Political Animals

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Strange Case of Marsha Blackburn and the Exploding Cigar

Posted By on Thu, Jan 5, 2017 at 1:54 PM

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Evil scientist Marsha Blackburn lit up a fat cat Twitter cigar yesterday and BAM! Right in the face.

Obviously, it's not hard to troll online polls and Democrats are motivated. But, as previously uninsured folks stare down the very real chance of losing their recently insured status, it's hard to say the soot and tobacco all over Blackburn's pinched, bitter face is completely devoid of meaning.

How can it be that Republicans, after opposing the Affordable Care Act tooth and nail for six years, haven't got an alternative? I mean, aside from the obvious fact that none of them care if Uncle Phil gets his medicine or not because he should have worked harder when he was healthy. Duh.

It's because Obamacare was the workable Republican plan, they only hated it because — Obama. And no matter how hard the kleptocracy scrambles, they can't come up with something just as conflicted and industry forward that looks completely different to consumers who'll experience zero value from less Medicaid or potentially disastrous tort reform.

So, as the great unraveling gets underway, let's all have a good laugh at Marsha's exploding cigar. It'll be her turn to laugh when we're all crawling with something expensive and incurable.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

"KKK More American than Obama" — Deputy Director of Finance for Shelby County Corrections.

Posted By on Tue, Nov 15, 2016 at 10:52 AM

Phones are buzzing in the halls of Shelby Co. government this morning because of a Facebook post shared by David Barber, Deputy Director of Finance for the Shelby County Department of Corrections. According to the accompanying status, the KKK is more American than two-term US president Barack Obama. Get ready, this story's just starting to crank up, and will probably be everywhere, shortly.

Here's the offending post from Nov. 7.
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Also, this.

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And, in case you're wondering who the guy is, it's all in his profile. 
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UPDATE: David Barber has resigned.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Trump Taps Prince Mongo For Secretary of the Interior

Posted By on Thu, Nov 10, 2016 at 8:01 AM

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In a surprise 3 a.m. announcement President-elect Donald J. Trump said notorious alien/Memphian Prince Mongo would  join his cabinet as Secretary of the Interior.

"Oh spirits, this was such a wonderful surprise," says Mongo, who's dabbled in Memphis politics for much of his life on Earth, but never held office. "The President-elect said he was looking around on Facebook, just killing a little time, and he saw my new profile picture, and knew I was the spirit for the job."

Mongo admits he was surprised to discover that, while the position is called "Secretary of the Interior," much of his job concerned land management, parks, and the the great outdoors.

"All I know is we're gonna do some decorating," Mongo said excitedly. "I've already got plans for the Grand Canyon that involves miles and miles of clothesline, and some really beautiful underpants designed for larger women."

According to Mongo his conversation with Trump was short but good.

"He asked where I saw myself in 5-years," Mongo says. The answer: "Working closely with the administration in its second term, of course. Only this time I'm Rubber Chicken czar."
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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Great White Shark: How Does Donald J. Trump Pay His Debts?

Posted By on Wed, Nov 9, 2016 at 1:25 PM

Hail to the Chief
  • Hail to the Chief
Houston, we have a white people problem.

The rush to determine the big story of the 2016 election is on. Some folks will get stuck on the rural/urban divide or Florida’s love of third party candidates. Other’s will focus on the failure of polling, vote suppression, and Comey’s bogus email letter while Bernie fanfic spreads like polio in a libertarian anti-vax dystopia. But no matter which way you spin, this cycle's only got one really big story — Honkies, WTF?

The Times’ Nate Cohn didn’t say it in so many letters, but he tweeted a helpful rubric for thinking about the election.
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They’re also a scared 40% of the electorate, and between craven irresponsibilities of TV-News, and urban/suburban development that’s been hiding poor people since WWII ended, it’s not strange that Trumpian tales about cities where residents mostly just get shot, ring true. Americans are heavily networked thanks to social media, that doesn’t mean we’re connected a bit.

Within the framework of disconnected connectivity, legacy media — particularly broadcast media with its steady slide toward reality programming — was instrumental in building the bleak fantasy world of Comment Section America. Night after night TV-news links images of brown skin and crippling poverty to criminality, while making the “inner city” synonymous with "urban slum." Day after day, for decades, talk radio and cable news re-enforced those scary images, while railing against affirmative action, public assistance, and other things brown people might be getting that they might not deserve. Meanwhile, rural white poverty, extreme and pervasive as it is, goes comparatively unexamined, giving a lot of lost people plenty of non-hateful reasons to feel screwed and forgotten.

The twilight of American manufacturing happened more than 20-years ago now, and those jobs aren’t coming back. Since then the working class— every segment— has taken hit, after hit. The middle class withered, organized labor failed, and slowly but surely white people went fucking insane. The Atlantic chronicled some of this back in January, in a feature about life-expectancy-shortening spikes in suicide, and substance abuse in white, anxiety-wracked America:

From The Atlantic:

“Free trade and automation undercut the bargaining positions of the working class. Political leaders, bankrolled by the wealthy, rolled back the interventionist policies of the New Deal and postwar period. Corporations, once relatively tolerant of unions, tapped a cottage industry of anti-union consultants and adopted unseemly tactics to crush any organizing drives in their workplaces.

Problems of mental health and addiction have taken a terrible toll on whites in America—though seemingly not in other wealthy nations—and the least educated among them have fared the worst.”


At this point a lot of smart people are probably (hopefully) making the jackoff motion with their dominant hand because, “Oh, boo hoo!” things are tough for working people everywhere, and when we’re talking about life expectancy and and disease, African Americans and Latinos still win the booby prize. Unfortunately, nobody experiences the relativeness of poverty, only the privation, which brings us back to that reactionary thing that happened last night, and the chilling message it should send to women, whose bodies remain a battleground, communities of color, still plagued by systemic racism, immigrants (especially darker ones who don’t look like someone a Trump might breed with), Muslims (of course), Jews (that last ad was scary), journalists generally, Katy Tur specifically, Hillary Clinton, and, at long last, Graydon Carter.

Trump’s poll-defying performance had nothing to do with religious piety, family values, being a pretend cowboy, or any of the old conservative bedrock about silent and moral majorities. His Russian linkage is positively surreal for so many of us who saw Red Dawn and Rocky IV at the Drive In. Racketeering charges combined with Trump’s billionaire status, and adamant refusal to disclose income tax documents, make the Donald an unlikely champion of the fabled Occupy/Tea Party nexus. So whither this pale coalition of patriots, evangelicals and ordinary average guys?

Angry white bros are always with us. When people are so disaffected, prejudices pour in and grow to fill the void. Everybody needs somebody to blame, and this horrible drama plays itself out everywhere, all around the world. The bigger the void, the bigger the prejudice, and there’s no reason it has to be logical or make any kind of sense at all as Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi showed so deftly in his 2009 description of a Kentucky Tea Party rally — “A hall full of elderly white people in Medicare-paid scooters, railing against government spending and imagining themselves revolutionaries.”

Nous sommes au Mississippi. (You too Moscow).

If there is a bottom line, it’s this. A large, mostly homogeneous, reliably wrong, and often truly deplorable chunk of America feels the political system’s failed them. And, whether they're thoughtfully protesting neoliberal empire, or lashing out at all the wrong people over self-inflicted loss, and the absence of good paying jobs, they aren't wrong about feeling reamed. Because, unless you’re connected to that fabled 1% we’ve all been badly used. Americans spent the last half century divided six ways to Sunday, fighting culture wars one battlefield at a time, and seeming to win some important fights (one at a time), while everybody on all sides conceded one collective economic defeat after another. It's a cliche, but there’s no I in “we the people.” Sadly, nobody bothered to tell a huge swath of America, including all those angry Trump supporters out in the land of meth labs and lottery tickets.

It’s tempting, on the day after the unthinkable thing got thunk, to look to similar elections for answers. But in spite of some superficial resemblances to Bush/Gore 2000 and Truman/Dewey, 1948, there’s no good precedent for an outcome that amounts to a sniffly national temper tantrum. So the questions turn in a different direction What can satisfy this newly awakened white nationalism? And what happens if President Trump can’t deliver?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Russian Roulette: The Resistible Rise of Donald Trump

Posted By on Wed, Nov 2, 2016 at 9:01 AM

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And you may ask yourself
Where is that large automobile?
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful house!
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful wife!


— The Talking Heads, “Once in a Lifetime.”

To borrow one more line from David Byrne, “How did I get here?” How did we stagger to the place where a commie rag like Mother Jones breathlessly reports on Russian ops, while real Americans root against the Wolverines? How did I go to bed in a country that elected Barack Obama, and wake in a world where a non-story about Hillary Clinton's emails might put Donald Trump into the Oval Office?

I can answer that question with a video I shot at Memphis’ first Tea Party rally in 2009. None of this started in Shelby Co., of course, and the machinery responsible for this year’s election has been grinding away for 40-years, at least. But this is the period when gloves came off. When it became okay for America to stop pretending it wasn’t bigoted at the core. So, return with me now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when it was okay to go out wrapped in the flag, wearing a t-shirt depicting Obama caught in gun sights, with a face full of bullet holes.
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Often, though not always, the Tea Party was portrayed as a patriotic, Christian movement, and you’ll hear that point of view repeated even today in places like American Family Radio — an allegedly Christian family of stations that, interestingly enough, began its foray into political programming in 2009. In retrospect, it’s difficult to see this movement as anything but a backlash to the election of America’s first African-American President, creating unusually lopsided momentum going into the typically sleepy midterm. And not just any sleepy round of midterms either, but elections that determined which party would get to redraw congressional districts, gerrymandering for maximum advantage.

In the video I’ve embedded audiences will thrill to the same white nationalist urges Trump taps into, and witness unfocused anger at every turn. Viewers will be amazed by anti-regulation speech built to leverage job insecurity against fair wages and worker protection.

What happened in 2009 was a kind of Right Wing tent revival — a renewal of vows exchanged long ago between America’s white working class and industry tools with no history of reciprocity. It’s a queer relationship with roots in the 60’s, when college draft deferment made education suspect — a class signifier separating those who fought for America (regardless of how they felt about it) from those protesting America.


Ironically, the seed that blossomed into Trumpism sprouted in 1968, while the Donald was a student at the University of Pennsylvania. To make desegregation meaningful, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected freedom of choice in the case of Green v. County School Board of New Kent County, ordering the board to end racial discrimination, “root and branch.” Urban bussing policies that followed created backlash among a newly middle class (and newly suburban) set of former New Deal Democrats, bringing them first under the influence of segregationist Dixiecrat George Wallace, then into the trajectory of Richard Nixon, who made good use of America’s oldest cultural fault lines.

Nixon’s not known for being stylish, but he was a smart strategist. When his people observed that acting like a tough guy increased his support among the white working class, he ran with it, pitting America’s conflicted labor force against a crumbling New Deal, setting the stage for Reaganism, and the not-so-subtle messaging of “Morning in America.” And pretty much everything that's happened since, including a pair of two-term Democrats with Nixonesque tendencies to answer the Left and Right with Conservative core policies.
It’s ridiculous how much Hillary Clinton hurt herself in this election cycle with her infamous “basket of deplorables” comment. While it’s undeniable, that the right side of our political spectrum, is responsible for a lot of clearly deplorable stuff, and tends to feel victimized whenever somebody stops them from victimizing others, America’s fucked up white working class isn’t completely wrong about feeling wronged. They’re just terrible at identifying the real enemies. Labor — which should have been a great progressive unifier — failed them in the 70’s, which is important for two reasons. First, it marked the end of anything like solidarity in a nation that was never that united, and always unable to account for class, factoring in the confounding variables of race and gender. This also relates directly to Clinton’s relentlessly uphill battles going all the way back to her 90’s-era work on universal healthcare since Labor’s historic failures frequently illustrated how sexism was more ingrained in American culture than virtually any other ism. Even in the relatively progressive UAW, multiracial coalitions for fairness on the shop floor crossed picket lines and openly mocked women striking for the same basic reasons. To this day women’s apparent advances are misleading, being more related to declines in male earning power than evidence of changing attitudes.

Pundits like to talk about a "values based" urban/rural divide. But that’s not right. When you break down the pieces, Donald Trump’s brand doesn’t align with anything uniquely rural or urban. His values, as they align with supporters, are best understood as, “classy casino” values” and Saturday Night Live brilliantly illustrated this with the “scratch off,” bit in its widely shared Black Jeopardy sketch. Forget about guns, god, and gays — The 3-G issues, framed and cultivated by talk radio, and cable news to suck consumers into a state of daily outrage, quite unable to explore common cause. The culture stuff is still simmering, but it was all pretext and prelude. People are finally ready to go to war for their God-given right to be as bad off as they are now forever — and the remote chance of inheriting a billion dollars from a rich cat lady they never met, but who greatly admired their work in the local newspaper's comment section.


Speaking of comments, few things from this year’s election reveal more than Donald Trump’s double-pronged scare campaign painting undocumented workers as potential rapists, and the “inner city” — an outdated Morning in America euphemism for “urban slum” — as a place where you can’t walk to the store without being shot. This is the fantasy world of TV news and “comment section America,” where everything exists without context and, in the flyover world of bedroom communities and interstates , often without contact.

Please forgive this momentary theater critic’s aside. But the more I ask myself how we got here, the more I’m reminded of the Vampire play Cuddles, a gruesome hit in New York and Great Britain, currently enjoying its first American production outside New York at TheatreWorks on Overton Square. In addition to being many other things, this nightmare before the apocalypse, is also a special kind of class satire. It tells the story of a joyless caregiver who lives in a lonely castle and locks her life’s biggest embarrassment away, feeding it a steady diet of fantasy, jelly sandwiches, and, on special occasions, a few drops of precious bodily fluids. The embarrassment — a young, deplorably dirty girl —  is kept in an old, deplorably dirty place to insure her safety. She's a vampire, you see. Or we’re told so. And true or not, the small, pale girl's demeanor changes eventfully when the caregiver — a person responsible for everything the little bloodsucker consumes, from a normalized polluted environment, to information that’s almost exclusively fiction — decides she’s no longer willing to open an occasional vein. It’s not a terrible metaphor for the relationship of mainstream politics Left and Right to base voters. But it’s an especially fine reflection of the GOP and its cultivation of the “Silent Majority,” the “Moral Majority,” and the “Tea Party.”

Eventually, the monsters we make assert themselves. Which reminds me of another line from SNL’s Black Jeopardy, about animals that won’t hurt you — “What kind of dogs don’t have teeth?”

If you want to know how Trump happened, just watch the 2009 video and maybe you can take some small comfort in realizing we aren't recently horrible. It’s short, so there's no big time investment. And it's full of revealing moments like when Conservative talker Mark Skoda starts preaching like John the Baptist, about the evils of regulation, and the need to support big Oil. He says all the right things to scare miners into not noticing nobody gives damn about the quality of jobs they may or may not lose anyway, or their place in a viable future economy. Skoda, who says he “loves being radical,” was absolutely paving the way for the unsuccessful person’s twisted image of a successful person to come along — a real man’s man, tough enough to look into the eyes of people who won't abide anybody running down their country — and tell them he’s going to make America great again.

That's how we got here. That's the easy part. How we get out's another story entirely.

Having said all that, go see Cuddles. It's not perfect, but it's not bad. I'm pretty sure the Halloween-loving New Moon didn't intend to stage the season's most prescient political satire. But boy, did they.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Bob Corker Has Tiny Feet And It's Funny When He Stamps Them

Posted By on Thu, Oct 20, 2016 at 1:05 PM

Sitting in a tree.
  • Sitting in a tree.

Last night Senator Bob Corker took to Twitter — like so many brave keyboard commandos — saying it was "imperative" for Trump to accept election results, even if the outcome is unfavorable. It was the yappy lap-dog definition of "all bark," since Corker's endorsement stands. Like so many Republicans this cycle Mr. Corker, a smallish man, and adorable in his junior-sized suits and cute little shoes,  has been rendered almost entirely ridiculous by a candidate he's clearly embarrassed by, but upholds as America's only hope for a brighter tomorrow.
Enough of that. I'm not here to bash Corker — silly as he is — or to criticize Trump either. If anything, I want to express some sympathy for a poor devil, so deep into his own narcissism he couldn't think beyond who was wronging him and who was crediting him long long enough to realize the debate moderator, Chris Wallace, was tossing him softballs made out of pure red meat. Guns? Abortion? Grand bargains— the ultimate Republican Viagra? A reasonably versed Conservative could have grabbed hold of all these opportunities and owned the night. But, unfortunately for both the GOP and America, that candidate didn't show up.

What happened last night wasn't a debate, it was an informercial for Hillary Clinton. When a candidate — in this case Trump — opens with "Nobody has more respect for women than me," then hisses, "Such a nasty woman,"  in the drama's falling action, this is what we in the storytelling business call a narrative arc. Over the course of that arc Clinton was able to talk about policy using clear, connecting language. She was able to make powerful statements directly to women, all of whom know what it's like to be dismissed and belittled by a man. And she was able to get away with a lot of stuff that needed challenge and critique. The new border technologies she was talking about? Probably drones, not forcefields. And can we have more particulars about "no fly zones" that bring us into close quarters with the Russian army? Instead of thoughtful comment pushing his opponent into deeper conversation, the best we got from Trump was, "wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong." Sniff. 
There's no real point in parsing the details of last night's debate — though I could go on for pages about Trump's inner city comments, with all the blacks, and the Latinos, where you can't walk to the store without getting shot. But at this point in the race particulars aren't all that relevant. Trump's trailing. Worse, his downward trend suggests he had to do more than just show improved discipline. He had high benchmarks to hit in terms of clarity and temperament. He never got close, undermining all improvement with his refusal to accept an unfavorable election outcome. That's the thing Corker took him to task for. On Twitter. In his little suit and shoes. While still endorsing the man. While still supporting the man. While, presumably, still voting for the man. 

"Imperative." Ha!

Maybe it's not fair using Corker as the stand in for a Republican party that's failed America by standing steadfastly behind a lazy-minded candidate who doesn't know the difference between a challenge and a threat. But somebody needs to tell him, and all the rest of these little boys using big boy words and playing big boy games, that fake tough is the weakest hand you can play.

I wish I could say America deserves better, but to borrow a line from the comparatively competent Romney campaign, we built this. So stamp away little Bobby. Stamp away. 

Friday, September 30, 2016

Marsha Blackburn Tries Out New Supervillain Catchphrase

Posted By on Fri, Sep 30, 2016 at 11:11 AM

"It is not in a warming trend!"
  • "It is not in a warming trend!"
Recent comments by U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) have been taken out of context by a mainstream media that refuses to acknowledge that Blackburn — long dismissed as an intellectual lightweight — is an evil genius hellbent on destroying the solar system with her new, improved weather gun.

"Is climate change manmade?" Blackburn asked rhetorically in a short phone interview. "No! For I am WOMAN!!! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!" And then she hung up.

For years Blackburn's anti-science positions have functioned as cover for her own abominable experiments and an opportunity to divert funds away from potential evil rivals and NASA.
Blackburn has been criticized for recent comments to Huffington Post. Although "I think the Earth is in a cooling trend," was spoken in response to questions about Donald Trump's debate performance, it was essentially the Tennessee Legislator trying out the line she plans to shout when she finally zaps President Obama with her blizzard ray.

Comic book nerds agree it's bad science and worse policy but, as a catchphrase, it's kitschy and kind of delicious. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Scent of a Woman President

Donald Trump Sniffs His Way to Irrelevance

Posted By on Tue, Sep 27, 2016 at 9:35 PM

Kinda seemed real.
  • Kinda seemed real.
A moment of silence for Donald Trump. The “blue collar billionaire,” brought a knife to a shootout, and we all know how that sort of thing turns out, according to the NRA. It was a small knife too, and not very sharp, and yet somehow the poor fellow cut himself with it repeatedly.

The first debate was a self-inflicted bloodbath for the TV-freakshow turned presidential contender, and you can bet good money we’ll see all the best auto-carnage in commercials through November. The Don bragged about not paying taxes. In an aside that calls to mind a classic SNL skit about caveman politics (and a notorious tax cheat), he said not paying a fair share, “makes me smart.” Ogre-like, he equated good “business” with inflicting human misery, in regard to the housing crisis. He may have even violated Federal law by revealing classified information about a shadowy, bedridden hacker with a terrible eating disorder. 

The man lied a lot, but of course he did. It's what he does. That’s beside the point, which is, he lied about deeply silly things only a genuine moron loser would lie about because none of it’s complicated and Google’s a thing. Now, if you sincerely love Donald J. Trump none of this matters because read what I just typed: “You sincerely love Donald J. Trump.” Unfortunately for you (and Donald J.), the decideds don't matter so much anymore.

This home stretch is all about the Undies, who can’t make up their mind, Indies not fully committed, and an enormous group of white men and women (but mostly dudes), who know Trump’s terrible, and are embarrassed by him, but have invested so much of their political identity in a hodgepodge of “Hillary Clinton is evil” narratives, even vindictive attempts to damn the bitch with faint praise stick in their throats.
I’m not enough of a crank (yet) to say all this tight race polling we’re seeing right now is wrong. But I’m just crank enough to believe this year’s contest between two purportedly unpopular candidates creates unique weather conditions — a kind of Bermuda triangle where perfectly good instruments malfunction. I’m calling it the Shame Vortex, and it’s why I think there’s a real chance for Clinton to outperform her numbers everywhere.

“Crooked Hillary,” isn't just Trump's mantra, it's a cottage industry. It’s been a cottage industry for the better part of three decades. She’s a murderer, and real estate sleaze with fat thighs, two tiny breasts, and a pair of left wings. How can a bro tell his best bros, or even a disembodied robot voice on the phone he’s, “with Her,” when he called out all his Libtard cousins last Thanksgiving, and the previous Thanksgiving, and maybe the Thanksgiving before that, and everybody at the office Christmas party LOVED the Hillary-themed nutcracker he brought for the Dirty Santa game. And man, you know...

Right between the thighs. (Somebody thought this was a good idea).
  • Right between the thighs. (Somebody thought this was a good idea).
The social internet’s full of all kinds of “Trump’s awful, but I just can’t vote for Her” threads, but with cover provided by high profile Republicans coming out for the Democratic candidate, purity will be tested in the booth. Private life, as we all know, and as the Clintons have demonstrated repeatedly, sometimes awkwardly and not as honestly as they might, is a complicated place. But in a debate that turned more on style than substance, a different, expectation-defying Clinton emerged. And this Clinton, in addition to being competent and thorough, was unusually relatable as she countered rude interruption, shouting, fabrications, and crazy accusations with calm, candor, confidence and something that looked like joy.

“As soon as he travels to 112 countries and negotiates a peace deal, a cease-fire, a release of dissidents, an opening of new opportunities in nations around the world, or even spends 11-hours testifying in front of a congressional committee, he can talk to me about stamina,” Clinton said of her famously orange opponent who was, by that point in the game, a wheezing, dry-mouthed blob of unprepared stress and flop sweat. Everybody saw it. Everybody heard the schlurpy sniffing. Nobody honest with his/herself thought he "did great." 

There are two more debates, obviously. A Texas-sized asteroid might hit Earth any day. All kinds of Trump redemption narratives (sure to be forthcoming) might actually pan out. Heck, the same "shame vortex" I mentioned above might front a silent Trump constituency poised to give him keys to the White House. But all that weird, loud inhalation sounded like a death rattle — a raspy, indignant echo of the Dean scream. It sounded like a lot of undecided voters deciding all at once, and a lot of Hillary haters grabbing hold of their own noses with both hands.


Monday, September 26, 2016

Former TN Legislator Jeremy Durham Kicked Out of UT Game for Hitting

Posted By on Mon, Sep 26, 2016 at 4:21 PM

Jeremy, in happier times.
  • Jeremy, in happier times.
Notorious sleeze Jeremy Durham (R-Loserville) can't stop getting kicked out of things. Once hailed as a rising star in the Tennessee Republican party, Durham's office was moved out of the State House in April, amid accusations of sexual harassment. He was defeated at the polls and finally expelled from the state's General Assembly by a vote of 70-2. Now the man Full Frontal host Samantha Bee called the worst person in Tennessee has been thrown out of the UT/Florida game for hitting a Gator fan in the face.


So far this is all dog bites man because, obviously, a jackass with impulse control issues is going to do stupid stuff. But what about the guy who's hanging out with the guy with impulse issues? Sen. Brian Kelsey, the pride of Germantown, was sitting with his pal Jeremy when the boisterous Florida fan got his glasses knocked off, but didn't witness anything unusual.
Brian Kelsey's selfie.
  • Brian Kelsey's selfie.
"I didn’t witness anything unusual," Kelsey was quoted as saying. "But it was obvious the officer had asked questions of a Florida fan behind us."

According to The Tennessean Kelsey sent a clarifying text: "If that behavior did occur, it's totally unacceptable and it's unbecoming of a Vol fan."

Totally. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Gannett Columnist/UT Professor to NC Motorists: Run Down Protesters

Posted By on Thu, Sep 22, 2016 at 10:48 AM

Gannett columnist and University of Tennessee Law professor Glenn Reynolds (AKA Instapundit) tweeted a message to motorists inconvenienced by Black Lives Matter protesters in North Carolina: "Run them down."
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That's correct, the esteemed professor, widely circulated opinion journalist, and foot soldier in the war on political correctness responded to protests about the low value placed on African-American lives by encouraging drivers to plow through crowds of humans in heavy, gas powered death machines. 

Twitter suspended Reynolds, who's been horrible since his right wing views drew enormous audiences in the early days of blogging. But in case you're wondering if this is just a misunderstanding — something said a bit too "pithily" as it were, here's what Reynolds told radio talker Hugh Hewitt.  

GR: Well, you know, I actually tried to figure it out. I woke up and just found out my account was suspended, and didn’t know why and couldn’t find an email from them. It’s apparently a tweet I put up last night. They had a thing about how protestors were stopping traffic and surrounding vehicles on the interstate, and I said, perhaps a little too pithily, but it is Twitter, run them down. And apparently, that’s why, I don’t actually know that’s why they did it. but I assume that’s why they did it, because that’s what everybody’s talking about. I’ve heard nothing from Twitter.

HH: Now let me do what I did with Donald Trump last week, ask you to expand. I think I know what you meant. If you are threatened, you can defend yourself. Is that what you meant, Glenn Reynolds?

GR: Yeah, I’ve blogged about that before where we’ve had other interstates blocked and people surrounded by mobs. I’ve always said I would just keep driving.

With Hewitt's help the Tweet's reframed as "stand your ground" and Reynolds is prepared to go all Mad Max if necessary. 

UT is currently investigating the tweet. Maybe Gannett, where, to nobody's surprise, Reynolds has been a cheerleader for Donald Trump, might also consider whether or not there's room in the national conversation for inciting mass homicide. 

Gannett owns USA Today and six newspapers in Tennessee including Memphis' Commercial Appeal. 

UPDATE: Dean of UT College of Law weighs in. 

UPDATE 2: Twitter's lifted its suspension and Prof's returned to the pool. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Donald the Great

Republicans have no solutions. Neither did Cleveland’s protesters

Posted By on Sun, Jul 24, 2016 at 9:43 AM

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What separates us from animals, really? Elephants mourn their dead. Monkeys use tools. Octopi are creative problem solvers able to escape the tightest fixes. Even pigeons, filthy as they are, choose monogamy and mate for life. That leaves people with one thing — Self-delusion. And nowhere is this tendency more evident than motivational speaking events where famous and near famous people like former Minnesota Viking Fran Tarkenton dance to inspirational music, quote Vince Lombardi and tell ordinary schmoes the only person standing between themselves and the wealth we all deserve, is the person in the mirror. On second thought, it’s probably more evident at a Republican National Convention where delegates literally wrap themselves in the flag, pretend to care about minorities their platform is almost certainly designed to harm. In Cleveland last week, where Jersey Governor Chris Christie incited a slobbering mob, and G.E. Smith's band cranked out AC/DC covers between speakers, it was sometimes hard to make distinctions. “USA, USA, USA!”





On the closing night of the 2016 RNC, in the rust belt metropolis of Cleveland Ohio, presidential nominee Donald J. Trump tricked conservatives into golf-applauding a brave plea to not mass murder members of the L-G-B-T- Q community. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t that brave, or even a plea, exactly. But that’s what passes for progress in the Ghastly Old Party with its explicitly heteronormative platform. It was a weird moment in a long, smug address that played out like an infomercial for the “Blue Collar Billionaire,” who grew his fortune through bankruptcy after bankruptcy, leaving investors to hold the bag for his profitable profligacy. To borrow from daughter Ivanka’s media-approved “smart” and “savvy”speech, you’ve got to judge the man by his results. He’s loaded, right?



While cliche protesters waved ignorant signs about Trump being the antichrist, chanting the same lame chants they’ve been chanting for decades, Trump, who knows a thing or two about get rich quick scams (cough-Trump University-cough) promised to make America rich again — FAST. That’s got to be an appealing message in a desperate place like Cleveland which was named the poorest big city in America in 2004. A decade later 1 in 3 Clevelanders still lived in poverty, and as Trump noted, it’s been a long time since anybody who wasn’t rich to begin with has seen a pay raise. Easy pickings for a master scammer who knows the con can’t work without establishing a modicum of trust and good feelings.



Let them eat Trump Steaks.



Misleading facts about poverty within the Latino community were accompanied by comments broadly linking Mexican immigrants to heinous crimes. He blamed President Barack Obama for racism, and African-American’s generally for violence in the streets. He said he would be this campaign’s “law and order” president, echoing tropes of Nixon’s 1968 campaign. Nixon used “Law and Order,” to capitalize on white paranoia brought to a fever pitch by Civil Rights marches, and urban riots like the one that tore Detroit apart after police raided an African-American club called The Blind Pig, igniting a powder keg of generations old marginalization. Trump’s doing the same, but with less diplomacy and grace.

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Racial tensions have yielded a lot of nonsense talk comparing 2016 to 1968 even though the two years are nothing alike. For example, in 1968 America was embroiled in a deadly, heavily televised war in Vietnam. These days drones do most of our civilian killing, and all the action happens comfortably off screen, out of mind, and outside the context of a formal military conflict. So, in the absence of righteous fury, middle America can wallow in the unrighteous kind and Trump’s acceptance speech received some of its best applause when he promised to be the law and order candidate and end this reign of minority terror — FAST!



The unanswered question to most of Trump’s vague proposals: How? How will he make America rich — “FAST!”? How will a Federal executive end violence — “FAST!”? Does he really think he’s running for CEO in chief?



Critics have described his acceptance speech as being too dark. Fans have described it as brutally honest but hopeful. Better descriptives would be empty, incoherent and delusional. To his credit, there’s an enormous constituency for that.  

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Rep. Jeremy "Pants Candy" Durham Merits Expulsion From Tennessee General Assembly

Posted By on Wed, Jul 13, 2016 at 9:13 PM

Jeremy Durham AKA "Pants Candy"
  • Jeremy Durham AKA "Pants Candy"
File under wow.

Rep Jeremy Durham (R-Duh) looks to be a special kind of icky creeper, and a report from Tennessee's attorney general finds his behavior merits expulsion from the General Assembly. Not that anybody's expelling him or anything. 

According to the AG's report Durham was nicknamed "Pants Candy" by one of the 22 women with whom he had inappropriate sexual encounters. His partners had been reluctant to complain for fear of losing their jobs. Lobbyists, interns and executive assistants also worried they's lose favor with the GOP caucus

How did Durham earn the nickname Pants Candy? He kept a dish of candy on his desk. When asked for a piece he reached in his front pocket and fished suggestively for an unwrapped mint. "You don't want those, I've got this," he was quoted as saying.

The legislator's political fate is being left in the discerning hands of District 65 voters. 

Shudder. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Read Trump's Letter Soliciting Campaign Donations from Non-U.S. Citizens

Posted By on Wed, Jun 29, 2016 at 3:32 PM

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As you've probably heard by now, GOP presidential nominee Donald J. Trump has been sending fundraising emails to foreign citizens including British politicians and every member of the Parliament of Iceland. This has resulted in a legal complaint filed by the The Campaign Legal Center accusing the candidate of violating federal law. 

Fly on the Wall has obtained an email Trump's campaign sent to various UK officials including Pilsbury D'Bowie from the constituency of Welwyn Hatfield. Here's the full text.

To whom it may concern.
Please excuse me if I have infringe into your privacy. This may be  strange
introduction, but I have no option than to mail you. I am Donald J. Trump, the Republican candidate for President of the United States. I m presently trying to make America great again and stop crooked Hillary. Though I have not met with you, I believe one has to risk confidence in someone to succeed sometimes in life.
To stop crooked Hillry there will be costs of doing America's business for which I will need your beautiful assistance. When we take back our contry I will inevest in your contry thru you in the business of your picking.

• Real Estate Investment
• The Transport Industry
• 3)Five Star Hotels.

I await your response soonest and please include your direct phone number, full
name and contact address for easy communication.
Regards,
Donald J. Trump

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Racist East Tennessee Politician Thinks "Leave it to Beaver" was Real?

Posted By on Wed, Jun 22, 2016 at 1:19 PM

Do it for the Beaver.
  • Do it for the Beaver.

Remember that moment in November 2008, following the election of President Obama, when serious news 

Rick AKA Dick
  • Rick AKA Dick
commentators actually bandied around the idea that we might be living in a "post-racial America?" Apparently nobody bothered to tell yahoo/U.S. House candidate Rick Tyler, who's currently running as an independent in Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District. 

Tyler has erected a campaign sign that says, "Make America White Again," and a second sign juxtaposing language from Martin Luther King's, "I Have a Dream," speech with a picture of the White House. A White House festooned with confederate flags, that is.

Classy, right?

Tyler also told WRCB news he was nostalgic for TV shows like Ozzie & Harriet, and the "Leave it to Beaver time when there were no break-ins; no violent crime; no mass immigration." And so on.

Because, you know, TV is real. 

According to the New York Daily News Tyler made a post on his website naming Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump as an inspiration. That post has been taken down. 


Ward explains gender roles to Wally. 

UPDATE: The signs have been removed.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Andy Holt to Give Away AR-15 Rifle, Would Hand Out More

Posted By on Mon, Jun 13, 2016 at 3:08 PM

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You know, it's getting easier to see things through the lunatic eyes of Tennessee Rep. Andy Holt, (R)-Duh.

Every unhinged missive he fires off sheds a little more light on the pig farmer's thought process, and finally it's clear to me, per Holt, that the Second Amendment exists, in part, to insure bad guys have access to immense firepower. Because that, in turn, furnishes good guys with deserving targets for their own, even immenser firepower. It's pretty obvious, really — right there in the constitution between the words, "well regulated," and "militia," and not all that hard to see if, like Andy, you squint. 

Holt's been out of the spotlight lately. According to a Facebook post, he's been "toiling away in the dirt," just trying to provide for his family. That honest endeavor provided the  legislator with an opportunity to think, pray, and commune with his Lord. You see, a man with a history of hate and abusive behavior walked into a gay bar in Orlando, Florida Sunday morning and, in no time at all, gunned down 50-innocent people with an AR-15 semi-automatic weapon. Holt had planned to give away one of those deadly, fast-shooting rifles at a campaign fundraiser and turkey shoot called HogFest. But now, in the Orlando massacre's horrific wake, Holt's so consarn mad about the dadgum liberals, he wishes he could give away more.

"I'm furious," Holt writes and — oh hell, I'm just going to copy the whole thing right here.

"I'm furious over the fact that our government literally refuses to recognize the threat of radical Islam. I'm furious that it is no longer an insidious threat; but has been allowed, and even encouraged, to become an all out blatant attack due to the inaction of our irresponsible government "leaders." I'm furious over the fact that reckless 'leaders' like Congressman Steve Cohen (D-Memphis) rush to blame the 2nd Amendment rather than radical Islam. I'm furious over the fact that so many are too ignorant to understand that the Twin Towers were not brought down by a firearm, but we're instead brought down by radical Islam. Do you think these people care if they use a gun, bomb or an airplane? I'm furious that so many like Cohen cannot wait to leave us defenseless in the face of such great risk. I'm furious that I get phone calls from the media asking me if I'm still going to give away an AR-15 at our HogFest, rather than asking me how many extra firearms I'll be handing out to ensure people can protect themselves. After all, it was a bullet that stopped the terrorist. Amazing how so many seem to miss that fact. I'm furious that the NSA continues to spy on ordinary Americans like you and me, yet allows suspected terrorists to easily walk away. I'm furious that I see elected liberal democrats rushing to literally blame Republicans for this tragic attack on the LGBT community. While I am a conservative Christian, my heart literally breaks for these women and men on so many levels. I'm furious that these same liberal democrats rushing to condemn conservative Christians that may disagree with a lifestyle, simultaneously rush to defend a religion that readily hangs and massacres gays and lesbians. Ever been to a country where Muslims are the majority? If you have, you'll find gay men hanging in the streets. This is disgusting in so many ways. The media, our government, it's all literally disgusting. I say all this to say that I understand how angry you all are. You have every right to be.

All that being said, I want you all to do 3 things for me.

1.) I want you to call the ones you love most and let them know how important they are to you. I want you to hold onto them for dear life. I want you to cherish every last moment.
2.) I want you to arm yourselves and learn to shoot with deadly accuracy should the need arise. Protect your family. Protect yourselves. Protect your friends. Our government has made it quite clear that it is incapable of doing so. At the end of the day, it's your responsibility anyways.
3.) I want you to pray. Pray for the victims and their families. Pray for our country. Pray for the followers of a deadly, merciless religion. Pray for leadership. Pray for mercy and grace.
Dear media,
You want to know if I'm still giving away an AR-15? You bet the farm I am. And to those that have a problem with it, ‪#‎MolonLabe‬!
How about asking liberals when they plan on banning gun free zones?
Holt, who's introduced his share of faith-based anti-gay legislation, burned his traffic tickets on YouTube, and shown support for antics perpetrated by the Bundy Ranch militia, seemed particularly upset by gun-hating Democrats like Memphis Congressman Steve Cohen, who would "leave us defenseless."

The question, of course, is who Holt means by "us."  

If memory (and Google) serves, Senate Republicans joined together (on the day after the San Bernardino massacre no less) to block a D-supported bill that would have prevented people on the terrorist watch list from buying guns legally. Cohen vocally supported that measure. He's also co-sponsored legislation regulating large capacity ammunition, and closing fire sale loopholes. And yet, somehow, in spite of all that reckless Democrat behavior, even the NRA Political Victory Fund graded Cohen a gentleman's C. Not perfect, but not too shabby for somebody trying to leave Americans all defenseless and shit.

But let's not forget that "a bullet... stopped the terrorist," Omar Mateen, who was picked up and questioned about ISIS ties, but still able to pick up an AR-15 like it was a quart of milk. 

See. The system works. 



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