is straight out of the Goebbels playbook. The fucking moron president* may not know the history behind this but Stephen Miller does. Making matters even more grotesque is the fact that Miller is Jewish. Oy, just oy.

Back to the very white lady at DHS. I’d like to praise the folks who heckled her out of a Mexican restaurant in Washington City. And they say that irony is dead. Nielsen puts the tacky in taco.

I was tempted to call this post Kirstjen’s Katrina Konnection but decided that was a bit heavy-handed. I’m as fond of alliteration as anyone but it’s what the Ku Kluxers do, so include me out.

Finally, it may be a struggle in 2018 but I *still* try to be a glass half full person. That’s why Todd Rundgren gets the last word:

Hostages To Misfortune

Every time we think Trumpism cannot get worse, they exceed our already low expectations. The family separation policy makes sucking up to dictators and fighting with allies look positively tame. Angela Merkel is a tough woman who can take care of herself. Children torn from their parents cannot. Let the children go, Mr. Trump.

Team Trump’s chaotic messaging has made matters even worse. The very white lady at Homeland Security cannot keep her story straight, Jeff Bo is quoting the Bible, and the president* started blaming Democrats the minute the story blew up in the administration’s face. Democrats are supposed to repeal a non-existent law so the kids can go free and/or be deported. It’s the clusterfuck of clusterfucks. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos.

What’s really going on is a hostage crisis. Team Trump are the kidnappers. They’re making unreasonable demands: FUND THE WALL or else. The hostages are children torn from their parents and placed in cages, cells whatever you want to call them. What’s important is that this outrage stop. Pronto.

Trump has no problem using immigrant children as hostages. There’s a long history in this country of demonizing non-white children as Rebecca Onion pointed out at Slate:

Like so many cruelties that have intensified under Trumpism, the idea that only white American children are truly “innocent” and worthy of protection isn’t his invention—it’s just subtext, made text. As historian Tera Hunter wrote in the New York Times, “child-snatching” has a long history in the United States. Black parents in slavery and Native American parents facing white colonialism had children sold, killed, or put into boarding schools and re-educated out of their culture. “Nits make lice,” Col. John Chivington is supposed to have said before the Sand Creek Massacre in Colorado in 1864, when his soldiers killed a group of Cheyenne and Arapaho, women, children, and all. Part of the rationale for these atrocities was that these children are not really children, in the way white people understand it—those families were not really families, and those people were not really people.

It’s horrifying that Trump *is* capable of saying something as deplorable (there’s that word again) as “nits make lice.” In this instance, it’s probably good that his ignorance of history is as profound as his malice for everyone who does not look like him. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen such raw, naked, overt racism in the White House. It should curdle the blood of all decent Americans. It was too much for Laura Bush. Let the children go, Mr. Trump.

Adding to the horror of the situation is that the New Yorker is reporting that the government does not have a plan or protocol to reunite the families they’ve torn apart.  They think of them as pawns in this president’s* game of low brow chess with Congress. It’s because the families consist of “nits and lice” as far as the Trump regime is concerned. They do not give a damn.

I thought of Francis Bacon’s words when I sat down to write this post:

He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief.

There’s no fortune to be made in this situation. Donald Trump’s goal is to wreak as much havoc and destruction as possible while he’s in office. They say that misery loves company and the Insult Comedian is one miserable, angry son-of-a-bitch. His election made us all hostages to misfortune.

We should resist in whatever way available and, more importantly, get out and vote this November. Only a Democratic Congress can reign in this cruel, racist, and evil government. I’m tired of being a hostage to misfortune.

The last word goes to the good people at the New York Daily News. A tabloid headline speaks louder than a thousand words;

Ambien Tweeting With Roseanne

I realize that some readers are rolling their eyes because I’m writing about the Roseanne freak show instead of more important matters. There’s been much tut-tutting about this on twitter, the home of overblown outrage and serial dumbassery. I’m multi-tasking: I *could* write about the latest wave of Trump scandals or horrible behavior by the president* but that’s what he wants us to do. As a creature of the New York tabloids, he thinks that all publicity is good. He’s a news cycle shark, convinced he’ll die if he’s not on page one every minute. I don’t feel like playing right now. I suspect I will soon enough. Like Levi Stubbs, I can’t help myself.

Yesterday’s psycho drama was both surprising and not surprising at all. Roseanne Barr has *always* been a horrible person. It’s why I rarely watched her original sitcom despite my fondness for John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf, and Darlene Gilbert. It’s why I haven’t watched the reboot. Additionally, her voice is annoying and she isn’t funny. Nobody should be surprised that she had a public meltdown and fired off a racist tweet about former President Obama’s right hand woman, Valerie Jarrett. In typical Roseanne fashion, it was the crudest insult imaginable as well as the stalest stereotype possible. Repeat after me: she’s not funny.

The surprise yesterday came from ABC. I *assumed* that high ratings would trump everything else and that they’d muddle through after the self-described “domestic goddess” apologized on twitter. I was wrong: ABC fired her bigoted ass. Score one for diversity: ABC President Channing Dungey, who is an African-American woman, wasn’t having it.  Given Barr’s dreadful track record, it was obvious that this would happen again and again and again. Her racism is the gift that keeps giving. Racism isn’t funny and neither is Roseanne Barr.

While ABC deserves kudos for giving the reboot the boot, they shouldn’t have brought Roseanne back in the first place. In the pre-social media era, the star’s malakatude was containable. In 2018, this sort of meltdown was inevitable. Besides, she’s not funny.

My favorite part of the Tuesday shitshow was Barr’s claim that she was leaving twitter, which was followed by a tweet and retweet storm. This instant classic was deleted by the former teevee star:

The tweeter tube is a dangerous place for people without impulse control. If you’re either well-known enough or a big enough asshole, it doesn’t matter if you delete, it will be screen shot and live forever. One thing I agree with Roseanne on, she *is* an idiot as well as a selfish creep: 300 people associated with her show were laid off yesterday. That’s not funny and neither is Roseanne Barr.

Color Blindness

I remember the first time Kick directly identified someone’s race. It wasn’t long ago. I’d waved to a neighbor through the window while we were having breakfast and she asked who I was waving at.

“Mr. M-, honey. He’s out in his yard.”

She turned, waved to him, and asked, “He’s a black man, right?”

“Right,” I said, trying to within three seconds identify if her intonation implied she thought this was a negative, something to be afraid of, something to mock, that would need to be corrected. It sounded neutral, a descriptive, the way she’d say the baby next door was a boy or Grandma has brown hair.

She’s been around families of any number of races and ethnic backgrounds since she was born, and while she’d noticed differences — that man is tall, that woman has curly hair — she’d never before asked if someone was black or Hispanic or Asian. We’ve read books about Rosa Parks and Ella Fitzgerald and Maya Angelou, about Frida Kahlo, and most recent children’s books include depictions of children of color, though fewer of them as protagonists than they should.

It’s not enough that she has a diverse environment and lives and learns with students of all races, when in our house we’re all so Caucasian as to be nearly transparent. There are still conversations to be had, about why Rosa Parks couldn’t sit at the front of the bus, or why people were mean to Maya Angelou, or what we are protesting next Saturday, or what someone down the street said to someone else.

White parents don’t get to be lazy about marking and honoring the differences between people, not when so many people use those differences to divide. Not when kids notice EVERYTHING, all the time, including how we talk about people of other races when we think they aren’t listening.

That morning, Kick was attacking her toaster waffle with gusto and I’m not sure was paying much attention to my subsequent explanation that Mr. M- has a skin color people call black even though it’s more of a dark brown, and we have a skin color people call white even though it’s more pink. By the time I got to the part about how skin color can be passed down in families sometimes but not always, she was off playing with My Little Ponies and I was basically lecturing to the cats. Race Conscious has good advice but it doesn’t always track with a 4-year-old’s attention span.

What talks do you remember having with your parents about race, and what did they tell you?

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: In The Still Of The Night

Contrasting Sounds by Wasilly Kandinsky.

It’s been an eventful week in New Orleans. The city celebrated its 300th anniversary and inaugurated our first woman mayor. I expressed my reservations about Mayor LaToya Cantrell on ye olde tweeter tube:

The slogans included “We are woke” and “We will be intentional.” I’m uncertain if that’s intentional grounding or an intentional walk. I dislike the latter baseball tactic as much as exclamation points. I still wish the new mayor well. Her propensity to mangle the language is good for the satire business, and there’s no business like giving a politician the business. I believe in taking care of business, every day, every way.

This week’s theme song, In The Still Of The Night, was written by Cole Porter in 1937 for the MGM movie musical, Rosalie. It was first sung by Nelson Eddy who was in a shit ton of hokey costume movie operettas with Jeanette MacDonald. I am not a fan of the duo but I am a die-hard Cole Porter fan as evinced by the frequent appearance of his work as Odds & Sods theme songs. I considered counting them but I’m feeling as lazy as the president* today. Where did all my executive time go?

We have two versions of the Porter classic for your entertainment. First, the elegant jazz-pop baritone Billy Eckstine aka the Voice of God.

Second, the Neville Brothers featuring some gorgeous sax playing by Charles Neville. He was an acquaintance of mine. Charles died recently at the age of 79. He was a lovely man with a kind word for everyone he met.

It’s time for a journey to Disambiguation City. Fred Parris wrote *his* In The Still Of The Night for his doo-wop group The Five Satins in 1956.

Yeah, I know, Boyz II Men also had a hit with the Parrisian song but I’m not going there. Instead, let’s jump to the break. Now where the hell did I put my parachute?

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You Could Just Ask

Jesus, my fellow white people:

You could just go up and ask, like hi there, you okay? (You could also know your neighbors, such that if you hear a weird noise or see an unfamiliar car you recognize the person behind it, but let’s take baby steps.) I know we’re all about to be raped and murdered by the slavering hordes at any moment, especially nice white ladies who answer to “the wife” at home, but is it completely radical to just speak to someone you don’t know?

Kick talks to every stranger she sees, including Thursday greeting two random high-school-ish boys walking down the street, who then dutifully admired the pile of dead grass she’d begun calling a “garden.” Every day I think to myself that we should start some kind of “stranger danger” talk, especially when she’s chatting up the train drunks, but every day I put it off. There’s so much more damage to be done from fear.

The state of police paranoia being what it is, calling the cops is not some kind of neutral act of precaution. Even if all you want is for someone to move along, if they’re drunk or yelly or just behaving strangely and you think they might need help, calling the cops is not the way to get it.

(Which is another problem, really, and one I’ve been trying to think through: If you can’t depend on the cops to handle a situation without wilding on someone who might be harmless, then you can’t really depend on the cops, can you?)

We white folks have steadily over the past 40 years taught ourselves that everyone who isn’t white is some kind of threat, and fed ourselves and our state this terrified weaponized idiocy until we can’t imagine someone can just exist around us. Be a person like we are. Say hi or respond to a question that maybe we should ask before dialing 911.

A.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: If He Hollers Let Him Go

The African-American writer Chester Himes is best known for his noirish crime fiction and books set in Harlem. If He Hollers Let Him Go was his first novel. It’s a racially charged story set in post-World War II Los Angeles.

I read it after reading an interview with Walter Mosley wherein he recommended the book. I kept waiting for Easy Rawlins to show up. He did not but it’s a good book even without Easy and Mouse.

If He Hollers Let Him Go was made into a movie in 1968.

Here’s the trailer:

The whole damn movie is available on the YouTube for now.

Saturday Odds & Sods: In The Mood

Swing Landscape by Stuart Davis.

It’s crawfish season in New Orleans. I’m talking about eating, not catching them. I leave that to the experts. We went to our longtime boiled crawfish restaurant, Frankie & Johnny’s, with some friends from Richmond this week. Several of them were uncertain they’d like the mudbugs but they did. It may be hard work peeling them but it’s worth it. Mmm, berled crawfish.

We’re attending a benefit crawfish boil tomorrow. It’s in support of Team Gleason, a group dedicated to helping ALS patients and their families. It was founded by former Saints player Steve Gleason who has ALS but keeps on fighting the good fight. He’s a remarkable man and it’s a worthy cause. Plus, there’s crawfish and beer involved.

I’m in a swing mood this week so it’s time to break out some Glenn Miller. We have two versions for your musical amusement: Glenn Miller and his orchestra in the 1941 movie Sun Valley Serenade and the Brian Setzer Orchestra’s Gettin’ In The Mood with lyrics by Mike Himmelstein. The tune is the same. Oh yeah.

Now that I’ve got you Lindy Hopping, it’s time to jump to the break but try to do it on the beat.

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Why Is It Hard To Denounce Neo-Nazis?

It’s the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King in Memphis. Meanwhile the Tennessee lege is having a hard time passing something that *should* be an easy lift:

Twice this spring, lawmakers in the Tennessee Assembly have tried to promote resolutions condemning neo-Nazis and white nationalists. Both times those efforts have failed.

The second attempt was abandoned just this week, after a Republican lawmaker unsuccessfully tried to alter the motion’s language to make it more palatable to his caucus.

House Republican Caucus Chairman Rep. Ryan Williams’ resolution reworked one put forth by Democratic Rep. John Ray Clemmons, which died in mid-March after the three Republican members of a House subcommittee declined to offer motions to discuss it.

This smells like Trump’s “both sides” comments after Charlottesville. I rarely play the son of  a veteran whose brother was killed in action during World War II card, but there’s no time like the present. We went to war to fight the Nazis and passing a measure against their political descendants should be easy. Unless, that is, you’re a Republican who relies on white nationalist votes. Another reason to vote the fuckers out this fall.

The last word goes to John Legend:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Don’t Be Cruel

Two Flags by Jasper Johns.

I suspect you recognize the featured image. I’ve used it many times during government shutdowns; most notably in my epic America Held Hostage series in 2013. It’s nice to have some Jasper Johns flags about the virtual house to plug-in when the GOP next decides to shut the government down. If only they’d shut their fucking mouths…

Easter Sunday and April Fool’s Day coincide this year. I  expect more bunny related hoaxes than resurrection pranks. The pagan spring fertility thing is more palatable than what Easter means to believers. I’m not one but I like holidays to be straightforward. Now that I think of it, I’m surprised that the biblebangers have never banged on about a war on Easter. It’s bound to happen, they’re the whiniest people in the country. It’s probably why they like the Insult Comedian. It can’t be the hair.

This week’s theme song was written by Otis Blackwell in 1956. Don’t Be Cruel was originally the B-Side of Elvis’ Hound Dog 45 before becoming a hit in its own right. We have two versions of the Blackwell song for your listening pleasure. One from Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show, the other from Cheap Trick.

It’s time for Nick Lowe’s variation on the cruelty theme with Cruel To Be Kind on Live From Daryl’s House:

Now that we’ve declared our hostility to cruelty, let’s jump, jive, and wail to the break.

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The Red Stick Alton Sterling/Jeff Landry Blues

The news that Gret Stet Attorney General Jeff Landry declined to press charges against the Alton Sterling beatdown cops came as no surprise. The merits of the case had nothing to do with it even though Landry put on a show for the cameras.

Here’s my instant analysis:

Landry is a wildly ambitious politician with a gift for PR, not the law. He was elected to Congress in the Tea Party wave election of 2010 but lost his seat to redistricting. The only memorable moment of his tenure was when he waved a sign from the floor during a 2011 speech by President Obama:

Landry has spent his tenure as Attorney General picking fights with Governor John Bel Edwards even when his office didn’t have jurisdiction. He’s *that* kind of legal eagle. If he were in private practice, he’d volunteer to represent Trump for the headlines.

I’m glad that the Sterling family’s lawyers and advisers prepared them for this outcome: they expressed disappointment, not shock. This cake was baked long ago.

As to the Sterling case, there’s a chance the killer cops may get fired for violating departmental procedures. It’s not as satisfying as seeing them perp walking in orange jump suits, but it’s something.

As to Jeff Landry, if the wind is blowing in the right direction, he’ll challenge Edwards next year. But the Governor’s poll numbers are pretty good as of this writing, if that’s still the case Landry will run for re-election. He’d miss the cameras and attention that being AG brings his way. It’s all about politics, not the law.

I’ll give my friend Clancy DuBos the last word on Jeff Landry:

Earl Long used to scoff that if you wanted to hide something from then-Attorney General Jack Gremillion, put it in a law book. Today, Uncle Earl would surely say something similar about Louisiana AG Jeff Landry…