Album Cover Art Wednesday: It Ain’t Easy

I began this journey with the post in which I published an old letter to the editor by Linda Coney. I used Three Dog Night’s version of Mama Told Me Not To Come as a framing device. The song comes from It Ain’t Easy; its cover features a gaudy Sixties room with gaudy wallpaper. I was hooked and decided to use it in this space.

Little did I know that the original album artwork had been rejected because it was so controversial. Three Dog Night? Controversial? Who knew?

It Ain’t Easy was supposed to be The Wizards Of Orange. The cover featured Three Dog Night naked but with the naughty bits obscured. The original cover later resurfaced on a CD reissue.

I’d never heard of this mishigas. Obviously, I need to brush up on my pop-rock trivia.

We begin with the gaudy room cover:

Here’s the naked cover:

That’s so orange that I want a mimosa. Chuck Negron naked has driven me to drink but not a Negroni.

The album is not quite as juicy as that story but it’s a good one. Here it is via Spotify:

 

Two Weeks

Two weeks, cats and kittens. Increasingly I have nothing, due to the sheer avalanche of bullshit and my own pressing need not to lose my grip on reality. Clench your fists, sharpen your teeth and get ready.

 

In no particular order:

  1. If we want everything to get back to “normal” we need to close down stadiums, restaurants, bars and performances, and pay all those people what they’d be making anyway. I don’t give a fuck, okay, about the owners of restaurant chains but if it takes a giant bailout for whoever owns six IHOPs to pay the people who clean those IHOPs then fine, do it.
  2. If we want schools to reopen then game this out for me: However much it would cost to send, basically, the Army Corps of Engineers to every school in America tomorrow to install state-of-the-art rich-lady-hospital quality HVAC with UV filters or whatever the hell in every single school in the land, we should pay that. It’ll have the added benefit of schoolkids not needing to wear parkas indoors and/or suffer heatstroke in June, but mostly it will help ensure kids can go back to school safely. Because …
  3. NOTHING gets better until the kids go back to school full-time. I’m sorry, childfree people, I was one of you and it blows to be held hostage to breeders like this, but our entire lives depend on doctors and bus drivers being able to work a full day. You can’t do that with part-time, hybrid, half-the-week-here, half-the-week-there schedules that throw everything into chaos. Kick’s school district keeps sending out emails that are like “what about a rotating once-a-full-moon day in class” and that’s fine for me, but a firefighter can’t just, like, blow off the rest of the shift and work from home and I’m pretty sure they don’t let kindergarteners actually ride in the ladder truck.
  4. NATIONAL MASK MANDATE. I don’t know how “staying alive by wearing a small piece of cloth over your face during the time you have to leave your house” became something only liberal pussies do, I really don’t. It’s not that hard to rally America to do something. The GOP managed to do it for two unwinnable wars and the election of Donald Trump, you’d think they could get their own feral caucus under control on the side of “even if we hate the governors of blue states we can work with these dicks just once so that our voters survive.” It’s not like they even have to stop being pricks. Be as mean as you want, wear a mask that says “Hillary’s a cunt,” that’s your free speech, just wear a mask so you don’t get any of it on me and mine.
  5. Once and for all time we are one country, not a collection of safe areas and danger zones. I can accept there are things Colorado has to deal with that Florida doesn’t and vice versa but if we all have a disease that crosses state lines we need solutions that do, too. This shouldn’t be complicated. This shouldn’t be hard. And the people who are making it difficult need to be identified and voted out.

So like this is the shit Joey B. Shark has to deal with on day one. Which necessitates the Senate, and not just a one- or two-asshole majority in the Senate. If Joe Manchin or some other dickhead can hold the whole place hostage every time someone doesn’t give him a rub and a tug just right then that’s not a majority, not the kind we need. Joe is 77 years old, I know Kamala’s right there but we do not exactly have a lot of time for the kind of cheap shit that went on during Obama’s two terms. Vote with your caucus or GTFO.

THEN we have to fix literally every agency and re-hire all the civil servants who quit, if they even want to come back, like would you. That’s if we have a clear decision on election night and a peaceful smooth transition STOP LAUGHING IT’S NOT FUNNY.

If, in two weeks, the cities are on fire and Trump is declaring victory, well, then, we will still have to do these things, and then I don’t see any way out of this that doesn’t involve jail time. I said this in 2004 and I meant it then, but I really mean it now, we’ve got two weeks. Whatever you’ve been doing, do it more.

A.

And When I Die

It’s been awhile since I wrote a Songs For The Pandemic post. I’ve been trying to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, and stop messing with Mr. In-Between. This return is down to Linkmeister who reminded his social media followers of the great Laura Nyro song that’s the focus of this post. Other than his unfortunate Dodger fandom, he’s a good man.

Laura Nyro wrote And When I Die when she was 17 years old. It was first recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary in 1966 followed by Ms. Nyro’s version the next year. Perhaps the best-known interpretation is by Blood, Sweat & Tears. More recently, it was covered by Billy Childs, Alison Krauss, and Jerry Douglas for a 2014 Nyro tribute album. FYI, she was born Laura Nigro. The name change was a wise one.

We have the aforementioned versions of this classic tune for your listening pleasure:

 

Republicans In Disarray: They Know They’re Losing

It gave me great pleasure to write that post title. I’m still gazing at it with affection after all the ‘Democrats in disarray” headlines in Politico and elsewhere over the years. As Athenae pointed out yesterday, the elite political press has been in the bag for the GOP since the Reagan years. They should get out of the bag and wake up and smell the coffee.

Republicans are not only in disarray, they’re in denial as this WaPo report from the capitol of wishful thinking, the Trump White House, indicates:

Trump’s team spent much of its time in recent days trying to position itself for a 2016 repeat, scouring the electoral college map for what advisers concede is a shrinking set of potential paths to victory and looking for voting populations that could still be swayed by the campaign.

<SNIP>

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other Republicans have urged the campaign to focus on messaging that would help senators in difficult states, such as Arizona, Maine and North Carolina. But Trump has argued to McConnell and others that the senators would be doing better if they were more supportive of his agenda.

Multiple people involved in the Trump effort said the Thursday meeting at the RNC led to agreements on the way forward that have ended, for the moment, a mood that has at times grown grim inside the Trump operation, with finger-pointing over who should be responsible for a potential loss — and whether it should be attributed to an undisciplined message, the coronavirus pandemic or campaign spending and choices made by former campaign manager Brad Parscale.

See what I mean about denial? The incumbent president* is still trying to run an insurgent campaign; an effort that’s doomed. He has an indefensible record to defend. His disastrous handling of the pandemic had led to an economic crash much worse than in, say, the European Union. They took COVID seriously and dealt with it early. The pandemic, however, is so bad that countries such as France are *still* having a second wave. Imagine Team Trump trying to cope with a second wave here. I shudder at the thought. Herd mentality. Freedom, man.

The WaPo article also discusses Team Biden warning its supporters to keep their foot on the gas pedal or as an American naval hero once said, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.” It was fun to quote Admiral Farragut’s disputed quote. It fits the moment.

Team Biden’s warnings are precisely how a winning campaign approaches the home stretch of a campaign. They cautioned against complacency in the face of great polls but remain confident in their approach to the campaign. I wrote about the distinction between confidence and cockiness in June. It applies to complacency as well.

The reason I’m confident in the outcome is that Republicans know they’re going to lose. This quote from the Denver Post illustrates the extent of their disarray:

“There is no reason for either side to put another dime into this state. It’s over,” said David Flaherty, a Republican pollster in Colorado who predicts “historic” losses for his party Nov. 3.

“It is undeniable. The train wreck and implosion of the president will bring a historic number of other Republican candidates down, and if you don’t believe that then you have your head in the sand,” he added.

Senate races in Colorado and Arizona show the importance of recruiting strong candidates: John Hickenlooper and Mark Kelly appear headed to victory. I’m feeling good about Maine and Iowa as well. Many of the other races depend on a strong showing by the top of the ticket as happened for the GOP in 1980 and the Democrats in 2008. A 7 to 10-point win will lift other Senatorial boats; a reminder that Democrats won the 2018 mid-terms 53-45%. That depends on a strong turnout focused on defeating a horrendous president* and horrible senators. The term “throw the bums out” was never as salient as it is in 2020.

The original focus of this post were the Republican rats fleeing the sinking ship by saying publicly that Trump is going to lose and drag his party down to defeat. It’s another reason for my confidence in the outcome. They know they’re losing.

Among the Republican grandees who think the Kaiser of Chaos will lose in a landslide are Rupert Murdoch, Ben Sasse, and Ted Cruz. I have no compassion for any of them. A venerable aphorism comes to mind: “You made your bed, now lie in it.”

Texas Senator John Cornyn has issued a milder rebuke. He compared his relationship with Trump to a bad marriage. I am not making this up.

Sasse and Cruz are among the GOPers who have long understood what a loathsome human being their party’s nominee was and is. Now they’re worried about a “bloodbath.” Poor babies. #sarcasm. In the immortal words of the Rolling Stones:

Senators such as Sasse and Cruz sold their souls to President* Pennywise in exchange for tax cuts and judges. Cruz, who is almost as horrible a person as Trump, should have known better. I don’t know about you, but I’d never forgive the man whose henchmen were behind this:

I love re-posting that image. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Democrats should be relentless in the last two weeks of the campaign. Joe Biden has been an excellent and surprisingly disciplined candidate. He’s focused like a laser beam on the intertwined issues of the pandemic, economy, and health care.  He has refused to rise to the Republicans’ bait on culture war issues. He’s waved them off with a laugh and a grin.

Mockery is always the best medicine against the Impeached Insult Comedian. He’s a bully who can dish it out but can’t take it. Repeat after me: Donald Trump is a pussy. He should grab himself.

As long as Trump insists on focusing on his “miraculous recovery” from COVID, he’s destined to lose. A clear majority of the country think his handling of the pandemic has been a disaster. Hell, even Moscow Mitch believes in masking up and social distancing. It’s a pity he seems on the way to winning his race, but Turtles excel at self-defense unlike cartoon villains.

The last word goes to The Beatles with a song dedicated to Republicans in disarray:

It’s Always Gonna Be Democrats’ Fault

Tomasky, proving that nothing has changed since 2002 for his simple ass: 

Trumpworld sees these things differently. Mike Pence articulated the view in the vice-presidential debate. “We’re about freedom and respecting the freedom of the American people,” Mr. Pence said. The topic at hand was the Sept. 26 super-spreader event in the Rose Garden to introduce Amy Coney Barrett as the president’s nominee for the Supreme Court and how the administration can expect Americans to follow safety guidelines that it has often ignored.

Kamala Harris countered that lying to the American people about the severity of the virus hardly counts as “respect.”

It was a pretty good riposte, but she fixed on the wrong word. She could have delivered a far more devastating response if she’d focused on the right word, one that the Democrats have not employed over the past several months.

For fuck’s sake. Sure, the problem here is that Team D just hasn’t used the right WORDS. If only they would play OFFENSE. If only they knew how to TALK, Republicans wouldn’t be forced to have a 24-hour propaganda network funnel every piece of puke from some incel’s basement onto the Twitter feeds of every reporter in America.

If only they’d SAY what was needed, we could have the intellectual debate Michael Tomasky, whose all-time hits include “the second Iraq war will be amazingly stupid great,” would like to have. Said intellectual debate being the real problem here, and not that the GOP is intent on KILLING PEOPLE.

Like imagine, in 2020, as the Republican Party dismantles voting rights from coast to coast, saying that this could all be prevented by a Democrat appealing to John Stuart Mill.

No, really:

Now, conservatives revere Mill. But today, in the age of the pandemic, Mill and other conservative heroes like John Locke would be aghast at the way the American right wing bandies about the word “freedom.”

Sure, that’s what would freak them out about the Grand Old Party of today, and not the ascension of an assheaded sentient cheeto who can’t string a sentence together if you spotted him a noun, a verb and two adjectives. You might also regale them with tales of “Freedom Fries,” a story I’m sure you’ve forgotten, Mikey, given that it happened during the days when Republicans had honor and dignity and the courage of their convictions and were in no way prone to spouting jingoistic garbage to appeal to the rubes.

I am so tired of telling Nancy Pelosi to fight harder and saying absolutely nothing to Mitch McConnell at all. Diane Feinstein sucks, okay, screw her, but let’s not pretend she’s done a fraction of the damage to the country in the past four years that Lindsey Graham has. Eyes on the goddamn ball. Every single day it’s WHY WON’T BIDEN BE PRESIDENT BEFORE HE’S EVEN PRESIDENT and come the hell on, here:

[…] the broad left in America has let all this go unchallenged for decades, to the point that today’s right wing — and it is important to call it that and not conservative, which it is not — can defend spreading disease, potentially killing other people, as freedom. It is madness.

The “broad left” in America has been drowned out by TV screamers in every podiatrist’s waiting room in the Midwest saying that liberals want to kill babies, take your money, give it to welfare queens, and reverse-racism the police. To come up with this kind of “if only the language were different” nonsense requires pretending that the media disparity between the left and the right doesn’t exist, or that there is a vibrant left media at all.

One thing Democrats in general aren’t very good at is defending their positions on the level of philosophical principle.

WHAT GODDAMN PLANET ARE YOU ON RIGHT NOW, WHAT ROLLING STONE DRUGS HAVE YOU SNORTED, THAT IS ALL DEMOCRATS ARE GOOD AT. They’re good at talking for HOURS about the philosophical underpinnings of this or that percent being necessary persuant to the above requirement that we all stuff our heads up our asses and means-test what we find there.

What they’re NOT good at, or weren’t until we decided to run the crabbiest old man in the universe, is fucking kneecapping the other guy and laughing while he whines.

I am so sick of this argument. I am so tired of the blame being shifted onto the party that DID NONE OF THIS, for not stopping it from happening, while the party of WE DON’T HAVE TO SCIENCE YOU CAN’T MAKE US gets to skate away with its pocket full of cash. I am so tired of nitpicking every D speech for something “they” can find to “use” against us when the past 20 years have proven definitively that if there’s nothing there Murdoch’s creatures will just make something up.

Why won’t Biden speak about this, why won’t Democrats make the debate about that, why won’t anyone do anything well WHY DON’T YOU ASK YOUR  CABLE NEWS FRIENDS WHY TRUMP’S EVERY TWEET GETS A ‘BREAKING’ CHYRON WHILE BIDEN ONLY BREAKS NEWS WHEN SOMEONE WANTS TO BITCH ABOUT THE FOOD IN HIS PRESS ROOM. Ask them if they’d cover the campaigns fairly if Democrats used the word “freedom” as John Stuart Mill would have them do.

I’m sorry I’m yelling so much but this is how it’s going to be for the next four years if we’re lucky enough to get a Biden Administration. It’s going to be nonstop blame for every single move Democrats make to put out the fires, and any mention of Trump having lit the kindling the GOP lovingly laid out for him going all the way back to Ronald Reagan, or Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan’s TRUCKS FULL OF GASOLINE PARKED OUT BACK, will be derided as somehow living in the past.

Say this: Freedom means the freedom not to get infected by the idiot who refuses to mask up.

That is all they have been saying. That is all Democratic governors have been saying, and meanwhile their Republican state legislatures are suing to keep getting people sick and kill them. Maybe we could focus some on that, and a little less on why Democrats so stubbornly refuse to invoke the great philosophers of yore.

Schmuck.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Wang Dang Doodle

Brownstones by Jacob Lawrence.

We’re not playing hurricane dodgeball this week in New Orleans. It had to happen. In fact, we’re experiencing what some observers insist on calling a “cold front” but I call a cool front. As always, it’s likely to lead to an orgy of overdressing by locals desperate to wear non-summer clothes. My coats will remain in the closet. I might, however, be daring and wear a long-sleeved shirt. That’s as rad as I’m gonna get for now. It will be back in the eighties next week.

Willie Dixon wrote Wang Dang Doodle some time in 1959 or 1960. The chronology is almost as fuzzy as with this week’s Friday Cocktail Hour tune. Here’s how the songwriter described what the title of  this rollicking song means:

 In his autobiography, Dixon explained that the phrase “wang dang doodle” “meant a good time, especially if the guy came in from the South. A wang dang meant having a ball and a lot of dancing, they called it a rocking style so that’s what it meant to wang dang doodle”

We have four versions of Wang Dang Doodle for your listening pleasure: the original recording by Howlin’ Wolf, Koko Taylor’s hit version, the Pointer Sisters, and the good old Grateful Dead who performed the song 96+ times. All night long, all night long.

Now that we’ve pitched a wang dang doodle, let’s jump to the break.

Continue reading

I’d Rather Go Blind

It’s time for another soul torch song. I’d Rather Go Blind is a straight-forward tune with a tangled authorship story. Etta James said that she got the idea from her friend Ellington Jordan when she visited him in prison. The song is credited to Jordan, Miss Etta, and her then boyfriend doo-wop singer Billy Foster. Who wrote what when remains a minor mystery. The power of the song is not mysterious.

We begin at the beginning, not the beguine, with Etta James:

Beyonce played Etta James in the swell 2008 movie Cadillac Records:

Here’s Warren Haynes, Susan Tedeschi, and Derek Trucks performing I’d Rather Go Blind at the White House:

Finally, Rod Stewart with some wonderful playing by his Faces band mates Ron Wood and Ian McLagan:

That’s all for this week. Pour yourself a drink and toast the end of another weird week. It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would want. Never argue with them.

Quote Of The Day: Mystery Guest Edition

My mother loved game shows be they lowbrow or highbrow.  I spent many hours as a kid watching them with her. She was a bridge grandmaster with a fiercely competitive streak who hated to lose at anything. She was a nice woman who was a killer at the card table or game board.

One of mom’s favorite game shows was What’s My Line? Along with Jeopardy, it was on the highbrow side of the spectrum because of the smart and posh people populating the panel. It was a simple game. The contestant entered and signed their name on a small blackboard, which led to the show’s catch-phrase: “enter and sign-in, please.” Then the contestant would attempt to fool the panel as to what line of work they were in.

The final segment of every show featured the mystery guest. The panelists masked up and tried to guess the identity of the mystery guest. They were usually well-known show biz or sports personalities who attempted to bamboozle the panel with curt answers and silly voices. Sometimes the mystery guest was the relative of a famous person and masks could be dispensed with.

That brings me to the quote of the day:

To anyone who feels overwhelmed or apathetic about this election, there is nothing I relate to more than desperation to escape corrosive political discourse. As a child, I saw firsthand the kind of cruel, selfish politics that Donald Trump has now inflicted on our country. It made me want to run as far away from them as possible. But trust me when I tell you: Running away does not solve the problem. We have to stand and fight. The only way to end this nightmare is to vote. There is hope on the horizon, but we’ll only grasp it if we elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Enter and sign-in, please.

The quote comes from Caroline Rose Giuliani whose famous father I mocked yesterday. She wrote a scathing piece for Vanity Fair urging Americans to vote for Biden-Harris and end our long national nightmare by voting out this “toxic administration.”

Ms. Giuliani appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show last night. I’m pleased to report that she didn’t inherit her father’s big scary teeth. They’ve always reminded me of tombstones.

It’s time to sign-out with the last word, which goes to Madonna:

Friday Catblogging: Missing Mister Drake

It’s been 74 days since Paul Drake died. He’s been on my mind this week. He was with us a short time but made a big impact. I’m sorry he’s not here to school young Claire Trevor in the ways of kitty mischief.

This is one of the last pictures of PD. It was taken at the vets when the poor dear was fighting for his life, but he was as soulful as ever.

Dissing Rudy’s Latest Disinformation Campaign

Image by Michael F.

The artist formerly known as Mayor Combover is at it again. Rudy is peddling another false Ukraine-Hunter Biden story. The man who got Trump impeached continues to be a useful idiot for Russian intelligence. The story was peddled to the New York Post, which is one of the Trumpiest news outlets in Trumpistan.

Does this pass the smell test?

One of the most bizarre and suspect aspects of the Post’s article is the way in which the reporters say they obtained the Hunter Biden dirt. In April 2019, according to the article, an unidentified individual dropped off a water-damaged MacBook Pro at a computer repair shop in Delaware, Joe and Hunter Biden’s home state. The customer never returned to retrieve the laptop or pay the bill, even though the shop owner repeatedly tried to reach out, according to the Post. The owner couldn’t positively identify the customer as Hunter Biden, but he says he noticed a Beau Biden Foundation sticker on the laptop. (The repair receipt that the Post claims to have obtained also lists Hunter Biden as the customer.) The owner then looked through the laptop’s hard drive and supposedly came across the emails, along with a lascivious video and images of Hunter Biden, so he alerted the FBI and handed over the devices. Before turning in the materials to the feds, though, the shop owner copied the hard drive and inexplicably decided to give a copy to Robert Costello, Rudy Giuliani’s lawyer. It was Giuliani who then supplied the reporters with the hard drive’s contents.

EMAILS. HUNTER BIDEN’S EMAILS.

Sound familiar? It’s not very original. Thus far, the MSM has been leery of the story. So, too, have Facebook and Twitter.

Here’s hoping that MSM won’t be fooled again by this mishigas. They bought into the Hillary Clinton email scam so you never can tell.

If anything ever smacked of desperation this sleazy gambit does. It didn’t work the first time: nobody cares about Hunter Biden.

Repeat after me: They know they’re losing

Here are links to some articles that diss Rudy’s disinformation campaign:

Aaron Mak at Slate

Josh Kovensky at TPM

David Corn at Mother Jones

The estimable David Corn contacted the repair guy and tweeted about it:

The thread is longer so if you want to read it, click on the first tweet.

I’m surprised the guy’s name isn’t Vladimir or Ivan. The story is terrible, nonetheless. I hope that pun was Badenov for you, Boris.

The last word goes to Pete Townshend with a message for the MSM:

 

Tweet Of The Day: Mama Told Me To Not Come

My friend James Karst worked at the Picayune for many years. One of his specialties is digging up obscure items from the newspaper’s morgue. This one is a doozy:

In case you can’t read Linda Coney’s letter in the tweet, here it is in all its dubious glory:

So much for Judge Coney’s claim to be open-minded about Roe v. Wade. She learned her views at her mother’s knee.

I’m not going to belabor the obvious pun in the post title other than quoting the song: “That ain’t the way to have fun, son.”

Instead, I’ll give the last word to Three Dog Night. Wilson Pickett, and the man who wrote the song, Randy Newman.

Three Dog Night put Not To Come in parenthesis. I’m sticking with Randy Newman’s take. He wrote the damn song, dammit.

FYI, Newman never released the song as a single hence the omission in the featured image. Mama told me to add that.

Bayou Brief: Governor Warbucks & Uncle Earl

My latest column for the Bayou Brief is online and ripe for reading. The prose, however, may be overripe in places.

Here’s the tag line: “Peter Athas on the death of former Governor Mike Foster and how Trump’s illness has evoked the final years of Earl K. Long.”

I included my name so you’d know I wrote it.

I compare Earl Long to Donald Trump. Uncle Earl is the winner:

However unhinged Earl Long became at the end of his life, he was a better man than Donald Trump. He wasn’t a malignant narcissist who only thought of himself. He genuinely cared about poor people regardless of their race. He was a kinder, gentler populist before that term was besmirched by the Impeached Insult Comedian.

Get thee to the Bayou Brief.

That’s all folks.

Super Spreader Man

Just another week in bizarro world, where Trump is still the actual POTUS running for actual re-election…

And while the nightmare isn’t over until it’s over, there’s clearly a WTF element to his act — the Superman nonsense, the half plea, half threat to “suburban women” (which sounded like a creep at a bar, unhappy that his Andrew Dice Clay pickup lines didn’t go over all that well) — Campaign 2020, Pandemic Edition (Camdemic?) sounds a bit like a Farewell Tour, or at least I hope it does.

That said, Trump leaves a legacy, and the larger GOP is still his evil spawn for as far as I can see.

In addition to the GOP generally, Trump leaves us three Supreme Court justices.

He’ll also have enough lower court bench sitters to remind us — for a long time — how different GOP rhetoric is from GOP ideology.

So let’s give a big thanks (sarcasm) to those (looking at you, elite media and “moderate, reasonable types”) who naively and dutifully insisted Repubs believed in limited government, and not all-power-to-the-plutocrats-by-any-means-necessary.

The goalposts were moved so far right that virtually the entire field’s been ceded before a play has even been run.

Consider: we’re actually looking, straight-faced, at whether or not a brazenly corrupt, openly racist, fascist, and utterly incompetent incumbent can somehow cheat his way to a hollow electoral victory…during a pandemic made even worse by his incompetence.

And don’t expect the GOP legislative and judicial office holders to help clean up the mess. If anything, they’ll try like hell to make things worse.

Damn.

 

Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Winds Of Fear

Hodding Carter was a distinguished journalist. He was a Southern liberal when it was dangerous to be one.

I did not know that he’d ever written a novel but sometimes you strike gold when you go down an internet rabbit hole.

Trivia Time: The author’s son Hodding Carter III was the State Department spokesman during the Carter administration.

New Orleans Trivia Time: The author was married to Betty Werlein of New Orleans. People of a certain age will remember the much loved Canal Street music store, Werlein’s. It’s now the home of The Palace Cafe.

The Campaign As Science Experiment

We begin with a few words about the featured image. It comes from a season-one episode of MASH: Yankee Doodle Doctor. Hawkeye is channeling Groucho and Trapper John is making like Harpo. Honk, honk. That’s a bit too highbrow for the Trump regime: they’re more like The Three Stooges or The Bowery Boys. For all we know, Donny from Queens could be Huntz Hall’s evil twin…

In the immortal words of REM, “let’s begin again, begin the begin.”

The Trump regime has openly joined the herd immunity stampede. Quack medicine is in the saddle at the White House and on the campaign trail. It’s well and truly Midsommar In America.

Herd immunity has been White House policy since Dr. Scott Atlas Shrugged became the head wrangler of the dormant COVID task force. They’re finally admitting it now that the Impeached Insult Comedian is holding swing state super-spreader events. He’s making bizarre claims of immunity and supernatural health. He’s not immune and he’s certainly not Superman.

We need a double-barreled musical antidote to the mishigas coming from Team Trump:

Long-time readers know my motto: there’s a Kinks song for every occasion. Thanks, Ray.

Mockery remains the best medicine when it comes to Team Trump, but this latest nonsense is deeply disturbing. They’re putting public health and safety at risk with their rallies, which pack unmasked Trumpers in close proximity to one another. Then there are the vague pronouncements on Trump’s health by his lackey, Dr. Sean Conley who should be investigated by whatever licensing agency he answers to.

The herd immunity stampede appalls Dr. A’s homey, NIH director Francis Collins:

“What I worry about with this is it’s being presented as if it’s a major alternative view that’s held by large numbers of experts in the scientific community. That is not true,” Collins, the NIH director, said in an interview.

“This is a fringe component of epidemiology. This is not mainstream science. It’s dangerous. It fits into the political views of certain parts of our confused political establishment,” he said. “I’m sure it will be an idea that someone can wrap themselves in as a justification for skipping wearing masks or social distancing and just doing whatever they damn well please.”

That’s the sound of mild-mannered Dr. Francis Collins boiling with righteous indignation. What does he know? He’s only one of the most eminent scientists in the world. Who needs experts when President* Pennywise’s gut instincts are in charge?

In other campaign news, the Kaiser of Chaos’ support among senior citizens is slipping. That could cost him Florida. He’s been trying to woo them back then he tweeted this out:

The picture is obscured. I don’t want to let them off the hook so here it is:

 

Mocking seniors strikes me as a weird way to win their votes back. But the Kaiser of Chaos is a weirdo.

Joey B. Shark struck back with a blunt attack on his opponent:

“You’re expendable. You’re forgettable. You’re virtually nobody. That’s how he sees seniors,” Biden told a crowd of senior voters on Tuesday. “The only senior that Donald Trump cares about — the only senior — is the senior Donald Trump.”

The 2020 campaign has become an ordeal thanks to the incumbent. They’re conducting a weird science experiment on the body politic. It will be interesting to see if President* Pennywise gets it right this time and calls it herd immunity, not herd mentality. Either way, it’s insanity.

The last word goes to Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and my homey Kris Kristofferson:

 

 

 

 

Why I’m Not Watching The Barrett Hearings

I hate Senate hearings, especially illegitimate ones. I’m usually the guy who says, “don’t boycott.” But this time I wish they had. I understand the reasons for Democratic members participating but I don’t want any of them catching COVID from the senator we know has had it, Mike Lee, or the senators who refused to be tested, Graham and Grassley. It’s not worth it, y’all.

I have a personal reason for hearing avoidance: the junior senator from the Gret Stet of Louisiana, John Neely Kennedy. I cannot stand watching him hick it up and sound like a hillbilly ninny. He’s the second phoniest man in American politics. Repeat after me: John Neely Kennedy can go fuck himself.

As to the process itself, it’s a rush job to cram an extremist judge down our throats. We all know that she’s itching to reverse Roe, but they keep denying it. I may not be watching the hearings but I’m reading about them and watching the clips. You could cut the sanctimony in that room with a knife.

I’m baffled by the Republican focus on the “injustice” done to Justice Bro. Why do they want to relive that nightmare? It’s not going to help them politically. Just ask Runaround Sue Collins. They know they’re losing, that’s why they’re putting their hypocrisy on parade.

I wish they weren’t there, but I agree with the Democrat’s focus on health care. The ACA and COVID are winning issues for Team Blue. Since this process is strictly political, they should milk it for all it’s worth.

The clips I’ve seen from day two show an over rehearsed almost comically evasive nominee. It’s the same act that GOP nominees have been doing since John Roberts, but he did it with style and panache qualities that Judge Barrett lacks.

I’m glad committee Dems are scoring points but life’s too short to invite Ted Cruz into my living room. I don’t want to traumatize Kitty Claire Trevor.

A brief thought about “court packing.” I think it’s high time for SCOTUS reform, but I wish our side would STFU about court packing. It’s a pejorative term that was used by FDR’s enemies during his attempt to reform the high court. Call if reform, call it anything else but don’t call it packing. Words matter. I agree with the headline of a recent Josh Marshall post: It’s Not ‘Court Packing.’ Don’t Be A Moron and Call It That.

It’s time to gavel this post to a close. In an attempt to inject some levity into the proceedings, we have two judge songs for your listening pleasure:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Last Time Around

Buffalo Springfield were like a comet: briefly sighted, never forgotten. 1968’s Last Time Around is their last official studio album before Stills, Young, Furay, and Messina went on to other projects and greater glory.

I’ve always loved this cover because it perfectly captures Neil Young’s restless spirit. He’s always looking for the next challenge, which is what makes him a difficult band mate and a great solo artist.

I couldn’t find any artwork credits but suffice it to say that it’s swell:

Thanks to Sgt. Pepper and We’re Only In It For The Money, everyone in those days was into photo montages. This one was on the back cover:

Here’s the whole damn album:

 

It Can’t Be Close

Listen up:

Yes, it’s disgusting. Yes, it shouldn’t be this way. Yes, we shouldn’t have to fight this hard to VOTE. And of course the GOP doesn’t want people in cities and blue states to vote, and of course they’re going tooth and nail to prevent that, and of course they’re framing it as “preventing voter fraud” so that they can get the “both sides” columns they need to confuse the people who are interested enough in actual facts to look things up and decide it’s all too complicated, a pox on both their houses, might as well stay home.

What’s to be done? The odds are overwhelmingly in their favor. It is hard, in a normal year, to throw out an incumbent president, no matter how terrible. They have every institution of power on their side, every single one. That Trump is in enough trouble to warrant this kind of maneuvering is just a testament to how awful he’s been. So what to do?

We have 21 days.

Twenty-one days and then the rest of our lives, cats and kittens. What’s to be done?

Win. Win so big they can’t fight it. Win so big they can’t deny it. Win so big that we say, once and for all, that the America we want is not one in which their Nazi incel bullshit stands one iota of a chance.

It has to be overwhelming. It has to be a landslide for Joseph Robinette Biden, a human conference call, the most middle-of-the-road centrist on earth, the neoliberal-whatever-the-hell, in Congress for 200 years. We have to vote for him like we’re voting for Cardi B crossed with Santa Claus. It has to be a blue tsunami. It has to be a cyclone. It can’t be close.

Not in Florida, not in Wisconsin, not in Georgia, not in Texas. It can’t be close in Ohio or Pennsylvania. Ten points isn’t enough. It has to be beyond contestation.

We cannot DO four more years of this, and we can’t do Bush v. Gore again, not for this. Not to get kids out of cages and the Muslim ban rescinded and science back in charge of controlling a pandemic. That can’t be something we’re feeling six-of-one-half-dozen-of-the-other about. There cannot be compromise between people who want to roll back marriage equality for thousands of couples and people who don’t.

(What would that even look like? Divorce half the gay people? How do you compromise on that?)

Joey B. Shark, crabbiest dad on the face of the earth, 77 endless years old. There has to be an uprising on his behalf that sweeps away the last 40 years of Republican power in one go. That takes the Senate back, widens the lead in the House, lifts every statehouse candidate and every downticket perpetual also-ran who before this year didn’t have a shot in hell. It has to be something we’ve never seen in all our livin’ lives.

And the GOP is doing everything they can to make that impossible:

These dickweasels. Every last one of them learned at Roger Stone’s knee and they’re going to ratfuck because that’s what people who like to fuck rats do. Surprise and outrage, we ain’t got time for, and we can’t unfuck the rats. We can’t care about what they’re doing and God love every one of you watching the Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearings. The ins and outs are not going to change no matter how much we yell at our TVs.

Put your money, right now, in state legislative races, bail funds, voter advocacy groups. Put your time into postcards and phone banking and signing up to drive people to the polls if you’re well enough to risk it. Protect yourselves and your families, check in on the people who’ll be at risk in the days after the election no matter how it goes. Either way, the neighborhood could be on fire.

All that matters now is the win. It can’t be a margin of victory. It can’t be single digits. Yes, we shouldn’t have to be in line for hours. We shouldn’t have to fight this in every court in the land. We shouldn’t have to all be tracking the status of our ballots obsessively online and constantly bugging each other. We shouldn’t have an electoral college and Senate that prioritizes landholders over citizens. This is no way to have a country.

And all we have is 21 days to save it.

So don’t back down. Don’t be scared. Don’t think, for one minute, that win or lose you have nothing to do in this situation. Fight. Fight for 21 days the way you’ve fought for the past four years, fight when you’re too tired, when you’re too sick, when you’re too scared, when you can’t anymore. I’m right there with you. Fight because you’re not dead yet and you don’t intend to let this kill you. Fight for those who can’t, for those who failed, for those who came before and won and were forgotten. Fight in daylight and dark and don’t give up and don’t back down and don’t back up.

Not. One. Inch.

A.

In 1492, Columbus Sailed The Ocean Blue

Team Trump was not content with pandering to Italian Americans on Columbus Day. They attacked “political correctness” as well:

Sadly, in recent years, radical activists have sought to undermine Christopher Columbus’s legacy.  These extremists seek to replace discussion of his vast contributions with talk of failings, his discoveries with atrocities, and his achievements with transgressions.  Rather than learn from our history, this radical ideology and its adherents seek to revise it, deprive it of any splendor, and mark it as inherently sinister.  They seek to squash any dissent from their orthodoxy.  We must not give in to these tactics or consent to such a bleak view of our history.  We must teach future generations about our storied heritage, starting with the protection of monuments to our intrepid heroes like Columbus.  This June, I signed an Executive Order to ensure that any person or group destroying or vandalizing a Federal monument, memorial, or statue is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

This is a White House, not campaign statement. They don’t distinguish between the two. They’re equally incompetent at both so why not?

I’m not a “radical activist” but I agree with the Columbus revisionists. The White House statement left out the bits about corruption and slave trading. Details, details, details.

This statement is a perfect distillation of Trumpist grievance politics. You build a straw man, then burn it down. It’s a pity that they couldn’t work Hillary’s emails into it.

It’s time for my annual viewing of the Sopranos episode, Christopher. Some think it’s the worst episode in the Sopranos canon, but I like it. What can I tell ya? It beats the hell out of the two major movies made about Columbus who was played by two great actors neither of whom were remotely Italianate looking, Fredric March and Gerard Depardieu:

I have no idea why the March image looks like a baseball card. I wonder if there are stats on the back and stale bubblegum that tastes like cardboard in the pack? Questions, questions, questions.

As always, I think the best medicine against Trumpism is mockery and ridicule, especially when they put out such a ridiculous statement. I guess President* Pennywise doesn’t want to piss off his pals in la Cosa Nostra. Wise guys are one of the few groups Trump’s not eager to offend. He identifies with them, after all.

Here’s the Impeached Insult Comedian with his old buddies Big Paul Castellano, Fat Tony Salerno, and Roy Cohn:

Oops, I forgot to call him Don Donaldo Il Comico Insulto.

The last word of this meandering Columbus Day post goes to Burning Spear with a song that includes this refrain: “Christopher Columbus is a damn blasted liar.”

Guest Post: The All-Time, No-World Series Starting Nine

Tommy T is on the mend and still not quite up to doing that voodoo that he does so well.

For the second consecutive week, we have a guest post by Ryne Hancock. This time, he’s talking baseball.

-Adrastos

The All-Time, No-World Series Starting Nine by Ryne Hancock

One thing my friend Peter and I bond over is our love of baseball history (in fact I had floated around the idea of a podcast that focused on baseball history before the Great Pause). Despite the fact that I’m a diehard Cardinals fan and the fact that Peter’s Giants have beaten us three times in the postseason in my lifetime, we can both say that we’ve seen our teams reach the Fall Classic in our lifetimes.

With baseball playoffs in high gear, I thought about a starting nine of players that never saw their talents showcased in the Fall Classic. While I’m pretty certain that you, the reader, have different opinions on who should be on this list, I encourage you to leave comments in the comment section on who I left off.

 OF Dale Murphy:  Sandwiched between Hank Aaron & Chipper Jones, Dale Murphy was the only reason why most people during the 1980’s gave a damn about the Braves. In 15 years with the Braves, Murphy won two MVPs and led the Braves to the 1982 NL West title, where they would lose to the Cardinals in the NLCS. After that season, the Braves would have one more winning season during his time in Atlanta, an 88-win season in 1983. Despite the fact that he put up numbers that were Hall of Fame worthy, Murphy’s name isn’t etched in the annals among the immortals in Cooperstown.

OF Ken Griffey Jr. The greatest tragedy in baseball history was not the Indians choking away a 3-1 lead to the Chicago Cubs and extending the misery of the Cub fans, but kids of a certain generation never got to see Ken Griffey belt a home run with that sweet swing or rob someone of a home run in the World Series. The closest Griffey ever got to the Fall Classic was in 1995, when they beat the vaunted Yankees (more on one of their players later on) to reach the ALCS. Another postseason appearance followed two years later that ended in the ALDS with the Mariners, which would be the last one for Griffey until 2008 when he played on the White Sox.

I thought about that the other day when I was watching a softball game at the Fly when I had a conversation with a 14-year-old kid about Mike Trout and how the Angels were wasting his prime.

“Kid, when I was your age,” I told him, “we didn’t see Griffey in the World Series. You’re getting that with Trout”.

OF Vlad Guerrero: There were a bunch of names that stood out for me for the rightfield position. Of the four names I had (Andre Dawson, Vlad Guerrero, Sammy Sosa, Juan Gonzalez) the one that stuck out for me was Vlad Guerrero.

Of all the players I grew up watching, no one hit the ball more violently than Guerrero, especially balls that were out of the strike zone. Despite all the success the Angels had during that time, with five division titles in six years, Guerrero could never reach the Fall Classic.

3B Ron Santo: Kids of a certain generation in Chicago saw the primes of Gale Sayers, Dick Butkus, Ernie Banks, & the third baseman on this team, Ron Santo, squandered like an Atlanta Falcons lead in the Super Bowl.

A key cog in the Cubs’ resurgence in the 1960’s, Santo didn’t get a chance to sniff a winning season until 1967, when the Cubs finished third behind my Cardinals, who of course won the World Series that year. In 1969, the first year of divisional play, the Cubs looked primed to reach the playoffs and possibly the World Series when thanks to the managerial malpractice of Leo Durocher and the fact that Wrigley didn’t have night games, the Cubs squandered an eight-game lead in the new National League East to the New York Mets.

The Cubs wouldn’t reach the playoffs until 1984.

SS Ernie Banks: When the Cubs won four years ago, the first person that came to my mind was Ernie Banks. In 1958 & 59 Banks won the National League MVP when the Cubs finished fifth and seventh, respectively. It wasn’t until his 11th season in which the Cubs had a winning record, when the Cubs finished 82-80.

Banks had to deal with not only racism, but also an eccentric owner that was more focused on the ballpark than fielding a competent team. He saw the dregs of a pennant race late in his career, but never got a chance to see the Fall Classic.

Just think how things would have been had he had a competent front office.

2B Ryne Sandberg: Despite my fandom for the Cardinals, I was named for Ryne Sandberg. Long before Sosa made his sojourn to the North Side, Sandberg was the face of the Cubs. Fifteen years after their collapse in 1969, the Cubs reached the playoffs for the first time since 1945 when they won the National League East. Another trip would follow in 1989 as they won the division by six games over the New York Mets.

Unfortunately, those two trips would be the closest Sandberg would get to the Fall Classic. In 1984, the Cubs would blow a 2-1 lead to the Padres and five years later, the Giants behind the bat of Will Clark would derail pennant hopes for the Cubs.

1B Don Mattingly: Similar to Dale Murphy in Atlanta, Mattingly was the gap between Reggie Jackson and Derek Jeter. Despite putting up solid numbers during his time in the Bronx, Mattingly could never showcase his talents in the World Series. Many baseball scholars suggest that had the 1994 strike not happened, the Yankees would have probably made the postseason.

P Jim Bunning: Lost in the shuffle of great pitchers in the 1960’s and long before he became a quack politician, Jim Bunning was one of the best pitchers in baseball. In a 17-year career, most notably with the Tigers and the Phillies, Bunning led the American League in wins once and strikeouts three times. During his time in Detroit, Bunning got close to the World Series once, playing on the 1961 team that won 101 games and finished second behind the Yankees. In Philadelphia, he played on the 1964 team that collapsed down the stretch and lost the pennant to the Cardinals.

C Joe Mauer: In a perfect world Joe Mauer is like Kent Hrbek, a local kid who made good by playing for the local baseball team and won two world championships.

Despite being the face of the Twins for over a decade, Mauer didn’t have the same luck in the postseason as Hrbek. In five trips to the postseason, Mauer never won a postseason series.