Not A Good Start, Boris

Thus spake a cheeky Labour MP after Boris Johnson’s fledgling government went down to a major defeat in the House of Commons *and* lost their majority because of 21 defections from the Tory caucus. The “unknown” MP turned out to be veteran lefty and Commons heckler Dennis Skinner. That was my guess and, until proven otherwise, I was right. Hell, Skinner was known to heckle Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, which is one reason that he’s always been a backbencher.

The chaos in parliament continues today. Johnson wants new elections BUT needs the support of 2/3 of the Commons to go to the people. The Labour Party quite rightly refuses to support a snap election UNTIL the bill barring a No-Deal Brexit passes. The opposition has the hammer because of the 21 Tory rebels.

Among the rebels are two former Chancellors of the Exchequer: Ken Clarke and Philip Hammond. It’s very unusual for such eminent MPs to rebel and be denied the party whip. That’s a fancy way of saying that they were kicked out of the party they both served with such distinction. It’s something we’ll never see in the U.S. where the GOP has become the Party of Trump. Republicans don’t rebel because it’s in the national interest. They cringe and cower at the feet of the Insult Comedian. I wonder when Trump will disown Boris as a loser.

Since the situation is so fluid, I’m posting this before more shit hits the fan.

The last word is obvious:

UPDATE: Here’s the clip. H/T Dakinikat:

Tweet Of The Day: Bugging Tailgunner Ted

The news from the Bahamas is grim. Hurricane Dorian did more than leave the attic: it left devastation and suffering in its wake. That’s why I thought some comic relief was in order.

This is an oldish tweet but I just saw it the other day. If tweets can be eternal, this one qualifies. The clip is silent, which puts Tailgunner Ted and his bug in the company of other silent comics such as Chaplin, Keaton, and Lloyd. Not really, but there’s no sound. That doesn’t bug me at all.

It’s a pity that Hannity didn’t have his own bug. Oh well, one can dream.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Pedro Bell, R.I.P.

Pedro Bell’s cover artwork for George Clinton and his family of funk bands helped create their mythology. Bell called his art “scartoons,” I think of it as funk surrealism.

Pedro Bell died recently at the age of 69. The best tribute to an artist is to feature their work. Here are three of Bell’s album covers:

To Argue My Faith

This asshole:

Of course it’s just regular old white bigotry, and nothing to do with Christianity at all, but what interests me immensely is this woman’s all-too-common misconception that having “faith” in something means you’re above reproach, you don’t have to back your shit up, you you get to say or do whatever you want and nobody can criticize you.

“I don’t want to argue my faith,” she says, when asked how her faith dictates this stance that mixed-race marriages can’t be performed in her banquet hall.

Oh, honey, does Yahweh have some bad news for you. Nowhere in the Bible, even at its cruelest, does God proffer Himself as some kind of Ultimate Win, a card you can pull out to avoid having to do what everybody in a society has to do which is to live together. In fact, the Old Testament God to which these people often ascribe their beliefs does pretty much nothing but argue, constantly, with everybody He wants to do His stuff.

Literally half the damn Bible is God just screwing with everybody, I honestly don’t understand how people come to this conclusion that He doesn’t like conflict.

You don’t get to be an idiot and call it faith. You don’t get to take a position contrary to the law of the land and call it faith. You don’t get to be unable to cite chapter, much less verse, to justify your attitude and call it faith. It’s insulting to those who don’t believe, of course: We are not a theocracy, not yet, and your faith cannot stand above anyone else’s.

But it’s also insulting to those WITH that Christian faith, faith they work for, study, practice, struggle with, try to understand. It’s insulting to them to say that their faith is something this cheap, this easy. It’s insulting to say to people who work every day to model Christ in an unkind violent bullshit world that you don’t have to ARGUE.

I can’t speak for this tight-permed Trump voter up there, but my faith? My faith is very, very deeply about argument. My faith is at times looking upward and saying Heavenly Father, You are being such a Jackass right now, what on Your earth are you thinking. My faith is cantankerous and oppositional and mostly about work, about what can I do to help, how can I fix this, how can we change this together. The idea of faith being something you don’t have to fight for is anathema.

You don’t want to argue your faith? What on earth is your life, then, if not an argument? What are you doing here? Besides racism, I mean.

A.

Why Does Brooks Always Flap His Mouth When It’s My Day to Blog?

WHY:

The most important campaign news of the summer was Elizabeth Warren’s surge. Early in the year, her campaign was foundering. She was in fifth place, with a mere 6 percent support.

We gave this guy a ton of money to read the Quinnipac poll for us. Great use of what we’re being told is journalism’s scarce resources.

“An all-voucher system would be a shock to the educational system, but the shakeout might be just what the system needs,” they continued. This is exactly the argument that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos uses to support school choice.

No, the argument Betsy uses is that we should put money into religious schools to further the Christian agenda in the U.S. and better racist whites on the backs of desperate poor people, most of them people of color.

And giving everybody a voucher is literally what public school does, only that voucher is your residency, and that’s what Dr. Professor President Warren was saying, you numpty. 

That is, if you read her entire book, and not this excerpt in the Wall Street Journal, but then we can’t expect David’s assistant to do any research when she’s busy being his wife.

Professor Warren also supported proposals to help families afford day care, but she opposed the approach that candidate Warren now advocates. Back then, she called taxpayer-funded day care a liberal “sacred cow”: “Any subsidy that benefits working parents without providing a similar benefit to single-income families pushes the stay-at-home mother and her family further down the economic ladder.”

Literally the next sentence in the book: 

“Does that mean that publicly supported day care is a bad idea? Not necessarily.”

I mean, honestly, just read one paragraph beyond what supports your (and Betsy’s) ideological point, you garden weasel.

 She opposed more government regulations on housing, because such regulations reduce the incentive to build more housing.

Pretty sure they weren’t the ones that allowed a landlord to kick you out if you were gay, but go off, Dave.

In 2016 Warren and Tyagi wrote a new introduction to their book. It’s hard to believe this introduction was written by the same people. The 2003 book is intellectually unpredictable and alive.

The 2003 book, as cherrypicked by Brooks, agrees with him, and is thus GOOD! That policy proposals can change over time or be influenced by actual reality or the results of practice is not of a concern to our August American Columnists.

This is the problem with politics in a dogmatic age. Everything conforms to rigid ideology. Independent, evidence-based thinking? That goes out the window.

Apparently.

Schmuck.

A.

Fog Of Historical Pictures: Labor Day Edition Revisited

I had an idea for a post last night. I even dreamt about it but I never wrote it down. I have officially forgotten it, which means it wasn’t all that great to begin with.

In lieu of the lost post, it’s time to revisit a photo essay from Labor Day 2016.  Consider it part of my continuing campaign to demystify what happened later that year. Hell, three of these candidates lost too but they fought the good fight.

September 5, 2016

Labor Day used to be the official kick-off of the general election campaign. It no longer is. Campaigns get longer every cycle and that’s not a good thing. It’s even worse this year because the conventions were so damn early. I’m taking today off from politics except for posting some election year photographs of Democratic nominees on Labor Day. I skipped the 1972 and 1976 nominees because neither McGovern nor Carter had warm relationships with labor. Besides, that would have been overkill. I picked 1984 as an cut-off since Fritz Mondale was the last nominee with close union ties.

We begin with Harry Truman in Detroit in 1948:

Truman in Labor Day Detroit 1948.

I couldn’t find a decent picture of Adlai Stevenson parading on Labor Day but here’s a shot of him with AFL-CIO chief George Meany and UAW President Walter Reuther. We’ll see both Meany and Walter later:

RSF83327_ec5bb8c7-d161-4edd-b635-0da5454d6e57_large

The year is 1960. The candidate is Jack Kennedy. The place is Cadillac Square in Detroit:

09cd3779baed50542c449f6d63214e83

Lyndon Johnson marching in Detroit with Walter Reuther in 1964:

28835.preview

Next up is Hubert Humphrey on a New York reviewing stand in 1968 with ILGWU boss Louis Stulberg to his left and George Meany to his right:

1968

We skip forward to 1984 to HHH’s protege, Walter Mondale with his running mate Geraldine Ferraro marching in the New York Labor Day parade:

1984

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – open wide for chunky edition

 

OK folks – slack-off time is over, with means it’s time to don our ISO suits and push open the airlock!

airlockdoor

First up? Leaking on The Darnold!
( I know it’s a long article, but bear with me)

Leak Plugged? Trump’s Personal “Gatekeeper” Hits The Exit
Hotair ^ | 08/30/2019 | Ed Morrissey

Posted on 8/30/2019, 9:17:32 AM by SeekAndFind

In any White House, discretion is a prized value in staffers, and perhaps even more so in the Donald Trump era. As Trump’s personal assistant in the Oval Office, Madeleine Westerhout should have known that better than most. Yet Westerhout has been shown the door, as multiple news organizations reported overnight, for sharing personal information about the First Family with reporters:

President Trump’s personal assistant Madeleine Westerhout resigned from her job abruptly, a White House official and another person familiar with the situation told NBC News late Thursday night.

One of the sources said that Westerhout left the job because she shared personal information about the president’s family and Oval Office operations at an off-the-record dinner with reporters earlier this month in Bedminster, N.J., where a Trump-owned golf club that the president often visits in summer months is located.

All of the outlets reporting this departure call it a resignation, but they all also strongly suggest that the resignation came under considerable duress. The New York Times first reported it and noted that the sequence of events started when Trump found out she was leaking information to reporters, and that she’s already persona non grata anywhere in the White House. Needless to say, that’s not a departure on mutually agreeable terms.

The Times’ Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman also take note of Westerhout’s political pedigree:

“Ms. Westerhout, a former Republican National Committee aide who also worked for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, reportedly cried on election night because she was upset over Mr. Trump’s victory. As such, the president at first viewed her warily, as a late convert to his cause who could not be trusted.”

(snip)

Ms. Westerhout’s power in the White House came almost entirely from proximity. She is not a name-brand White House aide and has never appeared on television, unless it was an accidental shot of her hovering behind her boss. But while she was not a decision maker, she enjoyed unique access to Mr. Trump.

Trump tends to be a little paranoid about working with other Republicans, but in this case his first instinct might have been correct. Karni and Haberman hint at Westerhout’s state of mind in the last paragraph of the above excerpt. Politico later reported that Westerhout was attempting a little empire-building in the White House, which might have led to a slap-down or two from more senior officials:

“In the past six months, Westerhout had tried to expand the boundaries of her job to encompass a broader set of tasks and to include foreign travel, said one adviser close to the White House, who suggested Westerhout had tried to act like a de facto chief of staff. This irked several White House officials and Cabinet secretaries who thought she should stick to her primary task of serving as the president’s personal secretary with a desk just outside the Oval Office. …”

(snip)

The close White House adviser called this “the final straw” for someone who did not have many allies left in the building.

Under those circumstances, one has to wonder whether Westerhout got set up by rivals within the White House. That’s the kind of games that get played when low-level staffers try acquiring power at the expense of others with better connections. It’s just as likely, if not more so, that a lack of success led Westerhout to lose her sense of discretion and/or attempt to gain more power by manipulating the press against her real and perceived rivals.

At least, those are the fun explanations. If this turns out to be just the mundane circumstance of a secretary with trouble keeping her mouth shut after having a couple of drinks, it’ll be a disappointment. Even so, Westerhout’s exit will serve as a warning to others to keep their mouths shut whatever the circumstance might be.

1 posted on 8/30/2019, 9:17:32 AM by SeekAndFind

TrumpBestPeople

To: SeekAndFind 

This is appalling  appealing.

FIFY.

I’ll repeat myself….President Trump would’ve fared better if he had surrounded himself with loyal “little folk”

Yes – because The Darnold’s love of “little folk” (as opposed to power players) is SO well-known…

Deplorables who were with him from the beginning.

6 posted on 8/30/2019, 9:28:03 AM by grania (“We’re all just pawns in their game”)

Let me break the suspense.  He’s not hiring ANY of you yobbos.  Ever.
Your Trumpian taint-licking is on a gratis basis, and will be, forever.
To: SeekAndFind

 

Why in the world would any Romney person be given a detail like hers????
I love Trump, but that was stupid!!!!

17 posted on 8/30/2019, 9:43:12 AM by bantam

(James Garner voice) “Well, I’ve been around Donnie all day, and I ain’t seen him do one smart thing yet.”
To: SeekAndFind

 

When it comes to hiring good people, Trump doesn’t do well.

58 posted on 8/30/2019, 11:18:38 AM by aimhigh (THIS is His commandment . . . . 1 John 3:23)

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TrumpBestPeoples.gif
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More deplorable leaking, and much more, at the magic “read more” link thingy.
.

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Her Uncompromised Mortality

This week Kick went to kindergarten. She put on her brand-new shoes and brand-new backpack and brand-new jacket and she marched up to the schoolhouse door. The bell rang, she took a deep breath, and she walked inside.

So how does this work, I’ve been asking my friends, the ones with older kids. I just, like, send her to school?

“Yup.”

If she does okay they don’t call me?  I don’t get pictures? There’s no minute-by-minute accounting of every second of her life away from me? If I call them to ask, just casually, like hey how’s it going, I am a crazy person who needs some kind of intervention?

“Yup.”

Ohhhhhkay. I mean, if that’s how it’s supposed to be done.

All day, during Kick’s first day, my friends with older kids kept asking how I was doing, as if I was the one who was going to a new place full of new people where nothing made any sense to me. As if I was going to have a tough day. I did not have a tough day. I went home and took a nap. One of the cats napped next to me like a stuffed animal.

I was not the one out in the world, crossing busy streets and going into buildings with little signs even my 5-year-old knows how to translate:

Did I think about her during the day? Of course I did. Did I think about her comfort, about her self-assurance, about how to make sure she succeeded in whatever number-awareness and reading-readiness she’ll be doing this year? Of course I did.

Mostly, though, I thought about this:

I research the statistics because the therapist believed it would help me stop catastrophizing: The smallness of the chances of a school shooting happening to her. The relative rarity of handguns in our neighborhood. The lack of any immediate family history of childhood cancer, while we’re at it, and how Mr. A is fanatical about carseat safety, and the way I smell the milk the day before the expiration date so we don’t ingest some kind of poison.

I don’t believe we can ever be safe. Nothing here is promised, not one day. Not to anyone, no matter the wall of concrete or money or solitude we place around each other. Still, we take precautions.

We take our vitamins. We look twice before crossing. We put antibiotic ointment on our scrapes. We eat healthy and visit the doctor once a year. We watch and breathe and pray and practice kindness, and every day we do it right, we still rock closer to the abyss.

Children know this, more than adults. That’s why all fairy tales are about the world beneath this world, why all nursery rhymes sing death: Children at the beginnings of their lives are closer to the darkness than we will ever be again until the end. Once upon not so very long ago the winters took more children than they spared. I thought of that at Kick’s christening, when she was still small enough to fit against my body: This comes from a time when we were likely to lose her.

I don’t know how to deal with people who think nothing bad can happen to their children. How to deal with people who lament their growing up, growing out, and becoming. How to deal with people who come up with reasons to hate their children and make them ashamed. All I think about is keeping my child alive, keeping her going, making sure I never see her ending. I try to imagine anything that would make me want to lose her, even for a moment, and shudder at bringing even the thought that close.

I feared her loss before I knew her name.

We take all these precautions. We pray all these prayers. We draw circles, ask for protection within and without, and then we send our children to school with bulletproof backpacks and call that security. Are there people who don’t feel this way about their children’s safety? I’ve seen people lose their children: to sickness, violence, war, depression. The protecting we do now — hide in the closet during “safety practice,” hide and be quiet — is inadequate to the point of laughter, is a dollar-store umbrella against Noah’s own flood.

A child of mine
Would eat fire, sing death
Still my hands forever
With her uncompromised mortality 

— Marilyn Hacker, The Song of Líadan

A.

My Wife and Kids

Of all the horrible things I’ve seen about the Bret Stephens debacle, a real-time implosion of ego and stupidity combined with an almost pathological need to step on one’s own dick in public, by far the worst to me is this:

“I would welcome the opportunity for you to come to my home, meet my wife and kids, talk to us for a few minutes, and then call me a ‘bedbug’ to my face,” he continued. “That would take some genuine courage and intellectual integrity on your part. I promise to be courteous no matter what you have to say.”

I mean, Bret is terrible for throwing this tantrum in the first place, let’s not forget that. The abuse of power, the staggering overreaction to a mild metaphoric insect joke, the Streisand effect, the subtweeting in the pages of the Times, it’s all sad. Particularly coming on the heels of the Jacob Weisman nonsense, which was exactly the same goddamn thing.

Lest we think this is unusual, a blogpal of mine once got an angry phone call, then an e-mail, from a columnist at the paper that hosted her blog. Her crime? She had dared disagree with him about architecture, and he felt the need to slap his great big Pulitzer on her desk and yell various iterations of DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I AM. This particular species of man is on every goddamn masthead. He thinks because he was smart once he can never be wrong ever, and his fear of losing an argument, any argument, is pathetic and sad and he gets paid six figures for it.

But for some reason what itches me about Stephens’ ongoing self-owning is the “my wife and kids” routine. Like, leave them out of this, pal. I doubt they crawled into your rattrap psyche and begged you to task them with defending you. Did you really need to throw them in front of Dr. Karpf like some kind of fucked up human shield? TELL IT TO MY WIFE AND KIDS WHY DON’T YOU? What a load.

(I don’t know about you, but the very last thing I would do is invite someone I believed had malicious intent toward me to come meet with my offspring in person. But then, my spouse and child are real people, and not extensions of the public persona I perform each week on Meet the Press.)

It’s a very White Christian Male of a Certain Class move, to invoke the sanctity of one’s homelife in order to prove you’re not a choad. Men since the days of Homer have been hauling out their virtuous helpmeets and pure-of-heart scions to escape criticism, as if the presence of sproglets precludes assdickery.

As if some of history’s greatest motherfuckers weren’t parents who cared about their children.

You would think Stephens, a professional opinion-haver, would be able to have his own opinions without pulling his family into this. Like either come at the guy on your own, or just ignore it like a grownup (or a chick on the internet) but don’t throw them in front of the bedbug-ridden bus that was heading your way. They didn’t ask to be your enemies’ exterminators.

A.

Not Everything Sucks

Suitcase Joe exists: 

There’s not a lot of big moments, but there’s a lot of little moments that impact me when I’m in Skid Row. There are people down there who really have nothing at all. I have come to know them as friends. They invite me into their tents to let me hang out and really see who they are. They have so little, yet they’re kind enough to offer me their food and time. It amazes me to see such generosity coming from people who lack even basic essentials, many of whom have been let down by the greed in our own society.

For a long time I worked in what white suburbanites would call “bad” neighborhoods, “rough” areas, by which they usually meant majority-minority and neglected by the kind of city services that keep our nation’s cul-de-sacs clean. You know what I saw there? People. Taking their kids to school, going to work or home, socializing with their neighbors, living their lives.

We talk about poor people as if their poverty is all they are. As if their pain is all they are. We miss their love, for one another, for the community they’ve built whatever that looks like to those of us on the outside. We put them in a box and we close the lid on that box.

We talk about one another sometimes like we’re aliens, like people aren’t people, like they don’t want what they want. Stories like these make that clear, if people are willing to see. 

Click through for photos.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Lament For The Numb

Pandora’s Box by Rene Magritte.

It’s been a rough summer in New Orleans. I’m ready for it to end without another flash flood or tropical system. That remains to be seen but one thing is certain: the heat will persist until early October. I’m hoping  my ennui will not.

Thanks, Ashley. I needed that. FYYFF.

We’re staying Down Under with this week’s theme song. Kiwi rock deity Dave Dobbyn wrote  Lament For The Numb for the 1993 album of that name. But it applies equally to America circa 2019. We’re all numb from the antics of our idiot president*.

Here’s another Dave Dobbyn song. It has no deep social significance. I just like it:

Now that we’ve gotten numb and danced with the belle of the ball, let’s jump to the break.

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Wicked & Cruel

Keeping up with the Trump Regime’s scandals and misdeeds is exhausting. Another shoe or empty umbrella drops every day. The Insult Comedian is not an ideologue, unless self-love counts, but the administration is honeycombed with Teabaggers bound and determined to dismantle the regulatory state. They should be bound and gagged instead, but it’s unclear if there’s enough rope and duct tape to get the job done. We’re swimming in a sea of malakatude, y’all.

The worst thing done by Team Trump recently is the repellent and inhumane effort to run sick immigrant children and their parents out of the country. Kindly Doc Maddow has been all over this story and the NYT chimed in yesterday with a story about Maria Bueso who is suffering from a rare genetic disease:

Now 24, Ms. Bueso, who had been told she likely would not live past adolescence, has participated in several medical studies. She has won awards for her advocacy on behalf of people with rare diseases, appearing before lawmakers in Washington and in Sacramento. Over the years, her parents have paid for the treatment that keeps her alive with private medical insurance.

But last week, Ms. Bueso received a letter from the United States government that told her she would face deportation if she did not leave the country within 33 days, an order described by her doctor, lawyer and mother as tantamount to a “death sentence.”

This moves beyond cruelty into the realm of sadism. In this case, Maria Bueso and her family are assets to the community and are paying their own way. This makes no sense in a rational and humane world but perfect sense in the twisted world view of President* Pennywise and his barbaric henchman Steven Miller. Their goal is to deter immigration both legal and illegal. That gives them the power of life and death over people such as Maria Bueso. How can anyone be so wicked and cruel?

Making matters worse, Team Trump has once again formulated a policy without an action plan. The White House has dumped this responsibility on DHS but it’s unclear who’s in charge, which reminds me of this line by late Gret Stet Senator Russel Long:

Maria Bueso is not the only victim of the Trump Regime’s eerie combination of incompetence and cruelty but her case is perhaps the most dramatic. She will die if she is cut off from her current treatment. What’s next? A Eugenics revival? This is the path that the Trump-Miller junta is leading us down. It’s government by malice and impulse. How can anyone be so wicked and cruel?

The wicked and cruel refrain and post title is inspired by a Difford and Tlbrook song. Squeeze gets the last word:

Friday Catblogging: The Bow Tie Is Back

Paul Drake’s old bow tie/bell collar vanished a while back so he’s been naked. We’ve finally remedied that because he’s once again interested in bolting out the front door. The bell is an early warning system, the bow tie is purely decorative.

The last word goes to the Mothers Of Invention:

 

Extra! Extra! Screed all about it!

My HD65 rep Michelle Beckley (along with other Texas Democrats who were part of the Blue Wave that kicked out a crapload of right-wing nutcases from the Texas legislature in the last election)  has been pushing for gun registration/background check/red flag  legislation, but in this State, it’s an uphill battle.  My personal views?

First of all – I’m a gun owner.
.
I own a Glock G21 handgun, a single-shot .22 that
belonged to my Grandfather, and a .410 that was used
in my days as a ranch hand to dispatch armadillo, and
put rabbits, duck, and pheasant on the table.
.
I also trained with M1 Garand and the original M16
jam-o-matic in my Allen Military Academy days.
I shot marksman with the 1911 – with both hands.
So let’s just disarm (see what I did there?) the “You want to take
away all our guns because you HATE THEM” trope right now.
.
I have as much use for a modified (full-auto and burst
settings disabled) assault rifle as I do for a
flamethrower or hand grenade. And unless you are in
the military, a police SWAT team, or are planning to kill a whole
shitload of innocent people, neither do you.
.
It’s a bit like someone with a Piper Cherokee saying
that people want to take away his plane, just because
you can’t buy a non-demilled A10 Warthog.
.
Ain’t the same thing, numbnuts.
.
ShallNot
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The Spirit Of ’05 Revisited

Root Beer Blues. Photograph by Dr. A.

Last year I decided to do something different on the Katrinaversary. I’m posting it again on the 14th anniversary:

I hate to go Dickensian on your asses but the period after Hurricane Katrina and the Federal Flood was indeed the best of times and the worst of times. My Katrina experience was nothing compared to many people but it has stayed with me in a way that few life experiences have.

Each Katrinaversary gets a bit less painful. Today almost feels like an ordinary Wednesday but I still have the survivor’s guilt I wrote about last year when parts of New Orleans flooded on my birthday:

It’s a common malady for those of us who live in what has come to be known as “the sliver by the river.” We did not flood in 2005, so I do not like arguing with those who did. It makes me uncomfortable and uncharacteristically deferential. In the year immediately after the storm, I  cringed every time I had to tell *our* Katrina story to those worse off since we were so lucky. We did have $20K worth of damage and were in exile for 7 weeks but that was nothing compared to what so many others went through. Hence my survivor’s guilt and this weekend’s survivor’s guilt flashback. I re-posted my account of Dr. A and my sneaking into the city at First Draft in 2015. Here’s the link.

As bad as that period was for all concerned, there was an esprit de corps that I miss. Everyone was in the same leaky boat so we helped one another out. Spontaneous and random acts of kindness were commonplace. I recall a day when we helped our neighbors duct tape their dead refrigerators and drag them to the curb. It was dirty, stinky work but it felt good to help.

Cajun Tomb. Photograph by Dr. A.

The Spirit of ’05 endured for several years, which looking back is remarkable. It could not last forever but those were heady days. I wish we could recapture the camaraderie but crisis brings out both the best and worst in people. And when the crisis ends, everything changes.  I met many people after the storm, made some enduring friendships and others that were more fleeting. But I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything, it has made me who I am in 2018.

The lasting impact of the storm on my life is that I started blogging. I never expected to still be at it thirteen years after the day that everything changed, but here I am. I landed at First Draft because of Scout Prime who not only wrote about her experiences helping in New Orleans after the storm, but came up with the idea for the Rising Tide conference. My friendships with Scout and Athenae are two that have endured over the years. Thanks for letting me tell jokes here, y’all.

Speaking of enduring friendships, here’s an apt tweet from my dear friend Julie:

In past years, the blog has stayed dark for the entire Katrinaversary thereby allowing this solemn image to dominate:

I decided it was time for a change. I also wanted to mention my empathy for the people of Puerto Rico where  2,975 American citizens died as a result of Hurricane Maria. It’s what happens when you have bad leadership: in our case it was the Bush-Cheney gang, with Maria it’s the Trump-Pence regime; both of whom lost the popular vote, then lost the thread when it came to hurricane relief. It’s what happens when you give power to people who hate government. Heckuva job, Trumpy.

The Spirit of ’05 is a touchstone for all that’s good about human nature. It’s still lurking in a city that has changed radically since the storm and its aftermath. Here’s how I put it in a post five days before the 10th Katrinaversary:

After the water receded, there was a second inundation of people flooding into the city. Some were do-gooders, some were hipsters seeking the next trend, still others were here to make a buck. Very few of them understood the essence of New Orleans and what makes the city and its inhabitants tick. Many of them, especially on social media, have come up with an orthodoxy of what it means to be a New Orleanian. That has come to be known as copping a NOLAier than thou attitude, a swell phrase that was coined by Karen Dalton Beninato.  Some of the NOLAier than thou set seem to have spent way too much time watching Treme. Instead of a Cabaret, life is apparently a second line, old chum.

On the 13th anniversary, we continue to struggle with what happened that August day. There’s still a special feeling among those of who went through it together. If only we could fully recapture the Spirit of ’05.

The last word goes to Peter Gabriel with a song that’s been on my mind and in my head thirteen times over:

Yet Another This-Is-Not-Normal Post

jon_mcnaughton_trump_pennywise

Heading out of town for a few days, so apologies for more repeating a common theme than coming up with anything new. That said, I just keep thinking, what the fucking fuck? It’s now just another news cycle when kids born overseas to US military personnel will have to get registered as citizens (not that I’m a big fan of John McCain, but wouldn’t be surprised if this was just another Trumpian MAGA-t swipe)?…sending deportation notices to families with exemptions based on life-threatening medical conditions (how pro-life of them)? Alleged promises of pardons for bypassing, oh, just actual laws to cater to a ridiculous fantasy border wall that was going to be financed by Mexico? Blatant violations of the Emolument Clause (and the most pathetic learned helplessness reaction from the Democratic Leadership)?

Meanwhile, I’d forgotten Trump’s own sister resigned her federal judgeship to avoid further investigation of financial irregularities (imagine if that was the relative of a Democratic president).

Oh, and then the supposed paper of record published a Tea Party retrospective that was so naively wrong one of their own op-ed columnists called them out (ok, eventually they added a belated correction).

Goddamn.

Bedbugging Out

The bedbug is perhaps the perfect metaphor for the Trump era. The word has certainly been tossed around a lot lately. Failing New York Times columnist Brett Stephens took umbrage over a tweet by a college professor describing him as a bedbug. Stephens famously wrote the George Washington University and ratted out the bedbug guy. They swatted him away like, well, a bedbug.

The Stephens story is bizarre: he’s an anti-Trump right-winger so he’s surely been called worse. His whole “this is language they use in totalitarian regimes” defense rings hollow. Does the NYT require their writers to be easily offended? Stephens is not the only one to have his feelings hurt on the tweeter tube. It’s just twitter, y’all. Nothing that happens there matters.

The bedbug infestation spread to the G-7 where President* Pennywise was hard selling his Miami resort as a site for the next global confab:

The bedbug rumors are bad for the business Trump is trying to drum up:

The bedbug controversy did not discourage Trump from promoting his property for the next G7 even in an apparent violation of rules against profiteering from the presidency.

But the president claimed he won’t profit off the event. “In my opinion I’m not going to make any money,” Trump said. “I don’t want to make money. I don’t care about making money.”

That may be the funniest thing I’ve heard in ages. The Kaiser of Chaos doesn’t care about making money? Was he under anesthetic after his Doral surgery? Come on, admit it, you knew that pun was coming.

The whole notion of any president profiting off an international summit is obscene. It’s crazy corrupt even for this crazy crooked administration. Holy emoluments clause, Batman.

Trump decided to flip the bedbug thing on its buggy head by turning on Brett Stephens this morning:

I’ve been trying my damnedest not to post the Insult Comedian’s tweets BUT it was necessary to capture the sixth-grader-ness of it all. As always, Trump sounds like a schoolyard bully who’s ready to bolt at the sign of any resistance. Not nice. Believe me.

The White House is going to need fumigation after the Trumpian bedbug infestation ends. They should burn all the mattresses in a dumpster fire worthy of this administration.

I used Trump tossing paper towels in Puerto Rico as the featured image as a reminder that Tropical Storm Dorian is heading in that direction. And that Team Trump stripped money from the  FEMA  budget to pay for their detention/concentration camps. I suspect Puerto Ricans wish Trump had traded their island for Greenland. They could be Danish right now and Denmark would give a toss about their fate unlike the Tosser-In-Chief.

That concludes this edition of Your President* Speaks. Nite, nite, don’t let the bedbugs bite.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Filet Of Soul

For the second straight week, we have a contractual obligation album: Jan & Dean’s 1966 LP Filet Of Soul, which I selected for the punny title. The original record was rejected by the Liberty Records and was not released until 2017 as Filet Of Soul Redux.

Here are the covers side-by-side:

What I’ve heard of both albums is terrible so I’ll spare you any music. Some of the songs are available on the YouTube. I would have rejected the original masters as well. Ugh.

The Capacity

You know the responses that come out to a story like this always, because they come out anytime somebody gets hurt/sick and our health care system flattens them: Well why didn’t he … why didn’t she … what if you had …

It’s all deflection, of course, it’s all plain old animal fear and basic-bitch bargaining, that if I just do everything perfectly no one will get tumors and I’ll stay rich forever, but that doesn’t make it better. It makes it worse. If your only “lifehack” is “have a fuckload of money and an army of personal assistants to take care of the chaos of the world,” like if that’s the only way anything remotely works, that’s not a sign that you alone have your shit together. That’s a sign that the way the world is constructed is only remotely bearable by the very wealthy and everyone else is ten seconds away from being utterly screwed.

Okay, you have “health insurance” that will now pay for 90 percent of your $100,000 cancer treatment bill. Where does the other $10,000 come from? You have health insurance and maybe you even have $10,000, good for you, but that was your down payment on a house in a mostly ok school district and now you’re back in your shitty apartment with no savings and your toddler. You have health insurance and savings and a house but if you take time off work you’ll be fired and then the health insurance goes away and eventually so do the savings and the house. Without a million dollars in the bank and good credit, how do you even DO this? Like this doesn’t make sense.

The smug people who feel like they “made it” on their own before student loans and before hospital consolidations and before, you know, all the GOP tax-cutting, they have no concept of the precariousness of things. Of how taking a half day off can affect the entirety of someone’s future. Of how “a job” isn’t enough anymore, of how “two jobs” sometimes isn’t enough, in the face of a system that dooms you for one step outside the lines.

And it’s not all money. It’s the time that money buys. It’s the capacity to figure out the solution to a problem and you can’t think when you’re in the middle of it, when you’re scrambling to get to the bus that will get you to the train that will get you to the job that will pay for the childcare that allows for the job and the bus and the train fare. You can’t sit back and make strategic decisions about the ongoing juggling act that is your life because if you take your eyes off the balls for even one second you’re going to drop them. Even people with money are like this, can you imagine what it’s like without any?

We don’t have the capacity to make every single decision perfectly, to reason out all the angles and decide if I just set my alarm two seconds earlier I will never miss the bus. I will never accidentally overdraw my checking account and incur a $50 fee I have no way to pay for. I will never forget anything, lose anything, break anything. You can’t live like that, none of us are built that way, and the more things we have to keep track of the less capable we are of keeping track. The more we need help the less room we have inside our heads to ask for it, or get it. I mean, I need six hours on Sunday to do any kind of meal planning and I have no problems anyone should care about, you know?

We do not have a system that is built for people. For poor people, for any people who aren’t wildly rich and incredibly capable and assisted by everyone on the planet. Those assistants? There’s no world that makes their world possible.

A.

No Reason to Make People Choose

Zero versus sum: 

The Green New Deal (GND) remains controversial within much of the labor community, particularly among those in the manufacturing and extractive sectors who fear mass job losses or the dissolution of their entire industries. For them, and for coal miners in particular, the focus is on the idea of a “just transition” — a means of transitioning away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy in a way that will create good-paying new jobs and viable career paths, and won’t leave them high and dry when the last mine closes.

The GND resolution does come with a universal jobs guarantee, but the thought of taking job-training classes or switching careers in middle age can be an understandably tough pill to swallow for someone who’s spent their entire working life underground. Despite these real complications, detractors of the GND often resort to the disingenuous, divisive tactic of pitting coal miners against environmentalists, as if it’s a zero-sum political game instead of gambling with the future of the planet. These critics act as though the miners as a monolith don’t care about the climate crisis, which certainly isn’t the case; while some unions still have their reservations, the growing support for the GND among miners and labor in general paints a different picture.

Here’s the thing. You could take what Jeff Bezos blows on lunch and use it to pay every single coal miner currently employed or on pension from a coal company their exact same salary for the rest of their natural lives, thus ensuring that nobody has to lose out when we need to save the dang planet or even move a factory.

There’s no reason why everybody who works someplace has to get screwed when an industry goes under. They wouldn’t even need to “learn to code” or whatever glib shit we’re yelling at people these days. They could retire right now and live lives they enjoyed for a little more than their bosses spend in Vegas brothels on the annual “company retreat.”

So sure, job training and health insurance and support for a career switch if that’s what people want, but let’s be realistic about what people need to live decent lives in the places they live, and just, like, give them that money as part of the cost of saving the earth. There’s no need to overcomplicate this and/or make it seem like a person who’s already their ass off down in the hole should now work even harder at something else for the last 10-15 years of their career.

We’re a very wealthy country and we could afford to say look, we recognize that it is not fair that you have to lose out on your livelihood because the companies you work for have exhausted their usefulness. We recognize that we are asking you to sacrifice more than most in order to change the way we do things, and we can compensate you accordingly.

We could give every coal miner in the United States $1 million for less than it cost to make that Avatar movie. We could afford that tomorrow and I’m tired of pretending we can’t so that people get mad at the Sierra Club or whoever, meanwhile we’re out here nuking the hurricanes.

A.