Category Archives: Television

Saturday Odds & Sods: Don’t Look Now

Dresden Street by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

I don’t usually go in for cross-cultural generalizations about the state of the world but for every rule, there’s an exception. And 2018 has been an exceptionally bad year. Hell meet hand basket.

The US, UK, and France have gone to political hell and back in 2018. Our main problem is obvious: a corrupt and deeply stupid president*. In Britain, they’re still paying the price for the Brexit referendum catastrophe, which has resulted in bad leadership in both of the “big parties” and political paralysis. In France, Emmanuel Macron compared himself to Charles DeGaulle once too often, now there are riots in the streets just like in DeGaulle’s day. In 1968, they waved red flags. In 2018, they wear yellow vests. There’s a good chance that Macron will be France’s third consecutive one-term president. Burning it down is not all it’s cracked up to be.

I wish I had solutions for these problems but I’m a pundit, not a prophet. I don’t even have a prophet and loss statement. I can hear them groaning all the way to Bunkie, so it’s time to move on.

This week’s theme song was written in 1969 by John Fogerty for CCR’s Willy and the Poor Boys album. The title has been shortened over time from Don’t Look Now (It Ain’t You or Me) by dropping the parenthetical aside. You may have noticed that I live for parenthetical asides but I can live with the deletion of this one. In fact, it’s a delightful deletion.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the Creedence original and a 2005 cover by my main man Dave Alvin.

Don’t Look Now is also the title of a fine film by director Nicolas Roeg who died last month. And don’t look now is excellent advice when one jumps to the break: every time I peek, I get dizzier than Tommy Fucking Roe.

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Cohen Family Values

This post title may be ironic but it contains a kernel of truth. Trump’s former fixer spent a good deal of time in his remarks at his sentencing hearing discussing the importance of family and his regrets at having let them down. Bigly.

Cohen’s family values are also the best explanation for his limited co-operation with the Southern District of New York. I spent too much time Wednesday watching MSNBC and listening to pundits and legal experts alike discuss this “mystery.” There’s a simple explanation: both Cohen and his brother married into families with extensive ties to the Ukrainian and Russian mobs. It’s unclear if they’re gangsters or associates, but they’re connected. Flipping on them would not only blow up Cohen’s family, it would be hazardous to his health. There’s no mystery there at all.

Additionally, Cohen’s uncle runs a social club in Brooklyn that’s frequented by wise guys from the former Soviet Union. The Fixer sold his stake in the club after Trump’s fluke election victory. At the very least, Cohen’s uncle is a mob associate. To put it in terms that Sopranos fans will get: he’s the Artie Bucco of the story. Artie was, of course, Tony’s childhood friend whose eatery Vesuvio was a hangout for the fictional Jersey mob. Artie was a hapless schmo and sporadic wise guy wannabe, which is how Cohen is perceived by many in the MSM.

The mistake the MSM has made in covering  the Trump scandals is that they’ve treated it as strictly a political story. It’s really the story of how a career criminal was elected president* by defrauding the voters. It’s a crime story. The victim is the American people.

I think all the wise men and women on cable news should read Josh Marshall. He’s been on top of the Cohen/mob story since the Spring of 2017. In case you’ve missed his coverage, here are links to some of Josh’s Cohen stories:

From February 26, 2017: It’s All So Confusing.

From March 1, 2017: Piecing Together The Michael Cohen Story.

From April 17, 2018: The Closer I Get.

From April 18, 2018: Cohen-ology Pays Off After All.

It’s all there, y’all. It explains why Michael Cohen cannot offer the sort of co-operation demanded by the SDNY. They expect co-operators to discuss *every* crime a witness is familiar with, not just their own malefactions. Cohen would rather spend 3 years in jail than deal with the shitstorm that would ensue if he flipped on his friends and family from Brooklyn and Brighton Beach. Who the hell can blame him?

Having explained why I believe Cohen will never sign a full co-operation deal with the SDNY, working with Team Mueller is an entirely different kettle of fish. Cohen seems willing to spill everything he knows about Donald Trump. Those bridges are burned and the only way Trumpberius can hurt Cohen now is with his mouth and tweets. Cohen doesn’t give a shit about that any more. He’s done covering up for the Insult Comedian’s “dirty deeds.”

The last word (image?) goes to my First Draft colleague Michael F:

Staff Infection

Photo via Vanity Fair.

I used to think the Bush-Cheney administration was the most incompetent of my lifetime. But they occasionally looked as if they knew what they were doing. That’s something that can never be said of the Trump regime. If there’s a way to fuck something up, they’ll find it. It reminds me of a venerable military acronym: FUBAR. That stands for “fucked up beyond all recognition” although there’s a G-Rated version that substitutes “fouled up.” Fuck that version: Team Trump is fucking up the country, not fouling up, the foul stench emanating from the White House notwithstanding.

The ongoing saga of John Kelly’s departure from the White House is the best example of Trump’s staff infection. Kelly’s firing has been rumored since March but he’s become the Trump regime’s Keith Richards: a human cockroach who refuses to die.

The Kelly gag was perfected on Sunday when the guy who was expected to replace him, Nick Ayers, turned the job down. Hilarity and chaos ensued. Ayers is Pence’s chief of staff and a greedy hustler who wants to return to the private sector to cash in on his White House connections.

There are manifold reasons for Ayers to leave. Trump’s legal woes have led to an exodus of staffers who don’t want to have massive legal bills. Reporters have started asking Ayers questions about how a 36-year-old political consultant has amassed a vast fortune. The shortest reason is a classic: rats flee sinking ships. And Ayers is a blonde rat with a blonde wife and a blonde family. One could even call his life story Blonde Ambition but I think Reese Witherspoon would object. Who could blame her?

The main reason the Kelly exit is so FUBAR is because the train is being driven by the Slumlord and the Princess. Make that trainwreck:

After Nick Ayers, the Georgia political operative who was the president’s top pick, declined the job — something of a plot twist in a presidency notorious for its episodic cliffhangers — Mr. Trump is without a Plan B. Several of his aides expressed frustration that months of intense campaigning to replace John F. Kelly — an effort led by Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president’s elder daughter and son-in-law — resulted in yet another chaotic staffing scramble in a White House splintered by factions and rife with turnover.

“Why would anybody want to be Donald Trump’s chief of staff unless you want to steal the office supplies before they shut the place down?” said Chris Whipple, who wrote a book on White House chiefs of staff called “The Gatekeepers,” expressing the views of many outside the White House about Mr. Kelly’s job. “If you’re coming into that job, you’ve got to lawyer up.”

The Other Mr. Whipple knows his shit. Javanka should have squeezed the political Charmin before assuming that Ayers would do their bidding. This was a shit show even for Team Trump.

For those of you who don’t know what I’m on about, here’s one of the “don’t squeeze the Charmin ads” featuring Mr. Whipple that ran for some 20 years:

The terlet paper analogy is apt. The Trump regime seems to be circling the bowl right now. His legal situation is dire and nobody reputable wants to be his chief of staff. Leo McGarry weeps. Perhaps Trump should hire an EMT for the job, they’re used to running toward danger.

As someone who watched a certain shitty reality show so you didn’t have to, I have some suggestions for the next chief of staff among Celebrity Apprentice contestants:

  • Gary Busey would appeal to the Trump base; ain’t no man whiter or angrier than Gary Busey.
  • In the unlikely event that the president* wants to expand his base and appeal to black voters, there’s always dreadlock wearing rapper Lil Jon.
  • If Trump wants to retain the support of Gret Stet Senator John Neely Kennedy, Meat Loaf is his man.

A side benefit of the latest White House shitshow is that it’s serving up an extra dose of humiliation for the ultimate Trump dignity wraith, John Kelly. The retired general has been behind Trump’s horrific immigration and detention policies from the git go. Instead of being the adult in the room, he was the other bigot in the room.

I will never forgive Kelly for lying about Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and dismissing her as an “empty barrel.” John Kelly has reached the bottom of the barrel. I hope he drinks deeply of the dregs and sickens himself.

Team Trump’s staff infection shows why nepotism is frowned upon in our government. The Slumlord and the Princess may be grand in a way that their cruder fathers never will be, but they haven’t the foggiest idea of what they’re doing.

As Trump’s legal woes mount and his popularity plummets, he will rely more and more on Javanka’s bad advice. The FUBAR watch remains in effect for the duration. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos. Believe me.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Tangled Up In Blue

The Large Blue Horses by Franz Marc.

The weather has been wild and wacky in New Orleans. It was 80 degrees last weekend, then it plummeted to a day time high of 50 a mere two days later. It’s like being an extra in The Pit and The Pendulum. I have no idea what that means but it sounds good.

We had some car trouble this week. We convinced ourselves we might have major electrical issues. It turned out the car needed a new battery. Whew. Dr. A has named the new used car Hildy, after Rosalind Russell’s character in His Girl Friday. Neither Cary Grant nor Ralph Bellamy were consulted.

Am I allowed to brag? I promise not to go all Insult Comedian on your asses. The response to my Neelyisms: Translating Louisiana’s Junior Senator piece has been very favorable indeed. Thanks, y’all. I hope it will further one of my quirkier causes: getting people to stop calling him by his real name instead of my nickname for him. Repeat after me:  In politics, there’s only one John Kennedy, and his middle initial was F, not N. Just call him Neely.

This week’s theme song was written by Bob Dylan for his great 1975 album Blood on the Tracks. Tangled Up In Blue is one of my favorite Dylan tunes. It’s an almost foolproof song, which is why it has been covered so many times.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: Dylan’s original, a 2017 cover by Joan Osborne, and a live version by the Jerry Garcia Band.

Now that we’re all tangled up, let’s jump to the break. I hope I can find my blue ripcord.

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Poppy Bush

The MSM tends to the hagiographic when a former president dies. They were even relatively charitable when Tricky Dick went straight to hell without passing go. In the case of Poppy Bush, the people who covered him liked him as person, which makes it easier to gloss over his political flaws and vices. This was my initial reaction upon hearing that he’d died:

In its rush to paint Bush as a “kinder gentler” president, the MSM has focused on his thank you notes instead of his record.  As president, Poppy Bush was determined to disprove this Newsweek cover:

That was when Newsweek was owned by the Grahams and what it said mattered. Bush was a genuine war hero who should have been secure in his masculinity, but instead was overly fond of military solutions to political and diplomatic problems. His former boss, Ronald Reagan, spent Word War II in uniform in Hollywood, but he was more secure than his Veep so there was tougher rhetoric but fewer military deployments when he was what Gore Vidal called “the Old Television President.”

My head started spinning when I heard CBS’ Bob Schieffer claim that the “Wimp Factor” flap was caused by Poppy’s niceness and good manners. Wrong. It was caused by his obsequiousness as Reagan’s Veep. Bush was a moderate Republican who abandoned most of his previously held positions in a full embrace of Reaganism. It was Bush who dubbed Reagan’s tax cut plan “Voodoo Economics.” Bush arguably moved to Reagan’s right because the hardcore wingnuts never trusted him, so he was obliged to appease them. Appeasement is never appealing.

While we’re on the subject of Newsweek covers, Gary Trudeau did the mud bath cover that is this post’s featured image. He also did a hilarious strip wherein Poppy Bush “put his political manhood in a blind trust” for the duration of the Reagan-Bush administration:

Repeat after me: the Wimp Factor was about George HW Bush, subservient Veep. It was particularly noteworthy as he followed in office the first modern Vice President, Fritz Mondale. Mondale saw his mentor, Hubert Humphrey, humiliated by LBJ and insisted on becoming the first Veep to have any power and influence. Poppy Bush was a throwback Vice President as was his own Veep, J Danforth Quayle.  Ironically, W followed the Carter-Clinton model and gave Dick Cheney too much power. So it goes.

I gotta give Poppy Bush credit for being able to laugh at himself. He befriended Dana Carvey who was best known for his Bush impression on SNL. Carvey portrayed Bush as an amiable somewhat dim aristocrat. Carvey famously said his Bush combined Mister Rogers and John Wayne. It’s a good day in the neighborhood, Pilgrim.

Poppy even invited Carvey to do his impression at the White House:

There’s been a lot of babble on the MSM about Poppy’s decency. It’s been exaggerated BUT I’ve enjoyed it when it serves as a rebuke to the Insult Comedian. Trump has not been barred from the DC memorial service so, he’ll be there. I hope he’s not allowed to speak: eulogies are supposed to be about the dead guy, not the speaker. I don’t think Trump is capable of that. Besides, he might confuse Poppy with Jeb and say 41 is too low energy,

I still have mixed feelings about Poppy Bush’s presidency. He signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law and presided over the demise of the Soviet Union with skill and tact. His weaknesses on the domestic front emboldened the Pat Buchanans and Newt Gingrichs of the world, which gives Poppy some responsibility for the GOP becoming the Party of Me. I never voted for him and would give him a gentleman’s C as president. The worst thing about his Presidency is that it made the Bush-Cheney administration possible. I give them a lout’s F.

I wish hagiography weren’t the American way, but it’s as old as the Republic itself. See Weems, Parson. George HW Bush was neither all bad nor all good. I didn’t like his policies but, unlike the Current Occupant, he was not a raging gaping asshole whose hand I would have refused to shake. That’s about the nicest thing I can say about a Republican in 2018 except this: Poppy Bush was the best of a bad lot.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Deportee (Plane Crash At Los Gatos)

Roots by Frida Kahlo

I’ve been following the horrific events at the US-Mexico border. After a few weeks of relative quiet on the caravan front, the Insult Comedian has ramped up the war of words in this fake crisis. He added a new weapon to his usual arsenal of hot air and bullshit: tear gas. Trump claimed that it was “very safe tear gas” but there’s no such thing, especially since they tear gassed babies. Exposure to tear gas has detrimental effects on childhood development. It’s some nasty shit. I was exposed to tear gas in the Paris Metro many years ago. I don’t recall what the protest was about, but I recall feeling woozy, raspy, and weepy for hours after being tear gassed. I guess it wasn’t the “very safe” kind that Trump is so proud of. #sarcasm

Trump’s ridiculous claim that tear gas is “very safe” reminds me of an encounter with one of my Greek Greek relatives. I called him Theo (Uncle) Panos but he was married to my father’s  cousin. He was a proud and boisterous man who had a small business making and selling taverna-type chairs in the Monastiriki district in old Athens. He believed that everything Greek was the best. It was one reason he and Lou got on so well. I’ll never forget dining al fresco one evening with Panos and his family. There were flies swarming and  I kept shooing them away. Panos laughed and said, “Don’t worry. In Greece, the flies are clean and very safe.”

This week’s theme song was written in 1948 by Woody Guthrie and Martin Hoffman in protest of the racist treatment of Mexican nationals who perished in a plane crash in Los Gatos, California. 32 people died: 4 Americans and 28 Mexican migrant workers who were being deported to Mexico. The media of the day listed the names of the dead Yanquis but referred to the Mexicans solely as deportees.

Sometimes the “crash” in the title is replaced with “wreck” but the song remains the same. Deportee (Plane Crash at Los Gatos) is one of the great protest songs and has been recorded many times over the last 70 years.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: Woody Guthrie, Dave Alvin & Jimmie Gilmore, and Nancy Griffith.

Now that we’ve been deported, it’s time to jump to the break. We’ll try not to crash-land but I make no guarantees. Now where the hell did I put my parachute?

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Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Fortunate Pilgrim

Mario Puzo is best known for The Godfather and other books about the Mafia. Before that, he wrote literary fiction. The Fortunate Pilgrim is based on his mother’s experience as an Italian-American immigrant. It’s Puzo’s favorite among his own books.

The Fortunate Pilgrim became a teevee mini-series after Puzo became a famous writer:

Decorum, Nevermorum

Chris Wallace conducted one of the best televised Trump interviews thus far. The clips I’ve seen reminded me of his late father Mike who was one of the best and toughest interviewers in teevee history. The son may work for Fox but this interview would have made his father proud.

Trump has a new favorite word: decorum. He’s been using it, like some people in the Gret Stet of Louisiana use hot sauce, on everything in sight. It’s unclear if he knows what it means since he continues to display a lack of decorum: the Adam Schitt tweet springs to mind. If that’s decorous, Beavis and Butthead are highbrows. They’re not. Believe me.

The most unsettling portion of the Wallace interview was this exchange about retired Admiral McRaven:

WALLACE: Bill McRaven, retired admiral, Navy SEAL, 37 years, former head of US Special Operations —

TRUMP: Hillary Clinton fan.

WALLACE: Special Operations —

TRUMP: Excuse me, Hillary Clinton fan.

WALLACE: Who led the operations, commanded the operations that took down Saddam Hussein and that killed Osama bin Laden, says that your sentiment is the greatest threat to democracy in his lifetime.

TRUMP: Okay, he’s a Hilary Clinton, uh, backer and an Obama backer and frankly —

WALLACE: He was a Navy SEAL 37 years —

TRUMP: Wouldn’t it have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner than that, wouldn’t it have been nice? You know, living — think of this — living in Pakistan, beautifully in Pakistan, in what I guess they considered a nice mansion, I don’t know, I’ve seen nicer. But living in Pakistan right next to the military academy, everybody in Pakistan knew he was there. And we give Pakistan $1.3 billion a year and they don’t tell him, they don’t tell him—

An incredulous Wallace then asks, “You’re not even going to give them credit for taking down bin Laden?” But by this point, Trump has pivoted to the separate question of whether American financial assistance to the government of Pakistan is a good idea.

This appears to be Trump’s sincere view: Any person or institution that would have the temerity to criticize him on any grounds is corrupt and incompetent and thus not worth listening to on any subject.

McRaven’s real “crime” in Trump’s eyes is that he rose to John Brennan’s defense after the former head spook’s security clearance was taken away.

Our readers know that I’m a liberal who has tremendous respect for the military. It’s rooted in a conversation I had with my father near the end of the Vietnam War. I was in the habit of ragging on servicemen at that point in time. Lou sat me down and said something like this:

“Son, I don’t like this war either. As far as I’m concerned you, either fight all out or you don’t fight at all. I was lucky enough to fight in a war I believed in, but if I hadn’t it wouldn’t have mattered. Those boys in Vietnam didn’t choose to go there. Save your harsh words for the politicians who got us into this mess, not the kids who are fighting there.”

I don’t recall the exact words but the sentiments have stuck with me. Admiral McRaven deserves the same respect my father urged me to have for our troops. He’s a brave and intelligent man who has served our country with distinction and honor. Donald Trump is a man with no honor whatsoever. He’s incapable of understanding people like McRaven or Robert Mueller. It’s one of the primary reasons he’s unfit to sit in the Oval Office and why he richly deserves the asterisk I’ve given his presidency.

It’s time to circle back to the post title. I suppose I shouldn’t use a punny title for a serious post but I cannot help myself. Y’all should know that by now.

I love, love, love Admiral McRaven’s surname, which evokes Poe’s classic poem. In my hands it comes out: Decorum, nevermorum.

I never claimed to be decorous or decorative for that matter. I could even be described as rotten to the decorum.

That is all.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Afterglow

San Giorgio Maggiore At Dusk by Claude Monet

The weird weather continues in New Orleans. We seem to have skipped fall and gone straight to winter. One day we ran the AC, the next the heater. As you saw yesterday, the cats are happy. They love blankets and space heaters. I could do without either. I hate the cold; a stance befitting someone who has lived most of their life in California and Louisiana.

The other down side of cold weather NOLA-style is that public places crank up the heat. I strolled to the grocery store the other day dressed for the great outdoors, I returned a sweaty mess since I had to walk fast to avoid the Valence Street rooster. I’m not a fan of chickens and this one is on the aggressive side.  I’d rather eat them than dodge them.

This week’s theme song was written by Tony Banks in 1976 for Genesis’ last pure prog album, Wind & Wuthering. Afterglow is a drop dead gorgeous song that closes the album as well as an era. It’s the last Genesis album featuring lead guitar player Steve Hackett who was missed almost as much by the band’s fans as Peter Gabriel.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the Genesis original followed by the Classic Rock String Quartet.

Now that we’re afterglowing, let’s jump to the break. I promise a soft landing.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Too Close For Comfort

Think Flag by William N. Copley

I’m keeping this week’s outing snappy because the time change has messed me up. My sleep patterns have been disrupted, as a result I’ve been groggier than hell. Additionally, Della and Paul do not respect day light savings time and demand to be fed at odd hours. Oddly enough, such oddity will inevitably impact Odds & Sods.

A quick note on the featured image. I cheated on Jasper Johns with a 1961 flag painting by William N. Copley aka CPLY. I think the think flag fits this moment eerily well. The country needs more thinking and fewer hot takes right now. Why are people bleating over Tucker Carlson when there are babies in cages?

This week’s theme song was written in 1956 for the musical Mr. Wonderful by Larry Bock, George David Weiss, and Larry Holofcener. I selected Too Close For Comfort because of all the votes that are still being counted, especially in Florida, Arizona, and California.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: Frank Sinatra with the Billy May Orchestra, and a fabulous Ella Fitzgerald-Joe Williams duet with the Count Basie Orchestra. You know that I love me some Bill Basie.

Now we’ve gotten way too close for comfort, it’s time to jump to the break but first a reminder that Too Close For Comfort was also the title of a long-running Ted Knight sitcom that I watched only once.

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Album Cover Art Wednesday: It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

The real world is a scary place right now so I’m focusing on the benign world of Sparky Schulz and the Peanuts gang this Halloween:

Here’s Vince Guaraldi’s soundtrack:

 

 

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Season Of The Witch

The Witch of Endor by William Blake

We’ve finally had some cool weather in New Orleans. I considered devising some sort of ceremony for turning off the AC, but I kept it simple. Besides, I didn’t want to scare the cats.

It’s been a difficult week, which is why I plan to keep this post on the short and sweet side. Make that short and snarky. I don’t want to ruin my well-deserved reputation as a curmudgeon.

This week’s theme song, Season of the Witch, was written in 1966 by Donovan Leitch and Shawn Phillips. It has been covered a bazillion times, which gave me many versions to choose from. I like choice, it’s cherce as Spencer Tracy said in Pat and Mike.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: the Donovan original followed by a Richard Thompson cover that was recorded for the NBC show, Crossing Jordan. I recall watching the episode it appeared in and nearly falling off the couch in surprise at hearing RT on a network show. Finally, Lou Rawls brings some soul to the proceedings.

Now that we’ve gotten seasonal, it’s time to make like a witch, jump on a broomstick and fly to the break. I may not have magical powers but I have a broom.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Late In The Evening

Father Mississippi by Walter Inglis Anderson.

It’s finally showing signs of cooling off in New Orleans even if it appears to be a cruel autumnal tease. The cool front helped keep Hurricane Michael away from us. It was a beast of a storm that battered the Florida panhandle and provoked PTSD flashbacks in the New Orleans area. Best wishes to everyone in the affected areas.

In more savory local news, Advocate food writer Ian McNulty wrote a piece about the surfeit of new restaurants in the city. Ian is worried that we’re losing the thread with so many eateries dependent on the tourist trade. New Orleans didn’t become a great food city with tourist traps but with restaurants serving locals. One Oceana Grill is enough. Just ask Gordon Ramsay:

You didn’t have to take that so personally, Chef Ramsay. Piss off out of my post.

This week’s theme song is appropriate because I usually post Saturday Odds & Sods at the stroke of midnight. Some of my regular readers look for it then. One would hope they’d have something better to do.

Paul Simon wrote Late In The Evening in 1980 for his One-Trick Pony album. Simon also wrote and acted in a movie of the same title, which sank without a trace. I always thought horses could swim…

We have two versions for your listening pleasure. The original hit single followed by a scorching hot live version from 1992’s Born At The Right Time tour.

I used a painting by New Orleans/Ocean Springs, MS artist Walter Anderson as the featured image because he famously tied himself to a tree during Hurricane Betsy. We grow them eccentric in these parts. If things had gone wrong, it would have given a whole new meaning to the term tie-dyed.  If that pun doesn’t make you want to jump to the break, nothing will.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Volunteers

Two Flags by Jasper Johns

It’s still stupidly hot in New Orleans; summer hot. And we had the third warmest September in recorded history. There are rumors of a cool front next weekend but the relentless heat is putting a damp damper on the local festival season. It typically starts the first weekend of October because that’s when it cools off. Not this year, apparently. Climate change? What climate change? End of weather related rant.

The Kavanaugh Mess ate my week, so let’s move on to this week’s theme song. Volunteers was written by Marty Balin and Paul Kantner. It was the title track of Jefferson Airplane’s classic 1969 album; you know, the one with the pb&j sammich gatefold. Volunteers has an interesting origin story: Marty was awakened by a truck one morning with Volunteers of America painted on the side. A protest song was born. Marty Balin died last Saturday at the age of 76. There’s an extended tribute to Marty at the end of the post.

We have two versions of Volunteers for your listening pleasure. The original studio track and a live version from Woodstock.

“Look what’s happening out in the streets. Got a revolution.”

Now that we’ve revolted in a revolting way, let’s jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Got To Get You Into My Life

Landscape Lumber No. 3 by David Hockney

It has been a difficult week. I was so exhausted from writing about the Kavanaugh mess that I briefly considered pulling the plug on this week’s extravaganza. I decided it was best to muddle through and provide a modicum of comic relief to my readers. That choice was made easier by the Flake Gambit, which at the very least kicks the can down the road a week. Besides, I like beer and cannot recall if I’ve ever been black-out drunk. Have you? Holy crap, I sound like Judge Bro.

This week’s theme song is credited to Lennon-McCartney but is Pure-D Macca. Got To Get You Into My Life first appeared on my favorite Beatles album, Revolver. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the Beatles and the equally fabulous cover by Earth Wind & Fire.

Now that we’ve had some Macca therapy, let’s meet on the other side of the jump.

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The Kavanaugh Mess: Like A Virgin

In the immortal words of Graham Parker, “I thought I was right, I was wrong” about a McConnell knifing leading to a Kavanaugh withdrawal to spend more time with his calendars. It remains unclear if they have the votes to confirm: Susan Collins seems to be snowed by this jerk but Lisa Murkowski appears to be genuinely undecided. In addition to concerns about Kavanaugh’s views on Native issues, there’s a huge #MeToo brouhaha back home in Alaska.

The post title is, of course, based on comments made by the skeezy nominee to Martha McCallum of Fox New who actually asked some tough questions:

We’re talking about an allegation of sexual assault. I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone. I did not have sexual intercourse or anything close to sexual intercourse in high school or for many years thereafter. And the girls from the schools I went to and I were friends —

It was McCallum who dropped the V word:

MS. MacCALLUM: So you’re saying that through all these years that are in question, you were a virgin?

JUDGE KAVANAUGH: That’s correct.

MS. MacCALLUM: Never had sexual intercourse with anyone in high school?

JUDGE KAVANAUGH: Correct.

MS. MacCALLUM: And through what years in college since we’re probing into your personal life here?

JUDGE KAVANAUGH: Many years after. I’ll leave it at that.

There’s a logical fallacy in the Like A Virgin defense. It does not preclude sexual assault. It’s not uncommon for sexual predators to be “virgins” when it comes to consensual sex.

The other problem with the Like A Virgin defense is that Kavanaugh pledged Deek (DKE) and I suspect that virgins are barred by that rowdy fraternity. In a NYT story about the charges that Kavanaugh flashed and humiliated Debbie Ramirez, a schoolmate described the Supremes wannabe as follows:

One woman remembers Judge Kavanaugh’s wearing a leather football helmet while drinking and approaching her on campus the night he was tapped for DKE. She described his grabbing his crotch, hopping on one leg and chanting: “I’m a geek, I’m a geek, I’m a power tool. When I sing this song, I look like a fool.”

That’s a far cry from Boola Boola or The Whiffenpoof Song.

A fellow Yalie disputed the Like A Virgin defense on the tweeter tube:

Brett Kavanaugh lie? Never, he said in a voice dripping with sarcasm. Mendacity and sexual assault are two things he has in common with the sexist horndog who nominated him.

Speaking of the Insult Comedian, he went after Debbie Ramirez after being laughed at by the UN General Assembly:

“And [Ramirez] said, ‘well it might not be him’ and there were gaps and she said she was totally inebriated and she was all messed up. And she doesn’t know it was him, but it might’ve been him. ‘Oh gee, let’s not make him a Supreme Court judge because of that.’ This is a con game being played by the Democrats.”

The First Flim-Flam Man certainly knows about con games. His presidency* is an ongoing one, after all.

Ms. Ramirez is Puerto Rican. The fact that Trump attacked her is not exactly a surprise. Perhaps he totally confused her with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz. “Them people” all look alike to bigots like Donald Trump. Totally.

Another appalling Kavanaugh story popped up in the Failing NYT, the “Renate alumni” story. It involves high school yearbook comments by Kavanaugh and his krewe of drunken, rapey jocks. Here’s what an old pal and fellow original NOLA blogger had to say about this chilling episode:

A few more things about the Kavanaugh interview. First, it’s a sign of how worried GOPers are. Supreme Court nominees do NOT give teevee interviews. Second, Kavanaugh’s defense came off as robotic. It involved spewing out sound bites likely cooked up by former Roger Ailes enabler, Hannity pal, and current Trump lackey Bill Shine. Here’s one of them:

That’s right, Kavanaugh went from Like A Virgin to Like A Robot in one fell swoop, or in his case, one drunken stupor.

There’s one more aspect of tomorrow’s hearing that’s so squirrelly that they should give Judiciary Committee GOPers an acorn. They’ve hired outside counsel so Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch, John Neely Kennedy, and their ilk have fewer opportunities to make Cavemanic comments.

The outside counsel, Rachel Mitchell, is an experienced sex crimes prosecutor in Maricopa County, Arizona. But here’s how Chinless Mitch described her:

A female assistant? What is she: a waitress? Does the Turtle plan to tip her? She’s an experienced lawyer for fuck’s sake. Can’t you lot even show some respect for a woman on your side?

Precious little is known about Ms. Mitchell. Josh Marshall unearthed an interview she did with a far right “fundamental Baptist” publication. Also, why a lawyer who prosecutes sex crimes against children? The hearing is not a trial, it’s a job interview. The only children involved are GOP solons.

I have a hunch that they were unable to find a woman lawyer in DC who was willing to do Senate Republicans’ dirty work. It’s time to recycle one of my favorite recent lines:

The last word goes to Madonna with a song that Brett Kavanaugh surely drank to during his Yale salad days:

INSTANT UPDATE: While I was writing this post, Michael Avenatti revealed the identity of his client and demanded an FBI investigation:

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Chain

At The First Clear Word by Max Ernst.

It still feels like summer in New Orleans. I’ve been so focused on the Kavanaugh mess that I’ve been a local news slacker with one exception: last Monday, our local utility company, Entergy, blamed a cat for a major power outage. Della Street and Paul Drake are in the clear: I’m their alibi. This is proof positive that my town is weirder than your town. Neener, neener, neener.

What is it with the news cycle in the Trump era? Every Friday it blows up after I tuck this post in bed and kiss it good night. I have a few quick thoughts on today’s two big stories. First, the Rod Rosenstein story is a set-up, the Failing New York Times got played by Trumpers. Second, Chuck Grassley’s ultimatum to Christine Blasey Ford is egregious extortionate excrement.

What do these fuckers have in store next? A 21st Century Reichstag fire? This is the face of American fascism.

It’s time to tune out the jackboots and return to our regularly scheduled programming.

This week’s theme song was written by  Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood, and John McVie for an album that you may have heard of: Rumours. The Chain is the only tune on that record credited to all five members of Fleetwood Mac Mach 9. We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the original studio track and a recent live version featuring new members, Neil Finn and Mike Campbell.

I’m not sure if jumping to the break constitutes breaking the chain but we’re going to do it anyway. Now that I think of it, it’s closer to yanking your chain. What’s a little chain yanking among friends?

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Play It All Night Long

The Automat by Edward Hopper.

It’s been a crazy news week: the Woodward book, Hurricane Florence, exploding houses in  Massachusetts, the Kavanaugh letter, and the Manafort flip. How far Paulie flips remains to be seen but, given his connection to the Former Soviet Union, his plea deal is *potentially* the Kremlingate kill shot. I’ve long thought Manafort was either placed on Team Trump by Russian intelligence or encouraged to sign up by them. Stay tuned.

This week’s theme song, Play It All Night Long was written by Warren Zevon for his 1980 album, Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School. It has one of the greatest opening verses in rock history:

Grandpa pissed his pants again
He don’t give a damn
Brother Billy has both guns drawn
He ain’t been right since Vietnam

As well as a killer chorus:

“Sweet home Alabama”
Play that dead band’s song
Turn those speakers up full blast
Play it all night long

We have two versions for your listening pleasure. The original studio recording and a live solo version from Learning to Flinch with WZ on piano.

Now that we’ve played “that dead band’s song,” let’s jump to the break in lieu of turning the speakers up full blast.

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The Legal Docket: Of Henry Fonda Wannabes & Flippers

The first Manafort juror has spoken. It’s a Trump supporter who nonetheless voted guilty on all 18 counts despite loathing star witness Rick Gates. She revealed that there was one hold-out on the 10 counts on which a mistrial was declared. It’s a woman so the Henry Fonda analogy is imperfect. Of course, it was always flawed because Fonda’s character in Twelve Angry Men flipped the jury and this person was a lone hold-out to the bitter end. I had to mention Twelve Angry Men because it’s one of my favorite movies and launched the career of one of my favorite directors Sidney Lumet.

Here’s the interview with juror Paula Duncan:

I just made history. It’s the first time I’ve ever posted a Fox News video. I’m worried that I’m going to hell. I had hoped to go to heaven so I could meet Henry Fonda and Sidney Lumet. I’ll do penance by posting this scene from one of Sidney’s finest films:

ATTICA. ATTICA. ATTICA.

In other legal news, the Insult Comedian wants to change our legal system to suit his personal needs and trust me, he’s needy. Here’s what the Kaiser of Chaos had to say about “flippers:”

“You know, they make up stories. People make up stories. This whole thing about flipping, they call it. I know all about flipping, 30, 40 years I have been watching flippers,” he said.

“Everything is wonderful and then they get 10 years in jail and they flip on whoever the next highest one is or as high as you can go. It almost ought to be outlawed. It’s not fair … if somebody defrauded a bank and he is going to get 10 years in jail or 20 years in jail but if you can say something bad about Donald Trump and you will go down to two years or three years, which is the deal he made, in all fairness to him, most people are going to do that.”

I doubt that Trumpy means this Flipper:

I’m pretty sure that’s not the famous teevee dolphin Flipper but Trump’s lying is contagious. Call it creative prevarication. Yeah, that’s the ticket. I skipped posting a GIF of Tommy Flanagan the pathological liar because Jon Lovitz is a wingnut. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Back to Trumpy’s musing about abolishing plea bargains. It would not only paralyze the court system it would have allowed John Gotti, Whitey Bulger, and a wide variety of wise guys to walk. But that’s a small price to let the president* have his way. #sarcasm.

Finally, Trump’s dickish tabloid media pal, David Pecker, has cut an immunity deal with SDNY prosecutors. This is one of the least surprising developments of the week. As Trumpberius himself might say, “Pecker has all the qualities of a dog except loyalty.”

Thinking about the venerable teevee show Flipper has given me an earworm:

That’s right folks, a dolphin got the last word. He’s a helluva lot smarter than Don Junior.

The I-Word: Don’t Take The Bait

The dread Sarah Huckabee Sanders trotted out some of her snappiest patter at Wednesday’s White House briefing. Yes, I’m being sarcastic although she does have a Bob Newhart-style deadpan delivery. Maybe she should try wearing a cardigan like Bob did as Dick the innkeeper in Newhart. It couldn’t hurt. Larry, Darryl, and his other brother Darryl already work in the West Wing alongside a wide variety of Dicks, after all.

“Impeachment is the only message Democrats have going into the midterms.  I think that the biggest contrast you could possibly make is the message of the Democrats, which is nothing more than attacking the president and looking at cheap political stunts while this White House and Republicans in the House and Senate are focused on doing good things for the American people.”

Sarah is such a cut-up.  As usual, she’s making shit up. Leader Pelosi, quite correctly, has urged her members to stay focused on health care, corruption, and whatever issues work in their districts. It’s back to Tip O’Neill’s message that “all politics are local.” It was an approach that helped Democrats hold the house from 1954-1994. There were even two blue wave elections in that era: 1964 and 1974. Shorter Nancy Smash: Just win, baby.

Trump is already the main issue without mentioning the I-Word. Democrats would be wise to focus on Team Trump’s rampant corruption and use this phrase: “putting a brake on an out-of-control president*.” Voters already know that the I-Word is a possibility after Dems take control of the House: why awaken the depressed GOP base?

The mere fact that Zany Sarah, Senator Cornhole, and other GOPers are talking about impeachment is why Democrats should not. Why take the bait and let Republicans set the agenda in a year that the wind is blowing in their faces? And we know how much the Insult Comedian “hates the wind” unless it’s the hot air coming out of his big stupid bazoo.

The main reason we should NOT take the bait is what happened in the 1998 midterms. Newt Gingrich and his merry band of wingnuts went all in on impeachment. It backfired and Democrats *gained* 5 House seats and held their own in the Senate.

To follow Tom Steyer’s lead and go all in on impeachment is playing into the GOP’s hands. Do we really want to be like Newt? Don’t take the bait. Just win, baby.

The Band and Marvin Gaye get the last word: