Thursday Reads: #DeSaster and #Decorum Day

#DeSaster by Artist John Buss

Good Day, Sky Dancers!

I’m still recovering from all that grading, but at least I get to write about these ultra-embarrassing Maga Moments today!  This one is a hoot!  Weirdo Congresswoman MGT play-acting as the Speaker Pro Tempore. This is the woman that does everything but pig calls from her seat at anything she deems woke. This is from The Guardian. “House Democrats laugh off Marjorie Taylor Greene’s call for ‘decorum.’ Far-right Georgia Republican draws laughter after banging gavel and demanding order as Steve Scalise spoke.”  I’m relieved to see one media outlet call her far right instead of conservative for a change.

Democrats in the House chamber burst into raucous laughter when Marjorie Taylor Greene called for “decorum”.

The far-right Georgia Republican, controversialist and conspiracy theorist was presiding over the House on Wednesday as Steve Scalise, the Republican majority leader, was speaking.

Scalise was discussing the debt ceiling standoff between House Republicans and the Biden White House.

He said: “We are in fact the only body in this town who has actually taken steps to address the debt ceiling and the spending problem in Washington.”

An unseen lawmaker yelled something. From the dais, Greene pounded her gavel and called for order.

Scalise asked: “I ask that the House be in order and there be some decorum on the other side.”

After a pause, Greene pounded her gavel and said: “The members are reminded to abide by decorum of the House.”

The chamber erupted in laughter and catcalls. Greene banged her gavel repeatedly. Eventually, Scalise returned to his remarks.


We had an idea that the DeSantis blastoff with Twitter Monster Elon Musk would be a disaster but, now it’s being called a #DeSaster.  They own it.  This is from Susan B. Glasser at The New Yorker. “It Was More Than a #DeSaster. Ron DeSantis’s botched campaign launch suggests that he’s no Trump killer.” Did he remember to write “Be Likable” at the top of his notes?

I’ve long been of the view that Donald Trump is something akin to a horror-movie monster—a Godzilla or a T. Rex, say—for the American political system. In such movies, it’s often not the puny humans who take out the monster; it’s another monster. And in such a scenario it would seem to make perfect sense that only a Republican specifically engineered and optimized for the bizarre cult of G.O.P. politics in 2024 would be the right candidate to do the job on Trump. But if that’s the theory of the case for Ron DeSantis, the forty-four-year-old governor of Florida, the events of Wednesday evening showed it’s still very much an unproven theory.

Was DeSantis’s Presidential-campaign launch best described as a debacle? A farce? A nightmare? The Times called it a “meltdown.” Politico went with “horrendous.” Perhaps the best summation of Wednesday’s epic fail was #DeSaster, an actual trending hashtag on Twitter. Whatever one chose to call it, it’s a pretty bad sign for a campaign when the biggest controversy inspired by its début is what synonym for “terrible” to give it. And the problem wasn’t just the technical glitches. The start of the Twitter Spaces event featuring DeSantis and Twitter’s billionaire owner, Elon Musk, was delayed by more than twenty-five minutes while Musk audibly struggled to get his new platform to work. But just as wretched was what DeSantis had to say once he started talking, both on Twitter and in a subsequent interview on Fox News, which boiled down to a lot of complaints about the “legacy media” and little rationale for his candidacy.

Trump, whose name DeSantis never uttered on Wednesday night, welcomed the news of his rival’s implosion with a video of a rocket labelled “Ron 2024!” exploding on a launchpad. Don, Jr., gleefully compared DeSantis to the former Florida Republican governor eviscerated by his father in 2016. “DeSantis is making JEB! look high energy right now,” he taunted. Even Joe Biden, who unlike Trump was mentioned frequently by DeSantis, joined in. The President tweaked DeSantis in a tweet urging supporters to give money to his own campaign. “This link works,” Biden promised.

But the rush to mockery, though understandable, was also a bit of a distraction.

There are so many public guffaws over this it’s hard to keep track of the links.  But, here’s a good one from Axios. “DeSantis PAC adds fake fighter jets to launch video.”  All that was missing were the white boots, the pudding fingers, and the New Hampshire guffaw seen ’round the world.

The super PAC supporting Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign altered footage to include the sound and sight of fighter jets flying over the Florida governor in its video promoting his campaign launch.

Why it matters: It’s the latest instance of political ads including digitally altered videos to promote or attack candidates, making it difficult for viewers to discern what’s real.

What they’re saying: The PAC did not deny altering the footage but responded to Axios’ questions by focusing on the video’s larger message.

  • Communications director Erin Perrine told Axios: “The ‘President for the People’ video encapsulates the mounting issues facing our nation caused by Joe Biden, and how Governor Ron DeSantis will stand up to the challenge, beat Biden, and turn our country around.
  • “This message and this election is so important for all Americans.”

Between the lines: The DeSantis PAC is a key part of his campaign, even though they cannot legally coordinate with each other.

Guess what’s going on with CPAC after its pious leader has been credibly accused of grabbing them by the balls?  Have we finally rid our country of the Hoedown of Hate?  This is from New York Magazine and Ben Jacobs. “CPAC Is Rocked by a Resignation.”

A top leader in the organization that puts on CPAC, the highly influential conference of conservative leaders, resigned on Tuesday night, citing financial mysteries surrounding the organization’s leader.

Bob Beauprez, the longtime treasurer of the American Conservative Union, said that he was not fully informed about money being paid for chairman Matt Schlapp’s legal defense against a lawsuit accusing him of sexual assault. “I cannot deliver a financial report at the upcoming board meeting with any confidence in the accuracy of the numbers,” Beauprez wrote in a letter to the ACU’s board of directors.

Schlapp did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Beauprez’s resignation comes at a time of crisis for the group as Schlapp fends off the lawsuit and CPAC’s influence dwindles in the post-Trump era.

Every time you deal with a Republican, you have to follow the money.

I’m ending on a different note.  The world is a better place because of Tiny Turner. She saved my life. She gave me the strength to leave an abusive relationship, and her mantra led me to my Buddhist path even though we belong to different sects.   She was not only the Queen of Rock and Roll but the Queen of many hearts. I saw this story and had to share it. “How Tina Turner Became the ‘Queen of Rugby League’ In Australia.”

The late Tina Turner had a river deep connection with Australia, one that was built on hits, touring, connections and a unique sporting alliance.

Turner’s extraordinary solo comeback in 1984 was engineered by Roger Davies, the great Australian artist manager who has guided the careers of Pink, Olivia Newton-John, Janet Jackson, Cher and many others. For bonus points, Davies was portrayed by one of his clients, James Reyne, frontman of Australian Crawl, in 1993’s What’s Love Got to Do With It, the award-winning autobiographical film based on Turner’s life.

The rocker also starred as Auntie Entity in 1985’s Beyond Thunderdome, the third in George Miller’s Mad Max action movie franchise.

The “Nutbush City Limits” singer, however, would tackle something no other U.S pop artist had done, when she committed to a series of much-loved campaigns for Australia’s premier rugby league competition.

From 1989 to 1995, Turner was the face of the New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL) competition, now rebranded the National Rugby League (NRL), appearing alongside the game’s most famous athletes in national commercials, and sometimes on the ground for the sport’s showpiece events, including a set during the 1993 grand final at the Sydney Football Stadium.

Those campaigns included Turner’s hits “What You Get Is What You See” and “The Best,” and, for many sports fans and athletes in these parts, she represents a golden era for the code.

Thanks to her contribution as the competition expanded out of New South Wales, “The Best” is today recognized as the unofficial anthem of rugby league in Australia, a sport for only the knuckliest, toughest types in society.

Tina was simply the best.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Mostly Monday Reads: Crooked Donald Edition

The Sorrows of the King, Henri Matisse, 1952

Good Day Sky Dancers!

So, I couldn’t resist leading off with Never Trumper Charlies Syke’s headline this morning at The Bulwark. “Ready Perp One. Happy Arraignment Eve. ‘As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.’ —Proverbs 26:11, KJV.  Indeed.

As New York prepares to arraign its most prominent chronic offender, a few things to ponder:

  • We’re about to be tested. Bigly.
  • The spectacle that is sure to unfold will mark an unprecedented moment in American history that will demonstrate once again how dramatically Trump — who already held the distinction of being the first president to be impeached twice — has upended democratic norms. But on a personal level, the indictment pierces the cloak of invincibility that seemed to follow Trump through his decades in business and in politics, as he faced allegations of fraud, collusion and sexual misconduct.
  • The rules are about to change. For years Trump has insulted and slimed judges. But tomorrow, for the first time, he will face a judge presiding over his criminal trialIt’s one thing to bloviate at rallies and bleat insults on social media, a very different thing when he is a man in the dock.
  • Trump may not realize that yet… He’s planning a primetime (televised?) address from Mar-a-Lago tomorrow night.
  • Despite the complaints about the “weaponization” of the justice system, it’s worth remembering that the guy who will be arraigned on dozens of felony charges has been calling for criminal charges against opponents for years. A month before the 2020 election, Trump tweeted, “Where are all of the arrests?” He added: “BIDEN, OBAMA AND CROOKED HILLARY LED THIS TREASONOUS PLOT!!! BIDEN SHOULDN’T BE ALLOWED TO RUN – GOT CAUGHT!!!”
  • The cycle continues: the GOP can’t quit Donald Trump, and (for the most part) the elites can’t bring themselves to say out loud what they fervently hope in private. “Many prominent Republicans want Trump gone,” writes David Frum. “But they are caught in a trap of their own bad faith: They want prosecutors to do for them the job they are too scared and broken to do for themselves.” (See Proverbs 26:11.)
  • The fact that the Decency Lane is so narrow and so small says far more about the Republican base than it does about folks like Asa Hutchinson, who is waging a quixotic campaign to appeal to the party’s battered and bruised better angels.

I’ll be surprised if the party has any angels left.  Read the headlines about its governors and what they do with guns and to children and education.  It ain’t that pretty at all to borrow Warren Zevon’s lyrics.

The Republican Party continues to pretend it cares about children and life.  It wants rules that mean only they can win elections and rule the day and night.  They cling to Trump even though elections and polls show that most of the country wants to lock him up.  A poll of Americans by CNN really brings that home today. “CNN Poll: Majority of Americans approve of Trump indictment.”  The results show two Americas.

Sixty percent of Americans approve of the indictment of former President Donald Trump, according to a new CNN Poll conducted by SSRS following the news that a New York grand jury voted to charge him in connection with hush money payments made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. About three-quarters of Americans say politics played at least some role in the decision to indict Trump, including 52% who said it played a major role.

Independents largely line up in support of the indictment – 62% approve of it and 38% disapprove. Democrats are near universal in their support for the indictment (94% approve, including 71% who strongly approve of the indictment), with Republicans less unified in opposition (79% disapprove, with 54% strongly disapproving).

While views on the indictment are split along party lines, the poll finds that majorities across major demographic divides all approve of the decision to indict the former president. That includes gender (62% of women, 58% of men), racial and ethnic groups (82% of Black adults, 71% of Hispanic adults, 51% of White adults), generational lines (69% under age 35; 62% age 35-49; 53% age 50-64; 54% 65 or older) and educational levels (68% with college degrees, 56% with some college or less).

CNN has reported that the former president faces more than 30 counts related to business fraud, but the indictment remains under seal and the charges were not publicly known at the time of the survey. The investigation relates to a $130,000 payment made by Trump’s then-personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to Daniels in late October 2016, days before the 2016 presidential election, to silence her from going public about an alleged affair with Trump a decade earlier. Trump has denied the affair. At issue in the investigation is the payment made to Daniels and the Trump Organization’s reimbursement to Cohen.

Jackson Pollock (1912–1956), Untitled (Composition with Ladders), c.1938,

So far, the protests in favor of Trump in front of courthouses have attracted tens of people.  However, The Guardian Reports that “Donald Trump vows to escalate attacks against Alvin Bragg – sources. The former president was stunned by the indictment at first, but after 24 hours, he indicated he wanted to politically ‘rough ’em up’.”  Bragg and his family are already under both FBI and NYPD protection.  Trump has some pretty, angry, violent, and ready-to-act-out minions. I hoping the Judge in tomorrow’s hearing does something about this.

Donald Trump has told advisers and associates in recent days that he is prepared to escalate attacks against the Manhattan prosecutor who resurrected the criminal prosecution into his hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels in 2016 now that a grand jury has indicted him.

The former president has vowed to people close to him that he wants to go on the offensive and – in a private moment over the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida that demonstrates his gathering resolve – remarked using more colorful language that it was time to politically “rough ’em up”.

Trump had already signaled that he would go after the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, weeks before the grand jury handed up an indictment against him on Thursday, saying in pugilistic posts on Truth Social that the prosecution was purely political and accusing Bragg of being a psychopath.

But the latest charged language reflects Trump’s determination to double down on those attacks as he returns to his time-tested playbook of brawling with prosecutors, especially when faced with legal trouble that he knows he cannot avoid, people close to him said.

The episode at Mar-a-Lago came on the sidelines of strategy meetings Trump had with advisers and associates about how to respond to the indictment from a legal and political standpoint, sessions which were described by two sources close to the former president

I can’t help but wonder what kind of things Trump will admit to if given any more air time between now and the copious lawsuits he faces.  This interview with Sean Hannity is gobsmacking.

This relates to a significant story reported by the Washington Post. “Justice Dept. said to have more evidence of possible Trump obstruction at Mar-a-Lago. Ex-staffer’s emails, texts are guiding investigators, who increasingly suspect Trump went through boxes after subpoena. ”  It was nice of Trump to just confess to it on Hannity’s show.

Justice Department and FBI investigators have amassed fresh evidence pointing to possible obstruction by former president Donald Trump in the investigation into top-secret documents found at his Mar-a-Lago home, according to people familiar with the matter.

The additional evidence comes as investigators have used emails and text messages from a former Trump aide to help understand key moments last year, said the people, who like others interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing criminal investigation.

The new details highlight the degree to which special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into the potential mishandling of hundreds of classified national security papers at Trump’s Florida home and private club has come to focus on the obstruction elements of the case —whether the former president took or directed actions to impede government efforts to collect all the sensitive records.

In the classified documents case, federal investigators have gathered new and significant evidence that after the subpoena was delivered, Trump looked through the contents of some of the boxes of documents in his home, apparently out of a desire to keep certain things in his possession, the people familiar with the investigation said.

Investigators now suspect, based on witness statements, security camera footage, and other documentary evidence, that boxes including classified material were moved from a Mar-a-Lago storage area after the subpoena was served, and that Trump personally examined at least some of those boxes, these people said. While Trump’s team returned some documents with classified markings in response to the subpoena, a later FBI search found more than 100 additional classified items that had not been turned over.

Court papers filed seeking judicial authorization for the FBI to conduct the search of Trump’s home show agents believed that “evidence of obstruction will be found at the premises.”

Richard Pousette-Dart (1916–1992), Untitled, 1944

I’ve been seething ever since 60 minutes–a show I watched religiously as a young adult–let Lesley Stahl drag the High Priestess of Conspiracy theories on for an interview this weekend. I did not watch it.  Oliver Willis has this substack post up, which is worth considering again. The press is basically not a friend of liberal democracy. “The Media Isn’t Liberal, And It Hasn’t Learned Anything From Trump Or Iraq. It’s Time To Give Up On This Lost Cause”.

60 Minutes and Lesley Stahl were putty in the hands of Marjorie Taylor Greene and her in-progress makeover, and it was the most predictable thing in the world. Greene is a deranged person who spouts nonsense and conspiracy every time she opens her mouth.

The idea that one of America’s premiere news shows would conduct a soft focus profile of a person like that, rather than a hard-edged investigative piece, should be way out of bounds. But this behavior is well within bounds for the mainstream media over the last 30-plus years.

The pattern is very clear: Elevate right wing garbage, and either the press doesn’t push back on it, or make a so-so attempt at correction, or the move that is the default, elevate very normal mainstream speech from Democrats and liberals to argue that “both sides” engage in extremist behavior. If the media was truly liberal, as conservatives have asserted without evidence for over 50 years, they wouldn’t behave like this.

The reality is that the mainstream media is an extremely friendly place for conservatism. From the New York Times to CBS News to the Associated Press and Washington Post, the various flavors of conservatism have what amounts to an open-door invitation to spew.

The press loves to tsk-tsk liberals over spending, embracing the nonsensical tropes of “small government” conservatism with alarmist stories about Social Security running out and concern trolling about spending on social programs, never mind the outrageous spending on the military industrial complex, low taxes for the ultra wealthy, and the shameful wealth inequality in the United States.

Similarly, the right’s nativist and racist rhetoric has not been a bridge too far for the mainstream press. When Donald Trump smeared Mexican immigrants as rapists, called for a ban on Muslim travel, pursued the racist “birther” conspiracy theory, and referred to countries with nonwhite majorities as “shit holes,” it didn’t give the mainstream press much pause. They continued chugging along, giving him hours of unopposed media coverage during the 2016 cycle, reporting on his offenses with a straight face during his presidency, and churning out book after book after book about the gossip and infighting of his administration, ignoring the very real effect the conservative movement’s backing of bigotry has had on the country.

This behavior is unfortunately not new or merely a reflection of the Greene and Trump wing’s ascendancy within the conservative movement.

Willem De Kooning – Ganesvoort Steet, 1949
More on the CIA’s efforts at Widewalls

Willis lies out the case with more examples than I wish he’d found.  It’s worth reading.

The Interview with Tinfoil Girl created a backlash, as reported in the Daily Beast. “‘60 Minutes’ Interview With Marjorie Taylor Greene Prompts Backlash.” The Trumpist apoligista spouts crazy. It’s difficult to understand why she deserved airtime in any news show.

60 Minutes is set to air an interview with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) on Sunday evening—and people across the media landscape are furious. In response to the news, The New York Times Magazine reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones tweeted, “this is the type of normalizing that mainstream media did of segregationists.” Meanwhile, Adam Kinzinger—CNN senior political commentator—called the decision to conduct the interview “insane.” Greene, a MAGA headliner who has a track record of promoting QAnon conspiracies, was interviewed by Lesley Stahl, whom she praised on Twitter on Saturday morning: “Leslie [sic] is a trailblazer for women in journalism. And while we may disagree on some issues, I respect her greatly.”

One more very disturbing thing.

I’m sure you have more to share.  Meanwhile, I’ll just close here with Randy Rainbow’s latest.  It’s pretty funny.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Hmm, I thought Elon was all about not classifying material as unsuitable.  This is odd. Is it the subject or the drag?