Gallows Humor, the Apocalypse Edition: Looking on the Bright Side

I haven't been blogging.  I just cannot with anything. My contempt for Donald Trump, his despicable brood, the soul-selling syncophants who enable him (I swear Sean Spicer looks like he has Pink Eye), the media who cowers, and the forces that elected him (including the apathetic -- the otherwise decent among us who were absent at the Booths) is a deep and rising river. Gut-wrenching disgust has hamstrung my usual comedic aplomb. So I don't know. What does one blog about as the Tangerine Nero fiddles, it's proved there is no bottom to the barrel, and there's no goddamned point to anything?

Well, a guy wrote me a song. I been bitching (like I do); all the jazz singers have a personal Blues. I'm a big fan of Anita's Blues...

And Blossom's Blues, and Billie's Blues, and and Bessie's Blues...

My favorite, and by far, is Mo's blues -- for Morgana King. But it seems to be that she never recorded it? Surely I'm just not finding it. Beverly Kenney's version is great.

I feel like I'm not a RealJazzSinger(tm) 'til I have a Blues. Enter David Ricks, a lovely and talented fella who wrote me Kat's Blues. And plugged my current show. And said nice things about me.  And it's a good song. I'm going to sing it on April 8 at Tomi Jazz.

See, now, that'll cure what ails you. 

Gallows Humor, The Apocalypse Edition: An Open Letter to the Media

What fresh hell is this?

Right. Ok, that's done it. This is a link to a list of media organization's email addresses. Please write to them to ask them not to entertain these... people... as colleagues.  I'm not much of a letter-writer either, but this isn't to be borne.

Here's mine...An open letter to the Media:

*******************************************************************

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Media Matters for America reports this morning that Alex Jones claims that Info Wars has been offered White House press credentials.

As we’ve seen, Donald Trump lies for personal gain, for sport, and from pure force of habit.  He lies about everything from the vitally important to the depressingly banal.  Additionally, he demonstrates an affinity for conspiracy theories, and displays the xenophobia, racism, anti-scientific thinking and intellectual dishonesty that such theories cultivate. Offering an advisory post to Stephen Bannon was a shock. To continue down that path so far as to seat Alex Jones in the White House briefing room itself is beyond the pale and must be rejected.

It's worth noting that as of this afternoon, the White House is denying the claim. It's possible it was a test balloon or some other more opaque attempt to manipulate... someone. Or something.  In any case, given Donald Trump's repeated offenses against good taste, civil discourse and common decency, it's worth saying:

If it comes to pass that Alex Jones is credentialed by the White House, please remove your reporters from that orbit.  If Jones or his employee walks in, you simply must walk out. This cannot be tolerated, and, as respectable journalists, you are in a unique position to take a stand on behalf of – forgive me – Truth, Justice & The American Way.  I’m snickering too, but this is not a drill.

Obviously, nobody wants to give up access, to allow the worst among us the last word. But the American news media has a proud tradition of investigative journalism, and each of you can point to moments in your publications' histories when the work illuminated great truths.  In the face of opposition running the gamut from unanswered phone calls and refused interviews to confrontation, threats and outright violence, each of you has earned feathers for your caps. 

In the event that Info Wars (or its ilk) is normalized by this White House, please re-allocate political/White House beat resources to your investigative sections and cover events from that perspective. Given this administration’s propensity for obfuscation and falsehood, it’s possible that the information you gather will have greater value – you’ll get more for your time, effort and money than you will spending it on fact-checking the non-answers of empty suits.  In any case, though, we must not have a situation where the great publications of the nation are seen to be engaging in a collegial joust for space with a frothing radio host whose claim to fame is the cynical emotional abuse of the parents of slaughtered first graders.

It’s fashionable to deride the news media as, at best, incompetent or, at worst, maliciously working against the public interest. But for my part, I have faith in you. You guys can do this.  And look, not for nothing, let me know how I can help – tell me what you need from me.

Warmest regards,

Kathryn Allyn
New York, New York

"When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage
and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending

that nothing has happened or in saying that  we are not yet ready.
The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back.  A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny."
― Paulo Coelho

Gallows Humor, The Apocalypse Edition: Hair's To You, Kid

Spreading joy, like I do, here's a little snack to take on the road to perdition.

From NYMag.com's The Cut:

Hairstylist Says She Was Asked to Do Marla Maples’s and Tiffany Trump’s Inauguration Day Hair for Free

 
Tricia Kelly, a D.C. hairstylist who works with clients on both sides of the political aisle, told the Washington Post that she and a makeup artist were asked to provide free services for Marla Maples and Tiffany Trump on Inauguration Day in exchange for “exposure.”

... and...

But after The Washington Post contacted the PR representative, Kelly received ominous messages from her client, who had first put her in touch with Maples’ camp. “You are messing with the president of the United States,” the Maples contact wrote her, adding that Maples was worried about her financial situation with Tiffany out of college, ending child-support payments from the president-elect. “She is used to a certain lifestyle and you don’t understand that.”

Hm. I could dig deep, and feel something for the one that The Rotting Pumpkin Time Lapse threw away; I suspect her mother's fears are grounded in an upsettingly accurate understanding of her ex.

On the other hand, get real.  What Tiff is, actually, is not The One Who Got Thrown Away as much as The One Who Got Away. If her mother raised her right, she'll realize she got off light (she coulda just as easily wound up The Corn Husk Filled with Nightmares and Moldy Yogurt that is her half-brother), and get herself a damn job, like a person. And if not, well, then.  The acorn doesn't fall far from the tree (or the acorn doesn't fall far from the Pair of Chapped Lips Glued to a Hairball.... I forget how that saying goes).

Verdict: All Class. Plus, so much for Job Creation.

Also, EXPOSURE? Eat a bag of dicks, the pair of you.

Gallows Humor, The Apocalypse Edition: The Smell of the Crowd

My sense of humor is reasserting itself, if grimly. Here is something... a talisman for our walk through the valley of death.

The Hollywood Reporter: 

Donald Trump Campaign Offered Actors $50
to Cheer for Him at Presidential Announcement

"Donald Trump's big presidential announcement Tuesday was made a little bigger with help from paid actors — at $50 a pop. New York-based Extra Mile Casting sent an email last Friday to its client list of background actors, seeking extras..."We are looking to cast people for the event to wear t-shirts and carry signs and help cheer him in support of his announcement," reads the June 12 email, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. "We understand this is not a traditional 'background job,' but we believe acting comes in all forms and this is inclusive of that school of thought."

Right. The Damp Circus Peanut is papering the house. I REPEAT: HE IS PAYING PEOPLE TO CHEER FOR HIM. HE IS PAPERING THE HOUSE. I mean, lookit. On the one hand, Apocalypse. On the other hand, BWAHAHA[cough]BWAHAHA! On a serious note, I do hope the actors get their fee up front.

My First Blog of the End Times

I haven't blogged a thing for a while...I mean, the election, and then Leonard died, and then all sorts of doom-behavior on the part of the GOP, and my inner smart ass has been huddled in a dark corner, arms wrapped tight round its figurative knees. But. One must get on, I suppose. So we'll start small, with this.

Poste:

And riposte:

Psst....Hey, Donald. Over here. Lookit, "Great Wall" is taken. (Plus, China called; they already hated your guts plenty, dumb ass.)  Let's call it something cool....How about "Rampart of Renewal"? Hm. Anybody got any good ideas? The Damp Circus Peanut does like him a slogan. For my part, I feel pretty good about "Freedom Fence".

Y'all do your duties as patriots; tweet your suggestions to @realDonaldTrump. And keep the vocab under the 5th grade reading level; it's rude to talk down to the president.

Ok, that's all I got. Back into the bottle of bourbon, heigh ho. See you on the other side of the mushroom cloud.

******************************************

Oooh! Update!

A far more erudite, and visibly more patient, political writer has given me the proverbial shout out! (I like to keep up the kids' lingo, me.)  James Call's piece NAFTA from Mexico's Point of View begins:

Since we have a new, allegedly protectionist, President-elect, NAFTA is likely to be in the news quite a bit.  It's well known what effect NAFTA had on the American working class: NAFTA lowered wages, as it was intended to do.  But what about our partners in NAFTA? There's been some rather spurious, very inaccurate talk over the years about how Mexico has gained from NAFTA at the United States' expense.  That claim is absurd...

and continues...

We'll see whether Donald Trump takes down NAFTA after all.  There's an awful lot of money at stake, and when there's an awful lot of money at stake, there's an awful lot of reason to back down, as Donald Trump already has regarding what my colleague Kaye Allyn is calling his "Freedom Fence". 

See? Me! SEE MORE, James' stuff is good...

Now, really, about that bourbon.

 

For Literally No Reason

Except for maybe crushing depression, who knows, I don't know why I have this Fordham Law Review paper on the 25th Amendment.  (Probably someone wanted to daydream about removing DJT because Teh Crazee. Which, I mean, I'd tots do the kickstarter, but I have my doubts about the efficacy of such a treatment.)

It's only 38 pages, but if you're not the type, it gets really interesting at Section II: "A Brief History of Presidential Illness" (page 6). The section is just wee stories about presidents past and their troubles. The Coolidge story is interesting and choked me up a little, actually. I like stories; particularly ones that make historical figures seem real.  Something about it, something unnameable -- ephemeral, even -- gives me some comfort and hope.

Now if I only had a water glass full of bourbon and Peter Falk to read this paper to me "Princess Bride" style, I'd be set.  This is it:

Fordham Law Review
Vol 79, Issue 3, Article 5, 2011
Presidential Disability and the Twenty-Fifth Amendment: The Difficulties Posed by Psychological Illness, by Robert E. Gilbert

I know, I know. But I mean it. This is a good read. Give it a chance. And then go binge-watch The West Wing, because might as well.

Privilege and The Zero Sum Game

Someone I Know was super annoyed at a certain Mr. Dixon, lately of Hamilton fame, who made some remarks the other day. He described the actor as arrogant and self important. He objected to the actor presuming to lecture Mr. Pence about "inclusion" (air-scare-quotes included). He said it makes him want to vomit when liberal hypocrites can't see the irony of black actors portraying white people, when they'd need to hysterically retreat to a safe space if a white actor played Malcolm X in a musical (which, I mean, I admit that doesn't sound awesome).

Brandon V. Dixon: Nice publicity shot, by the way

Now, against all odds, I like this person and consider him a friend. So I don't want to be unkind. But I admit to some frustration; this comes up pretty often and there’s a lot to unpack.

Let’s start here: The friend in question is a born’n’bred Manhattanite and an Ivy League educated white man, practicing law for hundreds of dollars per hour (literally more than seven). This makes him, then, a member of multiple intersecting groups that have, and have always had, the largest concentration of wealth and the most ready access to the ear of government. The vast majority of the government are, in fact, drawn from his peers. Until about 50 years ago,  he, collectively, has had virtually total control over society's narrative. Maybe it’s just me, but it feels churlish to begrudge the actor what is no doubt a fleeting impact upon...well...anything.  I suppose it boils down to the fact that for many people, the right to speak - the right to be heard - is a zero sum game. If the actor has some, others, perforce, have less.

We'll set aside my friend's decision to imbue a person he’s never met (nor seen this show, nor seen the actor’s work generally, nor heard the remarks in question) with the qualities of self-importance and arrogance. What's interesting, if depressing, is that his gorge is raised by the actor seizing his moment to speak. What it tells me is that my friend's myriad advantages are not enough. It's not enough that he have almost everything. He must have everything. In a statistical anomaly, a guy happens upon a great gig. The fame he gets from said gig makes people willing to attend to and publish his thoughts. He takes that opportunity, and my friend is irritated to the point of vomiting. Which is, y’know, really irritated.

For many people, it’s true that artists are considered (albeit often subconsciously) to be servants. They're meant to dance like the court jesters they are, and never diverge from whatever the courtiers find to be entertaining. And in spite of the nation's obsession with Celebrity, the echo chamber offers very few souls any financial security, and elevates even fewer to a position of professional power (and for those few, that power is virtually always short-lived). That our cultural obsession motivates an army of hopefuls only ensures there will, ever and always, be more court jesters than courts. And by a lot.

So. The immutable laws of Supply and Demand entitle consumers to expect artists to provide whatever it is they imagined when they purchased the ticket; no more and no less. Every Jack and Jill is a Mozartean-era patron, entitled to dismiss the artist who displeases.  And most artists faithfully follow the rules. Because obviously.  Unless you have family money or significant professional currency, your livelihood depends upon it. An artist who needs to feed his kids and pay his mortgage never forgets that he’s interchangeable and endlessly replaceable. And if he does, he’s quickly reminded by cold Reality that not only is he a disposable luxury item, he's an independent contractor without access to the social net.

Once in a while, an artist acquires enough professional capital to decide he can spend some. Maybe the IRA he self-funded has grown enough that he feels like he can be out of work a while, if worse comes to worst. His parents paid off his house, whatever. But anyhow, for a brief shining moment, he's not 5 weeks from homeless.  He has a window of opportunity to separate 'entertainment' from 'art' or 'speech'.  (Which, not for nothing, are not the same thing at all and in an historical context are barely even related.) He believes he'll survive the inevitable outcry.  Perhaps it'll even add something to his cachet. Or, hell, the larger conversation. Why not? How many chances will he get?  The gods have given him a crowd, a hot minute and a megaphone.  Why shouldn’t he grab it?

My goodness, everyone uses their advantages. Certainly my friend uses his; he often uses the forums at his disposal, and his significant professional capital, to express his point of view and advance his agenda.  There's one advantage my friend doesn’t have: a minute and 20 seconds (per Youtube) in a forum where many strangers gather, and the press eager to publish what he says to them. But the outrage! How dare the actor exploit this advantage! To me, this is sadly begrudging of, fundamentally, not much.

The bit about the actor’s ‘presumption to lecture’ his new vice president is weird. Why is it presumption? Is it not his place? If not, why not? Because Mr. Pence was out for the evening... off duty, or something? Come, now. If my friend believed his life, liberty and pursuit of happiness were threatened, and found himself before a powerful member of the government, he wouldn't say so? Of course he would. He would tell himself that confrontations and criticisms are the public employee's lot, and rightly so. If the VP suggested that my friend's type of people, as a class, should receive electroshock therapy treatment for some consensual, legal behavior or other, are we to believe that he'd refuse any opportunity to decry that suggestion? Riiiight.  And, why is “inclusion” in scare quotes? Does he not believe in the concept? Or does the Ivy League educated, white, straight, man, the extremely affluent rich person's attorney, believe his level of inclusion is comparatively the same as a 30-something black actor on a big gig?

The bit about black actors playing white characters to no outcry is exhausting.  First, there was quite a bit of geschrei over the casting of black actors in the roles of white characters. Plenty of people needed a lie down - the piece was not given a free pass.  Setting that aside, though, nobody is portraying Alexander Hamilton, as he lived, from a perspective of biographical verisimilitude. The piece is a re-imagining; a not-literal, time-warped, piece of high-concept art. It's an abstraction, utilizing hip hop and modern dance, designed to send a message elevating American patriotism and country-love. It's soft-focus nationalism told through African-American art forms. And yes, people of color have gotten sick and tired of seeing white actors portray their beloved historical figures in biographies. Yes, they have been known to complain. But the notion that they need a “safe space” every time it happens is silly. If POC collapsed every time a white woman played a brown historical figure, they’d never leave the house.

In closing, I just have to say this: Didn’t Donald and Mike run on a “Fuck Your Safe Spaces” platform?  They did, right? Well. The bottom line is this: Mike Pence advocated for a law that would electrocute gay people to “cure” them (see: proper use of scare quotes), and then he went to a Broadway show. He got off light. And the reason he got off light is because Brandon Dixon isn't a hothead. Brandon is a courteous and prudent person. It didn't have to be Brandon up there offering a polite little speech, so people could feel they'd been heard and everyone could settle down and move on with their evening. It could've been me. Things might've ended differently, is what I'm saying.

The punch line, of course, is that the religious fanatic - the guy who wrote a law requiring that blood clots resulting from a terminated pregnancy get a burial - is the one with the decent manners and the common sense and the understanding of how dissent is received.  Meanwhile, the thin-skinned narcissist, our very own Rotting Pumpkin Time Lapse-Elect, stamped his feet and demanded an apology because his sideman wasn’t made perfectly welcome by the audience, and the actor spoke briefly about why that was. I mean, fuck’s sake, fellas...for a Strongman, Donald sure could grow a pair.

Take the Win, You Dicks, Can't You?

Reading about the punching and sniping and snarling and generally freaking out, I was walking crosstown on 34th street wondering to myself, “Self, what the hell? Why can’t they just take the win and be happy?”

Self, I says, “They got all 3 branches, an empty seat on the Court waiting on their pleasure, plus another couple Supremes ambling toward banana peels as we speak. What can they possibly want that they don't have? Why are they still so pissed?  Are they worried we're going to react like they threatened to when they envisioned losing? Don't borrow trouble, fellas; it's been 10 days. There hasn't been time for even the most minor of setbacks. As of now, it's literally all win. Christ, have a tailgate party or book the Hooters in your town for a day. Order up some brewskis and wings; get some giant orange fingers to wave. Get in on the joke – buy up all the Cheetos down at the Piggly Wiggly, and throw a fucking celebratory gathering -- own that shit. Grin. Wave happily at the protesters, because who gives a good goddamn? You won the lottery. What do some losers with signs matter? Relax.”

And Then I saw this:

Salon: “Sore winner” syndrome: Why are Donald Trump’s supporters still so angry? Abraham Lincoln understood
"Trump … heads an undivided government and has … the power to enact his entire agenda with very little institutional resistance. And yet his followers are still filled with outrage and frustration, lashing out at the reeling and defeated left. 
The best description of this phenomenon comes from Abraham Lincoln in his famous address at New York’s Cooper Union in 1860. Trying to explain how impossible it was to deal with the Southern slave states using normal democratic means, he asked:
What will it take to satisfy them? This, and this only: cease to call slavery wrong, and join them in calling it right. And this must be done in acts as well as in words. Silence will not be tolerated — we must place ourselves avowedly with them. Senator Douglas’ new sedition law must be enacted and enforced, suppressing all declarations that slavery is wrong, whether made in politics, in presses, in pulpits, or in private. We must arrest and return their fugitive slaves with greedy pleasure. We must pull down our Free State constitutions. The whole atmosphere must be disinfected from all taint of opposition to slavery, before they will cease to believe that all their troubles proceed from us. -Abraham Lincoln
This is why the right-wingers are so angry. It’s not enough to win. We must agree that Muslims should be banned from entering the country, agree we should torture and kill suspected terrorists and their families, agree immigrants should be rounded up and deported, agree there should be guns in schools, agree women should be punished for having abortions. Until we declare that we are “avowedly with them,” they will continue to believe that “all their troubles proceed from us.

Ah.

(And also hmm.  Because by “we”, I assume Salon means the white people of the Left, since surely even the most rabidly racist, xenophobic and misogynist Trump supporter doesn't expect immigrants to celebrate their expulsion and Muslims to ban themselves? And I guess just the white dudes of the Left, because surely women who terminate pregnancies aren't expected to rejoice as they're remanded into custody? I mean. Right? But who knows; they are insane, so maybe they do expect exactly that.)

Whatever, Jethro, it’s not going to happen. You're going to have to suffer the pain of getting everything you want and doing anything you want without applause from us. 

Setting aside brown people and chicks not doing the hokey pokey to the wafting strains of their disenfranchisement, the Left isn't going to stop thinking you're under-educated, poorly socialized provincial trash, probably inbred and definitely bringing shame upon your Savior's name. We're not going to smack ourselves in the forehead, buy a muscle shirt and a pickup, burn our books, join the (right) church, cut holes in our favorite bedsheet and see it your way.

 It ain't much, and it probably won't make a damn, but. This is what’s happening:

Fortune: Trump Effect: Civil Liberties Groups See Surge in Donations

So I guess this means we’re in for a long slog through a bog of victors too sullen, mean-spirited and ill-tempered to even enjoy total victory. Or, and this is probably the deal, what you enjoy is being miserable, sulky sons of bitches.

Of course, when ya boy Donald appoints a bunch of in-group robber barons and other gents you been excoriating for RINOs, to run the country while he tweets from the 21 Club, you'll find a way to blame Washington. Or Obama-slash-Hilary in absentia, probably, because Tangerine Jesus can do no wrong, and boy howdy, talk about a victim culture. Y'all put the safe-space college idiots to shame.

Anyhow, this should be super duper fun. Can't wait.

On top of everything else, Leonard is gone.

Leonard Cohen is gone, goddammit, because of course we have to lose him too.

There is a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in. ― Lenoard Cohen, “Anthem”
“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” ― Rumi

Leonard was born on September 21 in 1934 and taken from us on the 7th of November 2016.

He had a good run and I’m glad he missed the election, and even more glad he doesn’t have to watch what happens next. But I’ll miss him a lot.

A Canadian singer, songwriter, poet and novelist, Leonard Cohen examined religion, politics, isolation and sexuality. He was in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He received the Order of Canada, the nation's highest civilian honor. He got a Prince of Asturias Award for literature and plus the Glenn Gould Prize.  He was one erudite mofo, our Leonard.

He was also cute as hell.  He made me feel better about aging; when I saw him at Radio City, near the end, he was way too thin, and his voice was almost gone. He was fragile; frail.  But he sang:

I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel; you were talking so brave and so sweet. Giving me head on the unmade bed, while the limousines wait in the street ...You told me again, you preferred handsome men, but for me you would make an exception. ... Clenching your fist for the ones like us, who are oppressed by the figures of beauty, you fixed yourself, you said, "Never mind. We're ugly, but we have the music.”

And you could see the cocksure, slightly dangerous fella shimmering behind the old man's face. It was as if he was wearing a mask. The state of his face and body seemed to have nothing to do with him. He seemed to be irritated by the extent to which he was forced to wear a Leonard-suit, like he was stuck inside a body that was increasingly less useful for his purposes, but he was the same as he always was (which, not for nothing, woof).  His allure wasn't rooted in youth or even the covering he walked around in -- his body was an exoskeleton. And he never stopped being sexy as hell.

Been thinking about his album “The Future” today. I wore out the cassette as I drove to NYC from Kansas in November ’93. In the United States, I’d never been east of Columbus. I was alone, I had $1,200 to my name, knew basically nobody in the City, and I’d rented a bedroom from a couple, sight unseen, out of this little classical trade magazine I subscribed to. I was scared, but I had my chin out. Leonard helped.

I was reminded that I refused the map I was offered as I drove away from home, all, “It’s a big town. I’ll drive east a while and then take a left. Eventually, there’ll be signs.”  It was typical of me at that age, to set my jaw over something stupid like that. Who refuses a map?

Leonard wrote a love song to the US on that album: Democracy, in which he references Tiananmen Square, Stalin, World War II and Hiroshima. In an interview with Uncut's Nigel Williamson , he said, “I was living in L.A. through the riots and the earthquakes and the floods.  And even for one as relentlessly occupied with himself as I am, it is very hard to keep your mind on yourself when the place is burning down. So I think that invited me to look out the window.” In subsequent interviews, he assured us that it contains zero irony.

“Everyone is of course allowed to interpret my lyrics as he or she wants, it’s never been my policy to police my audience. But although “Democracy” deals with a big subject, it is free of irony or skepticism. Democracy is the last great religion, the greatest of all because it accommodates other religions and cultures. If there is one place on earth where democracy has a chance then it’s America, where different races and cultures are condemned to each other... The United States is still the experimental field of democracy, the arena in which the significant confrontations are taking place: between the races, between classes and between the sexes. That makes life in America so uncomfortable and yet so inspiring. “Democracy” is a hymn that I wrote when the Berlin Wall fell. Everyone surrounding me was optimistic, but ... To me it seemed naive to think that democracy would come to the Eastern bloc overnight.”

This is the song:

It's coming through a hole in the air,
From those nights in Tiananmen Square.
It's coming from the feel that this ain't exactly real,
Or it's real, but it ain't exactly there.
From the wars against disorder,
From the sirens night and day,
From the fires of the homeless,
From the ashes of the gay.
Democracy is coming to the USA.

It's coming through a crack in the wall
On a visionary flood of alcohol.
From the staggering account, of the Sermon on the Mount,
Which I don't pretend to understand at all.
It's coming from the silence, on the dock of the bay,
From the brave, the bold, the battered heart of Chevrolet.
Democracy is coming to the USA.

It's coming from the sorrow in the street --
The holy places where the races meet.
From the homicidal bitchin' that goes down in every kitchen,
To determine who will serve and who will eat.
From the wells of disappointment,
Where the women kneel to pray,
For the grace of God in the desert here,
And the desert far away.
Democracy is coming to the USA.

Sail on, oh mighty ship of State.
To the shores of Need, past the reefs of Greed,
Through the Squalls of Hate, sail on.

It's coming to America first --
The cradle of the best and of the worst.
It's here they got the range
And the machinery for change,
And it's here they got the spiritual thirst.
It's here the family's broken,
And it's here the lonely say,
That the heart has got to open in a fundamental way.
Democracy is coming to the USA.

It's coming from the women and the men,
Oh baby, we'll be making love again.
We'll be going down so deep, the river's going to weep,
And the mountain's going to shout Amen.
It's coming like the tidal flood beneath the lunar sway
Imperial, mysterious, in amorous array.
Democracy is coming to the USA.

I'm sentimental, you know what I mean?
I love the country but I can't stand the scene.
And I'm neither left or right; I'm just staying home tonight
Getting lost in that hopeless little screen.
But I'm as stubborn as those garbage bags that time cannot decay
I'm junk, but I am holding up this little wild bouquet, because
Democracy is coming to the USA

Sail on, oh mighty ship of State.
To the shores of Need, past the reefs of Greed,
Through the Squalls of Hate, sail on.

               - Leonard Cohen, 1992

Hanging Onto This One for Tomorrow, When The Shitstorm starts

Older Women Share What Voting for a Woman President in 2016 Means to Them

Thanks, Jezebel. [Humming 'They Can't Take That Away from Me']

Ladies and Gents of a certain age, please add your voices to this chorus in the comments section below? I'd be so pleased if I could read your stories.

A few excerpted quotes from this heart-warming read:

...
I hope to be happier a week from today. My mother voted in the first presidential election open to women and I am proud to have taken this a step further by voting (as my mother would have done) for HRC.
...
[Even though I’ve liked Obama] I’m sure I was [disappointed when Clinton didn’t get the nomination in 2008], but I’ve sort of forgotten about that. Even at that time I just thought she was—you know, I’m sure you read everything, but when The Atlantic endorsed Hillary, the article they wrote about her I thought was the best thing. I mean she’s one of the best qualified people that’s run for president period in years.
...
I’m a smart person so why would I vote for a fucking lunatic?

Trump's Kid Hates Him and is Damaged: Shocker

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. If by 'apple' I can mean 'shit', and by 'tree', 'asshole'.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. If by 'apple' I can mean 'shit', and by 'tree', 'asshole'.

For my part, I'll feel sorry for Donald Junior if/after our national nightmare ends, and his father loses, and is irrelevant forever.

(Except wait, no I won't; he's a sociopath who kills animals he doesn't eat because fun! I was going to link it, but then nah. If you want to see his deranged grin over a fat chin and a dead cheetah, it's a 12-second google.) 

Be nice if the guy would open his mouth, though, and save the nation from the Sewer-Gas Spewing Traffic Cone. He's probably afraid of being poor, which he would be about 40 seconds after speaking up about dear old dad. He'd be hung out to dry with poor ol'Tiff. And it's not like he's been raised to believe anything matters more than money, get real. He doesn't have a soul to save, so whatever.

However, this story about Junior did make me think of a passage in a John D. MacDonald book I read a hundred years ago...thanks to the wonders of the Innerwebs, I was able to dig it up.

“His childhood had been served, as a sentence is served, in that emotional wasteland of a home which should have been broken and was not – a home where hate is a voice beyond a closed door, where contempt is a long intercepted look, where violence is a palpable thing in the silent rooms.” - JDmcD, "Cry Hard, Cry Fast"

I mean, amirite? Also:

"A frightening number of people in the world are unaware of the actual living reality of the human beings around them. It is the complete absence of empathy in action. They believe themselves to be real, of course, yet they merely lack the imagination to see that other persons are also real in the same way and on the same terms.
Thus, even though they go through the obligatory social forms and personal relationships, all other people are objects rather than people. If all other people are objects, then there can be no psychic trauma involved in treating them as objects." - JDMcD, "Darker Than Amber"

Is it weird that I turn to a pulp fiction writer of yore for my wisdom? I suppose it's no weirder than any other source. As JDMcD put it in A Deadly Shade of Gold,

"...to me organized religion, the formalities and routines, it's like being marched in formation to look at a sunset."

Yeah, I found the Donald Jr. quote I was looking for, on a Quotes Site. Sue me. I mean, 78 books and just dozens and dozens and dozens of short stories, with amazeballs titles like "One Monday We Killed Them All", "The Brass Cupcake", "One Fearful Yellow Eye" and cover art like this...

I seem to have gotten distracted from Donald Jr.  Whatever, tra la.

A Note to My Friends on the Right

I keep hearing some version of this:

"I'm going to vote down ticket, but not vote for President. I won't vote for Trump, but I don't want Hillary to have a mandate. I hope for her to win by a squeaker. I hope for low turnout so 'they' will know the people are tired of [insert whatever here]. But I mean ... I hope she wins because she's better than Trump, but she mustn't be permitted to believe she Really Won."

Or be permitted to believe she has the right to, y'know, govern.  Because that's what 'no mandate' means. A blank check to continue not confirming justices, or ... whatever Republicans come up with next, in their relentless determination to stop elections from having an outcome, if their guy doesn't happen to win.

But let's set that aside for a moment. Instead, I have some words of comfort for my friends on the Right.

Here's the deal, fellas: There is no mandate at stake here. You needn't worry that she'll believe she 'really won', or that if she entertains the notion for a moment, that she won't be immediately disabused of it.  It breaks my heart a little that my first Lady Prez isn't squared off against a worthy opponent, and she won't take her place at the head of table with proper accolades and hard-earned feelings of victory. But there it is. She is running against a Soviet-era sewage plant; a burning heap of tires, tar and week-old shrimp. She's not running against a normal version of a conservative or debating a sane conservative agenda. There's no having a mandate, and your vote won't give her one, not even if she gets 90%. It's just true. It makes me sad, but this situation simply isn't the stuff that mandates are made of.  Her victory will be accompanied more by that wasted feeling of relief and nausea that you have when you barely avoid spinning out on a busy highway, than by pride.

But. What a low turnout will do? I'll tell you what it'll do. It'll embolden the people who gave you this piece of shit in the first place. The people who enabled and elevated him will hear, loud and clear, that they came damned close to the brass ring. If Hillary wins by 1%, they will be galvanized.  They will come back for more. Guaranteed. So, actually, I take it back. There is a mandate at stake. It's just that it has zero to do with Clinton.

If you don't get your asses down there and say that this garbage human is Un. Ac. Cepta. Ble, well.  YOU did what comes next, which is you get someone worse next time. And yes, it can be worse. There is no bottom to the Tea Party barrel. Nothing reactionary Christians won't do to reverse the last 50 years. No crazy rhetoric the lunatic fringe won't eat, if you ice it in an American flag.  Admit it: You thought Palin was as bad as it gets. Well, joke's on you, because Donald is, against all odds, worse. By a lot. You want your party back? Well, then, reject this shit forever. Send them off to play Third Party games like the fringe they ought to be.  I'm sorry you don't like her.  I'm sorry you spent 30 years of blood, sweat and treasure trying to ruin and/or jail her, and failed (#sorrynotsorry).  But Clinton, such as she is, happens to be the tire iron you have available to beat back the savages. And while you're about it, you might want to bring said tire iron to a little talk with the party leaders who put you in this situation, just saying.

Back in the run-up to the '08 election, your party leaders thought they could jet out to the red states, whisper 'Kenya' and 'terrorism' and 'nigger' into people's ears, secure their votes via fear and loathing, and scamper back to civilization, nobody the wiser.  It'd be fine -- they'd run the country business as usual. But they found that toothless yokels are only dumb to the same percentile as the rest of us, might be ignorant, but are often canny, and for sure are not so easily manipulated as all that.  So they lost control of the beast that is the assholes I grew up with, and now literally certifiable lunatics have the keys to the castle. (That's a terrible sentence, but you see what I'm saying?)

Anyhow, the only message you can send, as a patriot and a thinking person, is that all of this bullshit -- Palin, Trump, and all the tin-horn know-nothing Napoleons in backwater districts all over the nation, are done. Over.  That happens with high turnout. That happens with a decisive victory for Clinton. That happens with the Left getting the Senate. You'll survive, just as I did Bush & Co. (Hell, I even had to swallow the reality that, the 2nd time, he won fair and square. If you don't think that disturbed my rest...wow. It was awful.)  But do it. Go pull the lever for Clinton, gritting your teeth if you must, and you can spend the interim ridding yourselves of the infestation. When that's done, you can run a real candidate.  Life can go on. Tell Donald Trump, and everyone who jammed him down your throats, to fuck off. There's your mandate.

But low turnout, my ass.  This is what's next, with a low turnout.  This is a serious problem:

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) made a noteworthy declaration about his post-election political intents on Monday, though it was lost amid his joke, for which he has since apologized, about shooting Hillary Clinton.  Should he head back to the Senate, Burr pledged, he would try to block any Supreme Court nomination from a President Clinton.  “If Hillary Clinton becomes president, I am going to do everything I can do to make sure four years from now, we still got an opening on the Supreme Court,” he said.

Get your game face on, and get down there and vote. your. conscience. The whole ticket. You owe the rest of us making a choice.

 

Wired: Anyone know how Trump's news show debut went last night?

Noted Donald Trump Enthusiast Donald Trump has a news show, which, I mean, sort of. It's a Facebook thing, I guess.

On the one hand, as Wired puts it, "If this is the beginning of a media franchise, there is precedence for a major news outlet to sprout out of a single national event, notes Rick Edmonds, a media analyst at the Poynter Institute. Nightline began as a temporary show about the Iran hostage crisis in 1979."

Bible Spice suddenly has a great idea for revenge upon us all.

On the other hand, Jesus Christ; even Sarah Palin waited til she lost the election before she commenced to making a post-relevancy buck as a carnival barker.  On the third hand, I hope Madame President fortifies the nation's stockpile of garlic and silver bullets, because this guy isn't going anywhere.

 

 

Republicans Lawyering Up to Avoid Being Seen with Donald

This is special. Brian Fitzpatrick is a republican running for congress in Pennsylvania's 8th District. He is being linked to the Damp Circus Peanut in a tv ad. Like you’d do, if you were the the democrat opposing him, or the DCCC (who paid for said ad).  Well. Fitz' lawyer has sent a cease and desist to the TV station saying, among other things:

D'oh.

Well......I mean, you're right, it did take a while.

Let's everyone fold our lips in unison....Awwwwww.

Here's the letter in full, from Matt Haverstick over at Kleinbard in Philly. You make a fair point in this letter, Matt.  I, too, would feel inclined to seek redress in the courts if people thought I was birds of a feather with the Racist Hunting Vest. Who knows, I mean, maybe it'll work?

Because yeah. This is a a thing that is happening. A candidate is saying, in a formal complaint via legal counsel, that being connected to his own party’s candidate for president will harm his campaign. Additionally, he's concerned that being connected to his own party's candidate for president will harm his personal reputation. He is probably right.  I mean, one hopes.

But wait, there's more! The Huffington Post explains that Illinois Rep. Bob Dold (R-Of course.), Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Naturally.), Florida Rep. David Jolly (R-Vraiment.) and New York Rep. John Katko (R-Eyeroll) are all making the same request of their relevant TV stations, in varying levels of dulcet tones. They contend that certain commercials paid for by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee provide false or misleading information by connecting them to the GOP nominee. Republicans are essentially arguing that tying them to him amounts to defamation.

Huh. It's almost like Donald Trump is a person it might've been better not to elevate. But all is not lost, fellas, because on the 7th day, the Good Lord made gerrymandering, amirite?  You'll keep the house in your grimy, craven mitts probably. Dicks.

PAGE SIX: I'm so confused.

So Donald invited Malik Obama to the Vegas debate. I mean, ok, I guess? I don't get the point, though. What does he hope to accomplish? Hillary Clinton is going to be bothered?  The lady speechified right under the noses of Paula Freaking Jones, Juanita Goddamn Broaddrick and Kathleen Omg Willey. Plus! Kathy Shelton who, if I’m Hillary, might have gotten to me a twee.

Lookit, everybody but everybody gets a competent and enthusiastic advocate; that's (supposed to be) the deal in this country. But. Defending accused rapists and having to get up up in alleged victims’ grills is no fun and contributes mightily to the burn-out rate among attorneys who do that work, and I can imagine not enjoying being confronted with those memories, atall, atall. 

I have nothing against these lasses; life is long and perilous and shit happens. But Donald, you couldn't spring for a stylist?

But whatever she thought about it all, she gave an impeccable performance under epic glowers of these sworn enemies.  Just who, exactly, does Donald imagine can rattle Hillary? This guy Malik? There’s ...no, um...relationship here. What does she care if Obama’s half-brother turns up? Does Donald understand he’s not running against Obama? It's just strange.

Also, this is just embarrassing. Nobody enjoys Patricia Smith's pain. (Dear Media: She has a name. Please quit calling her "Benghazi Mom", kthxbai.) But the exploitation of it is both in bad taste and, frankly, played out. It's been done, Donald.  It didn't move the needle before, and it won't work as a rerun.

Racists go crazy for a sharp dressed man.

 

 

EDIT: I have a theory. Trump wants to parade a dude who wears traditionally African garb around the joint. That's it; no deeper than that. He wants to get the alt-right snark machine going, juice up the racists. When you think of it like that, it has an elegance about it.

CNN: That Whole 'Next Prez Should Pick The Judges' Thing? Um.

Sooooo, ya'll, remember that whole Next Guy Should Pick Judges Because Teh Willz of Teh Peoplez idea? It didn't pan out, and if you bought that bill of goods,  you're going to feel sad in your insides, because turns out that Republicans weren't being... um. Well anyhow they changed their minds:

"I promise you that we will be united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up," McCain said. "I promise you. - John McCain, (R-Naturally)

The Deal: Since "Justice" Scalia died in his bed instead of the fiery blaze he deserved, Republicans have been all about blocking supreme court nominations. To wit: they've turned their collective nose up at the objectively-not-particularly-liberal and universally admired intellectual fella Judge Merrick Garland, because the next president, not the Kenyan Manchurian, should be the one to fill vacancies. And it's only a year, after all. No big whoop to LEAVE A SEAT OPEN ON THE SUPREME FUCKING COURT BECAUSE SPITE. Because The People, y'know, only elected Barack Obama; they didn't intend that he do his job in the final year. And now, because the RNC fielded a very unfunny joke and Hillary Clinton is handing them back their shredded asses, they're extending this fever dream into the next administration.

So I guess the deal is, unless democrats get -- in addition to the White House -- a majority in both the Senate and the House, we're all looking down the barrel of years more of this childish, dangerous, unpatriotic bullshit in which the red side of the aisle subverts the work of governing, because they don't like how the election came out.

Pious types out there who say it's terrible, very bad, no good, not ok, for one party to have all three branches, feel free to tell us all how that axiom holds true in this particular, shining moment in the history of the American Experiment.  We'll need visual aids, probably; maybe a flow chart.

Time: 41 Percent Think Election Could Be ‘Stolen’ from Trump

Forty. One. Percent. of Adult-Americans believe that Trump could a) win the election and b) be robbed of his victory by um. The press. Or Hillary’s nefarious Machine. Or. I don’t fucking know.

There are roughly 241 million Adult-Americans. In 2012, 53.6% of us cast 129 million votes. 41% of that number is 52,890,000. So. Just under 53 MILLION people believe that a) Trump can/should win the United States presidency and b) may be robbed of his due by villainy.

What I wasn’t able to discover in my 8-second google search is: how many of these 53 million folks who believe this didn’t also just wake up from a six-month coma to find out they’re engaged to Sandra Bullock?

Not enough, for sure. Because Americans (let’s just say it — conservatives) believe all sort of insane crap. A couple years ago, the Atlantic Wire summarized a Public Policy Poll, and offered some hard numbers:

Lizard people control politics - 12,556,562 Americans believe this.
Airplane contrails are sinister chemicals - 15,695,702 Americans believe this.
Bin Laden is alive - 18,834,842 Americans believe this.
The moon landing was faked - 21,973,983 Americans believe this.
Fluoride is dangerous - 28,252,264 Americans believe this.
Obama is the Antichrist - 40,808,825 Americans believe this (I cannot with this one.)
CIA developed crack - 43,947,966 Americans believe this.
Bigfoot exists - 43,947,966 Americans believe this.
The government controls minds with TV - 47,087,106 Americans believe this.
Medical industry invents diseases - 47,087,106 Americans believe this.
Vaccines are linked to autism - 62,782,808 Americans believe this.
New World Order - 87,895,931 Americans believe this.
Aliens exist - 91,035,072 Americans believe this.
Global warming is a hoax - 116,148,195 Americans believe this.
Bush intentionally misled on Iraq WMDs - 138,122,178 Americans believe this (either he did or Dick The Undead did).
JFK was killed by conspiracy - 160,096,160 Americans believe this (I mean, Oliver Stone was persuasive, so).

SIX MILLION-ISH MORE PEOPLE BELIEVE (a) TRUMP IS A WINNING CONTENDER (lol) AND (b) THE TARGET OF MASSIVE ELECTION FRAUD (eyeroll) THAN BELIEVE THAT THE GUVMINT IS WORKING OUR BRAINS BY TV REMOTE (more plausible than the notion that Trump wins over a population with demographics that look like this).

Upside for the rest of us: For Trump to get any real traction on this shit, he’s going to need to drill down into the Aliens/Global-Warming/JFK crowd. A new targeted outreach is in order, I think. And someone get Alex Jones on the horn; he’s got a great seed mailing list.

The Slot: Every Word Jezebel Used to Describe Donald Trump in 2015

This is a re-post from December 2015; I never get tired of re-visiting this. I try to think up my own, but there is no doing better than Rotting Pumpkin Time Lapse.  I do wish Jezebel would update it and keep it comprehensive so we have something for posterity. Long after he's an ignominious footnote on the tombstone of the GOP, we'll want to show these to our children's children, and Remember. This list is good too.  Aside from Rotting Pumpkin Time Lapse, my other favorites are these:

DOJ: Three Kansas Men Charged With Plotting a Bombing Attack Targeting the Local Somali Immigrant Community

My home state of Kansas, always in it to win it.  Credit where it's due, I'm impressed that a couple news reports had the stones to refer to the actions of these fellas as "terrorism". I mean, only one I found used the word in the actual headline, and mostly you had to hunt for it in the prose, but it's there. Baby Steps, amirite?

Anyhow, the deal is a handful of Somali Muslims apparently did something bad in a former life because, finding themselves refugees, they wound up in Garden City, Kansas.  Garden City, a charming little burg in Finney County, is an hour west of Dodge City. (Pro tip: 'West of Dodge City' is code for 'Don't Break Down, And Be White If At All Possible'.)  

Situated in a "treeless region", Garden City's land is sandy loam, and the main indigenous vegetation is sagebrush and soap weed. The town was founded in 1878; by 1879, the new town had imported trees and talked the Atichson-Topeka Railroad into giving them a switch station (so people could leave, I’m guessing). Because the Federal and State governments stepped up with irrigation funding and infrastructure, the devoutly independent, anti-guvmint bootstraps-conservatives of the area were able to sustain themselves on agriculture concerns. Today, cash crops include wheat, corn, milo, sunflowers, soybeans and alfalfa. It’s also helpful that there’s a Tyson plant, and plus for every dollar Kansas contributes to the Federal government, it receives $1.29 in return.

Finney County (not the town, the county) is home to something close to 40,000 souls and contains eleven "ghost towns". (Because people been saying "Fuck this, yo", since about 1880.)   About 30,000 of the county's denizens live in Garden City's precincts.  75% of those are some version of white (although half of those identify as the Hispanic version of white, which is no doubt distressing to the "real Americans" about).  I checked the police blotter; aside from a recent rash of broken windows, the main criminal impact seems to be cases of domestic battery -- 315 last year.  And car thefts seem high, per capita. Again, my go-to reason (and mitigating factor, if we're compassionate) is some folks needed to GTFO, tick tock.  Preferably before someone similar to the dudes in this story remade In Cold Blood in their rec room.

There are 46 Christian churches in town (I counted on Yelp), but apparently the heroes of this week's tale felt oppressed by proximity to the Muslim refugees and their apartment-complex-mosque, and reacted in a typically Christ-like way.  Governor Sam Brownback, in addition to staging a coup to castrate the state judiciary, has all but bankrupted the State in his quest to build a 'conservative utopia', and doesn't, as you might guess, admire public education. (Last year, the funding pilgrimage to Topeka included a request for emergency funding for the schools, so that they could avoid raising local property taxes. They have a lot of migrant kids, you see, and educating them really cuts into the profits everyone gets out of the practically-slave-labor efforts of their parents. And, I mean, it's not like Tyson is going to provide for the needs of their many migrant workers' families, get real. Naturally, funding requests are routinely denied, because Brownback is an evil piece of shit, and plus you can't have Neo-Feudalism without serfs.)

So this shit happened.  There is nothing like a bunch of uneducated white people stuck in the most barren section of a welfare-state, with too much time on their hands and scared to death of not much (thanks, Fox News), to really show us all how Christian Values are done.