Category Archives: Race

Saturday Odds & Sods: Come Rain Or Come Shine

Amerind Landscape by Roy Lichtenstein.

I started this zany, madcap weekly feature in the spring of 2015. I have a lot of fun putting it together and riffing on the segments every week. It’s become a cult favorite among our readers. If you enjoy Saturday Odds & Sods, please donate to First Draft to help keep the doors to this virtual gin joint open. If you don’t like gin, pick your poison as long as it’s not vodka…

That concludes this brief commercial announcement. It’s time to return to our regularly scheduled programming.

It’s full-tilt fall in New Orleans after summer lingered far too long for my taste. We’ve had highs in the low to mid 70s for most of the last week. That means that many New Orleanians are OB’d: Over-bundled. People are so desperate to wear last year’s Christmas sweater that they’re overdressing for these mild days. So it goes.

The big news hyper-locally is that pesky, annoying twerp Seth Bloom has finally conceded in the District B city council race. The satirist in me will miss mocking him, but the citizen in me is relieved that his steady, experienced opponent, Jay Banks will represent me on the council. I will miss having Seth to kick around so I might as well re-post this:

Arrividerci, Sethy. You can go back to annoying people in your daily life. Don’t let the door hit you on the ass as you exit the local political stage. If you re-enter the arena, the feud will resume. Who among us doesn’t like a feud fight?

A brief return to the weather. It was the driest November in recorded history in New Orleans. How’s that for a lead-in to the theme song? Come Rain or Come Shine is the third Arlen-Mercer song I’ve used as the Odds & Sods theme song. I guess I like Harold and Johnny: the nice Jewish boy from Buffalo and the Southern scamp from Savannah. The song was written for the movie musical St. Louis Woman and first published in 1946.

We have three versions for your enjoyment. First, a swinging version arranged by Billy May for Ella Fitzgerald’s Harold Arlen Songbook, which is a seriously underrated entry in the songbook series. Next up, Lady Day with a mid-tempo version from her Music For Torching album. Finally, a 21st Century version from Eric Clapton and BB King.

Now that we’ve risen and shined or something like that, let’s jump to the break.

Continue reading

The Ugliest American

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Donald Trump is the worst person ever to live in the White House. He proved it again on Monday with the whole Navajo code talkers-Pocahontas mishigas. It’s not the worst thing he’s said since becoming president* but it’s the perfect distillation of who he is. It’s the context that makes this uniquely awful.

Asterisk-free presidents love ceremonial occasions where they act as head of state. It’s a chance for them to soar above controversy and conflict. The act of appearing non-political benefits them politically. If we had the British system of government, I would never have wanted Ronald Reagan as prime minister but he would have made a helluva constitutional monarch. Nobody did ceremonial occasions as well as the man who played the Gipper. It was one reason for the personal popularity that saw him through the ups and downs of his presidency.

Barack Obama was the second best American head of state of my lifetime. He loved mingling with non-politicians from celebrities to the hoi polloi. Some of the most memorable moments at the Obama White House involved the president interacting with children. Kids love the man, which should have led to his political opponents saying: I don’t like his policies but he’s a helluva nice guy. He was the first president of color so that didn’t happen. Instead, they posted pictures of him as a witch doctor on social media. We all know who those creeps voted for.

The White House ceremony honoring the Navajo code talkers was the perfect chance to act presidential. One might even call it a no-brainer; unfortunately, this president* is a no-brainer himself so he blew it by attacking a political opponent. If he had honored the code talkers for their grit, wit, and valor, the ceremony would have been about them. Instead, he made it about him by saying this:

“I just want to thank you because you’re very, very special people,” Trump said to the group. “You were here long before any of us were here — although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas. But you know what? I like you. Because you are special.”

The tone is, of course, patronizing. He addressed these elderly veterans as if they were simple-minded fools. I guess the Insult Comedian was projecting again.

Context is everything. This was not an occasion to bring one’s political vendettas to the table, er, podium. Calling Senator/Professor Warren Pocahontas is, in this context, a racist slur as well as typically mean-spirited. Trump’s apologists denied it was a racist insult but the best response came in this  statement from John Norwood of the Alliance of Colonial Era Tribes:

There are some who ignored the response from Indian Country and defended Mr. Trump, both then and now, with the excuse that the name “Pocahontas” is not a racial slur. When honorably referencing the actual historic figure, this indeed is true. However, the name becomes a derogatory racial reference when used as an insult. American Indian names, whether they be historic or contemporary, are not meant to be used as insults.  To do so is to reduce them to racial slurs.

There are many in Indian Country who have given various perspectives on Senator Warren’s claim of an American Indian ancestor. There are many non-tribal Americans who make similar claims of indigenous ancestry. Sometimes it is a matter of documented genealogical fact and sometimes it’s merely a matter of family lore. Such private claims, when not used to claim the legal protections or benefits of the citizens of American Indian Nations, cause little or no harm to tribal people. However, degrading an American Indian name or historic tribal reference by using it as an insult is making a racial slur, whether knowingly or unknowingly. The right to determine if it is a slur belongs to those who have been insulted, not the one who made the insult.

I suspect that Pocahontas is the only name of a Native American female that Trump knows. It has lodged in that pea-brain of his as the perfect way to insult Professor/Senator Warren. It is more revealing of Trump’s nature than anything else: he’s a bully and a coward but we already knew that. As his own secretary of state said, “He’s a fucking moron.”

I was also struck by the staging of the event. The podium was placed in front of a portrait of General/President Andrew Jackson who is well-known for his extreme animus against Native peoples. It’s as if the Tuskegee airmen were honored in front of a portrait of John C. Calhoun. This may well be one of the few Trump flaps that was premeditated as a way to pander to the worst of the MAGA maggots out there. The soundbite sounded written, which means it could be the handiwork of Stephen Miller.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ response to this mess was to defend her president* and lie like a poorly woven rug. She may have gone to the loom once too often as it were. This tweet from a certain internet smart ass sums it up rather well:

The White House is the people’s house. That’s why we call sitting presidents the Current Occupant. It’s not just a place for those who voted for the Current Occupant, it’s a place where *all* Americans should feel welcome regardless of their politics. Hospitality is almost sacred in the Greek community so I was raised to treat my guests like they’re honorees at a ceremonial occasion. I’ve wanted to throw people out of my house but have never done so. I do, however, want to throw Trump and his tacky crew out of the people’s house.

I originally planned to call this post That’s Why I Call Him The Insult Comedian hence the meme. I woke up this morning thinking of the book The Ugly American hence the final title. Being an Ugly American should be a “bad thing” as the Insult Comedian would surely interject at this point. It was fashionable during the first Bush-Cheney term but began to slowly fade after Rummy was shitcanned. Ugliness is back in vogue and it’s being whipped up in what Mencken called the “sahara of the bozart” and elsewhere in the boondocks by the Ugliest American of all. The barbarians are not at the gate, they’re in the White House.

Who Teaches

A while back I asked some family members and white childhood friends who they remember as the first person of authority — a person whose opinions they were expected to respect even if they didn’t agree — who wasn’t white, in their lives.

Very few remembered anyone at all.

I grew up in a fairly segregated town and went to Catholic schools. All my elementary school teachers were white. In high school I had one black teacher and one Hispanic teacher. In college (state school) I had two professors of color, though there were more professors of color teaching, mostly in ethnic studies courses, who I didn’t encounter. It wasn’t until 10 years ago that I had non-white, non-male bosses. Mr. A started working for a woman of color for the first time two years ago.

An under-covered aspect of the Obama freakout (and then the Clinton freakout afterward) was the idea that a lot of white people living segregated lives — the only black people they ever saw were on TV, probably playing football — had to confront the idea of a black person having authority over them. Blah blah, I know, the president works for us, but there was a huge swell of rage at “having” to listen to a black man. They’d never “had” to do that before, and damn if it didn’t piss them off.

Segregation of AUTHORITY matters as much as segregation of housing, jobs, amenities and everything else. It matters tremendously to children of color: 

Gershenson, Hart, Lindsay, and Papageorge demonstrate that if a black male student has at least one black teacher in the third, fourth, or fifth grade, he is significantly less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to aspire to attend a four-year college (as proxied by taking a college entrance exam). They find that these effects are especially pronounced for economically disadvantaged black male students. For instance, they find that a disadvantaged black male’s exposure to at least one black teacher in elementary school reduces his probability of dropping out of high school by nearly 40 percent. This estimated effect is not just statistically significant, but also highly educationally relevant.

We are long overdue for so many corrections in this country, and this is the last one coming for myself and my fellow white folk: That people who don’t look like us have something to teach us, and that we should shut up and learn.

A.

NOLA Politics: I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead, You Rascal You

The rascal in question is the New Orleans mayoral run-off election, which will be held this Saturday. It’s been a nasty, dispiriting race with both sides flinging shit like zoo chimps. Primary  frontrunner LaToya Cantrell has held and expanded her lead despite the city credit card misuse allegation that I went into in detail at the Bayou Brief.  The issue was subsequently diffused by the release of credit card records of other councilmembers showing that Cantrell’s use was on the high-end but not an outlier.

One reason for Cantrell’s expanding lead is the abysmal campaign run by her opponent, Desiree Charbonnet. Team Charbonnet has flooded the city with flop sweat this week. They keep throwing shit up against the wall and very little has stuck. They even falsely claimed that re-elected Councilmembers Jason Williams and Jared Brossett endorsed their effort. I know lying is in fashion but this was a clumsy and easily refutable lie.  It’s the internet age, y’all. These things spread faster than they did 20 years ago.

Another endorsement (real this time) reflects Chabonnet’s futile attempt to win over white conservative voters:

It’s a shitty picture but it makes the point. Here’s how I described Charbonnet’s honky quest in a Bayou Brief column that focuses on her political relationship with the white, conservative District Attorney Leon Canizarro aka Canny: 

Canny’s heavy-handed intervention has confirmed Cantrell supporters’ opinion that Charbonnet is a terrible person who is guilty, if of nothing else, of being a machine politician. I think that Charbonnet’s attempt to woo white conservative voters is doomed to fail. The Charbonnet brand means “corruption” to people in Lakeview and the Garden District. They didn’t support her in the primary and they’re unlikely to do so in the run-off.

And Steve Scalise represents suburban Metry and parts of the Northshore. His support means even less than Canny’s. Canny is at least a New Orleanian.

What Team Charbonnet refuses to understand is that there are fewer white conservative voters than before Katrina. It’s a top-heavy campaign as described by Deep Blog who blames the mess on one of Charbonnet’s campaign consultants:

It’s all on Bill Schultz. He always uses a cannon when the situation calls for a cap gun. Can’t help himself. And Bunny & Ike. Her campaign literally had more money than they knew how to spend intelligently. So they proceeded to spend it very unintelligently on consultants. All chiefs, yet no one really in charge.

They’ve been running a pre-Katrina campaign in a digital world. It’s one of the main reasons they’re about to lose. Bigly. I originally thought there would be a 10 point spread but it looks as if it will be Cantrell by 15 to 20 points. It’s the worst run New Orleans mayoral campaign since the one Dollar Bill Jefferson ran in 2002 for Richard Pennington. I go into more detail in another Bayou Brief column.

One thing that I hope will never change are the scurrilous flyers that are mailed out in the last two weeks of every citywide election campaign. This year PACs have done the candidates dirty work. For more details on that point and much more, check out this week’s Gambit cover story by Clancy DuBos.

I’d like to thank my friend Alex McKenzie for the flyer photos that follow. I may owe him some pho for the photos.

First off is a downright vicious anti-Charbonnet flyer. I didn’t get this one and I’m annoyed by the omission, y’all. It seems like bias against my racially mixed 13th Ward neighborhood or some such shit.

Team Charbonnet has its own PAC attack dogs. I got the next flyer. I guess they realized that I’m “just another white boy with the disco blues.” As far as I know, Fee Waybill isn’t on the ballot Saturday. End of Tubes references. Here’s an edited version of the anti-Cantrell flyer:

Straight Out Of Compton? There you have it, ladies and germs: supporters of an African-American candidate have sent out a blatantly racist attack flyer.

This flyer could only appeal to a racist white Trump voter whose family has been here for generations and hates all transplants. That’s a shrinking part of electorate. Trump only got 15% of the vote in Orleans Parish and those people all hate the Charbonnets. This was money wasted but at least I got a blog post out of it.

I remain a clothes pin Cantrell voter. I’m hoping she will modify her position on short term rentals but she’s likely to win big and feel she has a mandate. Humility has not been a strong suit of her candidacy.

I am thrilled the election will be over soon. We can all wash the mud off our clothes and celebrate Thanksgiving without any political ads polluting the air waves.

Let’s circle back to the post title. I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead, You Rascal You aka You Rascal You was written by Sam Thread in 1929. It’s associated with the greatest person ever born in New Orleans: Louis Armstrong. I’ll give Satchmo the last word as we dance on the grave of the 2017 mayoral election:

Guns Are About Fear and Fear Is About Race

Someone pointed me at this thread and I can’t believe I missed it amongst the steaming piles of garbage flying around last year: 

After accounting for all explanatory variables, logistic regressions found that for each 1 point increase in symbolic racism there was a 50% increase in the odds of having a gun at home. After also accounting for having a gun in the home, there was still a 28% increase in support for permits to carry concealed handguns, for each one point increase in symbolic racism. The relationship between symbolic racism and opposition to banning handguns in the home (OR1.27 CI 1.03,1.58) was reduced to non-significant after accounting for having a gun in the home (OR1.17 CI.94,1.46), which likely represents self-interest in retaining property (guns).

Why does everything have to be about race, I can hear you asking, and BECAUSE EVERYTHING IS ABOUT RACE. People don’t fear Chicago because it’s full of guns, they fear Chicago because it’s full of guns in the hands of young black and Hispanic men.

I can’t tell you the number of people who think I’m about to be raped and murdered every time I step out my door because my neighborhood is like 60-40, black-white, and that’s a signifier of violence. Never mind I live in Mayberry, the presence of non-white people is presumed to be a threat to white people. Which I can tell you until the cows come home is bullshit, but there’s a whole media-gun-industrial-complex devoted to making people askeered of the terrible brown threat coming for your white women.

Which is why I keep harping on the media disparity. Right now we’re having lots of hearings and all kinds of angst about Facebook and Google and Twitter bots and if they’re really Russians and all of that is fine but none of it matters if every podiatrist’s office in the Midwest is blaring Fox News and a CNN panel of five Republicans is debating which Democrat is the biggest pussy.

Fix that or all our worries about Bernie vs. Hillary vs. Keith vs. Tom vs. Whoever The Fuck don’t matter.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Lover Of The Bayou

Photograph by CC Lockwood.

Fall has fallen. We finally had a week of temptingly temperate temperatures. Unfortunately, it’s oak pollen season, which means I’ve been wheezier than Weezer or Isabel Sanford who played Louise (Weezy) Jefferson on the electronic teevee machine back in the day. Where have you gone George Jefferson? Achoo.

It’s the week after the primary election and the Mayoral  run-off campaign is mostly bubbling under the surface. There was some horrible news involving third-place finisher Michael Bagneris. His daughter, Mia, was hit by a drunk driver while exiting her car after attending her father’s election eve soiree. Since New Orleans is the world’s largest small town, we have several friends in common. Her injuries were severe but it appears that she’ll make it. It’s going to be a long recovery. Best wishes to the Bagneris family. Drunk drivers are the worst.

This week’s theme song was written by Roger McGuinn and Jacques Levy. It has an interesting history. I’ll let the Wikpedia entry for the Byrds album (Untitled) fill you in:

For most of 1969, The Byrds’ leader and guitarist, Roger McGuinn, had been developing a country rock stage production of Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt with former psychologist and Broadway impresario Jacques Levy.[16] The musical was to be titled Gene Tryp, an anagram of the title of Ibsen’s play, and would loosely follow the storyline of Peer Gynt with some modifications to transpose the action from Norway to south-west America during the mid-19th century.[5] The musical was intended as a prelude to even loftier plans of McGuinn’s to produce a science-fiction film, tentatively titled Ecology 70 and starring former Byrd Gram Parsons (no relation to Gene) and ex-member of The Mamas & the PapasMichelle Phillips, as a pair of intergalactic flower children.[12] Ultimately, Gene Tryp was abandoned and a handful of the songs that McGuinn and Levy had written for the project would instead see release on (Untitled) and its follow-up, Byrdmaniax.[4]

I told you it was a long story. We have two versions for your enjoyment, the original live Byrds version and a cover by Mudcrutch, which was Tom Petty’s original band brought back to life in 2008. Holy reanimation, Batman.

That concludes our trip to the bayou or does it? You’ll find out after we jump to the break.

Continue reading

Heckuva Job, Trumpy

I rarely write the  next day on the same topic as Athenae. It has to be important. It is: Puerto Rico is drowning and the current administration* is throwing it a life-preserver weighted down with conditions. That’s not how our government should treat American citizens. I’m not even certain that Trump knew Puerto Ricans are Americans before Hurricane Maria decimated that beautiful island. If it’s not about him, it doesn’t matter.

I guess Fox News is running stories about Puerto Rico. That could explain why the president* interrupted his #takeaknee diversion with some stray commentary on Puerto Rico’s plight. In his pea brain, if it’s important it must be tweeted about:

This coming from a man who stiffs contractors and declares bankruptcy as often as some people change their socks.  Also, Texas and Florida are not “doing great.” A friend of mine volunteered in Port Arthur, Texas last weekend and they still need help.

The Insult Comedian spoke more positively later Monday about helping Puerto Rico, but with this bozo the initial, off-the-cuff reaction is what matters. He only pretended to give a shit after being subjected to withering criticism. The proof is in the administration’s* refusal to waive provisions in the Jones Act that are interfering with the relief effort:

The Trump administration on Tuesday denied a request from several members of Congress to waive shipping restrictions to help get gasoline and other supplies to Puerto Rico as the island recovers from Hurricane Maria.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) declined the request to waive the Jones Act, which limits shipping between coasts to U.S.-flagged vessels, according to Reuters. DHS waived the act following hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which hit the mainland U.S.

The agency has in the past waived the rule to allow cheaper and more readily-available foreign vessels to supply goods to devastated areas. But DHS said Tuesday that waiving the act for Puerto Rico would not help the U.S. island territory due to damaged ports preventing ships from docking.

 “The limitation is going to be port capacity to offload and transit, not vessel availability,” a spokesperson for Customs and Border Protection told Reuters.

In a letter to the department on Tuesday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) urgedDHS to rethink the decision, citing the agency’s willingness to waive the Jones Act for relief efforts in the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

“The Department of Homeland Security has been given the ability to waive the Jones Act to accommodate national security concerns, and has done so twice in the last month,” McCain wrote. “These emergency waivers have been valuable to speed up recovery efforts in the impacted regions. However, I am very concerned by the Department’s decision not to waive the Jones Act for current relief efforts in Puerto Rico, which is facing a worsening humanitarian crisis following Hurricane Maria.”

The fact that John McCain is one of the members of Congress urging a waiver makes the more cynical among us (myself included) wonder if this is payback for his role in scuttling Graham-Cassidy. It’s doubtful that this decision went to the White House but some ambitious bureaucrat might be pandering to the Idiot in Chief. Let’s hope not. The waiver should be granted. Pronto.

Even if revenge is not involved in this decision, discrimination is since waivers were granted in Florida and Texas, both states with Republican governors. I guess Houston is lucky that Trump thinks it’s a town full of plucky white people instead of one of the most diverse cities in the country. As many have pointed out, one reason Puerto Rico is dying is that Trump doesn’t like “brown people.” That led me to point out something on the Insult Comedian’s favorite medium:

That’s right, folks, Puerto Rico is a white supremacist’s nightmare. It’s enough to give the average MAGA Maggot a migraine or Jeff Sessions a seizure. The late great Roberto Clemente would tell them to STFU and roll up their sleeves to help his people; make that our people. As New Orleans writer Edward Branley said on the book of Zucker:

My post-Katrina/Federal Flood PTSD has not been far from the surface of late. Watching the events in Puerto Rico and the American Virgin Islands reminds me of the dilatory response of the Bush administration as New Orleans flooded. Dr. A and I were in exile in Bossier City and Dallas during the worst parts of the disaster and I recall being approached in the parking lot of an upscale mall in Plano, Texas where we went to use the internet because the cousin with whom we were staying has mildly Luddite tendencies. We were hailed by a man wearing a classic Dallas power outfit: an expensive suit, Stetson, and hand-made cowboy boots. Initially, I thought he was a wingnut prepared to dance on my city’s watery grave. Instead, he said in a thick Texas accent, “I see from looking at your car that y’all are from New Orleans. I bet you’re pissed at that pissant president for fucking you over.”

I bet people in Puerto Rico are pissed at *this* pissant president* for fucking them over. Obviously, NFL protests are more important than suffering in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. #sarcasm. Heckuva job, Trumpy.

Our fate is your fate.

UPDATE: After days of lame excuses, the administration* has waived the Jones Act. It’s unclear if a player to be named later was part of the deal.

Saturday Odds & Sods: How About You?

Court of the Patriarchs by Ansel Adams.

We had another boil water advisory in New Orleans this week. I’ve gotten used to them by now and don’t freak out. I’m married to a microbiologist so we ignore the “don’t shower” bit. It’s okay to bathe as long as one doesn’t have wounds or open sores. Besides, I’m not about to be stinky because the Sewerage and Water Board can’t get its shit together. Fuck that shit.

Oscar Update. It looks as if doubling his head meds and changing his diet has done the trick. Knock on wood. He hasn’t marked in several days and doesn’t look and act  like a scaredy cat. His tail is in the air when he walks instead of drooping. Let’s hope it lasts. Knock on wood. I had forgotten about that live Bowie version. Make sure you click on that last link.

In other New Orleans news, I wrote a second column for the Bayou Brief about the Mayors race. The campaign is so dull and listless that I refer to the candidates as The B-List.

This week’s theme song is inspired by last week’s Gershwin brothers reverie. How so? The opening lyrics:

I like New York in June, how about you?

I like a Gershwin tune, how about you?

That works for me.

How About You? was written by Burton Lane and Ralph Freed for the 1941 MGM musical Babes on Broadway starring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. We have two versions for your enjoyment. First, the Chairman of the Board with a Nelson Riddle arranged version from an album you’ll hear more about later. Second, Harry Nilsson did an album of standards with *another* Sinatra arranger, Gordon Jenkins. Harry’s version was featured in Python alum Terry Gilliam’s best film, The Fisher King.

Heh, heh, heh. We just saw Robin William’s furry butt, he said in his best Beavis and Butthead voice. On that supremely lowbrow note, lets jump to the break.

Continue reading

Saturday Odds & Sods: This Summer

Windmills on the Hill by Francoise Gilot.

Prologue/Forward: I wrote this post and timed it for publication before Hurricane Harvey made full landfall. It will be onshore as you read this. It’s gonna be a wet sumbitch. Best of luck to all my friends and readers in the impacted area whether you evacuated or hunkered down. Our thoughts are with you.

Enough sincere shit, it’s time for the main event:

The tropics are becoming more active as August nears an end. It’s unfortunate because the drainage system in New Orleans is still fucked up. I don’t usually get overly nervous when I hear about a new tropical system in the Caribbean, but this year is different. The odds of Adrastos World HQ flooding are slim. As to the rest of the city, that’s not the case. Hopefully, the City will get its shit together but competence is not a hallmark of government in the Crescent City. It’s time for an Adrastos nursery rhyme: Harvey stay away, don’t come again another day.

Have I complained about storm names this year? It’s high time.  The latest storm is Harvey, which is a funny name, not a scary one. Hurricane Harvey reminds me of Harvey the invisible rabbit, Harvey Korman, and this former major league baseball player, coach, and manager:

Admittedly, the chaw is a bit scary, but Harvey Kuenn was famous for being nice and for being the only batting champion traded for a home run champion, Rocky Colavito. Enough about the boys of summer since only Doc and I give a shit about Harvey Kuenn. I would, however, never knock the Rock…

Summer may be winding down where you live but September is often as hot as August in my sultry neck of the woods. We usually get a tease of fall weather but it rarely lasts long before the heat and humidity settle back in until October. That’s life in the Big Easy. Speaking of which, there’s a swell cover story in the Gambit Tabloid about post-Katrina life here: Is New Orleans worth it?  It’s, uh, worth a glance. It proves that old adage: the more things change the more they remain the same. So it goes.

Speaking of summer, it occurred to me this week that my favorite rock songwriting team, Difford and Tilbrook, have written a passel of tunes about summer. This week’s first theme song,  This Summer, begins with a classic line: “Brain engages mouth, mouth expresses thoughts.” That’s how it works in my experience.

I hope you noticed that the late Keith Wilkerson looks like Huntz Hall in this video. He’s the bloke in the blue ball cap. Not only was Keith was more likely to be an East Side Kid than a Bowery Boy, neither Difford nor Tillbrook resemble Leo Gorcey. End of obscure lowbrow comedy reference. I have a million of them…

Happy Days is a song of more recent vintage. It’s about getting out of London on holiday. As a non-resident, London is one of my favorite places to go on vacation. I would propose a house swap but who the hell wants to come to New Orleans in August?

Our final Squeezey ode to summer was one of the band’s first hits and evokes the beach on a warm summer day:

Now that we’ve gone behind the chalet and pulled mussels from the shell, it’s time to insert the break.

Continue reading

First Draft Potpourri: Arpaio To Play Edition

I just have a few items for a hot-steamy-n-cloudy Thursday. Of course, it’s August in New Orleans so it’s always hot-n-steamy, hot-n-nasty even:

The focus of this edition is a man who never eats humble pie. I think you know who I’m talking about: the Insult Comedian.

Arpaio To Play: To be blunt, former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is a racist piece of shit. He was finally voted out by Phoenician voters last fall. Yeah, they actually call themselves that. I guess Phoenixers was too negative and Phoenixons sounds too much like a certain former president.

Trump’s pals at CNN broke the story that the administration* is preparing the paperwork if the Lost Causer In Chief pardons his fellow racist:

An administration official said the White House has also prepared talking points to send to surrogates after he is pardoned.
One of the talking points is that Arpaio served his country for 50 years in the military, the Drug Enforcement Administration and as Arizona’s Maricopa County sheriff, and that it is not appropriate to send him to prison for “enforcing the law” and “working to keep people safe.”
Arpaio, an early Trump supporter, was found guilty last month of criminal contempt for disregarding a court order in a racial profiling case. He is scheduled to be sentenced on October 5.
Though the timing remains unclear, the President alluded that he would soon pardon Arpaio during his rally in Phoenix, Arizona, Tuesday night.
“I won’t do it tonight because I don’t want to cause any controversy,” Trump said, after Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said he would “inflame passions” if he did so. “I’ll make a prediction,” Trump added. “I think he’s going to be just fine.”

Dig the line about avoiding controversy in a speech that had the president* frothing at the mouth like a rabid dog. It’s a pity that he can’t be quarantined so he can catch up on his teevee watching.

The signal that Trump would send to the nation if he pardoned Arpaio is clear: bigotry is “beautifu”l as long you support me. Trump kept referring to Arpaio in his speech as “Sheriff Joe” as if he were Andy Taylor of teevee’s Mayberry. Arpaio is more like Judge Roy Bean. He’s a nasty piece of work who should not be pardoned so, of course, Trump will do it. It’s who and what he is.

Quote Of The Day: The Guardian  spoke to some Trumpers outside the Phoenix rally. The money quote comes from wignut Arizona State Senator, Sylvia Allen:

Trump is a breath of fresh air. He’s totally not a political person. He’s a businessman: he’s anti-left, he’s anti-PC, he’s anti-stupid.

The Insult Comedian is anti-stupid? That’s the stupidest damn thing I’ve heard in quite some time. Ms. Allen should look in the mirror if she wants to see stupid.

I’m sick of the endless pulse-taking of the baser members of Trump’s base. There’s a rock solid 25% who aren’t embarrassed by his demented antics and bigoted policies. I’m tired of hearing about the hardcore deplorables. Doesn’t the MSM owe Hillary an apology for raking her over the coals about the basket of deplorables comment? She was right and they were wrong. Chris Cillizza should be made to scrub the toilets at Hill-n-Bill’s crib; without a brush like Ken Shabby in this classic Python sketch:

Tweet Of The Day:  Speaking of the Clintons, Chelsea spoke out against mockery at the expense of Barron Trump:

The offending tweet was deleted but it echoed an article at Tucker Carlson’s joint criticizing the kid for wearing a t-shirt and shorts. How dare he dress like a tween? The nerve.

Good on ya, Chelsea. I remember when Rushbo went after you for looking like a gawky kid when you were one. Empathy is an excellent quality. It’s a pity that Barron’s father doesn’t have it but, unlike his adult siblings, the kid is a non-combatant. Leave him the fuck alone.

Trump Theme Song Time: Watching the Primal Screamer In Chief’s Phoenix pity party, it occurred to me that Warren Zevon’s Poor Poor Pitiful Me would be a great Trump theme song. The narrator is a cad much like the grubby pussygrabbing president*.

I may get around to writing some new lyrics but the chorus is easy: “Poor poor pitiful me. CNN won’t let me be. Lord have mercy on me. Woe is me.”

Guess who gets the last word?

 

 

The Primal Scream President’s* Ego Rallies

I batted around several possible post titles. I wound up combining my top two choices: the Primal Scream Presidency* and Ego Rallies. They were good enough to marry. I’m not sure who proposed. It was probably the primal screamer: that fucker cannot shut up to save his life. That’s why I stuck with the Your White Nationalist President* Speaks meme as the featured image. It’s beautiful. Believe me.

While watching clips of the primal scream president’s* latest ego rally, I cast my mind all the way back to Monday when the usual MSM suspects insisted we’d seen a new, humble-n-serious Trump. Only the most gullible people in the country bought the New Trump. Athenae did not, neither did I. It was more of a divot than a pivot. It lasted a mere 25 hours. There will never be a pivot. Trump is like Popeye’s evil twin: he is who he is and nothing that Ivanka Olive Oyl does will change that. As I said back in Februrary, he’s the worst person ever to live in the White House. Believe me.

Last night’s meltdown in Phoenix was depressingly predictable. Put the Insult Comedian in front of a crowd of MAGA Maggots and he’ll in engage in a public form of primal scream therapy. There was one new twist: he misquoted his statements about the Charlottesville neo-Nazi riot. I’m glad he can keep the crazy fresh for the basest members of his base base.

Trump is sui generis. It’s true that he combines some of the worst facets of past national leaders so not everything about his style is original, but he’s the worst as well as the craziest. Here’s a wee check list of traits he shares with recent presidents and party nominees:

Narcissism: Bill Clinton and Lyndon Johnson both had healthy egos as well as an abundance of self-love. They kept it behind closed doors whereas Trump’s narcissism is on daily display.

Self-pity: The Phoenix diatribe was an exercise in self-pity. Clinton, Nixon, and LBJ were known to feel sorry for themselves. Once again, they rarely showed it in public. LBJ and Tricky, however, let the mask slip near the end of their respective terms as Oval Ones.

Dog Whistling: Nixon, Reagan, and both Bushes did their share of racist dog whistling but they knew better than to do it overtly. Trump isn’t sophisticated enough to be as subtle as Poppy Bush was in the 1988 campaign. In that race, he seemed to be running for national police chief instead of president. Poppy’s race baiting was strictly for the campaign. He didn’t believe it. Trump does. Believe me.

Referring to Oneself In The Third Person: This is something that drives me nuts. In this area, Trump follows in the footsteps of former Senator Bob Dole who was on the GOP ticket in 1976 and 1996. He did a lot of Bob Doling. Trump sticks to his surname, which could be called a surly name in his case.

Anger Management Issues: It’s well-known that LBJ, Nixon, Clinton, and 2008 GOP nominee John McCain had volcanic tempers. They kept their angriest moments private, which is where they belong.

Public Attacks On Members Of Their Own Party: This is unusual to say the least. The only direct comparison is FDR’s attempt to purge Conservative Southern Democrats in the 1938 off-year election. Johnson got publicly tetchy about Democratic doves but knew that mounting primary challenges was folly.

Trump seems prepared to ignore these precedents. He thinks the world started over on November 9, 2016. I guess that makes him the asshole messiah. It’s gotten to the point that even Chinless Mitch cannot stand him. I wonder if Trump has threatened to turn him into Turtle soup. Donald is big on empty threats.

One quality that Trump lacks is impulse control; if he had any at all, there would be fewer self-inflicted wounds. He also possess all the worst qualities of baby boomers and none of that generation’s redeeming characteristics. Once again, he’s the worst of the worst.

As long as Trump remains president* there will be ego rallies. It’s the only way to assuage his epic insecurities. I think Bill Moyers summed it up best:

Instead of a soul, Donald Trump has an open sore.

That’s why he’ll keep on primal screaming at ego rallies and on twitter. He cannot help himself. It’s why the country is in such deep trouble that Mike Pence looks less bad than Trump. He does have better hair than the dead nutria Trump wears atop his head, after all.

In my continuing effort to establish that there’s a Kinks song for every situation, I’ll give them the last word. It’s Ray’s ode to positive nonconformism as opposed to Trump’s open sore nonconformism:

The Fog Of History: There Is No Such Thing As White Culture

I’m never certain as to whether white nationalists live in a fantasy world or a fugue state. They talk about a world that never existed with absolute certainty, which means they’re absolutely wrong. They filter everything through their warped ideology and it ends up sounding like they’ve followed Alice into the rabbit hole; a reference many of them would not get. The only Alice they know is the zany maid on The Brady Bunch. Why? They believe in white culture, and what’s whiter than the bloody, buggery, bollocky Brady Bunch?

American white nationalists like to speak in buzz words and epithets. They have a label for everyone and everything. I’m not sure what they’d call me: liberal internet snarkmeister comes to mind. One label they insist of affixing to everything is white culture. They’re a little vague as to exactly what they mean by this. High European culture? Bach was into fugues, after all. End of feeble attempt to make a fugue state pun. Do they mean American pop culture? I haven’t the foggiest and, in the end, neither do they. They’re as coherent as the President they so admire.

Speaking of cultural M*A*S*H-ups,  I’m reminded of Radar’s attempt to be cultured:

The cleverer white nationalists like to contrast African and Asian cultures unfavorably with that of Europe. They almost sound like EU fetishists when they go on about European music, literature, and history. Of course, their version sounds very little like the agreed upon facts and more like delusions. It’s always fun to see if they know how much of European high culture was the work of Jewish artists such as Gustav Mahler, his conversion notwithstanding.  They probably think Mahler has something to do with the postal service…

The vast majority of white nationalists only have a vague idea of what could be called Eurocentric culture. They call it white culture, which is something that does not exist. There is Polish culture, English culture, French culture, German culture and on and on and on. There is no such thing as a culture based on skin color, which is is a granfalloon on steroids. There are sub-cultures influenced by one’s ethnicity but there is no such thing as white culture.

American white nationalist bigots have been with us a long time. They used to belong to xenophobic groups like the Know-Nothing party and the 1920’s iteration of the KKK who were rabidly anti-Catholic. Today’s white nationalists have dropped the anti-papist rhetoric in favor of ranting about black and brown people and that old standby, the Jews. It’s an easier sell to the Trump base some of whom are Catholics who skipped the cafeteria stage…

One thing I’ve noticed in my time as a political observer is that we no longer hear much about pols seeking the votes of European ethnic groups. It used to be a big deal to go after, say, the Polish vote in Chicago, the Irish vote in Boston, the Italian vote in New York, the pan-Slavic vote in Cleveland, and the German vote in Milwaukee. That’s a radical oversimplification that leaves out many groups but it’s still pertinent to what passes for analysis in this piece.

People don’t seem to identify as much with their ethnic background as they once did. As someone who does, I’ll often ask someone if their last name is, say, Croatian. It used to be that everyone knew the root of their names but that’s increasingly less common. I guess the whole assimilation thing is working. Those European ethnic groups all had their baggage and discrete and insular prejudices but it was healthier for one to identify as, say, Polish than white.  It’s the difference between a karass and a granfalloon in Kurt Vonnegut’s fictional faith Bokononism. It may be the time for a Bokononist revival. Anyone game? At the very least, we should all read Cat’s Cradle the book from whence Bokononism sprang.

The next time someone mentions white culture as being bound up with Confederate monuments, just shake your head and walk away. I, too, am tempted to argue with them but it’s as futile as  arguing with one of the Robert E. Lee statues that are being taken down across the country. It’s a pity that they’ve settled upon harmful lies as opposed to the Bokononist idea of foma, which are:  “…harmless untruths; lies that, if used correctly, can be useful.” That’s another term for a white lie which exist whereas white culture does not.

Repeat after me: white culture does not exist, and white nationalism is the ultimate granfalloon.

They’re Going Wild in Boston

This should be the end of them.

As a small group of “free speech” ralliers took their place on Boston Common’s bandstand, tens of thousands of people marched from Roxbury to the Common in a show of unity against hated and bigotry.

Between the march and other groups of counterprotesters, up to 40,000 people were estimated to be in the Boston Common area protesting the original rally, according to Boston police.

It won’t be, but it should.

They’ve had their moment, now. They’ve had their sad tantrum, yet again, and they’ve had their validation from the government that their White Lives Matter, and in Boston — which has an ugly segregation history all its own, as every American city does — they’ve been ridiculed and shouted down and badly outnumbered.

They’ve been laughed at. That should be the end.

Someone asked this week what it would take to stamp them out for good, the Nazis and the self-indulgent provocateurs who support them because they think being disgusting is the same thing as being shocking and being shocking is the same thing as being interesting or feeling important. What would it take? Apparently ten thousand decent people for every one of them, that’s what it would take.

That’s the ratio that should end things right here.

And the only reason it won’t is that at the highest levels of government there’s an interest in keeping their rage-gasm going. For political power from the local level on up, for financial gain in the personal and public senses, for comfort, for fear, the people in charge right now need this drama to continue.

Boston should end it. So when it doesn’t, ask who benefits from it being kept alive. Don’t ask what Nazis or alt-righters or white supremacists want (for shit’s sake, that last, it’s right there in the name). Ask who gains when their voices are amplified. Ask who makes money, ask who wins elections. When their concerns are ascendant in our political conversations, who profits? And who suffers?

We should be done with them now, just as we should have been done with them a long time ago. Why aren’t we? We’re ugly and we’re venal and we’re mean, sure, but nobody does this much work for free. Who’s getting paid?

A.

Sunday Morning Video- Charlottesville: Race and Terror

The SMV is back from hiatus with the VICE episode that everyone’s talking about:

 

First Draft Potpourri: Bayou Briefing

It’s been a difficult week. Everyone I know is upset about the Charlottesville neo-Nazi riot. It’s taken a lot out of me because I know and love the place as I said on Monday. That’s why it’s time to lighten things up a bit. It may not work but comic relief is my middle name. I guess I should’ve capitalized the phrase in that case.

The post is NOT called Bayou Briefing because it’s all stories of the Gret Stet. It’s because the Bayou Brief has published my first column. Holy shameless plug, Batman.

It’s called The Fog of New Orleans Mayoral Race History and they even let me tell some jokes. Unlike some other Bayou Briefers, I wasn’t Born on the Bayou but neither was John Fogerty for that matter:

We’ll keep it in the Gret Stet of Louisiana for now.

Tweet Of The Week: Former Louisiana Governor and federal inmate Edwin Edwards’ 90th birthday soiree was held on August 12th; his actual DOB is 8-7-1927. I’m envious: there was no flooding like there was on my birthday a week earlier. Oh well, I guess us Leos have to stick together. Holy Grandfalloon, Batman.

The big shebang took place in Red Stick and EWE did his Cajun Shecky shtick as you can see from this tweet by the AP’s Melinda Deslatte:

Edwin Edwards, of course, opened a can of whoop ass on Trump’s buddy David Dukkke in 1991. He may have been a crook but he was our crook.

We’ll keep it down South, but first a marginally relevant musical selection:

Actually, I posted that because Dr. A and I usually drive through Birmingham on our way home from the Commonwealth of Virginia. Fast.

My Kind Of Cover-Up: Democratic Birmingham, Alabama Mayor William Bell was tired of looking at a Confederate monument across from City Hall. He had a novel solution:

Bell covered up the monument to Confederate veterans, first with tarps and then with wooden walls erected by city workers overnight Tuesday. Bell told reporters earlier in the day that his immediate goal was to temporarily cover the monument “until such time that we can tell the full story of slavery, the full story of what the Confederacy really meant.”

“What the Confederacy represented was the maintaining of individuals as being less than human, of promoting a supremacy doctrine that is no longer valid, and wasn’t valid then,” he added.

I guess you can tell that Mayor Bell is black. He’s being sued by the  Lost CauserAlabama AG for violating a new state law that protects Confederate shit. It’s thrilling that this is happening in the city where Bull Connor sicced police dogs on civil rights protesters.

It looks as if Birmingham is finally living up to the chorus of the Randy Newman song:

I still don’t think it’s “the greatest city in Alabam,” my money is on Mobile since they have Carnival, but Mayor Bell not only rules, he rocks. Speaking of those who do neither:

Your Twit President* Tweets: I hadn’t planned to do this segment but when I checked TPM that plan went out the window alongside the running joke in my Bayou Brief column.

The Lost Causer In Chief announced his candidacy to be the second president of the Confederate States of America in a “beautiful” tweet storm this morning:

That’s why I added Lost Causer In Chief to my panoply of Trump nicknames.

The whole “they’re trying to change history” thing drives me batshit crazy; almost as crazy as Trump. There are no monuments to Hitler in Germany or Austria. They haven’t forgotten that history, dipshit. I wish we could make like Mayor Bell and cover up Trump’s big bazoo.

How’s that whole disciplining the president* thing going, General Kelly? Not very well from the looks of it.

It’s time to cheese it across the pond for our final segment.

Finest Festival In The District: There was a different kind of Rumble in Brighton recently. Over cheese. I am not making this up:

A festival celebrating cheese is facing serious backlash for running out of it, something the weekend-long event’s organizers apparently didn’t “anticipate” a “demand for.” This Fyre Festival–level fiasco was held in the English city of Brighton and, it’s also worth noting, had sold out beforehand. It’s part of a traveling festival series literally called the Cheese Fest, where people pay £3 to £6 in advance to supposedly enjoy a drool-worthy afternoon filled with endless raclette wheels, halloumi fries, grilled cheeses, and the “most amazing mac and cheese in the world.”

The complaints started pouring in immediately on Saturday — too few stalls, outrageous lines, woefully underprepared vendors, not enough bathrooms. Very soon, the eponymous food ran out entirely. Some visitors noted they didn’t get so much as a sample-size morsel. As the afternoon stretched on, visitors kept coming, spawning more awful feedback, and organizers allegedly stooped to removing negative comments from the event’s Facebook page.

No cheese at the Cheese Festival? It’s too bad that organizers didn’t have Brie Larson or Adrastos crush Alison Brie there to distract attention.  It’s a pity that there are no chicks named Cheddar…

The Brighton cheese rumble reminds me of one of my favorite Python sketches:

Cleese: It’s not much of a cheese shop, is it?

Palin: Finest in the district sir!

Cleese: (annoyed) Explain the logic underlying that conclusion, please.

Palin: Well, it’s so clean, sir!

Cleese: It’s certainly uncontaminated by cheese.

The last word goes to John Cleese and Michael Palin to the strains of bouzouki music. I am uncertain as to whether there was a bouzouki at the  Brighton cheese rumble. One would hope so since there was no cheese. Finest festival in the district, sir.

Your President* Speaks: Lost Causer In Chief

We all knew it couldn’t last. I’m referring to Trump’s second Charlottesville statement on Monday. Call it a brief spasm of coerced contrition over his initial reaction to Saturday’s neo-Nazi riot. Actually, it looked more like a hostage video of a man reading words he did not believe in. Believe me.

Tuesday’s ranty press conference was the latest in a series of  public meltdowns. This time he revealed himself as the Lost Causer In Chief. I halfway expected him to demand that statues of him be erected in towns across the country. He’s a big enough dick to demand such an erection, after all.

Let’s tackle a few of the Insult Comedian’s comments with the odd comment by your humble blogger. Somebody’s gotta be humble in a country headed by a blowhard and braggart. I forgot a b word: Bigot.

Q Let me ask you, Mr. President, why did you wait so long to blast neo-Nazis?

THE PRESIDENT: I didn’t wait long.

Q You waited two days —

THE PRESIDENT: I didn’t wait long.

Q Forty-eight hours.

THE PRESIDENT: I wanted to make sure, unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct — not make a quick statement. The statement I made on Saturday, the first statement, was a fine statement. But you don’t make statements that direct unless you know the facts. It takes a little while to get the facts. You still don’t know the facts. And it’s a very, very important process to me, and it’s a very important statement.

So I don’t want to go quickly and just make a statement for the sake of making a political statement. I want to know the facts. If you go back to —

<SNIP>

And honestly, if the press were not fake, and if it was honest, the press would have said what I said was very nice. But unlike you, and unlike — excuse me, unlike you and unlike the media, before I make a statement, I like to know the facts.

Mr. Conclusion Jumper (no relation to Mr. In Between) wanted to know all the facts before spouting off? Even by Trumpian standards, this is preposterous piffle. He wouldn’t know a fact if it bit him in the dead nutria atop his head.

Esme Cribb of  TPM has compiled a list of all the times the Kaiser of Chaos leapt to conclusions about *other* terrorist episodes.  (I love her name: she sounds like a Dickens character.) Apparently, fact checks only apply when the terrorist is a Trumper.

Q Nazis were there.

Q David Duke was there.

THE PRESIDENT: I didn’t know David Duke was there. I wanted to see the facts. And the facts, as they started coming out, were very well stated. In fact, everybody said, “His statement was beautiful. If he would have made it sooner, that would have been good.” I couldn’t have made it sooner because I didn’t know all of the facts. Frankly, people still don’t know all of the facts.

This latest idiocy is, yet again, about the fact that the people don’t love him and hang on his every word. We’re ingrates as far as Trump is concerned. He should be worshiped. Why? I’ll never know.

THE PRESIDENT: Okay, what about the alt-left that came charging at — excuse me, what about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?

Let me ask you this: What about the fact that they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do. As far as I’m concerned, that was a horrible, horrible day.

It’s a documented fact that the neo-Nazi, neo-Klansmen, neo-Confederates initiated the violence. They were the ones who showed up clad in riot gear. That’s a whole lotta neos. If I were into The Matrix movies I might make a Neo joke but I’m not so I won’t. I just couldn’t get past the presence of Keanu Reeves, dude in the role of Neo, dude.

Now where the hell was I? Oh yeah, your white nationalist president* speaks.

THE PRESIDENT: But not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue of Robert E. Lee.

Q Should that statue be taken down?

THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me. If you take a look at some of the groups, and you see — and you’d know it if you were honest reporters, which in many cases you’re not — but many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee.

So this week it’s Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?

So, Trump is conflating the Civil War with the American Revolution now? The first and third presidents were present at the creation of the republic; neither committed treason like Lee or Jackson. Trump does have something in common with Stonewall Jackson though. They’re both sociopaths. Believe me.

I planned to save the reaction to today’s diatribe for the end but this one is priceless. It’s one New Orleanian quoting another New Orleanian on the tweeter tube:

Back to this episode of your white nationalist president* speaks.

Q Mr. President, are you putting what you’re calling the alt-left and white supremacists on the same moral plane?

THE PRESIDENT: I’m not putting anybody on a moral plane. What I’m saying is this: You had a group on one side and you had a group on the other, and they came at each other with clubs — and it was vicious and it was horrible. And it was a horrible thing to watch.

But there is another side. There was a group on this side. You can call them the left — you just called them the left — that came violently attacking the other group. So you can say what you want, but that’s the way it is.

Q (Inaudible) both sides, sir. You said there was hatred, there was violence on both sides. Are the —

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I think there’s blame on both sides. If you look at both sides — I think there’s blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it, and you don’t have any doubt about it either.

<SNIP>

Q The neo-Nazis started this. They showed up in Charlottesville to protest —

THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me, excuse me. They didn’t put themselves — and you had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides. You had people in that group.

There are “very fine people” who are neo-Nazis wearing riot gear? That’s a new one on me. Neo-Nazis and white nationalists are not “very fine people” they’re what kids today call haters. It’s what they do. It’s what they live for. It doesn’t bother Trump because he’s one of them. The politics of grievance and revenge are Trump’s politics even though he grew up with wealth and very white privilege. I’d call it a paradox but I try to use language the Insult Comedian will understand. That was a lie; something he does understand. Believe me.

The most significant reaction came from the erstwhile Gret Stet Fuhrer:

That’s really all you need to know about the third Charlottesville statement. It pleased David Duke, Richard Spencer, and their neo-Nazi brethren. They didn’t buy the second statement, they didn’t even give it secondhand love.

Anyone who was shocked by Trump’s latest hissy fit has not been paying attention. He started toying with running for president in 2011, which is when he began beating the birther drum. His entire political career since then has been based on racism and bigotry. No shock to any of our readers but it apparently still is to the MSM and most Republican office holders. It’s who and what he is.

A personal note. I believe in free speech but I do not believe in being nice to neo-Nazis and white nationalists. My father and three uncles fought against fascism in World War II. One uncle was killed in action in Italy. We didn’t fight a bloody war against the real Nazis only to see them rise to prominence 72 years after their ignominious defeat. They’re LOSERS, Donald. So are the Confederates. So much for “so much winning.”

Speaking of veterans, some people are quoting remarks made by Bob Dole denouncing racism in his 1996 acceptance speech. The problem with that is that Bob Dole is still alive. Bob Dole endorsed Donald Trump in 2016. We haven’t heard a peep from him or most party regulars about the transformation of the GOP into a white nationalist party. I guess they’re afraid to have a cross burned on their tidy white bread lawns.

Here’s hoping that the Charlottesville is a turning point in the struggle against our white nationalist president* and his despicable supporters. Remember what Hillary Clinton said about the basket of deplorables? She was right about that and so much else.

Since the Pepe the frog crowd  is fond of using memes to wage their war against trite genocide, I’ll fight tiki torch fire with tiki torch fire:

Lost Causers Fester In Charlottesville

I’ve spent a lot of time in Charlottesville over the years. It’s a lovely college town with a population of 45K when the University of Virginia isn’t in session. Dr. A spent her formative years in Staunton 45 miles away, and studied and worked in Charlottesville. We know and love the place. We still have friends there including Parenthetical who wrote a guest post about the May warmup demonstration aka the Klanbake.

Charlottesville is not your typical “moonlight and magnolias” Southern college town. UVA alums think of their school as a Southern outpost of the Ivy League and the town is full of preppies, not bubbas. But just like ANYWHERE in America, there are bigots, xenophobes, and racists nearby. Never forget that one of the ugliest fights over school desegregation took place in liberal Boston. And the president* who gave a green light to the self-styled alt-right is from liberal New York. It may be trite to say it but racism and bigotry are an American, not Southern, problem. It’s everywhere.

About the post title. I’ve mostly used the labels Lost Causers and Lost Cause Fest to describe the anti-monument removal protesters in New Orleans. Since Richard Spencer is not tied to my city (David Dukkke must be slipping), we saw less neo-Nazi shit here but who are bigger losers in history than the Nazis? The Lost Cause label fits them and will remain affixed to their odious cause here at First Draft.

I’m a writer so words mean a great deal to me. I remain conflicted as to what exactly to call the self-styled alt right. I lean in the direct of calling them white nationalists as a way of linking them to the right-wing nationalist movements in Europe. I tend to prefer the label neo-Nazis to just plain Nazis because the latter word is tied to a specific time, place, and people. I am not, however, going to quibble over those terms: a Fascist is a Fascist is a Fascist.

It’s obvious that the right-wing extremist groups who gathered in Charlottesville hope to replicate the Nazi vs. Communist street thuggery that preceded the Nazi takeover of Germany. The anti-fa folks are playing into their hands but it’s hard to argue with someone who defends themselves. Tension in Charlottesville was exacerbated by Virginia’s status as an open carry state. While I think that’s madness, there is a way to reduce the level of thuggery at future demonstrations in open carry states. Many of the neo-Nazi, unmasked Klan types were carrying riot shields, helmets, and billy clubs or baseball bats. Those items can be proscribed in the permitting process thereby allowing the cops to remove a person possessing them from the scene of the future crime. Legislative action would be better but I’m not holding my breath.

I was at a birthday party for a good friend on Saturday night. There was much talk about Charlottesville and the Insult Comedian’s non-statement about the neo-Nazi riot. As Athenae pointed out yesterday, there aren’t MANY SIDES to this issue. It’s a choice between fundamental human decency and hate. I’d like to focus on another side of Trump’s poorly delivered and half-assed remarks:

My administration is restoring the sacred bonds of loyalty between this nation and its citizens, but our citizens must also restore the bonds of trust and loyalty between one another. We must love each other, respect each other, and cherish our history and our future together. So important. We have to respect each other. Ideally, we have to love each other.

On the surface this sound okay because he talks about love, trust, and loyalty. The key phrase is in bold face: this is whoever wrote the remarks (my money is on Miller) way of signalling to the Lost Causers that Trump is on their side. This march was allegedly about keeping a monument to Robert E. Lee and cherishing history as seen by Richard Spencer and erstwhile Gret Stet Fuhrer David Dukkke. It’s certainly how they understood his remarks as historian Rick Perlstein pointed out on his Facebook feed:

I let Rick read the Daily Stormer so we didn’t have to.

It’s telling that a president* who is willing to attack gold star families, disabled reporters, Kim Jong-un, and Chinless Mitch by name is unwilling to call out neo-Nazis and Lost Cause racists. Why? They’re part of his base. Even if Trump is forced into naming names, it will be grudging, half-hearted, and meaningless. We know where he stands. He’s one of them.

It’s time for some comic relief. One of the twitter feeds I’ve been enjoying of late is Yes, You’re Racist. This particular exchange made me laugh on a rather grim weekend:

The picture of that slack-jawed preppie moron led to this bon mot by one of my favorite people on the tweeter tube, me:

Mosley was, of course, the leader of the pre-World War II British Union of Fascists. I half way expected to see the banner of his party waved in Charlottesville last weekend:

If you see the flag at future Lost Cause Fest events, you know what it is.

The best thing I’ve read about the events in Charlottesville came from Slate’s Dahlia Lithiwck who lives there. Here’s how she finished her piece:

The Nazis may come to town, terrorize and threaten people with guns, even brutally murder a young woman. This president may fail to condemn it. But all right-thinking Americans will recoil in horror. And white supremacists will be replaced. There is no room for them here. On Saturday they were relegated to parking at the shopping mall and walking miles in the hot sun, in their sad supervillain Comic-Con outfits. Today they are already slinking back to their own homes, where they are also being replaced, by history, by moral justice, and by our children, who are growing up exactly where they belong, at home, irreplaceable, sacred, and, especially today, brave.

I should give Dahlia the last word but I want to circle back to the featured image of Captain American punching Hitler. I am not an advocate of violence but Nazi punching strikes me (pun intended, it always is) as the least bad and most understandable form of violence. People who attend a rally packing heat below their absurd tiki torches deserve mockery and the odd punch. I’ll stick to the former but I’m beyond sermonizing about the latter.

The last word is part of my continuing effort to prove that there’s a Kinks song for every situation. This song is about Captain America asking for help in a troubled time:

I remember, when you were down
And you needed a helping hand
I came to feed you
But now that I need you
You won’t give me a second glance
Now I’m calling all citizens from all over the world
This is Captain America calling
I bailed you out when you were down on your knees
So will you catch me now I’m falling

The song was written for 1979’s Low Budget album but rings truer than ever:

Sides

I’ve been reading about them for months now.

Trump supporters. Trump voters. Most of them in rural areas, lots of them poor.

All of them white.

I’ve been reading lots of stories about why they voted for Trump. Sympathetic stories.

And all these stories say the same thing.

I never heard anybody blame Hispanics for local crime, or make racist remarks about them; it was much more common to encounter Islamophobia, although the nearest mosque is about four hours away.

All the stories say the same thing. “Trump’s voters didn’t mention race.”

They did, though.

They are talking about race.

They don’t use the word “black” or “Hispanic.” They don’t use the epithets. They don’t say that, so we say they’re not talking about race.

When they talk about people taking from the system, though?

They’re talking about race.

When they talk about undocumented immigrants swarming over the borders taking American jobs?

They’re talking about race.

When they talk about crime, they’re talking about race. When they talk about schools, they’re talking about race. When they talk about culture, about parenting, about music, they’re talking about race.

You can almost see it, the black or brown person they imagine in their heads, the pre-arranged exception to the sweetly stated rule that of course all of us are equals before our God. You can hear it in their voices when the picture shifts and if you say you can’t you’re a liar.

White people like me go to church with white people like them. We have dinner with white people like them. We work with white people like them and you can hear it, the nastiness underlying their assumptions when they’re among people who look like them.

Every single one of them is talking about race, and every single one of them who hates Obama (not talking about disliking or criticizing Obama, talking about hating) is talking about race and we have to stop letting them off the hook, like this is some kind of big mystery.

Where did it come from? We wonder.

We have to stop acting like there are only two sides, good upstanding citizens who’d never in a million years ride in a rally like the one in Charlottesville, and the motherfucking grand wizards. We have to stop acting like this is the dichotomy: 

Sometimes I worry that I am going to end up working on a plantation, or behind a wall or in a camp, the way things are going. I have to ask about race. “People try to make us out as crazy rednecks or hood-wearing Klansmen,” a man from rural Ohio told me.

Because if that’s the dichotomy, of course the light is winning, and Hillary Clinton (or shit, even Ben Carson) is president, and when this bullshit went down yesterday the president came out and said, “Fuck this shit, wave a Confederate flag and get hanged for treason, you garbage slobs.” If the bar we’re holding people to is “not a torch-bearing Nazi,” well, lots of us pass that test.

 

Passing that test shouldn’t be enough to get you into heaven. It shouldn’t be enough to buy you sympathetic profiles in every publication imaginable. It shouldn’t get you excused from racism. Racism doesn’t have two faces. It has a thousand, including the ones in Charlottesville, but also including all those nice people who just voted for Trump because they were mad at the world, and all those nice people who just think political correctness is out of control, and all those nice people who just moved here for the schools.

Racism has a thousand sides (including the one in the mirror, let’s not kid ourselves, crackers). You’re not lighting up a tiki torch? Good for you, I guess, but don’t come over here looking for a medal when you pulled a GOP lever because Obama gave too many people extra welfare.

You didn’t have to say the n-word to talk about race. Those people in Charlottesville heard you loud and clear.

A.

The Fog Of Cosmopolitan History

I wish I were writing about the drink they were obsessed with on Sex and the City or the magazine of that name. Not that I’d drink a cosmopolitan since they contain the demon vodka. I’m referring to comments by made by alt-right nutbar Stephen Miller in response to a question posed by CNN’s Jim Acosta. Acosta is on the verge of becoming the Dan Rather of the current White House press corps. You may recall that Dan the Man was the teevee reporter who really got under Tricky’s skin when the Watergate shit was hitting the fan. Splat. Tom Brokaw was a mere fly to be swatted away. I’m surprised Nixon didn’t make Ron Ziegler his designated fly killer. He was vaguely Priebusian, after all.

Back to the “pride” of Duke University who makes up for his lack of people skills with his use of buzz words:

The conversation went off the rails. At one point, Acosta implied the policy would favor immigrants from English-speaking countries — a logical assumption, if English speaking skills are prioritized in green card applicants.

“Are we just going to bring in people from Great Britain and Australia?” he asked.

“No! This is an amazing moment,” Miller said triumphantly. “This is an amazing moment. That you think only people from Great Britain or Australia would speak English is so insulting to millions of hardworking immigrants who do speak English from all over the world.”

“Of course the are people who come — ” Acosta began.

“But that’s not what you said, and it shows your cosmopolitan bias,” Miller said.

“It sounds like you’re trying to engineer the racial and ethnic flow of people into this country as policy,” Acosta said.

“Jim, that is one of the most outrageous, insulting, ignorant and foolish things you’ve ever said,” Miller said. “The notion that you think that this is a racist bill is so wrong and so insulting”

That part of the exchange was too juicy to cut. I’ve bold-faced the buzz words: cosmopolitan bias. There has been much back and forth as to whether this makes a white dude with a boring name a Nazi neo or otherwise. It think it shows his inclination toward Putinesque neo-Fascism since Putinism is derived from Soviet Communism when it metastasized into kleptocracy.

“Rootless cosmopolitanism” was a Stalinist buzz word deployed during a post-war anti-Semitic campaign waged by the Soviet dictator and his lackeys. Many of the enemies purged by Stalin during the Thirties were Jewish but the post-war campaign had more to do with the Red Tsar’s paranoia and dipsomania. Stalin was a vodka drinker. What more evidence do you need that vodka is Satan’s beverage?

It really doesn’t matter what one calls the likes of Miller be it Nazi or Facisct. He’s a white nationalist aka white supremacist aka racist aka bigot. He’s also known as a malaka, which ends in aka. We have a theme here, which has nothing to do with the Mardi Gras Indian song Aka Aka. Yeah, I know, it’s Iko Iko. Cut a brother some slack, y’all. I have a pun community to tend to.

Miller is also historically illiterate and an obnoxious know-it-all. That makes him the perfect Trumper. I am filled with glee whenever the White House trots him out to alienate everyone who isn’t a fan of Jeff Bo and Bannon. Thanks, Donald.

This is as good a time as any to point y’all at the Vanity Fair profile of Miller that discussed in a Saturday post in a segment called Annals of a Duke Puke. The segment title is as true now as it was two months ago.

I don’t feel like writing a treastise on my views about immigration. I’ve already done that so I’ll point you in the direction of a 2014 post, Pulling Up The Drawbridge. It says it all.

Finally, I feel bad for rock and roll hall of famer Steve Miller for having the same name as the Duke Puke. The Real Steve Miller gets the last word with a song that, despite the title, has nothing to do with MAGA maggots.

“Somebody get me a cheeseburger.”

What’s more American than that?

NOLA Mayor’s Race: The Forgotten Cause

New Orleans is experiencing monuments fatigue according to four leading contenders to replace Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Tyler Bridges of the Advocate quotes several of the front-runners in a front pager from Monday’s dead tree edition:

The monuments are serving as a huge distraction to this entire campaign,” said Desiree Charbonnet, a former Municipal Court judge who has won attention by collecting the biggest campaign war chest.

“We have way bigger fish to fry,” added Charbonnet, who is African-American. “They’re down. They’re probably going to stay down. The next move is to discuss what everyone can agree on to replace them.”

First of all, the phrase “war chest” is one of the lamest clichés of political journalism. It should be sent to the same place they’re storing Lee, Davis, and Beauregard.  If I weren’t opposed to capital punishment, I’d advocate the phrase be led to the gallows or taken out back and shot. Enough already.

The leading candidates: Desiree Charbonnet, Michael Bagneris, Latoya Cantrell, and Troy Henry are African-American. They’re all eager to be the crossover candidate who reaches the 36% of voters who are white, which is why they’re downplaying the monuments mishigas. Charbonnet has already proposed an OTT anti-crime package in the hopes of attracting white law-and-order voters. It does nothing for me or other white liberals who are a substantial chunk of the 36%. It would also be wise for Charbonnet not to say the monuments are “probably going to stay down.” That just generates uncertainty and more questions on an issue she wants to avoid.

The most amusing quote Bridges got out of the candidates came from businessman Troy Henry. He ran against Mitch Landrieu and finished a distant second with 13.8% of the vote in 2010. He’s best know for his friendship and business partnership with Wendell (Bunk) Pierce. Here’s Henry putting his foot in his mouth:

Henry said he supported the removal of the Battle of Liberty Place monument, which commemorated a white supremacist militia that fought in the city’s streets against Louisiana’s biracial Reconstruction-era government in 1874.

“It was a tribute to something heinous,” he said. “The other ones, quite frankly, I don’t know enough about the details and backgrounds of those folks,” meaning Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Gens. Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard.

That’s right ladies and germs, a man who wants to be Mayor of New Orleans, with its tri-centennial year on the horizon, is either a historical ignoramus or wants to duck the issue so badly that he’s willing to look like one. It reminds me of the just ousted  White House communications director who don’t know Mooch about history. Don’t blame me for that groaner: I got it from First Draft pun consultant James Karst.

One candidate who is willing to discuss the monuments is a guy named Frank Scurlock. He was opposed to removal and was on the periphery of the Lost Cause Fest demonstrations. It’s unclear how many locals are still sitting emotional hillbilly shiva. Scurlock is a non-factor in the race but could get 5-10% of the vote from Republicans and unrepentant bigots. He has money but his ceiling is 15% which was Trump’s total in Orleans Parish. New Orleans is a very blue city, y’all.

Do I think the monuments issue should dominate the Mayoral race? Absolutely not but neither should it be ignored. We still need a conversation as to what to do with the removed monuments as well as a coherent policy on how to address this issue in the future. The candidates are doing themselves no favors by ducking it. They should also remember how many of the 36% are white liberals. Hillary Clinton got 81% in Orleans Parish. Repeat after me: New Orleans is a very blue city, y’all.

I’ll give the last word to former city councilman and current talk radio host Oliver Thomas. Oliver was the frontrunner to succeed Nagin in 2010 before a gambling habit and sticky fingers sent him to jail.

“It’s disingenuous,” said Thomas, a former city councilman. “When (the candidates) talk to us privately in the black community, it’s a real issue. They’re down with the brothers and sisters. But when they talk to the white press, they say we should move on. There’s one speech to the black community, and there’s another speech to the white community letting them know they’re a safe candidate.”

It’s time for less profile and more courage on this divisive issue.