Zero-Sum

That Michael Lewis piece starts badly and gets worse: 

Back when he was president, Barack Obama told me that only two people treated any interaction with him as a zero-sum game. One was Vladimir Putin, the other congressional Republicans. Both behaved as if there was no such thing as a win-win situation: Any gain for Obama was a loss for them, and any gain for them must also entail a loss for Obama. The moment that the Russian president or congressional Republicans saw he wanted something, they went to work trying to keep him from getting it — even if it was something they might otherwise have approved of.

Approaching any aspect of life as a zero-sum game has obvious practical costs: Deals that leave some people better off without making anyone else worse off suddenly don’t get done, because making some people better off now, by definition, makes other people worse off. It also comes with some psychological side effects. It cripples your imagination. It blinds and deafens you, as you sort of know what your adversary is going to do or say before they do or say it. Or, rather, you know how you are going to make sense of it: uncharitably.

The zero-sum approach in politics has since spread, as it tends to do wherever it takes hold. It has infected congressional Democrats and parts of the news media, and is seeping into everyday political discourse.

Really? WHERE? HOW has it affected Congressional Democrats similarly? How has it just crept in and taken over their minds, like poison gas in a vent? SHOW ME, motherfucker, how both sides are the same.

I know it’s fashionable to pretend that everybody bears some blame for the currently gridlocked Congress, but until you can give me an example of Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi passing legislation just to fuck with Republicans, sponsoring bills like the We Have No National Language Act and the Actually Let’s Expand Medicaid Nationwide Act and the Rename All the Reagan Buildings After McGovern act, you won’t convince me Congressional Ds are on the zero-sum train.

I mean, they have no power. None. They haven’t had any really since the 2010 midterms and they sure as hell have even less now. So how have they been “infected” by this mindset? Show your work or don’t show up at all.

I see no sign that Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi want to protect Dreamers just to piss Paul Ryan off, or preserve Obamacare because it makes McConnell squirm. Congressional Dems did not block Trump’s Supreme Court nominee simply because they could, meanwhile Merrick Garland of noble name is sitting on a couch someplace. Shit, Congressional Dems confirmed far more of Trump’s nominees than their base is really comfortable with so if there’s a zero sum game it’s not between Dems and Republicans, it’s between Dems and their own fucking voters.

They are occasionally corrupt and often deeply stupid but they do actually have policy goals involving helping people, which is more than I can say for their opposition, which shut down the government rather than confront the operational reality of immigration.

This is a throwaway paragraph, the kind of nut graf boilerplate you put into a story to kind of paint the walls blue so everyone knows they’re looking at the sky, and that’s exactly why it’s so damaging. The lazy shorthand is all anybody hears and so all anybody hears is that both sides are at fault. They’ve been infected. It’s seeped into them.

A.

Tuesday Fuck It Whenever Catblogging

Slade:

They’d both rather sleep on a gnarly snagged up blanket in the basement generally, but Slade sometimes condescends to use the ridiculously fancy cat bed I bought him.

A.

Quote Of The Day: Birds Of A Feather Edition

I’m peeking my head out of the Carnival bubble because Josh nails the Insult Comedian and his creepy criminal cohort yet again:

We can start with the simple fact that this President surrounds himself with men who abuse women. Abuse and predation may know no party. But abusers seek out and run together. Trump’s politics are rooted in grievance, both gendered and racial. Trump is consistent if nothing else. He is an embodiment of his politics. It’s no surprise that this isn’t theoretical or merely expressed in political terms but is interpersonal and personally violent as well. Abusers know the President is one of them. They seek him out and he protects them in turn. Few men in the President’s coterie have multiple wives who’ve been willing to take the step of describing their former husband’s violence on the record. But it’s remarkable the number of Trump’s top advisors who have a history of abuse, whether it’s accusations of harassment or sexual assault or chronic physical violence against former spouses or girlfriends.

The Porter scandal is simultaneously appalling and fascinating. We already knew Trump didn’t give a shit about predatory behavior but we’ve had another reminder that John Kelly is just a slightly more polished version of his boss. Spousal abuse doesn’t seem to faze  him one bit. He may be an officer but he’s not a gentleman.

It’s also been fun watching the hapless Hope Hicks flail. It’s what happens when you place a sycophant who is also dating the wife beater in a position that she’s woefully unqualified for. They might bring back the Mooch who is also woefully unqualified to be communications director. Woefully Unqualifed would be a good Trumper band name.

Okay, time to re-enter the Carnival bubble. The real world bites the big one right now.

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – Back In Blecch edition

OK – back in the saddle. I’m going to TRY to ease back into this, but I have a horrendous backlog of bookmarks to plough through.

First up – SOROS’s FAULT!!

Holocaust Denier Likely to Represent GOP on Illinois Congressional Ballot KSBW ^ | 2/5 Posted on 2/5/2018, 4:48:13 PM by nickcarraway

A long-shot candidate with a history of anti-Semitic statements and Holocaust denial is primed to represent the Republican Party in a congressional race in Illinois.

The candidate, Arthur Jones, is running unopposed in the GOP primary for Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District,

SNIP

His website contains sections such as “Holocaust?” which features a statement that says “there is no proof such a so-called ‘Holocaust’ ever took place anywhere in Europe, against the Jews.”

SNIP

“I’m sorry I voted for the son of a b****, I really am,” Jones told the Guardian.

SNIP

1 posted on 2/5/2018, 4:48:13 PM by nickcarraway
I’m sure this will provoke some deep soul-searching among the Freeperati as to why Nazis feel so at home in the GOP.
To: nickcarraway

 

This guy is so bad I wouldn’t be surprised to find he’s a Soros plant.

2 posted on 2/5/2018, 4:50:54 PM by rfp1234 (I have already previewed this composition.)

Just kidding. You need to have a soul to do any soul-searching.
To: rfp1234
This guy is so bad I wouldn’t be surprised to find he’s a Soros plant. 

This guy has run for the Republican nomination seven times since the 1990’s. You think Soros plans that far ahead?

5 posted on 2/5/2018, 5:03:29 PM by DoodleDawg
Commie.
.
“LurkingLibertarian” tries to Freepsplain this one away :
To: Joe Dallas
The GOP dropped the ball on this one. 

More likely, no serious candidate from the GOP wanted to run in this district; it has voted Dem in 24 of the last 25 congressional elections and all four of the last four presidential elections. Bernie Sanders won the district by 8 points in the 2016 primary.

6 posted on 2/5/2018, 5:04:09 PM by Lurking Libertarian (Non sub homine, sed sub Deo et lege)

“Joe Dallas” ain’t buying it :
To: Lurking Libertarian

 

Then find a somewhat serious candidate that is not a Nazi.

8 posted on 2/5/2018, 5:05:37 PM by Joe Dallas

BanHimHitlerAngry
To: Joe Dallas 

Then find a somewhat serious candidate that is not a Nazi.

Well, you’d have to find one in the district.

Hard to find Republicans in a ghetto, even harder to find one that has the time and money to even run to lose.

11 posted on 2/5/2018, 5:15:45 PM by piasa (Attitude adjustments offered here free of charge)

Um – about that “ghetto”…
To: piasa
Hard to find Republicans in a ghetto, 

The district is 74% white.

18 posted on 2/5/2018, 5:54:48 PM by Lurking Libertarian (Non sub homine, sed sub Deo et lege)
Of course, we all know who’s REALLY to blame, don’t we?
To: nickcarraway

 

This is classic media horseshiTe….badmouth a gop guy (who deserves it) and make it the headline.

22 posted on 2/5/2018, 6:49:41 PM by irish guard

TrumpWinning
One more short bit after the jumparoonie …

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , ,

2018: Anyone But An Elephant

If the checks won’t check then nothing balances: 

For White House and the National Security Council staff veterans, the revelation that Porter did not have a full security clearance raises a number of real questions that must be answered. Those questions speak directly to the safety of America’s most sensitive intelligence officers and most dangerous operations.

Having worked at the White House — including both at the National Security Council and alongside the staff secretary – I believe Porter-gate has all the markings either of a very high security breach or a highly unusual staff structure. It also raises real questions about how Trump White House staff under both Reince Priebus and John Kelly managed sensitive information, and what both of them knew about the allegations against Porter and when they knew it.

So? Oh, dear God, so what? I am having the hardest time right not getting het up about this or that scandal because it’s all a scandal and until November none of it is going to stop. Republicans are not going to do anything about this and until we elect lots and lots and lots more and better Democrats and/or Anyone But An Elephant, we can be as scandalized as we like but nothing’s gonna change.

The Founders planned for Trump. Hell, they’d just overcome rule by an unchecked and uncheckable manbaby so they explicitly planned for a tyrant with two whole other branches of government for the people to call on.

What they didn’t plan on was one party controlling everything, and that party being so craven it would allow ANYTHING if only it didn’t have to lose any power. Anything. Illegal wars in the Middle East, warrantless spying on Americans, an epidemic of gun violence without recourse for the victims, starving children of education and safe housing and clean drinking water because they weren’t white, deporting people who’ve lived here for decades …

Oh, plus everything Trump and his cronies have done.

What George W. Bush figured out is that once you are elected president nobody can do shit about shit, not if Republicans are venal and Democrats are scared. The rules might as well not even exist. Security clearances? HAH! Warrants for wiretapping? Why bother? Weapons of mass destruction? Who gives a shit? There are no rules. You can just ignore it all.

So following the ins and outs of this or that horror seems to me to be indulgent when all that matters is winning a whole shitload of elections on the backs of whatever donkey, red rose, turtle, toaster, or VW beetle we can hump across the finish line.

Let the elephants rot.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Box Of Rain

It’s been a somewhat stressful Carnival season thus far. The reason has been the weather: it’s been chilly and wet. The skies opened and poured down rain on the all female Krewe of Nyx on Wednesday night. We braved the elements and watched large chunks of the parade because we have friends in it and wanted to show our support. We can also run home and change clothes if we’re soaked. Props to the ladies who rode and survived the deluge of 2018.

Our annual Muses open house was a roaring success as was the parade itself, which took place on a dry Thursday evening. Half of New Orleans seems to come to Adrastos World HQ every year and 2018 was no exception. We had a record number of children including the legendary child army. New kitty Paul Drake came out to meet company but eventually got spooked by a close encounter with Lagniappe who is the craziest, cutest, and funniest 2+ year old I’ve ever met. Believe me.

Muses is another all-chick krewe who are famous for their shoe throws and marvelous themes. This year’s theme, Muses Night at the Museum, was their best yet. They riffed on masterpieces by artists such as Seurat, Magritte, Matisse, and Hopper and gave them a satirical twist. It was brilliant thematically and beautifully executed. My years in Krewe du Vieux have made me something of a parade critic but I have no criticism of this parade. It was stone cold brilliant. Four stars all the way, y’all.

Muses has a swell slide/show photo gallery of their floats at their Facebook page. Take a peek you’ll enjoy it, even this one:

Here’s the counterpart to that float. It’s as wistful as hell:

I know what you’re thinking: another Grateful Dead tune as the theme song? It’s actually tied to Carnival by analogy. We live inside what is referred to as the parade box. On parade days, except for Mardi Gras day itself, our movements are constricted by the parades. We even have parking wars.  This forecast for the rest of the weekend is a shit ton of rain. Hence Box Of Rain:

I have just two articles to suggest this week, so we’ll forego the break and usual segment format. I’m not sure if it’s innovative or lazy; probably the latter since hosting a party of 100+ people is hard work. I feel as if I was run over by a float.

Dr. A wanted to see the Super Bowl half time show even though we only watched snippets of the game. She was disappointed by it as was Vulture’s Brian Moylan who was inspired to write a list ranking Super Bowl half time shows from worst to best. Moylan is something of an Irish Shecky who is known for his hilarious recaps of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills aka Rich Ladies Doing Things. I particularly enjoy how he rags on one of the husbands. He once called this chap a pustule with legs. Now that’s entertainment.

It’s Black History Month everywhere except the Trump White House. The Failing New York Times published a list of must-see movies:

It’s a great list. I’ve only seen half of the films listed so I have some catching up to do. I am pleased that they like Devil With A Blue Dress as much as I do.

That’s it for this week’s limited edition of Saturday Odds & Sods. I can’t assure you that it will grow in value but it’s mercifully short. That’s something, innit?

The last word goes to the Krewe of Muses:

Parsing the Medill #MeToo Debacle

Yes, even at the Jesus H. Christ School of Journalism Gods, people can be total dipshits:

Ten women released an open letter on Wednesday accusing Northwestern University Professor Alec Klein of persistent sexual harassment and bullying since he has been at the helm of the school’s “crown jewel” investigative journalism program.

Calling it the storied journalism school’s “#MeToo Moment,” the eight former students and two former staffers of the Medill Justice Project wrote that Klein’s “controlling, discriminatory, emotionally and verbally abusive behavior has to end.”

Klein, who has been at Northwestern for a decade and in charge of the Justice Project since 2011, has taken a leave of absence while the university sorts out all the allegations brought forth in the letter. This is likely to take some time, as a) digging into charges that range back five or more years isn’t easy and b) the women who signed the letter set up an email address for others to use if they want to add their stories regarding Klein and his behavior toward them.

Klein’s lawyer, Andrew T. Miltenberg, issued a statement that really does a nice job of making him look guilty as hell:

“While Mr. Klein denies the allegations that are being made, he intends to respect the confidentiality and privacy of Northwestern University and its internal process,” Miltenberg wrote. “It is unfortunate that these allegations are being made in a rush to judgment, denying Mr. Klein of due process. We are confident that upon review, the allegations will be determined to have been unfounded.”

If you are playing “clearly guilty bingo jargon,” you probably got the cover-all here: “denies allegations,” “respect the confidentiality” “respect the… process,” “rush to judgment,” “due process” and unfounded allegations.

Klein, for his part, issued a letter that blamed all of this on a “disgruntled employee” and then pivoted to how great his teaching evaluations have been.

The university conducted an extensive investigation, interviewing current and former employees, former students and others, and reviewing emails, expenses and other records. The complaint was determined to be completely unfounded. I was cleared of any wrongdoing and the claim was dismissed. The university determined the complainant was not credible and documented, through records and her own words, several falsehoods in her charges.

Klein, a journalist, needs to be a little more accurate here. According to media reports, the claim was not “completely unfounded,” but rather it was a situation where the U declined to roll the dice on pursuing it because it didn’t think it had enough to get the goods on him. It’s like that line from “And the Band Played On,” about what do we think, what do we know and what can we prove? In this case, you couldn’t prove the situation was rotten but it did have some serious stank on it. The school paid Olivia Pera off and as part of the payoff, the rule was that she couldn’t reapply for a job, not that she would want to:

 

“I went through absolute hell,” Pera said. “My family saw me go through such personality changes. My son saw me crying every day. That’s not something your kid should see. I have nothing but bad memories of Northwestern.”

The allegations regarding Klein are problematic, and there is nothing I would like more than to jump up and down on this guy. I have frequently come out against professors who treat students like sexual canapes, the arrogance of the elitism that comes with places like the Med-Dildo land that is that journalism school and people who are generally sleazy fucksticks. That said, there are really two sets of allegations here and they need to be separated before hanging this guy from a yardarm.

First set: He’s a sexually sleazy, lecherous fuck:

And let’s be clear: Some of us have also experienced sexual harassment and sexual misconduct.

  • He attempted to kiss a prospective employee, prior to hiring her. On the same occasion, he asked if she smoked marijuana and asked to smoke with her and ordered her several cocktails.

  • He asked a female employee to come to his hotel room “for drinks” on a business trip.

  • He gave unwanted neck massages while a female employee was trying to work.

  • He asked for a hug in return for giving an employee a requested day off.

  • He made other unwarranted physical contact, such as grabbing a student’s hand during conversations

  • He made sexually graphic remarks at work

  • He talked about his sex life and pressed for explicit details about others’

  • He frequently commented on employees’ physical attractiveness, appearances, attire and bodies

  • He told female students they would be good fits for broadcast journalism because they were “good-looking.

  • He asked if an employee was having another baby when she mentioned that her stomach hurt

  • He asked an employee if she was a stripper

  • He sent texts “intended for his wife” to a female

 

I’ll give him a pass on the text issue, as my Twitter followers have often been subjected to the, “So do we still need milk?” Tweets when I fucked up and hit the wrong button. Other than that… What the fuck? Your students are not a smorgasbord of pussy, so knock it off. And as for the asking the woman back to your hotel room thing, could you be any more sleazy while still being cliche? If you’re not with your wife and you suddenly have that pent up dick rage you seem to possess, there is nothing dumber than what you attempted to do. Here’s some advice: Go back to your room, find that little bottle next to the conditioner and go fly a solo mission.

Second set of allegations: He’s a fucking miserable human being:

Let’s start breaking these into “zones of danger.”

  • He repeatedly accused students of insubordination and reprimanded them to the point of tears over minor or perceived offenses, such as pushing back on an editorial misjudgment or offering an alternative method to pursue an investigation, or agreeing with a peer’s suggestion instead of what Alec Klein proposed. Several of us were summoned into his office individually, made to sit on a short cushion in a corner as he hurled accusatory vitriol about our mistakes and then refused to accept any apology. He sometimes retaliated by lowering students’ final term grades even though these disagreements had nothing to do with academics.

  • He retaliated against an employee by giving her a poor performance review after she defended herself against his verbal abuse.

  • He has yelled at employees and students and accused them of “ignoring him” for not immediately answering his phone calls or emails — at times, outside of working hours, or when one employee was on vacation, despite her returning his call within a few minutes.

  • He continued to show retaliatory behavior after discovering that students went to senior staff at Medill to voice their concerns about him.

  • He was openly dismissive in class to a student who struggled with English and made it apparent that he did not like her Middle Eastern accent. According to this student, he “killed” her confidence and made her feel like “nothing,” and he screamed at and hung up on her friend whom she had put on the phone with him for help.

The concept of retaliation, reprimand and dismissiveness are often in the eye of the beholder, especially in student-faculty relationships. Not saying these things didn’t happen, but on occasion students aren’t as amazing as they think they are and any attempt to demonstrate that is likely to lead to “melting snowflakes.” It also pains me to say this, but I have found that students at some of the best (as in most prestigious, highest ranked etc.) institutions are the ones that are the least able to deal with hearing that they don’t quite measure up. If I had a nickel for every time a kid blamed a bad grade on me or cried over not being told he or she was perfect in every way, I wouldn’t need a job any more. This group needs more cooking before it becomes soup.

Chunk two:

  • He has said: “You aren’t as smart as you think you are ”

  • He has said: “You will never be a journalist.”

  • He told one of us, after learning her mother is a professional writer: “Your mother is a writer, I’d expect you to be a better writer.”

  • He told one of us she needed an A- to earn his recommendation. He later promised a male student in the same class a recommendation in exchange for a B+.

  • He scolded employees for “taking too much credit” for their work and in one instance denied any credit until proof was provided.

When I hear back from students years later, I find out that a lot of shit came rolling out of my mouth that I can’t believe actually did. Part of it is working in a newsroom environment. Part of it is finding the need to buzz a kid with a fastball to back him or her off the plate a bit. Part of it was that I fucked up and learned that I needed to smooth off some of the rough edges. Part of it is that I’m just a dick sometimes, despite my best efforts.

I’ve said the first one, I’m sure. The second one was actually said to me when I was in high school, by a female teacher. She told me that not only would I never be a journalist, but that I’d never be ANYTHING and that I needed to go to a trade school if I wanted to be able to support a family. The third one is weird. The fourth one is something that I could easily see happening. I can’t remember what I ate for lunch yesterday as opposed to who I promised what to whom. The last one, again, some kids need to get backed off the plate or forced to prove stuff. Even students I’ve had dead to rights on plagiarism or other such things would deny it and threaten and bluster until I literally had to say, “You bring your proof and I’ll bring mine and we’ll see what the U has to say.” Then, they fucking crumbled. If these items alone were the basis for a complaint, I could see how the admin would wave this off and call it a day.

CHUNK 3:

  • He often required excessive and unnecessary closed-door meetings during which he pressed several of us to divulge deeply personal details about our lives, only to later use this information against us as a tool of manipulation.

  • He questioned whether an employee had actually attended her grandfather’s funeral after she had requested and taken the day off.

  • He has said about and to female students that they are “too emotional” and “immature.”

This is really problematic stuff in that a) it shows a gender bias and b) it infuses him into the private lives of his students and employees. The gender thing is already discussed above. The other one is something that is an issue because we have to draw lines as faculty and prevent ourselves from crossing them. I have always told newsroom students that I don’t care who you’re sleeping with or what you’re drinking or where you threw up last night. That’s none of my business. However, if I can’t get photos for the front page because my design editor was sleeping with the photo editor, but now they broke up and they’re not talking… OK, NOW I have to care.

I think logically that a lot of this stuff in chunks one and two wouldn’t be as horribly problematic if it weren’t for the first set of allegations (stuff on the harassment) and the last chunk of section two (getting involved in their business). Yes, this isn’t nice workplace behavior in those other two subsections, but I found out something once about stuff like this: There’s no law that prevents people from being an asshole at work.

I had a long discussion with HR and with a harassment specialty lawyer when I was getting knocked around by a particularly shitty colleague in ways like those listed in the two  (non-sex stuff) chunks. I was told, “Look, this isn’t good and he shouldn’t be able to do this, but there is no law against him being a dick.” I wasn’t pleased with that answer, but I got it.

However, there ARE laws about getting your business into my private business. There ARE laws about keeping your fucking hands to yourself and not treating everyone like they’re a fuckdoll with a personality, installed at work for your amusement.

And those laws need to be enforced everywhere, including this situation.

Friday Catblogging: Progress Report

Inter-feline relations continue to improve at Adrastos World HQ. There are still a few minor altercations between the cats but peace has broken out. Della remains jealous of her new kid brother but is willing to snuggle since it’s been a chilly winter.

Running Government Like A Business

trump_snacks

Well, like a Trump “business.” In words he’d understand, what a disgrace. He should be ashamed, or worse.

FEMA tapped Tiffany Brown, an Atlanta entrepreneur with no experience in large-scale disaster relief and at least five canceled government contracts in her past. FEMA awarded her $156 million for the job, and Ms. Brown, who is the sole owner and employee of her company, Tribute Contracting LLC, set out to find some help.

Ms. Brown, who is adept at navigating the federal contracting system, hired a wedding caterer in Atlanta with a staff of 11 to freeze-dry wild mushrooms and rice, chicken and rice, and vegetable soup. She found a nonprofit in Texas that had shipped food aid overseas and domestically, including to a Houston food bank after Hurricane Harvey.

By the time 18.5 million meals were due, Tribute had delivered only 50,000.

Meanwhile, electricity is STILL out for thousands of people, some of whom are so desperate they’ve taken matters into their own hands, despite significant risks.

For months, residents begged Puerto Rico’s power company and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to bring back their electricity — with few results.

So the people of the town of 40,000 — high in the mountains of southern Puerto Rico — have started restoring power on their own, pulling power lines from undergrowth and digging holes for wooden posts in a do-it-yourself effort to solve a small part of the United States’ longest-running power outage.

We have trillions of dollars to fund endless wars, and a Congress that went out of its way to pass massive tax cuts for the wealthy. But the same federal government has abandoned Puerto Rico.

Their fate is our fate…just saying.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Case Of The Shoplifter’s Shoe

I know what you’re thinking: when in pulp fiction doubt, post a Perry Mason cover. Guilty as charged. It’s also relevant this Muses Thursday. That all chick krewe throws decorated shoes.

I’ve posted a cleaned up version of the cover that I stumbled into on the artist’s web site. Thanks to John Farr.

Everybody Loves A Parade

Carnival swings into high gear this evening. We live inside the parade box, which is even more intense at the beginning of the route where Adrastos World HQ is located. A highlight of every parade are the military marching bands, especially the Marines in their gorgeous dress blues.

Everybody loves a parade including the Current Occupant:

President Trump’s vision of soldiers marching and tanks rolling down the boulevards of Washington is moving closer to reality in the Pentagon and White House, where officials say they have begun to plan a grand military parade later this year showcasing the might of America’s armed forces.

Trump has long mused publicly and privately about wanting such a parade, but a Jan. 18 meeting between Trump and top generals in the Pentagon’s tank — a room reserved for top-secret discussions — marked a tipping point, according to two officials briefed on the planning.

Surrounded by the military’s highest-ranking officials, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., Trump’s seemingly abstract desire for a parade was suddenly heard as a presidential directive, the officials said.

“The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France,” said a military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the planning discussions are supposed to remain confidential. “This is being worked at the highest levels of the military.”

Everybody loves a parade including Third World tyrants and the Banana Republican who resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue at the moment. I wonder if the Kaiser of Chaos plans to repair the streets that are damaged. Not that he’s thought that far ahead: he’s a tween who wants what Macron has. But that sort of parade *is* a tradition in France, not in America. It’s not a parade to celebrate the military but to celebrate Trump’s ego and prove that his dick is bigger than the handsome young French president’s.

In many parts of the world, tanks in the streets means that there’s a coup d’etat in progress. I heard stories of Athens, Greece in 1967 from my de facto Uncle Lou who was stationed there with NCIS when the colonels overthrew the duly elected government. (A quick personal story. Lou is the reason I cannot watch NCIS: New Orleans despite being a Scott Bakula fan. In his many years of service, he never drew his weapon. He would have considered it a failure to do so. Real NCIS agents are investigators, not action heroes.)

The building on the right is parliament at Syntagma Square. That’s constitution square for anyone keeping score. The score that day was colonels ten, democracy zero.

The Greeks have learned their lesson about tanks in the street. It’s what happens when democracy fails and authoritarianism prevails. Is that what we want to see in our nation’s capital? A parade staged to gratify a vainglorious despot wannabe? No fucking way.

Trump recently called Democrats “un-American” for not applauding him during his desultory state of the union speech. What’s un-American is staging a military parade when we’re not celebrating the end of a war. It’s an act of egomania conceived by an insecure man who is called Cadet Bone Spurs by a real war hero, Senator Tammy Duckworth. Believe me.

America should be secure in the knowledge that our military is second to none. We don’t need tanks in the streets to gratify an Insult Comedian with a dead nutria atop his head.

Everybody loves a parade.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: The Wild Magnolias

The Wild Magnolias are first and foremost a Mardi Gras Indian tribe. They’re also active when it’s not Carnival with live performances and the odd recording. This week I’m featuring the covers of their first two albums, which were released in 1974 and 1975.

Tuesday Foodblogging

By and large, Kick prefers her father.

It’s not all that surprising. He is warm, patient and personable whereas I am prickly and exacting (look, if there’s a saving grace to living inside my head it is that I know the territory intimately). He is also around a hell of a lot more than I am, since I started a demanding job last year. His days with Kick lend themselves to routine, whereas she and I are feast or famine: An all-Mama weekend at the nearby nature center versus the regular “pop into Dad’s home office any old time to say hi.” Kick prefers the latter.

In certain things, however, I am her chosen partner in crime. Books? Oh, yes. Fantastic feats of daring from great heights? I’m her girl. And food? We may not look anything alike but damned if she doesn’t eat like me. Salty, spicy, sour — she’s all over it. When she was two she demanded an egg roll and I handed one over thinking sure, this’ll work, toddler + cabbage. She horfed it down and ate half of mine. Pickles with Tabasco sauce? WHY NOT. We diverge on olives but she agrees with me that mushrooms are the devil.

Two months ago I put a plate of shrimp in front of her. Her father does not like shrimp and therefore we rarely ate them all together; he was out of town and I was taking full advantage. She was in a picky, persnickety place so I didn’t have hopes. She ate one, considered the experience, and then hoovered up the rest of the plate so fast I was frightened for her windpipe.

Since then she’s been my “scrimp” buddy and I deliberately plan recipes so that we might outnumber Mr. A the shrimp-hater, who just eats some chicken on the side.

A.

Nobody’s Coming But Us

Lookit this.

Ain’t nobody saving journalism but journalism. Certainly not the corporate disaster artists who’ve gutted and skullfucked newspaper companies for the last 30 years while complaining about the Internet and blaming “market forces” for them not being able to get a paper on a porch before 7 a.m.

Ain’t nobody coming, and it’s long past time we stopped waiting and feeling shitty about the way things are going, and picked up our axes instead. There’s enough money there, if you’re not wasting it on flying your executives around and paying your board and worrying about shareholders’ quarterly returns.

I’ve always heard a lot of sarcastic cracks about journalists being unable to manage money, and God damn, journalists aren’t the ones who’ve upfucked this business. They’re usually the ones screaming about having to go without raises for five years while the higher-ups throw a fancy party. They’re usually the ones noting that the last CEO’s buyout would have paid them all three times over. They’re usually the ones on the phone listening to people bitch that the paper used to cover their neighborhood and doesn’t anymore.

So it’s about time they get to handle all of it, control their own destiny, and at least then if there’s no money they’ll know where they stand.

I backed it. You should too.

A.

Exhuming McCarthy

Trump with arch-McCarthyite Roy Cohn.

I spent the weekend in the Carnival bubble, which is a good place. I stayed there even when two of the leading resistance activists in my area came over for a parade party yesterday. We didn’t feel like dissecting the Nunes memo and what, if any, significance it might have.

The memo itself is a damp squib: Nunes has admitted that he hasn’t read any of the underlying material. He’s emulating his dear leader who was left alone with a 3 1/2 page memo for several hours. Trump claims to have read it but I think he watched teevee instead. The Nunes memo does, however, aid and abet the possibility of what many have called a slow motion Saturday Night Massacre.

It’s not an original insight to apply the label neo-McCarthyism to Nunes and his doings, especially now that he plans to give Foggy Bottom a spanking next. The State Department was Tailgunner Joe’s main target, after all.

One hears the word unprecedented a lot in the age of Trump. Sometimes it’s used correctly. But it is not unprecedented for Republican politicians to attack arms of government to suit their own political aims. It’s what Joe McCarthy did and it’s what Devin Nunes and Donald Trump are doing right now.

Once again Trump proves that he’s worse than Nixon. Tricky’s assault on the FBI and CIA was mostly subterranean whereas Trump’s is out in the open and on the tweeter tube. Trump’s is more egregious: he is willing to take down the FBI to save his own ass. It surprises but does not shock me that GOPers do not understand that if one is not-guilty one does not need to obstruct justice by finagling to shut an investigation down. One is not the loneliest number in this post.

Will it work? I’m not sure. Slate legal eagle Dahlia Lithiwck thinks it might. If nothing else, the Nunes memo has sown the seeds of chaos, confusion, and discord that Team Trump thrives on. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos. His operating principle is that if you throw enough shit against the wall some of it will stick.

The post title is taken from an REM song from their great 1987 album, Document. Exhuming McCarthy was written in response to the Iran-Contra scandal and the rise of the likes of Newt Gingrich who specialized in McCarthyite attacks on their opponents. The lyrics are just as relevant to the current situation and the Current Occupant who lie as easily as the worst of the Reaganites. The good news is that they’re not as good at it as St. Ronnie and his cohort. Reagan had an aura of niceness that mitigated his lies in the eyes of many. Trump is a prick who is only believed by hardcore cultists. The Reaganites attack on the truth worked: it remains to be seen if the Trumpers efforts will work. One thing I’m sure of: Reagan would be appalled by Trump’s fealty to the neo-Soviet government of Vladimir Putin. Even the Reaganites had their limits.

A reminder: Donald Trump considers Joe McCarthy’s henchman Roy Cohn a mentor as you can see in the featured image at the top of the post. As I wrote during the campaign, oy such a mentor.

The last word goes to-who else?-REM as it did in the Trump-Cohn post.

Sunday Catblogging: Ada Byron Lovelace

As the kittens grow we’re seeing more and more of their personalities. Slade is basically a dog. He’ll play fetch for HOURS. He’s vocal and tells us when he wants attention and when something’s wrong. The other day he wouldn’t shut up and I figured he was just bitching about his food, but his bowl was full and he’d already snarfed half a can of his disgusting wet food. I tried ignoring him but after a while he started nipping at my ankles so I did a quick round of the house to see if anything was the matter and who do I find but his sister, trapped in a room because I’d closed a door behind her without knowing she was there. So Slade acquired another nickname: Lassie.

Ada’s quieter and more shy. Kick threw a rager of a preschool birthday party last weekend and Ada hid under the dresser the entire time, glaring at all these new people in her house. She prefers cuddling to playtime and loves best to snuggle up under or in something furry. We bought a cheap furry skin-rug from IKEA and she made passionate kitty love to it all afternoon.

She’s also a bread thief. I came downstairs one day to find the half a loaf of bread I’d been planning to use for French toast scattered all over the basement, with Herself looking innocent whilst surrounded by crumbs. We own a breadbox now.

A.

‘An Apparent Casualty of the #MeToo Movement’

I love how he’s a victim of those mean women, and not, you know, a CASUALTY OF HIS SHITTY CHOICES AND BEHAVIOR: 

HARRISBURG — Marcel Groen, chairman of Pennsylvania’s Democratic Party, has resigned at the request of Gov. Wolf, he said in a letter released Friday morning, an apparent casualty of the #metoo movement.

The linked article has been updated to remove this language but … da fuq were you thinking in the first place? How is the #MeToo “movement” (if women not wanting to have dicks shoved at them in the workplace is a movement and not just, you know, LIFE) taking casualties now? It’s not like this guy stepped in front of a bus.

Every day I’m astonished anew by the number of people who think it is somehow difficult to avoid being accused of sexual harassment and that this “movement” will somehow “take them down.” Bros, it is your own behavior that is taking you down. Don’t touch your secretary’s tits and she will not sue you for touching her tits. Knock it the fuck off.

A.

Oh, NOW It’s Trump’s Party

This is an honest-to-tits headline in the Washington Post, labeled “analysis.”

This is the week that the GOP truly became the party of Trump

Silly me. I thought a party became someone’s party when it NOMINATES HIM AND ELECTS HIM PRESIDENT.

I guess Republicans got a pass for 12 months to figure their shit out.

This was the week when the Republican Party finally went all in with President Trump. What once seemed unlikely is now reality. The Republican establishment — there are a few dissenting voices, of course — has succumbed to the power of the presidency, and this president in particular.

Let me ask this, at the end of this first paragraph. What precisely was the Republican “establishment” (meaning who, but let’s do that later) doing prior to This Magical Week? I mean, all they were doing was voting in lockstep with everything Trump wanted. Was that somehow not succumbing to the power of the presidency?

For shit’s sake, this Congress approved Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, and girlfriend is — let’s put this nicely, I’m sure she’s lovely — a pretty hideous dumbass. If that wasn’t succumbing to the power of the presidency …

There was the enthusiasm Republicans in the House chamber displayed when Trump delivered his State of the Union address Tuesday. There was the all-in-the-family chitchat when a conversational and relaxed Trump spoke at the Republican retreat in West Virginia on Thursday.

THERE WAS A WHOLE PRIMARY TRUMP WON AND A CONVENTION HE HELD AND AN ELECTION HE WON, TOO.

Dating back to the 2016 campaign, Trump presided over a divided, even hostile, Republican establishment. Ryan’s awkward relationship with Trump during the presidential campaign came to symbolize the plight of a party captured in a hostile takeover by a candidate operating outside the boundaries.

Ryan did not have an “awkward” relationship with Trump. Ryan had an opportunistic relationship with Trump that has largely benefitted Ryan and the donors he courts.

The party did not have a “plight.” They had a choice. They made one. Trump spent his entire primary campaign shit-talking the other GOP nominees. It was the only pleasant thing about his campaign. He clowned on them nonstop. Self-interest is not some kind of moral quandry.

This is well-compensated, widely read political analysis without which we are told Democracy Dies in Darkness and the author does not seem to understand that his job is to see through the bullshit maneuvering, not describe it like it’s the weather.

For those in the leadership, there seemed to be no good place to land.

On the side of America, one imagines, was a pretty solid spot, but the party picked the intersection of fascist and Juggalo and hasn’t moved an inch.

The turnaround in the relationship came from two directions.

The first was pressure from the outside. Party leaders began to recognize that rank-and-file Republicans wanted the GOP to be the party of Trump rather than for leaders to keep their distance from the president.

Since 1968 this has been true. Sixty-five million people tried to warn you.

The other major turning point came from the inside, with the passage of the tax cut in late December. Finally, the president had a big legislative achievement, thanks to congressional Republicans. The victory party Trump staged at the White House became an extravagant love fest. The president heaped praise on all the members of Congress who engineered the bill’s passage. In turn, they lavishly praised the beaming president.

So they’re a bunch of transactional pricks with no values beyond enriching themselves. That’s what you’re telling us? You’re gonna get to that soon, right?

The Nunes memo moves the relationship to a different place. Its release puts much of the Republican leadership fully behind the president in his efforts to discredit the Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and possibly remove more officials at the top of the FBI.

IT’S ALMOST LIKE THEY’RE MOTIVATED BY SOMETHING OTHER THAN HONESTY, INTEGRITY AND RESPECT FOR AMERICAN DEMOCRACY. I mean oh, my God, this is a party that impeached Bill Clinton over an employee beejer, a party that smeared the legacy and lives of multiple war heroes, a party that fully embraced stealing a Supreme Court seat from a sitting president because that president was black. A party that enshrined a culture of lawless surveillance and illegal war that will be handed down to every executive from George W. Bush until the end of fucking time.

And we’re just now noting that they’re kind of not in favor of the whole “check and balance” thing?

The fact that the memo’s release came with the imprimatur of the House speaker and many other leading Republicans only adds weight to what has become a Trump-led effort to muddy the eventual conclusions of the investigation. With public opinion among Republicans likely to follow, Mueller’s goal to deliver a report that will be seen as legitimate has become materially more difficult.

Mueller’s goal is not to deliver a report that is seen as legitimate. Mueller’s goal is to follow the law. If the report is not “seen as” legitimate, that has absolutely no bearing on anything but that the GOP is a death cult bent on disavowing anything that makes them feel icky no matter how real it is. Mueller, I’m sure, thanks God every night his job is just to jail lawbreakers and not to convince Republicans of reality.

Now, a political “analyst” might want to take a different position.

Still, GOP dissenters remain among a distinct minority, largely the handful of Republican elected officials who long ago broke from the president, along with the “Never Trump” cadre loyal to the old GOP but estranged from the party of Trump.

For the Republican Party, this has been an extraordinary transformation in a remarkably short time.

Or nah.

A.