Category Archives: So Called Liberal Media

Things I Don’t Care About

The MSM are experiencing Trump withdrawal. Cable news ratings and internet clicks are down. They’re flailing, searching for drama where none exists. This week has been a prime example. Here are three things that are getting play that I don’t care about.

Billionaires In Space: Who cares about Jeff Bezos’ and Richard Branson’s brief and expensive foray into space tourism? Neither flight lasted as long as Alan Shepard’s 15-minute Mercury 7 flight. All they proved is that if you have enough money, you can spend your way into space. Yawn.

I agree with Senator Professor Warren’s pre-flight take:

“He’s laughing at every person in America who actually paid taxes,” Warren said. “Jeff Bezos’ trip to outer space is being financed by all the rest of the US taxpayers who paid their taxes so that Jeff Bezos didn’t have to.”

She added: “Jeff Bezos kept all of his money and uses it on a space ticket. Uh-uh.”

The only tantalizing question is whether Jeff Bezos has billionaire hair envy. Richard Branson has a full head of hair, Bezos does not. All he has is a cowboy hat that doesn’t fit. I guess he thinks he’s one of these guys:

Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, and James Garner had the right stuff. Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos merely have the green stuff.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Drama: The MSM remains so addicted to the GOP narrative that they’ve forgotten who is driving the train in the Senate. Democrats show signs of breaking up with the Rob Portmans of the world and folding traditional infrastructure spending into the larger bill and passing it via reconciliation. That’s always been plan B, a point that’s lost on the media. Backup plans are boring.

Wingnuts Get Jabbed: Suddenly, the folks at Fox News are urging people to get jabbed like they all are. The MSM is in a tizzy wondering why this happened. Here’s why: the stock market cratered on Monday because of fears that the Delta variant is out of control. It’s a sign of greed, not enlightenment.

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise hews to the Fox News line. The Metry mediocrity announced that he got vaccinated after resisting it like other wingnut dummies in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. Thanks, Steve?

Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.

The last word goes to The Byrds:

Tacky Even For Tucker

I have a theory about Tucker Carlson. He’s always been a snotty, preppy right-winger but he wasn’t always evil. In fact, he used to have liberal friends such as Rachel Maddow. That began to change about a decade ago and accelerated when he took Bill-O’s evening slot on Fox News. Some blame Trump, I blame the necktie. That’s right, the necktie.

Carlson used to be known for his cheerful bowties and preppy button-down shirts. He’s moved on to regular shirts and neckties. He’s still fond of stripes only on his neck, not on his torso. Did I just contemplate the Mothertucker’s torso? Apologies for crossing that line.

Nobody wants to contemplate Tucker’s torso except to comment on his pocket square, which seems to be the same in the necktie era. He looked happier during the bowtie era. In the necktie era, he’s angry as if he’s ready to take his tie off and lynch somebody. Strike that. Tucker Carlson fights with his mouth.

Do I buy my own Tucker Carlson fashion theory? Hell to the no but it was fun writing it. Sometimes bloggers just wanna have fun.

In addition to anger, Necktie Tucker specializes in lies: the bigger the better. In his 2018 book, Ship Of Fools, the Mothertucker told an easily refuted lie about his first grade teacher of all people:

He attended the elite La Jolla Country Day School, where a woman entered his life whom he grew to detest. It was his first-grade teacher, whom he referred to in his book as Mrs. Raymond. He caricatured her as “a parody of earth-mother liberalism” who “wore long Indian-print skirts. . . . She had little interest in conventional academic topics, like reading and penmanship.” He recalled her sobbing theatrically at her desk, saying, “The world is so unfair! You don’t know that yet. But you’ll find out!”

Carlson said he just wanted liberals to “stop blubbering and teach us to read. . . . Mrs. Raymond never did teach us; my father had to hire a tutor to get me through phonics.” Thus, Carlson says, he began his sojourn as a conservative thinker, questioning the liberals who he said were all around him, exemplified by his first-grade teacher.

Which is all rather shocking to Marianna Raymond, 77, who remembers Carlson as “very precious and very, very polite and sweet,” and said she had no idea, until contacted recently by a Washington Post reporter, that her former student had ridiculed her as a key to understanding him.

Raymond said in an interview that she never sobbed at her desk, didn’t wear an Indian skirt and didn’t advocate her political views. She said that not only did she teach Carlson reading at La Jolla Country Day School — with a student body that was “very affluent and White” — but that she also was then hired to tutor him at his home.

“Oh my God,” she said, when informed of Carlson’s attack against her. “That is the most embellished, crazy thing I ever heard.”

Embellished and crazy. That fits Necktie Tucker like a tailor-made shirt with French cuffs. I wonder if he has the Swanson Frozen Food logo on any of his cufflinks. Bowtie Tucker had a sense of humor, so it’s possible…

I don’t know about you, but I had no idea what the political views of any of my grade school teachers were. I remember them as nice ladies who taught me how to read, write, and multiply. The only criticism I have of any of them is of my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Fredrick. I think it was third-grade and that she was a one-E Fredrick but I’m not sure of either.

She taught us cursive writing and gave out pens to the kids whose handwriting was neat. I was the last in my class to get a pen. If I were Necktie Tucker, I’d blame my cynicism and snarkiness on this incident and cursive the day it happened.

In reality, she was right: my handwriting has always been terrible. One of my law professors told me that my penmanship was so bad I should have gone to medical school. I hate the sight of blood so that was never an option.

Back to Tacky Tucker. Lying about the Dipshit Insurrection and Dr. Fauci is bad enough but who the hell lies about their first-grade teacher? As far as I know, Bowtie Tucker never did but Necktie Tucker is a lying sack of shit. He should return to the bowtie before it’s too late.

The last word goes to Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Silent House

House By The Railroad by Edward Hopper.

Since the recent death of a family member, I’ve had mortality on my mind. Hence this week’s theme song and an appropriately somber featured image by Edward Hopper.

Silent House is a song about grief and loss. It was a collaboration between Neil Finn and Martie Maguire, Natalie Maines, and Emily Robison of The Dixie Chicks. For more information about the song, click here.

The Dixie Chicks recorded Silent House first on their 2006 album Taking The Long Way. Crowded House cut their version for 2007’s Time Of Earth. Since I’m more of a Crowdie fan and prefer their version, we’ll start with it. Sorry, Chicks.

I hope everyone remembers the whole The Dixie Chicks controversy involving their opposition to the Bush-Cheney administration’s War in Iraq. In this Rodney Crowell song, the Yuppie neo-con narrator calls them out.

Now that we’ve heard Rodney sing “give it to me” repeatedly, let’s jump to the break.

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Tweet Of The Day: Spy In The House Of Hate?

Who knew that the National Security Agency had a Twitter feed? I did not. They’re even more secretive than the CIA so I was surprised.

I was not, however, surprised that the NSA felt compelled to shoot down Tucker Carlson’s claim that he’s under surveillance.

A spy in the house of hate? Really, Tucker? I should thank him for giving me a new nickname for Fox News: The House Of Hate.

The Mothertucker has delusions of grandeur. In his off hours, all he does is leak to the media. He’s as transparent as fuck.

KMAC felt compelled to stick up for Tucker and brought Devin Nunes along for the ride:

After saying that NSA officials have refused to comply with requests from Republican members on the House Intelligence panel, McCarthy turned his focus to Carlson’s wild allegations against the NSA.

“Now, there is a public report that NSA read the emails of Fox News host Tucker Carlson,” McCarthy said. “Although NSA publicly denied targeting Carlson, I have serious questions regarding this matter that must be answered.”

McCarthy then announced that he has recruited Nunes to investigate the allegations that the NSA has denied.

“Given this disturbing trend, I’ve asked HPSCI Ranking Member Devin Nunes to investigate and find answers on behalf of the American people,” McCarthy said. “The NSA cannot be used as a political instrument, and House Republicans will ensure accountability and transparency.”

Accountability? Transparency? From KMAC? He was against the Dipshit Insurrection before he was for it. This is some funny stuff, y’all.

Glad to hear that Nunes isn’t too busy suing Twitteratti to do his job, which consists of cooking up conspiracy theories and fluffing former President* Pennywise.

You know things are weird when the NSA goes public. The Mothertucker always brings out the worst in everyone. This whole spy in the house of hate shtick is just his latest lie. It’s what he does.

The last word goes to Was (Not Was) and Steve Winwood with different songs with the same title:

I might as well throw the DBs in the deep state deep end and see if they can swim as well:

It’s Still A Trap

I have some good news for y’all:  just like I hoped they would back in February the Democrats are FINALLY playing politics. And boy are the Republicans mad!

It was very clear what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s game plan was:  to try to corral the moderate Senate Democrats in a bid for bipartisanship, to agree to a plan that was sub-optimal, pass it, let it fail the American people, and then blame the Democrats on the campaign trail in 2022. And they might have gotten away with it…if their chief opponent hadn’t been Joe Biden.

See, congressional Democrats had already decided among themselves that there would be 2 bills:  one that the moderates could show bipartisanship on, and one that progressives could tout next year and use reconciliation to pass, both of which Democrats would pass. And the Republicans knew this all along—in fact, Shelley Capito referenced it back in May:

And McConnell himself referenced the 2 bill plan:

And like I said back in May:

Capito and friends met again with President Biden this week and I give him a lot of credit. Everyone knows that even if the Democrats agreed to everything the Q Party wanted, they’d still vote against it! And I mean, even if it had everything, including leaving their precious corporate tax rate alone, they have no intention of giving Biden and the Democrats another accomplishment.  That’s because:

There won’t be any Q Party votes for any Democratic proposal. Ever.

And so here we are once again.

In reality, it’s a tempest in a teapot, sustained by McConnell and his buddies because their Grand Plan was thwarted they think they now have a great excuse to do what they always planned anyway. Both bills should pass and McConnell will have to find another excuse to explain away his pre-planned obstruction.

The reason that this non-issue is getting attention is our lazy mainstream media. It’s hard to write interesting stories about straightforward facts, and it’s even harder to get clicks on those stories after all of the circuses of the trump administration. In lieu of actually working, the press just repeated Republican lies.

From AP:

Senators were described as “stunned,” “floored” and “frustrated” after Biden publicly put the conditions on accepting their deal, according to two people familiar with the private conversations who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the reactions.

Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at NYU, tweeted this as an explanation for how egregiously the press is handling current events

He’s wrong. You don’t need a journalism degree to know one side is lying. And you don’t need a journalism degree to push the narrative that prizes the truth. It’s not pedagogy that is failing journalism; it’s character. Democracy might die in darkness, but it is also strangled by intellectual laziness.

 

 

Running Scared

It’s been a jam-packed day at First Draft with fine posts from Shapiro and Cassandra. I hope everyone is enjoying our new writers. It’s proof positive that cronyism can be a good thing. Cronyism and nepotism are essential components of Greek culture, after all.

Since the senate will be voting soon on whether to debate the voting rights bill, we begin with a poorly written and illogical op-ed “written” by Senator Krysten Sinema.

Sinema’s Lack Of Scope: It’s astonishing that I haven’t previously used this pun on the senator’s name and the Cinemascope process. Perhaps it’s because Cinemascope brought new depth and scope to movie going whereas the Arizona senator specializes in narrow-mindedness.

Sinema reiterates her opposition to filibuster abolition in a WaPo op-ed with a revealing title: We Have More To Lose Than Gain By Ending The Filibuster. It’s a Sinematic ode to fear of the unknown and change. It’s an odd stance for the senate’s only bisexual member, who claims to admire John Lewis, to take. Rights are secured by the bold, not the risk averse.

Sinema’s opposition to filibuster reform is particularly odd because her state is going through the Fraudit and she’s a co-sponsor of the For The People Act, which has no chance to pass without filibuster reform.

I’m not going to go as far as some who have said that Sinema has “toxic white lady energy” or hinted that she’s a Green Party double agent bent on wreaking Jill Stein-style havoc on the Democratic party. Instead, she’s an opportunist who blows with the wind and only cares about being reelected.

I’m not going to quote her op-ed. However, I wonder why she doesn’t have a staffer who can write better than that. Ugh just ugh.

It’s time for a brief cinematic musical interlude:

Our next segment is about the douchebag who has replaced Bill-O as my Fox News hate object.

Mothertucker: NYT media writer Ben Smith has done it again. This time, in a piece about why the MSM is so soft on Tucker Carlson.

No matter how much the Mothertucker lies or slanders the media, they’re soft on him because he’s a good source:

And Mr. Carlson’s comfortable place inside Washington media, many of the reporters who cover him say, has taken the edge off some of the coverage. It has also served as a kind of insurance policy, they say, protecting him from the marginalization that ended the Fox career of his predecessor, Glenn Beck, who also drew a huge audience with shadowy theories of elite conspiracy.

I realize that reporters dislike burning a source but allowing this creep to skate is reprehensible. The Mothertucker is the worst sort of phony as it’s unclear if he believes in the bile he spews on the air every weeknight.

I’m glad that Ben Smith finally decided to burn the Mothertucker. Perhaps it’s because he described the media at large as “cringing animals who are not worthy of respect.”

Who’s cringing now, Mothertucker?

Speaking of animals:

My Complaint About Portnoy: Snotty, know-it-all teenage me loved Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint. It was a genuinely funny book that was turned into a painfully unfunny movie.

Alexander Portnoy was a fictional character who made me laugh, Dave Portnoy is a real person who makes me cringe. There’s nothing worse than someone who thinks they’re funny but is not.

Portnoy is the jerk behind Barstool Sports, which specializes in frat boy sports talk radio style humor. He’s becoming a power to be reckoned with in the Trumpified GOP aka the Gross Out Party. That’s the argument made in an excellent piece in Politico Magazine by Derek Robertson.

Robertson opines that the Republicans have become the Barstool Party. I think he’s on to something. Here’s how Dave Portnoy described his support for the Impeached Insult Comedian in 2016:

“I am voting for Donald Trump. I don’t care if he’s a joke. I don’t care if he’s racist. I don’t care if he’s sexist. I don’t care about any of it. I hope he stays in the race and I hope he wins. Why? Because I love the fact that he is making other politicians squirm. I love the fact he says shit nobody else will say, regardless of how ridiculous it is.”

He sounds like a hybrid of Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern. Rush was the original Barstool Republican. Dave merely puts the Oy in Portnoy. Schmuck.

Our third musical interlude circles back to the post title and the fearful word of Senator Sinema. The last word goes to Roy Orbison:

The Geneva Sip and See

Photo via Reuters.

What a difference three years makes. My post about the infamous Putin-Trump post-summit press conference was called Straight To Helsinki. It gave everyone a sinking feeling as the wannabe dictator deferred to the real thing.

The Helsinki summit definitively established that the Kaiser of Chaos was a weak and stupid man who was submissive to Tsar Vlad. Somehow the message didn’t get through to Trump’s supporters who continue to believe he’s a tough guy because he’s a dick. In my experience, dickishness is a sign of weakness as well.

The Biden-Putin meeting was as much a sip and see as a summit. A sip and see is a Southern custom whereby parents invite their family and friends to meet a new baby. The Biden administration was 147 days old when the democrat met the dictator. Many expected Putin to slap the newborn around but his tone was somewhat subdued.

If the summit was a sip and see, Putin was the cranky uncle nobody much likes but who had to be invited. He wanted to be there to show off his country’s only current claim to power: the nuclear arsenal built by the red tsars who preceded him. Otherwise, Putin’s Russia is a basket case: its economy is the same size as that of Texas. The rub is that Texas’ population is 29 million and Russia’s is 144 million.

Team Biden’s refusal to hold a joint press conference, as is customary after such meetings, was a wise one. Putin was inside at what looked more like a bunker than a ballroom. Biden appeared outside with Lake Geneva as his backdrop. It was a photo-op worthy of Team Reagan in the heyday of teevee news.

The dictator’s tone was gloomy as he fended off questions from the Western media. He seemed to view the summit as a Russian novel as indicated by this statement: “There is no happiness in life.”

The democrat’s tone was realistic. Biden wanted the meeting so Putin would know that he was serious about human rights and Russian misconduct. He has no illusions about who and what Putin is despite this exchange with a CNN reporter at the end of the presser:

   Why are you so confident he’ll change his behavior, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m not confident he’ll change his behavior.  Where the hell — what do you do all the time?  When did I say I was confident?  I said —

Q    You said in the next six months you’ll be able to determine —

THE PRESIDENT:  I said — what I said was — let’s get it straight.  I said: What will change their behavior is if the rest of world reacts to them and it diminishes their standing in the world.  I’m not confident of anything; I’m just stating a fact.

   But given his past behavior has not changed and, in that press conference, after sitting down with you for several hours, he denied any involvement in cyberattacks; he downplayed human rights abuses; he even refused to say Aleksey Navalny’s name.  So how does that account to a constructive meeting, as President — President Putin framed it?

THE PRESIDENT:  If you don’t understand that, you’re in the wrong business.

President Biden was vexed by this exchange with good reason. He was misquoted and “constructive” is diplo-speak for a meeting that did not blow up. The Geneva Sip and See was neither a roaring success nor a total flop. It was a constructive meeting.

The end of the press conference reminded me of how different summitry is in the 21st Century. In the 1980’s the Big 3 news anchors were NBC’s Tom Brokaw, ABC’s Peter Jennings, and CBS’ Dan Rather. They personally covered all the Reagan-Gorbachev summits. Most people can’t even name the network anchors in 2021 because the media landscape is so radically different. The only thing that’s comparable is the photo-op staged by Team Biden.

Because of the Onion’s depiction of then Vice President Biden as a wild-and-crazy guy, people tend to forget his foreign policy chops. He was chairman of the foreign relations committee as well as John Kerry’s secretary of state in waiting in 2004.

Foreign policy is Joe’s jam: he’s a seasoned pro as opposed to his predecessor who kissed up to dictators and kicked down to democrats. What a difference three years makes.

The MSM often describes Team Biden as boring and criticizes them for not immediately dealing with all the wreckage left behind by Team Trump. As Joey B Shark himself would say, “Come on, man, it’s only been 148 days.”

Tea For Two strikes me as the perfect theme song for the Geneva Sip and See. The last word goes to Oscar Peterson:

Have I mentioned lately how much I love Oscar Peterson?

Well I got nothin’ ‘gainst the press/They wouldn’t print it if it wasn’t true

After a few weeks of relative quiet, The Senator You Love To Hate ™, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, was back on Sunday with a new op ed in the Charleston Gazette-Mail. It spawned a bunch of trending social media hashtags, the expected negative responses from the usual suspects, and a few people asking me if I was going to write about it, lol. I guess I’ve found my branding angle.

So I pulled the op ed up on my laptop and read it with great anticipation—it made so many people angry that it MUST have something new and incendiary in it, right? Nope. It’s the same stuff he’s been saying since March, when the House Passed H1, the For The People Act.

  • Partisan voting laws engender mistrust? Check.
  • He won’t vote to abolish the filibuster? Check.
  • Let’s pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act? Check.

First, let me say that I have been calling Manchin’s office on a weekly basis to say that he should support voting rights, equal rights, a big infrastructure package, raising corporate tax rates, and that he should vote at least to bring back the talking filibuster. I’m in favor of keeping the filibuster with some significant changes because it is a powerful tool for a minority with party discipline.

I also think Manchin has a good point about the deleterious effect of one-party election lawmaking, and I’m fully aware that the laws the Democrats want to implement are good laws. But the country right now is a powder keg, and ripe for violence.  Right wingers have already shown they are open to using violence to overturn a lawful election.

Although I suspect most of the Republicans who tell pollsters that Joe Biden isn’t a legitimate president are just being jerks, there is still a significant number of people who believe that who are armed and who have no regard for laws. And I’d also listen to what a Democratic senator in a heavily trumpian state has to say about how to communicate effectively about election legitimacy.

But the thing that has gone unnoticed, after being brought up in March after the House passed HR1, is that the FTPA was dead in the Senate back then. It’s not just Joe Manchin who has issues with the bill as a whole and so it was never going to pass with zero changes.

One group that has objected to the current version of the FTPA is state election directors.

“Listen, I’ll do this—if the law passes, I’ll follow it,” said one state-level Democratic election director in the southeast who declined to be named. “But I can’t guarantee it’s not going to be a total clusterfuck the first election.”

The sections of the bill related to voting systems—wholly separate from its provisions on voting rights—show remarkably little understanding of the problems the authors apply alarmingly prescriptive solutions to. Many of the changes the bill demands of election administrators are literally impossible to implement. Others would significantly raise the cost of elections but provide no assured long-term funding.

This was news to me because the news media is generally too lazy to delve into things like this that aren’t as click-baity as “JOE MANCHIN BAD!!!”.

And there are cowardly Senate Democrats who oppose parts of the bill but insist on secrecy regarding their identities:

The most visible hurdle to date is the apparent opposition of Mr. Manchin, who said last week that he opposed allowing the federal government to wade into election law, which is typically left to the states. He signaled that he would be unwilling to vote for any elections bill that was not bipartisan, much less provide the 50th vote needed to change the Senate rules to get past an all-but-certain Republican filibuster….

Behind the scenes, two election lawyers close to the White House and congressional Democrats said Mr. Manchin was not the only one on their side with reservations about the measure. They insisted on anonymity to discuss the concerns because few Democrats want to concede that there are cracks in the coalition backing the measure or incur the wrath of the legion of liberal advocacy groups that have made its enactment their top priority.

And there is a group of senators who agree with Manchin that the best approach right now is the push for passage of the John Lewis Voting Right Advancement Act. Funny how that’s not being tweeted to the skies, huh? Who are these senators?  As it turns out, members of the Congressional Black Caucus have expressed some reservations about the feasibility of passing the FTPA:

The massive election reform measure known as H.R. 1 passed the House last month, but it has yet to win unified support from the 50-member Senate Democratic caucus amid a fierce GOP pushback effort that casts it as an aggressive consolidation of political power. With that Senate logjam in mind, a group of Black Democrats is pressing to elevate a more targeted voting rights bill — named for and championed by the late Rep. John Lewis — that they believe could be a more successful sell on Capitol Hill.

I want to make it very clear that I fully support the goals of HR/S1, and that while I think that in skillful hands the filibuster can be used to fight off bad laws it still needs to go. Providing context for an issue isn’t endorsing a position, it’s helping to create informed discussion.

If only the voting rights obstacle we are facing were as simple as what the media is feeding us–“Joe Manchin is bad”—because that could be remedied with a stick and a bunch of carrots.

Instead it’s much more complicated:  lawmakers are writing laws without input from election experts, moderate Democratic senators are afraid to stick out their necks, the House bill is way beyond what is feasible in the current political climate, and the media is more interested in quick click bucks than in presenting the actual context.

It’s clear something has to change. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said he will put S1 to a vote this week. We’ll see if that happens.

Plan B From Capitol Hill

Aliens capture Tor Johnson in Plan 9 From Outer Space.

The MSM and the Twitterverse were agog over the Dipshit Insurrection Commission vote in the Senate last week. For different reasons, they ginned up drama over the first filibuster of the Biden administration. The MSM loves a “Democrats in disarray story” even when the opposite is true.

Since the so-called hive mind of the Twitterverse is actually a bird brain, many convinced themselves that the Democrats walked into a trap sprung by the wily Senate Republican leader. In this instance, Mitch McConnell is more like Wile E. Coyote than the wily Turtle of yore.

Little noticed by many was how hard McConnell whipped votes. After an initial head count showed the Commission perilously close to advancing, the Turtle asked his caucus to vote nay as a personal courtesy. That has rarely, if ever, happened during his 14 years as Senate GOP leader. In the end, 6 GOPers voted aye, Senator Toomey was absent but said he would have voted aye, and 8 other GOPers were absent. 35 votes is hardly a ringing endorsement of the Turtle’s approach.

The filibuster by the Coward’s Caucus was no surprise. They’ve spent the last 5 years kowtowing to the Impeached Insult Comedian, why stop now? Here’s why: the politics of the Dipshit Insurrection are unclear. This vote was all about Senators wishing to avoid a primary challenge from the Trumpist/QAnon wing of the party. But Senators still have to run statewide and possible revelations of Trump regime or campaign involvement in the Dipshit Insurrection make this vote potentially perilous.

One of the few decent conservatives left in the Coward’s Caucus, Senator Lisa Murkowski was scornful of her leader’s approach:

“To be making a decision for the short-term political gain at the expense of understanding and acknowledging what was in front of us on Jan. 6, I think we need to look at that critically. Is that really what this is about, one election cycle after another?” Murkowski said.

She added: “Or are we going to acknowledge that as a country that is based on these principles of democracy that we hold so dear. And one of those is that we have free and fair elections… I kind of want that to endure beyond just one election cycle.”

This sort of criticism of a Senate leader is not unusual for Democrats but is rarer than integrity in the Party of Trump. It’s a sign that McConnell is starting to lose his iron grip on his caucus. The aye vote by previously pusillanimous Gret Stet Senator Bill Cassidy is an example of the murkiness of the politics of the Dipshit Insurrection Commission vote. He placed a bet that the politics will be different by 2026.

Short-term thinking describes Trump’s approach to life. There’s never a plan just a series of improvisations masquerading as a plan. It’s true that the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers did have plans. Mercifully, they were undermined by incompetence, confusion, and wishful thinking at the Trump White House.

Congressional Republicans have given Democrats a gift. That’s where the Plan B of the post title kicks in: both Pelosi and Schumer have made it clear they will proceed to investigate the Dipshit Insurrection.

There are several ways the Democrats can unwrap the present: a Senate-House joint select committee a la Iran-Contra or select committees in both Houses. The former would be trickier to organize in the current political climate, so I expect the latter approach a la Benghazi. It was a committee that proved nothing BUT was a stick used by Republicans to beat up Hillary Clinton.

The other aspect of Plan B is the ongoing education of Joe Manchin. He sounded genuinely hurt that there weren’t “10 good patriots” to support a bipartisan Dipshit Insurrection Commission. A mere 35 votes scuppered it. Sounds anti-democratic to me, Joe.

Hopefully, Manchin will apply this lesson to all filibusters but he seems to be a slow learner. The good news is that he’s not up for re-election until 2024 so he won’t have to face wrathful Trump voters until then. Stay tuned.

I couldn’t resist riffing on Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space. Hopefully, Plan B From Capitol Hill will be a better movie. However, I feel Tor Johnson’s pain:  It’s high time that the GOP aliens stop holding the country hostage with their filibusters.

The last word goes to Huey Lewis & The News:

Saturday Odds & Sods: She Said She Said

The Therapist by Rene Magritte.

We finally had our first day with a high of 90 degrees. As someone who lives in a semi-tropical climate, I prefer Fahrenheit to Celsius: 30 degrees Celsius does not sound as hot as it gets in New Orleans. It’s where ice people go to melt.

Surrealism and the Beatles go together like peas and carrots hence the featured image by Rene Magritte. He’s my other go-to Surrealist. I hope Max Ernst doesn’t mind.

She Said She Said has an opening stanza worthy of Surrealist poet Paul Eluard:

 She said “I know what it’s like to be dead I know what it is to be sad.”
And she’s making me feel like I’ve never been born.

This week’s theme song is credited to Lennon and McCartney but it’s all John. Once again, it’s from 1966’s Revolver album, which has a suitably surreal cover by the German artist/bassist Klaus Voormann.

The session at which She Said She Said was recorded was a sign of trouble in Beatle World. Macca didn’t like the arrangement and didn’t play on the track. George Harrison played bass. Yeah, yeah, yeah or is that no, no, no?

We have three versions of She Said She Said for your listening pleasure: the Beatles original, Gov’t Mule, and The Black Keys:

Now that we all feel like we’ve never been born, let’s jump to the break.

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The Brothers Cuomo

The Cuomos hate Godfather references in stories about them. I’m skirting that issue by posting a poster for the 1957 film noir, The Brothers Rico. It does, however, star Richard Conte who played Don Barzini in the Coppola classic. And it *is* about a family enmeshed in the mob, which the Cuomos are not. And it’s based on a novel by the French master of suspense, Georges Simenon. It doesn’t get classier than that.

The Brothers Rico was featured on TCM’s Noir Alley last weekend, which is why it’s on my mind as well as on my DVR. It’s the story of an older brother who goes legit and gets pulled back into a life of crime by his bumbling brothers.

Cue obligatory Michael Corleone GIF:

The Brothers Cuomo find themselves embroiled in a controversy over a conference call.

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo advised his brother, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, and senior members of the governor’s staff on how to respond to sexual harassment allegations made earlier this year by women who had worked with the governor, according to four people familiar with the discussions.

Cuomo, one of the network’s top stars, joined a series of conference calls that included the Democratic governor, his top aide, his communications team, lawyers and a number of outside advisers, according to the people familiar with the conversations, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private sessions.

<SNIP>

The cable news anchor encouraged his brother to take a defiant position and not to resign from the governor’s office, the people said. At one point, he used the phrase “cancel culture” as a reason to hold firm in the face of the allegations, two people present on one call said.

This is, of course, a violation of journalistic ethics. It is also stupid and arrogant.

The stupid is supplied by kid brother:

The arrogance is supplied by big brother:

I think Andrew’s awesome dog, Captain, is off the hook. The blanket, however, is under investigation.

If anyone thinks this is the first time a journalist advised a politician they’re dead wrong. Of course, when Ben Bradlee advised JFK, he had the good sense to do it privately and not on a conference call. Hell, both FDR and LBJ were advised by freaking Supreme Court Justices but they all had the good sense to do it privately.

Nobody has ever accused Chris Cuomo of having good sense. I’ve also never called him a journalist before. He specializes in infotainment, which is why CNN is letting him off easily.

“I can be objective about just about any topic, but not about my family,” he said on his CNN show. “Being a journalist and a brother to a politician is unique and a unique challenge, and I have a unique responsibility to balance those roles. It’s not always easy.”

“I understand why that was a problem for CNN,” he continued, referring to the conference calls he took part in with the governor and the governor’s staff. “It will not happen again.”

As to Andrew Cuomo, it’s another example of the arrogance and hubris that has gotten him into so much trouble. Rules and norms are for peons, not the Brothers Cuomo. If they don’t want to be compared to movie gangsters, they should stop acting like movie thugs.

Let’s circle back to the post title. The last word goes to the trailer for The Brothers Rico:

MSM In Disarray

One of many things I miss about Athenae’s writing is her acute media analysis. I usually avoided the subject because, like James Bond, nobody does it better than A.

Athenae has an insider’s perspective whereas I’m a rank outsider. I’m going to give it a shot today because the MSM is busy creating drama where little or none exists. One could even call it a low drama trauma. (For the uninitiated, MSM = Mainstream Media.)

After mainlining absurdist drama from the Trump regime for 4 years, the MSM is having withdrawal symptoms. There’s still plenty of leftover drama from those dark days, but they can’t kick the habit.

The first thing I read this morning was Eric Boehlert’s Press Run newsletter:

President Joe Biden is getting trashed by Democrats over the Middle East!

Vice President Kamala Harris isn’t acknowledging her Asian heritage!

Those were two breathless dispatches Politico posted this week, as the Beltway insider outlet did its best to gin up drama surrounding the Democratic administration. Apparently still longing for the non-stop news cycle of the Trump era and the relentless controversies and scandals that came with it, Politico has decided that during the No Drama Biden era the best strategy is to just make stuff up and post it as news.

In both gotcha articles it became abundantly clear that Biden is not being trashed by Democrats regarding the Middle East. And Harris is not being widely criticized for downplaying her Indian roots. Both premises are fabrications. How do we know? Because neither article contained evidence to back up the click-bait headlines.

This is indefensible journalism, as Politico eagerly does the GOP’s bidding by trying to create controversies where none exist. The daily is hardly alone in this regard. The New York Times recently promoted a long article about Biden’s “short fuse” and “quick temper” in a piece that included no quotes or evidence of Biden’s “short fuse” and “quick temper.” But Politico does seem to be particularly aggressive in concocting unsupported storylines during the Biden era. And Politico is doing it with weighty topics that should not be used as ways to manufacture news.

That’s why Charlie Pierce calls it Tiger Beat On The Potomac.

Politico and the Gray Lady are not alone in having delirium tremens over the lack of daily scandals. One could call it the DT DTs.

Last night Rachel Maddow opened her show on the same overwrought note of Democratic disarray and Congressional fecklessness. The fecklessness was indeed there but the final vote count on the proposed 1/6 commission was 35 GOPers in support. Earlier in the day I saw former Politico guy and current Punchbowl News honcho Jake Sherman on MSNBC and he predicted only 15 to 20 aye votes. 35 votes indicates the weakness of KMac’s position as leader. Sounds dramatic to me.

On the subject of the Middle East, Boehlert had to this say:

The news outlet [Politico] could not find a single Democrat to “trash” Biden. The only quotes even remotely critical came from Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) who said he was “troubled” by earlier U.S. votes at the United Nation against the call for a ceasefire. (Biden has since said he supports a ceasefire.) And a quote from Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), who claimed Biden could stop the carnage “with one phone call,” which seems highly unlikely.

Instead, what the Politico article featured was a collection of thoughtful quotes from Democrats who are grappling with a complicated, long-running, and deadly foreign policy dilemma.

Even when relations between Israeli prime ministers and American president have been close, the US has never been able to stop Israeli actions with one phone call. Plus, relations between Biden and Bibi are strained to say the least and the world is not that simple.

Back to Rachel who I think of as a friend or relative who occasionally goes off the rails because she loves drama. She went on and on about the negotiations between the White House and Senate Republicans. As crazy as it sounds, it’s all being done for the benefit of the Mr. Kite of the Senate, Joe Manchin.

Cue musical interlude:

Proof positive that it’s still Beatles month at First Draft. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Back to the Man of La Manchin. He’s as much of a drama queen as Rachel. He loves being in the spotlight of the negotiations. There’s every indication that the White House will soon pull the plug on negotiations and either emerge with 2 infrastructure bills (one with GOP support for traditional infrastructure) or push the American Jobs Plan through via reconciliation. A bipartisan bill would be a coup for the White House and if GOP “moderates” cannot deliver Team Biden can say they tried. Manchin is not the only one who wants bipartisan co-operation, the voters do too. Besides, the damn bill hasn’t even passed the House yet.

This is not the first time the MSM has experienced withdrawal symptoms. It happened after Watergate too. The media spent the Ford and Carter years in search of the next big scandal, which resulted in blowing up minor affairs such as Lancegate or Koreagate by affixing a gate to things that, in the big picture, were no big whoop. Anyone else remember Tongsun Park?

I used a still of Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell as the featured image because His Girl Friday is one of the best movies ever made about the media. They’re always chasing a story. That’s their job. It’s not their job to gin up drama where none exists.

It’s time for the MSM to get the Trump monkey off their back even if they have to do it Cold Turkey. That’s why John Lennon gets the last word.

 

 

Can’t We All Just Get Along

Rodney King

Beaten to a pulp by LAPD who were later exonerated, he still had the guts to say “Can’t we all get along”

Recently there was a giant hubbub at the podcasting company Gimlet over attempts to create a workplace union. I don’t want to go into all the details but this Vulture report does a pretty good job of summing up the various positions and the backlash involved in it.

Suffice it to say, one side lost and one side won. That’s how things go in this world of ours.

What I am more interested in is the fact that at Gimlet those on the losing side felt they had to leave the company. I want to make it clear this is not a situation where the losers were people in control of policy or direction for the company. The two biggest names to leave, PJ Voight and Shruti Panamanian, were worker bees who had made the decision to oppose the unionization effort. Why they did was their own business and no one else’s. But they felt compelled to leave the company they had helped build because they had been on the losing side of the issue. Whether they jumped or were pushed is of no matter. The point is they left.

They shouldn’t have. They shouldn’t have been put in the position of having to make that decision.

Look if every time one of us loses an argument and feels they have to leave, there would be a whole helluva lot more divorced people living at the Motel 6. When did having a different opinion on something from your nearest and dearest or even just your fellow employees become equated to vacating the premises? Unless it’s a rental agreement we shouldn’t be packing our bags and heading down the highway just because we lost one simple disagreement. The Dodgers, in my humble opinion, suck. There I said it. Some of you might agree with that sentiment. Some of you I know don’t. That doesn’t mean I can’t be friends with you. I’ve got news for you, friends have disagreements all the time as all my Dodger loving friends will tell you about me.

Same goes for the workplace. Yeah, here it gets a little trickier because you do have to negotiate various levels of business hierarchy but I shouldn’t feel I have to leave my job just because you wanted a union, I didn’t, but the union won out. In fact I would argue that it’s more important that I stick around to keep the union on it’s toes or to make sure it really is working in the best interests of myself and my fellow employees.

Last year the Opinion Editor of the New York Times, James Bennet, agreed to publish an essay written, as much as we can believe a politician can write a clear and declarative essay, by Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas. In it he advocated for using the US military against BLM protesters in the wake of the George Floyd murder. I do not agree with that sentiment in the least. From what I can tell the New York Times and probably James Bennet himself do not agree with that sentiment. Nevertheless Bennet chose to publish it as an editorial about a matter of current affairs written by a serving member of the United States Senate. Some Times staff writers protested the essay should not have been run. Ultimately the uproar over that decision caused Bennet to lose his job. He shouldn’t have, just as the staff writers opposed to the publication shouldn’t have lost their jobs for speaking out, though none did. They made their feelings known, he obviously made his feelings known by running it in the first place and that should have been the end of that. Instead a well respected veteran of the newspaper industry had to be shown/head for the door because apparently unless we all speak as one we can not speak at all.

Which brings me to Liz Cheney.

Continue reading

Tucker Rhymes With Fucker

I was busy following the Louisiana-Second Congressional runoff (I’ll be writing about it this week for Bayou Brief) so I completely missed the latest Tucker Carlson controversy:

I usually don’t hold people responsible for a tasteless remark they made in college or high school, but I’ll make an exception in Tucker Carlson’s case. He’s the same entitled, smirking bigot that he was then.

This is a man who recently advocated the vile, anti-Semitic replacement theory, then denied doing so. He’s a disingenuous dick who wouldn’t know the truth if he tripped over it. He is, however, an expert at tripping over his own dick.

I take the “Dan White Society” thing personally. It’s time to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen’s snappy putdown of J Danforth Quayle:

I knew Harvey Milk.

Harvey Milk was a friend of mine.

You’re no Harvey Milk, Tucker.

What’s next? The Twinkie defense?

I second this reply:

A reminder that Tucker rhymes with fucker.

The last word goes to Harry Nilsson:

Fuck you, Tucker.

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:

My Only Man of the Hour

I’m surprised that I’m so upset over a pretty minor thing, but it’s bugging me, so I’m going to write about it. I’m really upset about how the media is covering the Biden dogs, and especially Major and his ongoing issues.

Here’s the thing:  rescue animals have problems. Even the most well-adjusted rescue pet has had to deal with the trauma of being taken from where they were and placed in the shelter or rescue facility. When you disrupt their daily lives, those issues are going to come back into play.

A few years ago, in the span of 6 weeks, we lost our pair of tabby cat brothers, Connor and Liam, to old age. Liam was a few months shy of his 19th birthday, and Connor was only 10 days from his 19th birthday. They were rescues only in the sense that they came from the vet once they were weaned (their mother cat died giving birth to the litter) and then raised by my husband. They were 6 years old when I first met them, and I grew really attached to them and was devastated when we lost them both so close to each other.

In time I returned as a volunteer to the shelter I like to support and resumed socializing young cats and adult cats with behavioral issues. When I went into “the kitten room” the first kitten I met was Finn, then known as Iggy. He was so large that at first I thought he was a momma cat that needed to be kept near her delicate kittens. I also met his sister Rey, then known as Sissy, because she parked herself next to me on the bench and kept poking me whenever I stopped petting her.

We don’t really know what happened to them before they came to the shelter as they were left in a carrier tied to the fence around the facility. That road hosts a lot of tractor trailer traffic, so you can draw your own conclusions as to how they react to noise now.  From the note in their carrier we know they were abandoned by a breeder and it’s easy to see why they were abandoned—Finn has a white spot on his belly and Rey was clearly the runt of the litter:  very small, little coordination, and definitely behind in her progress. Finn is a Russian Blue and Rey is a Russian Black. His white spot and her slow progress meant no one would breed or pay an exorbitant price for either of them–which is why you should adopt, not shop.

In addition, Finn was easily overstimulated, which was characterized as his having a bad temper. He was just a super-loving kitty who loves to be petted, but back then could not actually handle a lot of petting. In the shelter setting this meant he swiped at people who gave him the attention he craved. I had been a volunteer there long enough to know that he’d never get adopted with that behavior, and if he never left the shelter, his shy and struggling sister wouldn’t either. So I brought my husband in to meet them. Rey immediately jumped in his lap. We brought them home a few days later.

Rey has since filled out, gained confidence and strength, and is a lively, loving kitty who will nip you if you make too much noise. Finn is now a cat you can pay a ton of attention to without fear of getting scratched. It took a good bit of time to redirect his energy from being focused on you and what he wanted from you to do for him right now, to being focused on a toy, and then on toys he could entertain himself with. He’s learned to use his tail to signal to us that he’s growing agitated with how we’re petting him, and if we forget he doesn’t like it if you put your arm across him while he’s lying on his side, he gently pushes your arm away with his back feet instead of scratching you. He’s so sweet now that he climbs under the covers and sleeps with me on cold nights, only occasionally poking me with a claw if I roll over too far.

I think about Finn when I read about Major Biden. Major is a good dog. He doesn’t have a temper—he has a problem with being overstimulated. And there are too many unfamiliar people around him and he doesn’t have his own Person to look after him during the day. When Finn was a crazy kitten, I made a point to cuddle up with him every day—to pet him and handle him to make up for the months of socialization he didn’t have during his long shelter transition—so he knew he had me to come to when he was scared or thinking about acting out.

Instead of using Major’s issues as a teaching moment for people who don’t understand dogs, the press is using them to bash the Bidens. On Wednesday the big news was that one of the dogs pooped on a floor in the White House. (Remember the furor when President Obama’s dogs did the same thing? You don’t? I wonder why that is.)

On Tuesday, Lester Holt accepted the Edward R. Murrow Lifetime Achievement Award and said this:

“I think it’s become clearer that fairness is overrated,” he said. “Before you run with or tweet that headline, let me explain a bit. The idea that we should always give two sides equal weight and merit does not reflect the world we find ourselves in. That the sun sets in the west is a fact. Any contrary view does not deserve our time or attention.”

I really don’t know if our media wants to do the work to drop the “both sides” nonsense. The same media that spent years trying to normalize the previous president* is both-sidesing the increasingly-popular Biden by trying to paint him as a bad pet parent with dire implications for the future of this nation. I can train a problem cat. I have no idea how to fix our broken news media.

I’ll let Norah Jones take it from here.

 

Oh Well, What The Hell

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

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

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

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

It’s time for a musical interlude:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Read The Daily News Today, Oh Boy

We move from the elegiac tone of Cassandra’s post to the sarcastic tone of the New York Daily News front page this morning:

The Kaiser of Chaos wrong? Always.

For those who missed President Biden’s moving speech marking this grim milestone, here it is:

Biden is the best mourner-in-chief since Bill Clinton. Nobody does empathy better than Joe Biden. That’s why it’s his time.

The last word goes to The Beatles:

It’s Not A Horse Race, It’s A Crime

Charlie Pierce calls the dispensers of inside the beltway political punditry “the cult of the savvy.” They provide the conventional wisdom that Newsweek watched in its heyday. Do they even do that anymore? Do I even care? Newsweek is on life support; they should pull the plug.

I alluded to my concerns about the MSM coverage of the second impeachment trial yesterday:

The MSM needs to stop focusing on the vote count/horse race aspect of the trial. The focus should be on Trump’s guilt. He’s as guilty as sin of this atrocity against American democracy.

Allow me to expand on that point. The cult of the savvy has long treated *every* political event as a sporting event. They’re forever asking who’s up or who’s down. My response to that in this context: who gives a shit? The second impeachment trial is about the existential threat Trumpism poses to our democracy. Head counting in that context is obscene.

The MSM’s focus on the horse race aspects of the trial leads people to wonder: “Why are they even doing this if they can’t win? He’s out of office. He didn’t storm the capitol and torture police officers. It’s not his fault.”

Nothing is ever the Impeached Insult Comedian’s fault. It’s time for him and his enablers to take responsibility for all they’ve done to damage the country and our body politic. One way of holding them responsible is this trial.

I agree that it’s unlikely that enough Republican senators will vote to convict their lord and master. But that’s beside the point.

The point of this trial is to establish a historical record about what happened in the aftermath of the 2020 election and on that fateful day in January. The audience for the trial is outside the senate chamber, not inside. People need to know how Trump and his minions whipped up their supporters into such a frenzy that they stormed the Capitol. To focus on the vote count is to minimize the damage caused by the BIG LIE of electoral fraud. It needs to be exposed and examined or it will surely happen again.

The House managers have done a brilliant job in linking the lies told about election fraud to the Dipshit Insurrection. Those lies led to a riot, which turned into what Charlie Pierce called a “hunting party.”

Does anyone doubt that the Trump mob would have killed any politician they got their hands on? The Turtle is likely to vote to acquit, but the mob would have killed him for insufficient fealty to the Kaiser of Chaos. It was all or nothing with that mob. Not that they apply that standard to Pennywise: he lied about walking to the Capitol with them. Of course he lied. It’s what he does.

It’s also time for the cult of the savvy to kick their GOP addiction. The Republicans have been the dominant political party since the Reagan landslide in 1980, but Reaganism died on Twelfth Night 2021.

In his first inaugural address, Reagan delivered an ode to the peaceful transfer of power:

To a few of us here today this is a solemn and most momentous occasion, and yet in the history of our nation it is a commonplace occurrence. The orderly transfer of authority as called for in the Constitution routinely takes place, as it has for almost two centuries, and few of us stop to think how unique we really are. In the eyes of many in the world, this every 4-year ceremony we accept as normal is nothing less than a miracle.

In 2021, egged on by their dear leader, the Trump mob turned our national miracle into a nightmare. They must be held accountable as many times as possible and in as many ways as possible.

I don’t care what Republicans do. They long ago forfeited the right to any respect. In 2017, the GOP controlled all three political branches. In 2021, they control none of them. The senate Republican caucus has been reduced to a quivering mound of gelatin fearful of being primaried. The MSM has enabled and made excuses for them. The second impeachment trial is not about the Republican party, it’s about the country.

I have some unsolicited advice for the GOP as they cower in contemplation of confronting a primary challenge or a Trump mob outside their residences. It’s a quote from my favorite president:

FDR was also Ronald Reagan’s favorite president. He hated the welfare state but lionized its founder. It’s one of the quirks of history.

In contrast, Donald Trump’s favorite president is himself. He hates everything about our democracy, especially the peaceful transfer of power. There’s nothing conservative about Trumpism, it’s nihilism pure and simple.

The cult of the savvy should cease and desist calling today’s GOP conservative, they’re radicals hell bent on doing to the country what the rioters did to the Capitol. But I know the MSM won’t call them radicals. They’re addicted to the GOP. The madness won’t stop until they kick the habit.

Democrats used to be the fearful party. That changed in the last few years; one of the few good things about the advent of Trumpism. Cowardly politicians would not twice impeach a president knowing that they were unlikely to prevail in the senate. This impeachment is an act of principle. In the long-run it will benefit the principled and damage the cowardly. The first impeachment caused the MSM to dismiss out of hand Team Trump’s attempt to make the 2020 election about Hunter Biden. They declined to be sidetracked. They should try it again.

Repeat after me: It’s not a horse race, it’s a crime.

Have We Considered Banning Bullshit?

This kind of “differing corporate culture” nonsense always makes my eyeballs itch: 

Rick Santelli, the veteran CNBC correspondent, recently got into an on-air spat with one of his longtime colleagues. Whether he will be given leeway to spar in similar fashion with new co-workers elsewhere in the company is something executives at NBCUniversal ought to work quickly to decide.

During an early-December panel on the business-news network’s “Squawk Box,” Santelli began to yell at Andrew Ross Sorkin, who pressed him on comments he had made about coronavirus restrictions at restaurants. Sorkin pushed his colleague to exercise greater caution about suggesting viewers should be able to crowd into restaurants the way they do into retail outlets.

“Who is this? Who is this?” asked Santelli, even though Sorkin has been a co-host of the program for almost a decade. As Sorkin prodded Santelli to reconsider what he said, the correspondent went into an on-air huff. “I disagree. I disagree! I disagree!” said Santelli, his voice rising with the issuance of each short sentence. “You can have your thoughts and I can have mine. I disagree.”

The piece goes on to describe the “culture clash” between people who are loud but mostly harmless and occasionally say a true thing, and people like Santelli and Bartiromo who are saying things that are not true and are actively hurting people. It is not a “culture clash” when one part of a news division says hey, maybe it will hurt our credibility to have science-deniers on TV all day every day jerking Trump off. That’s not, like, a problem with the decorations at the office party.

What if, instead of having a policy encoded in the HR manual, you just … didn’t hire dishonest political actors and/or, when the mostly normal people you hired turned Tea Party-feral on live television, you disciplined or fired them?

CRAZY TALK. I’m aware. Okay, let’s not make it about people and their sincerely held beliefs that COVID cannot travel inside a restaurant. How about just having a policy of individuals, whatever their private Facebook posts may say, not spouting dishonest shit on the air? Could we get behind that? How about our news policy should be that if you are demonstrably full of crap, if you are saying things that are not true, that can be debunked by a half-competent barn cat on shrooms, we don’t, you know, do that no more?

I KNOW, okay, there would be nothing to broadcast, this is why 24-hour cable news channels should be nuked from orbit or at least banned from the waiting rooms of dentist’s offices and airports. But this is the kind of that that, once it’s implemented at this high a level, filters down to your local fishwrap and becomes a cudgel to beat on anyone who speaks up about anything, regardless of substance.

Because that’s the thing. These aren’t regulated militias of relatively equal strength meeting for choreographed skirmishes on neutral ground. What someone is saying matters just as much as how loud and often they’re saying it. Are they being loud and obnoxious and combative in service, to, you know, the actual truth and the keeping of people alive? Or are they shouting things like BUY BEAR STEARNS when the company is about to go tits-up in a fashion that makes the Titanic look well-maintained?

Keeping that dude and his ten-a-penny imitators in the cocaine-piles to which they’ve become accustomed is not a problem with a “clash” of attitudes, it’s a problem with tolerating punditry being wrong all the time with zero consequences for said pundits, within the “corporate culture” or without.

Instead of making this about tactics and decibel levels and whether someone “glared” at the camera perhaps these fine news organizations should be examining if any of the information they’re giving to their audiences is remotely true or not. That would be a good place to start.

A.

ps. It is not okay for an entire network to be full of shit, broadcasting said shit 24 hours a day on the public airwaves, and for us all to shrug like “oh, that’s just Fox, you can’t expect a leper colony to not have any lepers.” It is not okay to just write off an entire propaganda network and let it exist so long as it doesn’t spread. Look around. It has spread some.