Category Archives: Race

Malaka Of The Week: Briscoe Cain

Hand to God, I am not mocking a child. Texas State Representative Briscoe Cain is 36 years old; he just looks like a tween. Cain is perhaps the wingnuttiest member of a reactionary lege. He’s in the news as a co-author of the latest Texas voter suppression bill. And that is why Briscoe Cain is malaka of the week.

Briscoe Cain came on my radar screen during this segment of the Rachel Maddow Show:

The racist relic in question is not Briscoe Cain himself, although the label fits, but language in the Texas constitution about the “purity of the ballot box.” It dates to the Jim Crow era and was originally used to ensure that the dominant party primary was all-white. The “purity” language was included in Cain’s impure bill.

In the clip, Malaka B pretends not to understand the significance of the “purity” language, but I’m not buying it. He looks like a middle school kid trying to get out of a test by claiming that his Peepaw or Meemaw died. That’s Southern for grandfather and grandmother.

I went to school with a kid who pulled that stunt so many times that he seemed to have dozens of Papous or Yiayias. That’s Greek for grandfather and grandmother.

Cain is the sort of committed Christian who should be committed. He’s anti-LGBTQ, anti-vax, and anti-mask. I’m anti-Briscoe Cain.

In his freshman session, Malaka B was named one of the worst legislators by the Texas Monthly:

We typically exempt freshmen from the Worst list. We usually forgive their trangressions, because they don’t know how the Legislature works. So just know that we tried. We tried really hard to give Briscoe Cain a pass. But he left us little choice.

When we asked Capitol insiders for Worst list suggestions, his name, almost universally, was the first one mentioned. During one floor debate, when a fellow legislator fell ill with a serious intestinal ailment, Cain objected to the usual procedure of granting the lawmaker an excused absence and called for a record vote. He was the only no vote. But one particular moment, during the budget debate on the House floor, best exemplifies Cain’s uninformed and belligerent performance this session. He offered an amendment to defund a state council that promotes palliative care. He called it a “death panel.” Under questioning from his colleagues, it became clear that Cain didn’t know that palliative care is the treatment of terminally ill people for pain and anxiety to ease their passing. He eventually withdrew his amendment, but not before he’d very nearly zeroed out funding for a good program without actually knowing what it does. Thankfully his colleagues saved him from himself in that instance. Unfortunately, there was no one to save the rest of us from Briscoe Cain.

Belligerence and ignorance are a toxic combination as is everything about Cain’s brief political career so far.

In the spirit of his lord and master former President* Pennywise, Cain likes to pick fights, then claim it’s all a joke.

He shaded Steven Hawking after his death:

This is the case of a living dipshit trolling a dead genius. It’s typical of this chickenshit creep that he deleted the tweet after he was universally slammed for it.

In a further display of keyboard courage, Malaka B threatened a fellow Texan:

This stunt landed Malaka B in Twitter jail. He doesn’t have the guts to threaten Beto in real life: Malaka B is 5’7″ and Beto is 6’4″. I double dog dare him to take a poke at long tall Texan Beto.

I wonder if wee Malaka B used his time in jail to play prisoner and sheriff? He thinks he’s some sort of Western hero, after all. At best, he’s a Wyatt Earp Mini-Me.

I bet he can’t pull off this rocking chair stunt perfected by Henry Fonda as Wyatt Earp in John Ford’s My Darling Clementine:

I bet Beto could do it since he’s as gangly as Fonda and two inches taller. It all comes down to John Ford movies with me.

Briscoe Cain has a well-established pattern of picking a fight, then running away the minute there’s any resistance. It happened with the “purity of the ballot box” controversy as well. The language was pulled from the final bill.

Malaka B is a puffed-up chump who thinks he’s a he-man. He’s as phony as the Impeached Insult Comedian and twice as cowardly. And that is why Briscoe Cain is malaka of the week.

The last word goes to Elvis Costello:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Something To Talk About

Cocktails by Archibald Motley.

We’ve had some unseasonably cool weather this week in New Orleans. It’s been a relief after last week’s constant rain. We’ve even had some sun, which was initially disorienting but I’m down with it.

It’s special election run-off day in the Louisiana-Second. An ugly and mendacious campaign was waged by the runner-up in the primary, State Senator Karen Carter Peterson. She wants a promotion after a disastrous tenure as state party chair and missing 85% of state senate votes last year. Talk about failing upward.  I also happen to think that comparing another Democrat to Donald Trump is punching below the belt. I look forward to voting against her and for Troy Carter.

This week’s theme song was written in 1990 by Canadian singer-songwriter Shirley Elkhard and recorded by Bonnie Raitt for her 1991 album, Luck Of The Draw. It was a big hit for the Bonster. It was later used in the Julia Roberts-Dennis Quaid movie of the same title in 1995.

We have two versions of Something To Talk About for your listening pleasure: the Bonnie Raitt original and a 2016 version by Blood Sweat & Tears frontman David Clayton Thomas.

Was that bloody, sweaty, and teary enough for you lot? While we’re still wet, let’s jump to the break.

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Malaka Of The Week: Amanda Chase

The woman in the red and white elephant skirt with an assault weapon draped around her neck is Virginia State Senator Amanda Chase. She’s running for the Republican nomination for Governor. I don’t think the Commonwealth is ready for a Governor who describes herself as “Trump in heels.” She looks more like Trump in sandals to me. And that is why Amanda Chase is malaka of the week.

Chase is from the Richmond suburbs, Midlothian in Chesterfield County to be precise. It’s a town name I used to like but now regard with considerable fear and Midloathing. It does, however, make for a memorable nickname: the Midlothian Malaka.

Chase gets around. She spoke at the “Stop The Steal” rally that preceded the 1/6 Dipshit Insurrection. She denies storming the Capitol but has vehemently defended the insurrectionists, “These were not rioters and looters. These were patriots who love their country and do not want to see our great republic turn into a socialist country.”

She was censured by her colleagues for that bit of brazen dipshittery and is fighting it in court. You would have thought that she’d wear it as a badge of pride.

Her latest cause is defending this guy:

After the verdict in a state whose capitol is 1.200 miles away from home, the Midlothian Malaka attacked the jury and praised convicted murderer Derek Chauvin:

Virginia state Sen. Amanda Chase (R), a prominent Republican candidate in her state’s gubernatorial race, copied Greene’s fear-mongering tactic in response to Chauvin’s verdict by saying that it made her “sick.”

During a campaign stop on Tuesday shortly after the announcement of Chauvin’s verdict, Chase griped that she is “so concerned about our law enforcement right now quitting. And you should be, too.”

Chase, who describes herself as “Trump in heels” and was censured by the Virginia state Senate after praising the mob behind the Capitol attack as “patriots,” doubled down on her stance in a written statement.

“I’m concerned that the decision was politically motivated more to prevent civil unrest than to serve justice,” Chase said in a written statement, according to the Washington Post. “The decision made today sends a clear message to law enforcement; the justice system doesn’t have your back.”

I wonder if she’s going to start a Chauvin fan club and invite rotten defense lawyer Eric Nelson to speak. They both make me sick.

Is it just me or does Eric Nelson look like Garth Algar?

Nelson can still suck it.

Back to the Midlothian Malaka.  She has been on my radar for quite some time. If there’s a retrograde position, she’s taken it. Her comments about rape are reprehensible even by her own low standards: “It’s those who are naive and unprepared that end up raped. Sorry. But I’m not going to be a statistic.”

She’s also a hardcore Lost Causer. She adores the Robert E. Lee statue on Monument Avenue in Richmond, which state and local officials want lost like the cause it represents. She described the removal attempt as: “a cowardly capitulation to the looters and domestic terrorists” and an “overt effort to erase all white history.”

Does Malaka Mandy kiss her children with that mouth?

The good news is that the Midlothian Malaka’s chances of being elected Governor are slim and none and slim was just consigned to the dust heap of history. The bad news is that she has any support at all. She’s Virginia’s answer to Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert. And that is why Amanda Chase is malaka of the week.

I’ve used Sweet Virginia many times over the years, but it has never been more appropriate: the Midlothian Malaka is the shit that needs to be scraped off the Commonwealth’s shoes. That’s why the last word goes to the Rolling Stones:

 

 

The Chauvin Trial: Evidence Matters, Lawyering Matters

I made a mistake yesterday and spent too much time on Twitter before the verdict. The amateur lawyers and jurors were doing their thing, insisting that Derek Chauvin would be acquitted because that’s how it’s always gone. Each criminal case is different, a discrete and insular universe of its own. Precedents are for appellate courts; trial courts are all about verdicts. Each case stands alone.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison assembled a 21st Century dream team for the prosecution. They also had a dream case and the right jury to hear the case. Evidence matters. Lawyering matters. Voir dire matters. Everything came together for this conviction including some significant erosion of the thin blue line.

I’m not a fan of teevee cameras in the courtroom. The prosecution handled it well, acting as if they weren’t there. Eric Nelson (who can still suck it) played to the cameras and his own vanity. Lawyers tend to revel in detail and miss the big picture. Nelson kept making those mistakes and, more importantly, misread the jury. Jurors matter.

During his doomed closing argument, Nelson missed a chance to woo the jury. At the ninety-minute mark, he should have paused and said something like this, “Your honor, I’m going to need more time to make my case, but I see that it’s lunch time. I bet everyone in the court room is hungry. Why don’t we take a break and I’ll finish after lunch.”

Would it have helped his client? Given the evidence, no, but he should done it anyway as a signal to the jury that he cared about them, instead the judge was obliged to intervene.

I don’t know about you, but I get cranky when I’m really hungry. The focus of juror crankiness was Nelson who can still suck it. My idea of hell is his closing argument on a loop for eternity. Now, that’s damnation.

It’s another example of how the defense was focused on minutiae. Details matter but getting lost in them leads to three hour closing arguments that lead to disaster for a client. In this case, Chauvin had it coming.

I usually stick up for lawyers defending the indefensible. Everyone has the right to representation. This was a tough case but Nelson (who can still suck it) made everything worse with his showboating and verbosity. He was blowing smoke to get the jury to invoke reasonable doubt, but his case died of smoke inhalation, right? Apologies for the Nelsonism, they’re annoying, agreed? Nelson can still suck it.

It would not surprise me if the police union and the convicted defendant fired Nelson. Given the mountain of evidence, an appeal is unlikely to succeed in this case but the best ground is ineffective representation by counsel. Nelson was that bad.

A friend asked if I thought Nelson was throwing the case. Definitely not. Tanking a case can get you fired and even worse disbarred, especially in such a high-profile case. Cliche warning: He couldn’t see the forest for the trees.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: not all lawyers are smart. I went to law school with some dumb people, but they were good test takers, so they made it through. That’s not unusual in a society where teachers teach to the test, not because they want to but because it’s required. Herd immunity is a good thing, but group think is not. Heed George Harrison’s advice and:

In fairness to Eric Nelson, if the prosecution had the dream case, he had the nightmare client. Derek Chauvin is as unlikeable a defendant as imaginable.

One reason Chauvin murdered George Floyd was stubborn pride. The crowd was urging him to get off Floyd’s neck and he wasn’t going to let them tell him how to do his job. He should have listened. I’m convinced that many problems could be solved if people just shut up and listened.

Chauvin’s face was blank as the verdict was read. He blinked but his visage was as emotionless as when he knelt on George Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. I try not to take pleasure in other people’s misfortune but watching him led away in handcuffs was a thing of beauty. His face remained expressionless and his eyes blank much like the character in this Kinks song:

Justice *was* achieved in the Chauvin case notwithstanding the desire of some to pull defeat from the jaws of victory. But like all criminal verdicts, it stands alone, it has no precedential value. One could even call it a legal island.

It’s a good start but few cases will have such perfect evidence and such good lawyering. It should, however, serve as a warning to rogue cops that things have changed, and that accountability is possible. Some of them, alas, will be slow learners.

In the end, people matter. The conviction was made possible by people like Darnella Frazier, Genevieve Hansen, Donald Williams, Charles McMillian, Courtney Ross, Chief Arradondo. Lt. Zimmerman, Doctors Tobin and Rich, and all the other witnesses who stood their ground and told the truth.

The truth matters.

The Verdict: Guilty On All Counts

I know everyone has already heard but we’ve gone through the process together so we might as well have a brief encounter.

I was expecting a guilty verdict but this exceeded my expectations. The look on Chauvin’s face when he was cuffed was priceless.

The criminal justice system still has a lot of work to do but this is a step forward. I expect some people on the left to try and pull defeat  from the jaws of victory but we should enjoy this moment.

Suck it, Nelson.

I promised to do this. I’ll the Master speak for me:

I’ll be back with more on the verdict tomorrow when the dust has settled.

The last word goes to Randy Newman:

Closing Arguments

The day began with jury instructions from Judge Peter Cahill, which were, of course drafted with input from both sides. I listened carefully and they sounded fairly standard; nothing wildly pro-prosecution or defense. That did not surprise me. The judge has been fair and even-handed throughout the trial. This does, however, give the prosecution an edge because they have such a strong case.

PROSECUTION ARGUMENT: Calm but impassioned best describes lead prosecutor Steve Schleicher’s style. It’s what you’d expect from a Minnesota lawyer. Those people aren’t known for raising their voices. It’s a perfect demeanor for a trial lawyer.

Schleicher began by discussing who George Floyd was and why the police response to his alleged crime was disproportionate. A reminder that the call for service was initiated because Floyd passed a counterfeit bill. It remains unclear if he knew it was a fake or not. Whatever the case, suspects are rarely cuffed and arrested for passing funny money. They’re typically issued a summons. That’s right, it’s a ticket, the monetary equivalent of a traffic stop. Repeat after me: Nobody should die during a traffic stop.

Schleicher emphasized that Floyd complied with the police until they tried to shove this large man into the cramped backseat of a squad car. Even then Floyd’s “resistance” was mostly verbal telling the cops that he was claustrophobic and not a bad guy. I understand this because I’m mildly claustrophobic myself. They did not listen and the result was George’s Floyd’s death.

Schleicher urged the jury to use their common sense and ignore the nonsense thrown at them by the defense. Nonsense is, of course, Eric Nelson’s specialty.

Schleicher pre-rebutted some of Nelson’s sillier arguments: crowd noise, carbon monoxide and the like.

For any conservative leaning jurors, Schleicher stressed that this was “not a prosecution of the police, it’s a prosecution of the defendant.” Something that was supported by the testimony of seven law enforcement professionals AGAINST Chauvin.

This was one of the strongest passages of the prosecution’s argument:

“This wasn’t policing; this was murder,” Schleicher told jurors. He cited the motto of the Minneapolis Police Department, which fired Chauvin and three other officers involved the day after Floyd’s arrest: “To protect with courage and to serve with compassion.”

“George Floyd was not a threat to anyone,” Schleicher said, often speaking with audible anger and disgust. “Facing George Floyd that day that did not require one ounce of courage, and none was shown on that day, no courage was required. All that was required was a little compassion and none was shown on that day.”

Compassion seems to be in short supply when it comes to Derek Chauvin.

I’m in a pedagogical mood so I’ll rate Schleicher’s argument. It was cogent, coherent, and well organized. I give him an A- mostly because I’m a tough grader.

DEFENSE ARGUMENT: Nelson’s argument started off fairly well, but unraveled under the weight of his words. He even conceded that he was going to be long-winded. He did not disappoint.

I originally planned to count Nelson’s use of the word right. I gave up at twenty. Oy just oy.

Nelson’s argument was disjointed and disorganized. It gave me a reasonable doubt that he’s a competent counsel. He also has some issues with the language. I’ve never heard the word fanciful pronounced fancy-full. I laughed, then thought of this venerable song:

Nelson stressed the “reasonable police officer” argument. As far as I’m concerned there’s nothing reasonable about putting one’s knee on another guy’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds.

I thought Nelson’s use of video backfired. It made it clear that Floyd was begging for his life as Chauvin pinned him in a prone position. Floyd was even polite calling Chauvin, Mr. Officer when he was really Officer Asshole.

Nelson must have hoped that the guttural and agonized sounds made by Floyd would evoke stereotypes of scary Black street criminals but instead they were pitiable. Chauvin reacted with no pity. I don’t think he’s capable of it; another reason for keeping him off the witness stand.

The cause of death portion of Nelson’s argument was equally weak. Instead of keeping it short and punchy, he went on and on and on, so I’ll keep it short and snappy. It was unconvincing and so windy that the judge took a lunch break before Nelson finished.

I tried not to be too hard on Nelson just because I’ve come to dislike him over the course of the trial. It’s a very tough case for a defense lawyer. He has an unappealing client who would have no chance of acquittal if he weren’t a cop. I’m doubtful that an acquittal is possible at this point, especially since the jury is likely to be pissed off at Nelson’s windbaggery,

Nelson’s strategy seems to have been to bore or starve the jury into submission. I don’t think it will work. I give his closing argument a D- and that’s being charitable.

PROSECUTION REBUTTAL: Two of MSNBC’s Black reporters insisted on calling Jerry Blackwell the Johnnie Cochran of the Midwest. It’s meant as a compliment, but their styles are entirely different.  Besides, Blackwell is alive, and Johnnie is not. So it goes.

Blackwell did a decent job but I, along with everyone else, had trial fatigue as he spoke. I just wanted it to end.

Finally. today was a disaster for the defense. Nobody wants to hear anyone speak for 3 hours. Nelson is lucky that Chauvin didn’t kick his ass on the break. Eric Nelson is now the Fidel Castro of the legal profession. What a maroon.

The Defense Rests

Who are these masked men? Eric Nelson and Derek Chauvin.

I originally didn’t plan to write about the defense mounted on behalf of Derek Chauvin by his pesky and annoying lawyer Eric Nelson. But I was asked several times to do so, and I’ve been known to take requests. I will not, however, play either Louie Louie or Whipping Post, which are my stock mock concert song requests. I once got Weather Report’s Joe Zawinul to play a few bars of the former and was mocked by Richard Thompson for requesting the latter.

I only watched bits and bobs of the defense presentation because Nelson annoys me so much. Besides, I have other things to do such as writing about my parents and the corrupt Gilroy cop. End of shameless plug for one of my better recent posts.

Nelson’s defense predictably consisted of throwing shit against the wall and seeing how much sticks. But the defense doesn’t have the burden of proof, in a case like this its job is to poke holes in the prosecution’s case. Nelson tried mightily but as far as I can tell failed. His experts simply weren’t as good as those of the prosecution. His use of force guy essentially paraphrased Tricky Dick:

Just substitute police for president and do for does and Bob’s your uncle.

Nelson’s medical expert Dr. David Fowler was no better. He’s the reflexively pro-police former chief medical examiner of Maryland. He’s currently being sued by the family of a 19-year-old black man killed by police. Fowler ruled Anton Black’s death to be accidental and caused by his heart problems and bipolar disorder. The facts of that case are strikingly similar to the Floyd case.

Dr. Fowler pulled a joker out of the deck and cited carbon monoxide poisoning as a factor in George Floyd’s death. That led to the prosecution calling lovable expert witness Dr. Martin Tobin to rebut Fowler’s claim. That was win-win for the prosecution: Fowler is a dick with a South African accent and Tobin is a nice guy with an Irish brogue. He reminds me of two Irish members of the John Ford stock company: Barry Fitzgerald and Arthur Shields.

The least surprising thing that happened yesterday was Chauvin’s decision to exercise his 5th Amendment right not to testify. The guy has 18 citizen complaints against him. If he testified, they would have come in. There was no way Nelson would advise him to take the stand. Nelson is a jerk, not an idiot. I stand by what I wrote on Tuesday.

The trial is on hiatus until Monday. The defense tried to throw Judge Peter Cahill for a loop by resting earlier than expected. The judge was not rattled by Nelson’s antics and stuck to the plan of closing arguments on Monday. He promised the jury the weekend off before being sequestered for deliberation. One of the least commented upon aspects of a judge’s life is jury management. This judge kept his word to his jury. He’s got a swell first name as well.

A few words about the teevee coverage. I mostly watched MSNBC and CSPAN, but I dallied with Court TV. I skipped CNN because of my Wolf Blitzer phobia. Mercifully, MSNBC let its regular hosts handle the coverage, which spared me from seeing New Jersey’s answer to Wolf Blitzer, Brian Williams.

Court TV is used to covering tabloidy trials and its coverage reflected that. This trial is significant in a way that the Casey Anthony trial never was. Their analysts and anchors were shockingly bad. One predicted that Chauvin *would* testify. Say what? Talk about pundit malpractice.

As to MSNBC, its reporters were in over their head and fell back on reporting on juror quirks. How can you read their reaction when they’re wearing masks? Oy just oy.

When MSNBC’s crack legal analysts such as Chuck Rosenberg, Joyce Vance, and David Henderson were on the air things were better. I could have done without some of the political/cultural analysts such as Professor Eddie Glaude who specialized in windy and negative pronouncements about the jury. Here’s the deal: even when juries get it wrong, they’re doing the best they can. It’s not easy being a juror in a high-profile case, you’re going to get criticized whichever way you come down.

The closing arguments should be interesting. Both sides will use them to remind the jury of what happened during the trial. The prosecution has the upper hand because it has a stronger case, but Nelson might be able to pester and annoy the panel into hanging.

Predicting outcomes in a jury trial is a sucker’s game. I don’t expect an acquittal, but a hung jury is a possibility.

Stay tuned.

The last word goes to the Allman Brothers Band:

Small Town Cops

The revelation that Army Lt. Caron Nazario was pepper sprayed last December by Windsor, Virginia police got me thinking of a scary encounter my family had with a small town cop many years ago.

Windsor is as small as it gets with a population of 1,902. Its police force had only five cops at the time of the traffic stop. The number is down one because Officer Pepper Spray was fired. The only reason that happened is that Lt. Nazario sued over what may well be business as usual for that police force.

When I was a kid, my father thought nothing of hopping into the family car to spend weekends with relatives in Salinas or Los Angeles. He grew up in the mountain West where distances are great, and people drive really fast. In fact, my Aunt Mary had a radar detector in her car when she was in her 80’s. That side of the family were fast drivers. Perhaps that explains my affinity for actor/race car drivers such as Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, and James Garner.

There was a notorious speed trap on Highway 101 in those days, Gilroy. It’s now part of the San Jose/Silicon Valley urban sprawl but back in the day, it was a very small town in the middle of nowhere or so it seemed to me as a kid.

We were pulled over by the Gilroy police at least five times over the years. Every time we approached that benighted little town, my mom would warn Lou to slow down. He waved her off every time convinced he could talk his way out of anything.

We were lucky. We only received two tickets. Lou’s charm offensive usually worked. On one occasion, it did not. Lou was nearly arrested and cuffed on the spot. We were stopped by a cop who was impervious to his charm and didn’t care that he was related to Los Angeles County Sheriff, Pete Pitchess. This was Gilroy whose only claim to fame was its garlic festival and status as a speed trap.

The officer was infuriated by Lou’s name dropping and ordered him to get out of the car. He complied but didn’t stop talking. Bad idea as all it did was make the cop angrier. He started to pull out his handcuffs, which was when my mother intervened.

She apologized to the officer and offered to accompany him to the station where we would gladly pay the fine on the spot. She added, “We’re just trying to get home so our son can go to school tomorrow.”

It worked. The wannabe brutal cop turned out to be corrupt and asked for a $100 bill to let us go. He insisted that mom drive saying, “You’re a nice lady, but your husband has a big mouth. He should learn to keep it shut.”

We hit the road home. Lou tried to get mom to pull over so he could drive. It was one of the few times I recall her yelling at him: “Shut up, Lou, just shut up.”

She was magnificent.

This is not a story either of my parents ever told as far as I know, a rare thing in my father’s case. I wasn’t sworn to silence but never wanted to embarrass them over something that could have easily gone terribly wrong.

Imagine if we’d been a black family. The story wouldn’t have concluded with a bribe and our departure. I hesitate to think how it would have ended but that was one angry small town cop who was ready to kick my father’s ass or worse. A nice black lady’s intervention wouldn’t have been treated so indulgently.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: There’s never any reason for the police to draw their weapons during a traffic stop. In Lt. Nazario’s case, it was allegedly over a temporary license tag. He wisely delayed pulling over until he was in a well-lit area. It could have been much, much worse.

Driving While Black should not be dangerous. If this can happen to a soldier in uniform, it can happen to anyone. I’m glad that Lt. Nazario had the presence of mind to record the incident on his phone camera. The small town cops expected him to be grateful that they didn’t arrest him. So much for supporting our troops.

I told my story about a traffic stop that nearly went sideways, not to equate Driving While Greek with Driving While Black. It’s an example of how police training does not work. A citizen should be able to speak freely with the police, not fear for their safety when pulled over. Not every encounter with the public is life threatening but police are trained to fear those they supposedly protect and serve, especially if they’re people of color. It has to stop.

Repeat after me: Retrain The Police.

The Prosecution Rests

The prosecution in the Derek Chauvin case rested after 11 days. The streets in nearby Brooklyn Center, Minnesota are restless after another senseless shooting during a traffic stop. We’ll get to that wrinkle a bit later.

The state’s prosecutors have built an impressive case.  It was in three acts: the eyeball witnesses, the police, and the medical experts, Yesterday, they closed with a cardiologist, George Floyd’s grieving brother, and a cop turned law professor who’s an expert on police use of force.

George Floyd’s brother Philonise painted a portrait of his brother as a loving man and mama’s boy. Their mother died not long before George did, and he had her on his mind as he died with Derek Chauvin’s leg on his neck.

George Floyd’s crime was to pass a $20 bill that he may or may have not known was counterfeit. Nobody should die because of a minor non-violent offense such as that or a traffic stop. Pesky and annoying defense lawyer Eric Nelson did not cross-examine Philonise. Wise choice.

I saw the entirety of Professor Seth Stoughton’s testimony. He methodically explained why Derek Chauvin’s use of force violated the reasonable police officer standard. Once Floyd was cuffed and subdued, Chauvin’s actions were unreasonable by this standard. I’d add ruthless, vicious, and cold-hearted. How can you listen to someone beg for their life and not relent? That’s some cold shit, y’all.

Watching Eric Nelson cross-examine Stoughton was fascinating. It was like watching a golden retriever try and fail to catch a Frisbee. Stoughton is a much better lawyer and smarter man than Nelson. He visibly flinched whenever Nelson ended a question with “right” or “agreed.”

Several times Stoughton calmly upbraided the pesky and annoying counsel for the defense by saying, “That’s not my testimony.” I kept hoping that Stoughton would say wrong when Nelson said right. He didn’t but I can dream. Oh well, what the hell.

I’m not sure how much of Nelson’s defense presentation I can stand watching. He’s an annoying little bugger who has already shown his hand. He’ll claim that Chauvin’s fear of the crowd fed his paranoia, but he didn’t cause Floyd’s death anyway. His experts will blame it on drug use, heart problems, anything but the heartless cop who killed him by using unreasonable force.

I’ll be shocked if Chauvin testifies. He’s a cold fish who has been remorseless since he killed George Floyd. There’s very little upside to his testimony. The downside is that the 18 complaints filed against him for excessive force will come out in court. Never gonna testify, my friend.

As to the victim’s drug use, I had this exchange on the Tweeter Tube:

Let’s travel ten miles away from the Hennepin County courthouse to suburban Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.

Another case of police overreaction occurred last Sunday night. It cost Daunte Wright his life. He was pulled over for an allegedly expired license tag, but it was really for DWB: Driving While Black.

The police chief of that suburban burg called it an accident. I call it manslaughter. A veteran cop thought she was about to tase Wright, but she shot and killed him instead. It was a traffic stop. There was no need to use weapons. In this case, I believe that the officer is sorry, but people are punished every day of the week for things they regret doing. She should be fired and tried.

This latest incident shows that police need to be demilitarized and trained not to shoot to kill. Lethal force is not just unattractive as Eric Nelson characterized it, it’s usually unnecessary. These grotesque errors of judgment are driven by fear and bigotry. When a cop makes a mistake, it can be lethal as it was in this case.

Repeat after me: Nobody should lose their life during a traffic stop.

I watched some of the amazing coverage by Ron Allen on MSNBC last night. He did a good job in getting people to calm down and state their case. Eventually, that was impossible because of the advance of a line of police marching as if they were soldiers in a Napoleonic battle.

Stop the madness.

I got an earworm while watching Ron Allen cope with the crowd. The last word goes to Bruce Springsteen:

INSTANT UPDATE: The Brooklyn Park police chief and the officer who shot Daunte Wright have been forced to resign.

More Hick Schtick From John Neely Kennedy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Thinning Blue Line

I paid another extended visit to the Derek Chauvin trial yesterday. I wanted to see Minneapolis police Chief Medaria Arradondo’s testimony. I was not disappointed.

The Chief’s demeanor goes against all the cop stereotypes. He’s a calm and soft-spoken man who thinks before speaking as opposed to the blustery cops we’re more familiar with from both real life and fiction. These qualities made him a devastating witness for the prosecution. I was tempted to make a Marlene Dietrich or Tyrone Power joke but decided to skip it; more or less.

The Chief made it clear that Chauvin’s actions on that fateful May evening violated departmental policy:

“To continue to apply that level of force to a person proned out, handcuffed behind their back — that in no way, shape or form is anything that is by policy,” said the chief, Medaria Arradondo. “It is not part of our training. And it is certainly not part of our ethics or our values.”

It’s extraordinarily rare for a police chief to testify against one of their officers but it’s not the first time for Arradondo:

 In 2017, he became its first Black chief after his predecessor was forced out in the wake of a police shooting: Another officer, Mohamed Noor, was accused of murder in the fatal shooting of Justine Ruszczyk, who had called the police to report what she thought was a sexual assault of a woman in an alley behind her home.

In one of the few previous instances of a police chief testifying for the prosecution against an officer, Chief Arradondo took the stand in that case as well; Mr. Noor was ultimately convicted of third-degree murder.

The Chief kept his cool while under cross-examination by pesky, annoying defense attorney Eric Nelson. He has a nasty habit of ending every question with either “right” or “agreed.” He laid several rhetorical traps for the Chief who declined to take the bait.

Given the weakness of the defense’s case, Nelson kept posing hypothetical questions to muddy the waters. Arradondo listened carefully and thought before replying as well as asking Nelson to repeat his questions. Nelson is a wordy lawyer who often trips himself up because he’s in love with his own voice. It’s an occupational hazard.

The Chief has a long record of independence: he sued his own department for racial discrimination and served as the head of internal affairs; not a post that’s guaranteed to win friends among old school coppers.

Arradando was the third senior police officer to testify against Chauvin. His former supervisor and the head of the department’s homicide bureau chimed in earlier. The thin blue line may not be vanishing in Minneapolis but it’s eroding.

One thing I’m not going to do is to predict a verdict. That’s a sucker’s game. I do, however, think that the Chief’s testimony reduced the chances of an outright acquittal as has the defendant’s demeanor. He rarely makes eye contact with the jury instead scribbling notes even when nothing is happening in the courtroom. Chauvin is lucky he’s required to wear a mask: I have a hunch he’s scowling under it. He’s such a cold fish that the visitor’s seat behind the defense table has been empty every day. I’d feel sorry for another defendant but not this guy.

Back to possible outcomes. It will take more than one holdout to hang this jury. It’s difficult for a lone juror to resist peer pressure and refuse to compromise. That’s why Henry Fonda was cast in Twelve Angry Men. It was plausible that the guy who played Young Mr. Lincoln, Tom Joad, Wyatt Earp, and Mr. Roberts would stand on principle and buck the majority. There are few Henry Fondas in real life. It always comes back to John Ford movies with me, doesn’t it?

I’m cautiously optimistic about the trial. My only quibble with the prosecution is they’re using too many lawyers: five by my reckoning. That gives Nelson the chance to play David to the prosecution’s Goliath. Nobody roots for Goliath. But given the complexity of the evidence, it’s understandable. Besides, Nelson is *not* a likeable lawyer so this is a push.

The blue line may be thinning in Minneapolis but whether or not it will happen elsewhere is a different story. If a department has a reform minded chief, it can happen, but we’ve ridden the reform rollercoaster several times in New Orleans. We had a reform chief in Richard Pennington from 1994-2002. NOPD suffered a relapse of “old school” policing after the storm and federal flood so pronounced that a consent decree was imposed by the Feds in 2013. It requires not only strong leadership but eternal vigilance. And you know what they say about that.

A final note about Chief Arradando’s surname. It’s similar to that of longtime WWL-TV weatherman Carl Arredondo.  Carl, too, is a calm man who radiates knowledge and authority. He was my go-to guy during hurricane season: when he looked grim on the Friday before Katrina hit, I knew we were in for it. He had to retire in 2019 because he’s going blind. I wish him well. The same goes for Chief Arradando. Hopefully, he won’t reap the whirlwind after this trial concludes.

The last word goes to Roxy Music:

These Little Town Blues

 

The attack on an elderly Filipino women named Vilma Kari in New York City this past week was horrific. I don’t want to make light of it in anyway. But I do want to talk about two related issues to this attack.

The first is whether this was a “hate crime”. There are genuine hate crimes, attacks where the only rational is the victim’s race, color, or national origin. I want to suggest that this might not be the case here.

The attacker, Brandon Elliot, had recently been paroled from prison. He had been sent there as a 19 year old for having murdered his mother by stabbing her in the chest. He had been sentenced to 15 years to life, got out in November 2019 after having served 16 years and was unceremoniously dumped on the streets of Manhattan with no job, no home, no support system. He banged around from flop house to flop house until he ended up at a hotel turned into a homeless shelter for the duration of the pandemic on West 40th Street. That hotel had been made into a homeless shelter because a hotel previously used for that purpose had to be closed because of complaints from the neighborhood residents.

Put a pin in that thought, we’ll get back to it in a moment.

Dermot F. Shea, the NYC police commissioner, put it succulently when he said

“I don’t understand why we are releasing or pushing people out of prison not to give them second chances, but to put them into homeless facilities or shelters — or in this case a hotel — and expect good outcomes”

Why indeed?

Taking a 19 year old kid who obviously had serious mental health issues, so serious that he killed his mother, throwing him in prison for 16 years with no psychiatric therapy or even remedial education or job training, and then releasing him back to society is a recipe for an outcome that is never going to be good. That it took nearly a year and a half for that fetid pot to boil over is amazing in and of itself. That it happened to manifest itself as an attack on an Asian woman in the midst of a national outcry over anti-AAPI hate crimes I submit was just a coincidence.

Perhaps what was going through the unhinged brain of Brandon Elliot was not seeing an Asian and blaming her for COVID-19 but rather seeing an old woman who might have had a slight resemblance to his mother. “You don’t belong here” might have meant “You don’t belong here because I killed you 19 years ago”. It might have meant “I killed you once and paid for it and now here you are to continue to torment me”.

So he did the only thing he knew to do, the thing his life experience in prison had taught him to do. He attacked.

To ascribe this as a hate crime by definition means the perpetrator has to KNOW he is carrying out his actions solely and only because of his victim’s race. Brandon Elliot is, pardon my bluntness, a crazy person. Crazy people listen to the voices in their heads, not to the propaganda from Fox News.

The second point I’d like to bring up concerns the two security guards and the delivery man who are seen in the video of the attack standing around not doing anything to help the victim and then closing the door with the victim still on the ground and Brandon Elliot running off.

Like the voices in Brandon Elliot’s head, those three men did what the voices they heard from on high told them to do. The thing is these voices were real and they all said the same thing.

Don’t get involved.

Their bosses say “don’t get involved because we don’t want you getting hurt”. Nice, but that’s not the real reason. That real reason has to do with insurance and possibly getting sued; sued by the victim, sued by the guards, sued by the perpetrator, sued by the guy who just happens to be walking by. Better to do nothing and be called callous then to do something and get your financial ass handed to you.

The delivery company’s rational is even more cavalier. Don’t get involved because you need to finish your route. Mrs. Fancy Pants has been waiting two days for that special cream from Amazon and if you don’t get it to her by 5pm we’re going to never hear the end of it. The route, the route, that’s the only thing that matters. A crazy person stomped on an old woman outside the building you were delivering to? Too bad, so sad, did you get your deliveries done?

In both cases it comes down to commerce over compassion, keeping your job over being fired.

360 West 43rd Street is located in what they now call Midtown West. Back in my time in NYC we called it Hell’s Kitchen and it was, to be polite, not a nice place to be. It’s the West Side in West Side Story. It’s the dirty streets of Sleepers. It’s where Sonny Corleone had his talk with his brother in law.

Nowadays it’s been renovated into an upper class island of prosperous housing, trendy restaurants, and high end shopping. The kind of neighborhood that has security guards, not doormen, in the lobbies.

Remember that thought I asked you to put a pin in? Time to pull it out.

The hotel that was closed down as a homeless shelter was on 36th Street, four blocks from the hotel Brandon Elliot was now staying at on 40th Street. Four blocks closer to 43rd Street. If it hadn’t been closed down there is a good chance Brandon Elliot never gets near 43rd Street, never sees Vilma Kari, never goes nuts, just remains yet another whack job roaming the streets of New York.

I hope the neighbors who forced the hotel shelter out of their neighborhood think about that. I hope the parole board who released Brandon Elliot think about that. I hope the New York Department of Corrections and Community Service who were handed a mentally unstable 19 year old and turned him into a severally disturbed 37 year old through neglect and inattention think about that.

But they won’t. Like the security guards at 340 West 43rd Street, they’ll just close the door.

A much better version than Sinatra. See what Marty Scorsese and an unlimited budget for cocaine can do?

Shapiro Out

Calling The Cops On The Cops

I’ve been watching bits and pieces of the trial of Derek Chauvin for murdering George Floyd. I have some random thoughts about what I’ve seen thus far.

The way the defendant’s name is pronounced is jarring to this Louisianan’s ear. In the Gret Stet, it’s pronounced SHOW-VAN. We have some good friends who are Chauvins, no relation.

In Minnesota the name seems to be pronounced SHAW-VIN.

Oh well, what the hell.

The prosecution’s main witness is THE VIDEO. But it needed to be authenticated by Darnella Frazier who filmed the whole incident with her camera phone. She was also a helluva witness. The defense opened the door with a question about her emotional reaction to the murder of George Floyd. The prosecution threw her a hanging curveball and she knocked it out of the park.

Defense lawyer Eric Nelson is a bad cross-examiner whose attempts to provoke witnesses have been largely ineffective. He’s trying to prove that the crowd assembled outside Cup Foods was an angry mob in a bad neighborhood. It hasn’t worked with me but I’m not on the jury. It’s the only audience that matters.

Nelson wisely limited his cross-examination of the underage witnesses. Bullying a 9-year-old girl is a bad look.

He had no compunction about going after Donald Williams who was one of the most voluble eyeball witnesses at the crime scene. He’s a mixed martial arts fighter so he immediately understood the peril George Floyd was in.

Williams heckled the cops with the refrain, “You a bum.” I believe in calling a bum a bum so I’m in complete agreement.

Nelson trotted out the angry black man thing with Williams. It was undermined by the simple fact that he was the one who called the police on the police. I’ve paraphrased it for the post title: cops flows better.

That brings me to firefighter Genevieve Hansen. The defense quite rightly views her as an existential threat. She’s a certified EMT who has the expertise to comment upon Chauvin’s actions.  The police refused to allow her to help George Floyd.

Hansen is also a white chick and, more importantly in Minnesota, Norwegian or Swedish. Probably the former because of the sen.

If you’ve ever seen the original Fargo, you know that her ethnicity is a big deal in heavily Scandinavian Minnesota. It’s like a Cajun witness testifying against a rogue racist cop in Lafayette, Louisiana.

Nelson’s cross-examination of  Hansen made me cross. He patronized her because of her youth and gender. Hansen got irritated and fought back. The judge was not amused. I was.

The prosecution case is off to a roaring start. The hard part comes next: proving intent. In order to convict Chauvin of any degree of murder, intent is the key. His actions meet the depraved indifference standard but intent is the key to locking this bigoted bastard up.

The MSM focus on social media reactions to the trial is amusing but misplaced. The only reaction that matters is that of the jury. Just ask Perry Mason and Hamilton Burger, they know. Mercifully, Eric Nelson is no Perry Mason.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Day After Day

La Décalcomanie by Rene Magritte

I’m getting vaccinated this afternoon at the Morial Convention Center. I’m a bit nervous and uncertain as to which vaccine I’ll be getting. I’m fine with any of them. The one-shot J&J variant has considerable appeal because I hate needles. Here’s hoping I get jabbed by someone with a light touch. Just don’t give me a smiley faced Band-Aid. I hope that’s not too much to ask. Enough jab jabber.

It’s pollen season in New Orleans. The mighty oaks are spewing forth their yellow poison (to me) and my eyes are red and runny. If I were a Republican, I’d turn this into a culture war grievance but I’m not so I won’t.

This week’s theme song was written in 1971 by Pete Ham for Badfinger’s Straight Up album. It was a smash hit across the globe hitting number 4 on the Billboard charts in the US&A. The song was produced by George Harrison and featured George on slide guitar and Leon Russell on piano.

We begin with the Badfinger original:

I had no idea that the second version existed until I checked out Second Hand Songs. Ladies and gentlemen, Bradyfinger:

The Brady Bunch kids cut two albums of then contemporary hit songs. It’s weird to hear a chirpy version of Pete Ham’s mournful song. If it weren’t so damn funny, I’d give it the finger, then eat a Butterfinger. Candy is the cure for many of the ills of society including Bradyfinger.

Speaking of fingers:

It’s time to cut out (cut off?) the finger jokes and jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Stage Fright

Two Comedians by Edward Hopper.

I’m  a slacker publisher. I have not formally welcomed Shapiro and Cassandra to the First Draft family. I’ve known both of them for years and they still speak to me. They’re clearly tolerant types.  Thanks for bringing your life experiences and insights to our humble blog. There’s only one rule:

It’s still cold as hell in Louisiana but our infrastructure has held up better than that of Texas, which is a much wealthier state. It helps to have a competent governor as opposed to one who lies on Fox News. Cue Lou Costello impression:

When I searched for the phrase HEY ABBOTT, I kept seeing images of wingnutty former Aussie Prime Minister Tony Abbott. He’s much scarier than the Mummy Bud and Lou met but not quite as scary as Texas Governor Greg Abbott. Even scarier is the thought of Ted Cruz on the beach in Cancun as his constituents freeze their asses off. Are you in a narcissism contest with Pennywise, dude? Tommy T will have more on Teddy Boy on Monday. Stay tuned.

This week’s theme song was written by Robbie Robertson for The Band’s 1970 album of the same name. It was inspired by Robbie’s own issues with stage fright. FYI, a 50th anniversary remixed and reordered version of that album was released last week. It’s a dramatic sonic improvement on the original. It also features an insanely great 1971 live show from the Royal Albert Hall in London. 4 stars all the way, baby.

We have two versions of Stage Fright for your listening pleasure: the studio remix and a live version from The Last Waltz.

I didn’t know until recently that there’s an instrumental of the same title. These dudes composed it.

In addition to stage fright, I’m contemplating mummy’s right now. I guess it’s time to meet the Son Of The Mummy:

None of that Brendan Fraser shit for me, dude. It’s Karloff and Lee all the way.

Now that I’ve exhausted my mummy jokes, let’s wrap our first act up and jump to the break.

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The Dipshit Uprising

The Trump regime began knee deep in Stupid Watergate, they’re going out after having incited the Dipshit Uprising thereby casting a pall over Twelfth Night and my first King Cake of the season. It harshed my Georgia, Georgia, Georgia buzz as well. It was, however, more memorable than the fakakata election challenge mishigas event that bookended the riot.

That’s right, riot. Make that white riot as the only people of color on the scene were members of congress, the media, and law enforcement. It was white privilege gone haywire as well as a massive security failure. It’s clear that if the rioters had been carrying BLM banners and posters instead of Trump flags they would have been repelled with force and hundreds would have been arrested, not 52. That’s right, only 52 were arrested as if it were an Advent calendar, not a riot. Make that white rioters staging a Dipshit Uprising.

Once they stormed the Capitol, the scene inside looked like Bourbon Street on New Year’s Day. All that was lacking were booze and school colors waved by Sugar Bowl attendees: Roll Tide; How About Dem Dogs. Instead, they were clad in MAGA red and camo green and brown.

The rioters milled about taking selfies, opening desks on the Senate floor, and otherwise occupying themselves as if they’d just fallen off the proverbial turnip truck. In the immortal words of Randy Newman, “They’re rednecks. Don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground.”

I was relieved that nobody relieved themselves as they ransacked offices. I halfway expected one of them to take a shit in Speaker Pelosi’s office. That would have given an entirely new meaning to the term news dump. Gross but true.

I used that scatological analogy because the whole day was disgusting and sickening. From the rioters to the president* and his sycophants who incited them it was a shitty day for America. It exposed the stupidity and short-sightedness of the Trumpers and their dear leader. Anyone with a lick of sense knows that the Kaiser of Chaos and his political henchmen are lying about electoral fraud. Of course, the participants in the Dipshit Uprising probably think that lick of sense is part of Ivanka’s fragrance line…

Where do we go from here? I may have derided the idea of an instant impeachment or last minute 25th Amendment invocation the other day, but after the white riot a legal way to remove President* Pennywise from office is imperative. Pence seems to have taken charge after his rupture with his boss, but an informal ouster isn’t good enough. Lawlessness should be combatted by the rule of law.

No one should praise Pence or Moscow Mitch for their realization that the Kaiser of Chaos is a monster. The headline of a thumbsucker by the WaPo’s Ashley Parker sums it up neatly:

Pence and McConnell defy Trump — after years of subservience

There’s a special place in hell for those who have enabled this evil fucker in his lies and crimes against the public good. The names of Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, and all those who voted to challenge the Arizona results should never be forgotten including the Gret Stet contingent of Senator John Neely Kennedy and Congressmen Scalise, Higgins, and Johnson. They can all go fuck themselves.

It’s time for the MSM to stop calling the Trumpist wing of the GOP conservative. They’re not conservatives, they’re rightist radicals who have brought shame on themselves and their party. All to assuage the ego of a petulant and mentally ill criminal. They can all go fuck themselves.

The last word goes to Frank Zappa and the Mothers:

Words Matter

I’ve been having a back-and-forth argument with some friends over the word coup and whether the antics of Rudy and other Trumpers constitute a coup d’état or golpe de estado. This is NOT a coup, it’s an extended tantrum. Why? Because words matter.

I’m a writer with a law degree so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I’m a stickler for precise language unless puns are involved. Then all bets are off.

I grew up on the Encyclopedia Britannica. Here’s its definition:

Coup d’état, also called coup, the sudden, violent overthrow of an existing government by a small group. The chief prerequisite for a coup is control of all or part of the armed forces, the police, and other military elements. Unlike a revolution, which is usually achieved by large numbers of people working for basic social, economic, and political change, a coup is a change in power from the top that merely results in the abrupt replacement of leading government personnel. A coup rarely alters a nation’s fundamental social and economic policies, nor does it significantly redistribute power among competing political groups.

There are other sloppier definitions out there, but this is the one I adhere to even if that sounds sticky.

As far as I’m concerned, no military involvement means that it’s not a coup. Neither the military nor security forces are involved in Trump’s attempt to subvert and steal the 2020 presidential election something for which we should be profoundly grateful.

There’s another reason that I’m adamantly opposed to a sloppier definition of the word coup: it elevates and dignifies a presidential* hissy fit and gives it some gravitas. This doomed attempt to steal the election is farcical unless you’re a right-wing conspiracy buff. Anything led by Rudy Giuliani is doomed to fail. He hasn’t succeeded at anything since he left Gracie Mansion other than making money. Remember his 2008 presidential campaign? Neither do I.

I remain convinced that the purpose of this extended political tantrum is to cause chaos and confusion and provide the Trumpers with a stab in the back narrative that they can use to explain away their defeat. That’s why I call Trump the Kaiser of Chaos.

I’m also exasperated with the MSM’s lazy use of language in other areas. The best example is the phrase the “Latin Vote.” The MSM is currently puzzled by why Biden did well with Latin voters in Arizona and not Florida. D’oh: they’re different groups from different places. They’re mostly Mexican in Arizona but Cuban, Venezuelan, and Central American in South Florida. When Cuban emigrees landed in Miami during the waning days of the Jim Crow era they were treated like white people. They still think of themselves as white, not brown. That’s why neither Marco Rubio nor Ted Cruz identify with minority groups. Blame Fidel.

This particular word game is a sign of media sloth and soft bigotry. When I was young, the punditocracy focused on how candidates did with various European ethnic and religious groups. They didn’t lump Italians, Greeks, Poles, Jews, and Slavs together because they had different interests, values, and religious affiliations. Clearly race had something to do with the avoidance of groupthink.

The same logic should be applied to the “Latin Vote” today. There is no monolithic Latin voting bloc much as the media and politicians wish that there were. Oversimplification is the enemy of clarity.

The last word goes to Stephen Stills:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Get Up, Stand Up

Poster by Ben Shahn

I’m not alone in heaving a sigh of relief over the Impeached Insult Comedian’s imminent defeat. The extended election season made it difficult to do a typical Odds & Sods post. So, I’m going to do something different and post this week’s theme song at the end of the post.

Unlike the current occupant, I’m passionate about the right to vote. I agree with Joey B Shark that the “right to vote is sacred.” There have been a series of struggles over that precious and fundamental right. The 14th Amendment granted the right to vote to all males over 21. The goal was to enfranchise the freed slaves. The Southern states had a different idea. It was called Jim Crow.

Women were not enfranchised nationally until the 19th Amendment. They helped elect Warren Gamaliel Harding in 1920 but nobody’s perfect.

Black citizens were not fully enfranchised until the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The arc of history may bend towards justice, but it does so slowly.

The featured image is a poster from the 1944 campaign by the legendary lefty artist Ben Shahn. It was commissioned by the CIO, which was more militant before merging with the AFL in 1956.

The CIO were key players in the Roosevelt coalition. CIO leader Sidney Hillman was so influential that FDR allegedly told his people to “Clear it with Sidney” or that’s what their opponents said. Hillman was Jewish so that led to anti-Semitic attacks from the GOP:

Hillman’s nose was not that large. Anyone surprised? The same thing happened to Jon Ossoff this year. The more things change the more they remain the same.

The comparison of the New Deal to “foreign isms” was particularly odious. Negative politics are as American as apple pie. This pie had a worm in it.

Finally, this week’s theme song is an anthem of defiance written in 1973 by Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. Don’t give up the fight.

We have three versions of Get Up, Stand Up for your listening pleasure: the Wailers original, Peter Tosh, and a live version from the Amnesty International Conspiracy Of Hope tour.

That’s it for this week. The last word goes to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris:

 

Joe Biden Has Donald Trump’s Number

“Joe Biden wasn’t my first choice” is a common refrain heard around the virtual water cooler. He wasn’t mine either: Elizabeth Warren was my clear first choice. Biden proved that being people’s second or even third choice in a field of thousands isn’t a bad thing. It’s how he won the nomination.

I have come to believe that Joey B Shark is the perfect candidate to face Donald Trump. A reminder that Trump was impeached because he feared facing Joe Biden in the general election. He dispatched his toothy henchman Rudy Giuliani to dig up dirt on the Bidens. It backfired spectacularly.

The former Veep’s personal qualities are kryptonite to President* Pennywise. Biden’s warmth and empathy are formidable tools during the pandemic since his opponent’s only weapons against it are bluster, bravado, and bullshit. It’s the candidate who “cares about people like me” versus a man who only cares about himself. What better contrast could there be?

In 2016, the Kaiser of Chaos passed himself off as a “man of the people” because he’s a crude lout. It was phonier than his $70,000 hairdo. Joey from Scranton is the real deal. He doesn’t have to pose and posture, he’s Joe Sixpack only without the beer. One of the few things the two candidates have in common is that neither drinks. Trump is punch drunk, not booze drunk.

That vile “debate” last week is clear evidence of how Biden gets under Trump’s skin. Trump arrived angry and proceeded to get stupid angry. Joe’s default response was to laugh at his opponent. Like all humorless people, Trump hates being laughed at and got angrier and angrier as the evening went on. The mask was off. The country saw the real Donald. It was not a pretty sight.

Joe Biden is a party man. That’s why he has moved to the left to reflect the party whose standard bearer he is. His opponent is a party of one. Joe Biden wears his flaws as a badge of honor. His opponent denies having any. He’s “perfect” like the phone call that led to his impeachment.

Yesterday, Joe Biden gave one of the best speeches of his life. The setting was Gettysburg, the site of one of the most important battles in American history. It led to the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln’s re-election, and ultimately victory in the War of the Rebellion.

The speech’s main topic was race: how we got to this moment and where we go from here. He went farther than his former boss ever dared. This was my favorite passage:

There’ve been powerful voices for justice in recent weeks and months, George Floyd’s, six year old daughter, who I met with, who looked at me and said in her small child’s voice, “Daddy changed the world.” Also, Jacob Blake’s mother was another. When she said, “Violence didn’t reflect her son and this nation needed healing.” And Doc Rivers, the basketball coach, choking back tears when he said, “We’re the ones getting killed. We’re the ones getting shot. We’ve been hung. We keep loving this country and this country does not love us back.”

I think about that. I think about what it takes for a black person to love America. That is a deep love for this country. That has for far too long, never been recognized. What we need in America is leadership that seeks to deescalate tensions, to open lines of communications, to bring us together, to heal, to hope. As president, that’s precisely what I will do.

In 2016, Trump was a Teflon candidate, nothing stuck to him. In 2020, he’s a Velcro candidate, everything sticks to him. The cumulative weight of four years of lies, corruption, and outrageous conduct are catching up with him. Drip, drip, drip.

It’s not just one thing that’s bringing the Impeached Insult Comedian down, it’s everything. It’s also the guy he’s running against: the steady, reliable, and eternally underrated man we at First Draft call Joey B Shark.

Joe Biden is the anti-Trump and the antidote to him. He has Trump’s number.

The last word goes to Boz Scaggs:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Six Months In A Leaky Boat

Blue Painting by Wassily Kandinsky.

It’s September and it’s still hotter than hell in New Orleans. Pandemic fatigue is widespread here just like everywhere else. Unfortunately, America didn’t do the work needed to suppress COVID-19 so we’re still muddling through.

The NFL season opens this week and I find myself utterly indifferent. I’m mildly amused by wingnut fans who say that they’ll boycott the season because the NFL has gone BLM on their asses. These are the same people who claim they want sports and politics on separate plains, make that separate planets. The Saints will be playing on Sunday at an empty Superdome. It’s hard to get excited about any of this. So it goes.

This week’s theme song was written by Tim Finn in 1982 for Split Enz’s Time and Tide album. It refers to the amount of time that it took British pioneers to sail to New Zealand and is also a metaphor for the songwriter’s nervous breakdown. That’s a lot of substance for a song that still rocks like crazy.

We have three versions of Six Months In A Leaky Boat for your listening pleasure: The Split Enz original; a 2000 live version by Tim Finn, Bic Runga, and Dave Dobbyn and a 2006 performance by a reunited Enz featuring some stellar keyboard work by the great Eddie Rayner.

Kiwi singer-songwriter David Dobbyn has his own nautical classic:

Now that we’re all seasick, it’s time to don a life jacket and jump to the break.

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