The Desperate, Craven Andrew Coomo

CoomoAndrew Cuomo (pronounced derisively as “Coo-Mo” by such divergent wags as Jesse Jackson and Rush Limbaugh) will continue after November to be the governor of New York – and everyone in the Empire State will be worse for it. Cynthia Nixon of “Sex and the City” fame never had a chance, although she did her best to expose Andrew as the pompous, craven, inarticulate tool he clearly is.

Of course, Democrat Cuomo will steamroll over Republican opponent and spaghetti sauce flavor Marcus Molinaro, giving son-of-Mario the statewide mantle for a third full consecutive term (unless he bolts around 2020 to take on Trump, or whomever replaces Mr. Orange mid-stream.)

No one on earth can match Trump for sheer narcissism, prevarication, incompetence, brazenness and stupidity, but Andrew could make a decent horse-race out of it.

Trump’s speeches consist of repetitious random words spewed forth like a James Joyce novel translated from English to Mongolian to Urdu back to English, whereas Andrew speaks like the love child of Lurch and HAL from 2001 a Space Odyssey. Here’s Coomo trying to channel Martin Luther King but sounding more like an Atari version of Mr. Rogers trying to teach children how to pronounce “greatness.” (Luv the boos and groans.)


Fodder for the first Trump ad in 2019 should Cuomo run against him

Coomo lovers extol the man’s accomplishments on gun control and minimum wage, but everyone else sees him as an ambitious yet rudderless politician willing to tack in whatever direction the winds take him.

We at Major Terata were not avid fans of Mario, and the animus continues double for the son. Here are some recent Coomo charades that have left us disenchanted.

Tappan Zee Bridge

Andrew drove a proposal to rename the rebuilt multi-billion dollar Tappan Zee Bridge connecting Rockland and Westchester Counties as the Mario Cuomo Bridge. Pure upside-down nepotism – and fruitless, as everyone will still call it the Tappan Zee, just like the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Mid-Hudson Bridge is still called the Mid-Hudson, and the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge is still called the Tri-Borough. But forget the name. Andrew, in a ploy to generate enthusiasm for his tepid gubernatorial campaign, planned a grand opening of the bridge before it was ready. Sure enough, the day after Coomo and a bunch of “dignitaries” assembled on the deck of the south span to dedicate the new bridge a major part of the old bridge seemed ready to give way and possibly crash into the new bridge. Prudence would have guided a better man to delay the circus until all was safe – but not photo-op Coomo. Imagine the tweets from Trump had the old Tappan Zee had given way and taken out Andrew and Hillary and the rest of the gang.

Aide goes to prison

Andrew considered his close aide, Joseph Percoco, as like a brother to him. That is until Percoco was found guilty of fraud and accepting bribes. Right under Coomo’s proboscis. Percoco was convicted in March of accepting more than $300,000 from companies that wanted to influence decisions by the Cuomo administration – and as skeptics, we must assume he succeeded to some degree. Coomo called the whole sordid affair a “human tragedy” but in the midst of an election, it was essentially, “Joe who?”

Cynthia Nixon tried hard to make this shitball stick to Andrew but voters never considered her a viable opponent. Still, it’s hard to believe anyone would believe Coomo and Percoco weren’t giving each other tantric massages.

Abnormal Mailer

For some fucked up reason late in the campaign, Coomo aides believed it would be wise to try to turn voters against Cynthia Nixon by virtue of her not being sufficiently anti-anti-Semitism – the kind of accusation that plays well in NYC. And it might have worked had Nixon not been raising two Jewish children. Oops.

The state Democratic Party, controlled by Coomo, mailed a flier to about 7,000 Jewish households right before Rosh Hashana and the primary which claimed, among other BS, that Cynthia Nixon had been “silent on the rise of anti-Semitism.”

Although Coomo tried to ooze away from the debacle by claiming the flyer was the idea of some unknown derelict with no connection to his campaign, it was revealed shortly afterwards that one of Coomo’s former top aides approved it. Given that Coomo was a good 40 points ahead of Nixon at the time, it seems the play was borderline retarded. He was going to win, so why hand his Republican opponent a stick with which to hit him over the head.

That’s just the Coomo goombah style. It works in (enough of) New York, but in the rest of the country – not likely so much.

Clearly, Andrew Coomo intends to take on Orange Man in 2019 – but expect a deluge of counter-slime from Trump at his upstart opponent, starting with a dopey nickname like Andy of Gayberry, Little Orphan Andy, Low-Hygiene Andy, or Coo-Magnon Man.

Clean Coal

ash
When in the Pilot House Restaurant in North Carolina – order something from a can

To no one’s surprise, following the deluge that was known as Hurricane Florence, man-made lagoons holding millions of gallons of coal ash broke down and spilled their vile goo into streams and rivers, including the famed Cape Fear River. What is coal ash? It’s the detritus that’s left behind when power plants burn coal to generate power – the stuff that cancers are made of.

Coal ash contains mercury, arsenic, lead and a host of other three-syllable elements that have been known to kill people as far back as Julius Caesar and Sun Tzu. So when such a slurry of toxins spills out of its confines into rivers from which humans draw once-potable water, bad things happen.

Suddenly, all those MAGA-hatted, pro-coal patriots come running to the government (run by a socialist deep state) for compensation – also known as handouts.
Coal was a wonder in the time of William of Wallace, but in the 21st century – a point when knowledge of scientific phenomenon exceeds that all of humanity for the previous 10,000 years – you’d think we’d be past burning coal for any reason. Any reason except for votes in West Virginia.

People in the Carolinas who are now drinking and bathing in power-plant waste: take a shallow breath and consider your next vote.

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Fahrenheit 12-D

kaepernickRight-wingers are apoplectic over Nike’s new ad campaign featuring ex-49ers quarterback and NFL persona-non-gratis Colin Kaepernick. So incensed are they over the appearance of the traitorous Kaepernick in the new “Just Do it” campaign that they are actually burning their sneakers and other Nike gear.

Presumably these patriots are burning their shoes because they don’t own any books.

Of course, “Bone-Spurs” Trump – always looking for a distraction from his horrorshow presidency – jumped on what he claimed to be damage to Nike from boycotts. That sounds more like hope than fact, given that the campaign was only announced a few days ago and will not officially commence for a couple weeks. And Nike has the contract to supply uniforms to the NFL for the next eight years, so the bonds are strong in football-land.

In any event, it’s always rich to watch Trump thump his medal-less chest in support of a military he worked so hard to stay out of.

More bizarre is how Kaepernick’s silent protests against police brutality got re-imagined as disrespect for the military. His beef isn’t with the military. Even if it was, how come Kaepernick is seen as treasonous when Muhammad Ali who refused duty is venerated for his convictions? Maybe it’s the ‘fro?

To the feckless NFL owners who panicked at the prospect of lowered viewership and revenue contraction the spectacle of Kaepernick and many other players kneeling during the playing of the national anthem was too much to bear. Having no balls to either suck up the status quo or stop playing the anthem while the players are on the field, the owners have patched together a listless array of rules and penalties that will surely exacerbate the situation.

And somehow this is Kaepernick’s fault.

RIP Burt Reynolds

burt

We at Major Terata are unsure whether in 2018 women find men with wall-to-wall carpeting on their bodies to be sexy or kinda gross. But when Burt Reynolds peeled it off for Cosmopolitan it attracted nationwide attention – finally, liberated women could drool over a centerfold just like men had been doing since the 1950s.

Burt started in TV all the way back in 1958 and played roles in such fine art as Branded, Flipper, Perry Mason, Route 66 and, of course, Love American Style.

He graduated into a role of a lifetime playing the rough-hewn canoeist-cum-archer in Deliverance, but soon became typecast as the womanizing wild man once he took on the starring role in 1977’s chase-a-thon Smokey and the Bandit. From there Burt essentially played the same guy in Semi-Tough, Cannonball Run I & II, Stroker Ace, and Gator. Looking back at the idiocy of the Cannonball Run oeuvre, it’s hard not to think Burt was fucking Dom DeLuise in the trailer between takes.

Eventually Burt went back to doing television and appearing as other characters in remakes of his old shit, including The Longest Yard where he played a coach and The Dukes of Hazzard (essentially Smokey and the Bandit) where he donned a white suit to play Boss Hogg.

But as sometimes happens in this business, an aging Burt was cast into some choice parts and handled them with the kind of aplomb that comes from being in front of a camera for a half century. His performances in Striptease and especially Boogie Nights proved the man had the right stuff.

Toward the end it was kinda sad to watch Burt crumple. I saw him on an episode of some collectible car auction show on a three-digit cable channel where one of the Trans-Ams that appeared in the Smokey series was on the block.

Damn, I couldn’t believe what happened to that muscular guy who put an arrow through a hillbilly’s chest from 50 paces.

Forget warning messages on cigarette packages – they should just post this picture.

burtsmokey

A Wonderful Word

Prosopagnosia – an inability to recognize the faces of familiar people.

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Trump’s War on Coal

trumpcoal2
He rubs it on his penis, too

Continuing on his “god”-given mission to undo whatever Obama had done before him, Trump the other day put a stake in the moribund Clean Power Plan which called for reductions in power-plant’s usage of coal as a fuel. If the Clean Power Plan had taken effect, coal generation would have dropped 29 percent below today’s levels. Trump can’t allow such an atrocity to occur so he’s directed the implementation of the “Affordable Clean Energy” rule which gives states lots of leeway to decide to what extent they want to pollute their neighbors.

It’s all about halting the “War on Coal” – say “amen.”

But looking at the details, we find the EPA estimates that under Trump’s Affordable Clean Energy plan coal-fired electricity will still decline by roughly 20 percent by 2030. Not that different from the results of an Obama-led war. The total amount of coal mined for electricity would drop by one-third, compared with levels that are already the lowest in decades.

In summary, despite the bloviation, Trump is actually continuing Obama’s War on Coal. Not only are Trumpists in Kentucky getting short shrift on promises to boost coal, they’re getting boned on lost bourbon sales thanks to Orange Man’s asinine tariffs.

Assuming Trump is serious about reviving the fuel of the Middle Ages, when will he force Detroit automakers to produce coal-fired cars? When will he direct the FDA to declare coal as a food group?

Why won’t he promote the use of coal for blackface in the theater so more whites can get jobs playing roles that would otherwise go unfairly to Denzel Washington?

The powerful “black lung” voting bloc demands action!

Oblivious to the Digital Age

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NY Representative Chris Collins got a text about the imminent demise of a company in which he was heavily invested – and he went on to commit securities fraud in apparent ignorance of how cell phones work. He blabbed about the coming crash of the company’s stock – unknown to the public – to relatives and friends, and was quickly scooped up by the SEC for insider trading.

Another hot-shot Republican Congressman, Duncan Hunter of California and his wife just pleaded not guilty to misusing campaign funds. Again, the couple seemed to be ignorant of the tools of the digital age because they spent $250K of campaign funds on international travel, groceries, clothing and even an airline ticket for their fucking pet rabbit – the kinds of transactions that are stored forever in the catacombs of American Express and MasterCard. (And now, manly Duncan is tossing the blame on his wife who supposedly handled all the finances.)

But the best of the worst has to be Melissa Howard, conservative Republican candidate for the Florida House, who concocted the most-easily debunked claim of all: that she’d earned a college degree that she actually hadn’t. Howard touted her degree from Miami University in Ohio (yeah – there’s a university called “Miami” in Ohio, just like there’s a place called “Jersey Shore” in the middle of Pennsylvania.)

Perhaps Melissa thought no one would ever take the time to click twice to discover the real story: that her 1996 graduation was a fake. When first faced with the allegation, Melissa – like the good little Trumper she is – called it all “fake news.” Her campaign even went so far as to shit on her opponent Tommy Gregory, saying, “There’s nothing he won’t do or say to hurt Melissa or her reputation within the community. It’s shameful.”

Like shoveling against the tide, Melissa pressed on by posting as “proof” a proud photo of herself sitting next to the framed diploma. Why she didn’t also post the photo of her accepting the Nobel Prize is beyond me.

howard_fakediploma_kid2sw

Fed up with the shenanigans, the authorities at Miami University went into their digital archives and rendered the verdict: they never conferred a degree upon Melissa Howard.

You might say it’s shameful.

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Time to Go Back to CEO School

cell
The new C-Suite

After Martha Stewart of all people was convicted of securities fraud for insider trading, you’d think highly-paid CEOs and Board of Directors members today would tread lightly around any activity that might attract unwanted attention from the Securities and Exchange Commission. Martha was worth about a quarter of a billion dollars at the time she acted on inside information about drug-maker Imclone so as to avoid a few thousands in losses – a figure that probably equates to less than a week’s worth of feed for the heirloom chickens cavorting on her tony Connecticut compound. So stupid.

Yet in the past couple of days we’ve seen similarly blatant idiocy coming from titans of industry and government. Will they never learn?

Billionaire entrepreneur and futurist Elon Musk kinda stepped on his own dick the other day by using Twitter to communicate significant financial information that would normally be contained in a formal SEC-approved document and vetted by the board of directors prior to publication. Musk, who is the head of SpaceX, the Boring Company and most famously, Tesla, the darling manufacturer of electric cars, solar panels and clean energy storage, is tired of having to deal with pesky investors and government oversight of their operations. He wants to take Tesla private by acquiring all the outstanding shares of the company. With Tesla no longer a publicly traded company, Musk figures he’ll be able to operate the company with fewer morons looking over his shoulder.
In a tweet last week, Musk said this:

musk tweet

Now, making a statement that he’s thinking about taking Tesla private is one thing. Claiming the price he’s willing to offer ($420) is solid because “funding secured” is quite another. Naturally, Tesla stock spiked up immediately before trading was halted due to the furious nature of the activity spurred by the ill-conceived tweet.

Was funding really secured? If so, who is the source? Was $420 a bona-fide offer or just a number Musk pulled out of his ass with help from equipment provided by his Boring Company? The SEC wants to know.

Meanwhile, a slew of investors with short positions shit their pants while watching Tesla stock fly to the moon on Musk’s cryptic tweet. Some suspect that Musk put out the tweet precisely to fuck with the shorts – something every CEO would like to do in his or her dreams but knows better not to.

Last Friday, a trader named Kalman Isaacs filed a class-action lawsuit on the basis that Musk’s tweet amounted to securities fraud. Now the fun can begin. If Musk can’t validate what he pooped out on Twitter, you can expect more lawsuits and deeper SEC intrusion – not the kind of self-inflicted wound the struggling company needs at the moment. The stock price is back to where it was pre-tweet suggesting investors think Elon was just goofing. I wonder what the investigators will think?

—–

Representative Chris Collins of New York’s 27th district really screwed the pooch when he pulled a Martha and spread insider information to his son and others after finding out the bad news that a phama company he had invested heavily in would soon be worthless. The company, Innate Immunotherapeutics had been working on a drug for multiple sclerosis, but after final trials, it was proven to be ineffective. As the MS drug was the only asset Innate had, its failure meant the company would go casters up once the news was released.

Business genius Collins who had convinced his entire extended family and at least five congressional colleagues to invest suddenly faced a situation eerily similar to that of Martha Stewart and Imclone. And like Martha, Collins – who should have known better – passed on the insider poop. Of course, treated to the info, the investors dumped the rancid stock on unsuspecting buyers who took a bath when the stock lost 90 percent of its value after the news went public. Funny how that works.

Collins and his son were arrested for insider trading and posted bail. Collins Sr., who did not actually sell his shares on the bad news, initially stood fast on his plans to run for re-election in November, but in the face of a virulent shitstorm from partisans – and no love from his fellow Republicans – he announced he’s dropping out. But not before taking a page from the standard play-book and denouncing the charges as “meritless.” Dude – the SEC has your phone records from the moment the Innate CEO texted you the rude news. If by “meritless” you mean “ironclad guilty.” then I’ll forgive you.

Collins held a position of four million shares in Innate making him the largest shareholder. He was also a member of the board. In addition to being heavily invested in Innate, Collins also holds large positions in Mead Supply, Oxygen Generating Systems Intl., Audubon Machinery Corp, Schlyer Machine, Volland Electric and ZeptoMetrix Corporation.

You would think that such experience would cultivate a sense of business acumen. Getting away with insider trading as blatantly obvious as that committed by Collins is about as likely as hiding a Ponzi scheme for 100 years. Collins had to know that – yet he fucked himself up anyway.

Time to go back to CEO school for a refresher – after spending a little time at the grey-bar hotel.

TrumpCollins

Satan’s Angel

Intrigued by a head-shaking article about a cabal of three Mar-a-Lago members and Trump buds who actually run the Veteran’s Administration, I couldn’t help but be drawn to an accompanying photo of the swearing-in ceremony of latest VA head Robert Wilkie. In the photo applauding the festivities stands VP Mike Pence with his benign doll’s eyes stare, watching over Trump like some creepy guardian angel.

wilkie

And now that I’ve thought about it, I’ve concluded that white-haired Pence really is an apparition sent by Satan to protect Orange Man from applying too much hairspray or signing executive orders with his toothbrush or devouring a scrap of paper or appointing Pat Sajak ambassador to a country with no vowels in its name.

It’s there plain as the collusion on Don, Jr’s greasy mop: Just over Trump’s shoulder the angelic Pence watches, his face never betraying fear or astonishment, his vacant eyes affixed to Trump’s cantilevered hairdo, wondering what foibles he’ll have to manage next.

trumppence

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U Bum

ubumAccording to one survey, Americans spend an average of about 24.4 hours per week watching live television. That number would be significantly reduced if Trump was left out of the survey group. As the so-called leader of the free world and the most powerful man on earth, Trump would rather fritter away eight hours a day in front of the boob-tube than tackle the most basic of the nation’s problems.

Everyone knows Mr. Orange is a yuge fan of Fox & Friends where the hosts speak in tongues to the president and feed him his talking points for the day. We also are led to believe he despises CNN – and yet he apparently rations some of his copious view time to that “failing” cable channel. Yesterday, after watching CNN’s Tonight with Don Lemon where the lemony host interviewed NBA rock star LeBron James, Trump melted down and posted this snarky and ill-advised tweet.

lebron

Once a Twitter fan of LeBron when “King James” trod the floorboards for the Cleveland Cavaliers in politically important Ohio, Trump now feels he has permission to shit on the newest member of the LA Lakers. After all, the Lakers are a team situated in a town in a state that would sooner vote for Karl Marx than Trump (aka. Blimpo Marx).

No doubt Trump was angered when James called him out as “U bum” for disinviting Steph Curry and by extension his championship Golden State Warriors from visiting the White House for a traditional photo-op almost as consequential as when a turkey receives a presidential pardon before Thanksgiving. I’m sure James hit a nerve because he had the temerity to expose a cheap common Trump ploy: when faced with certain rejection, take an action beforehand that makes it appear you were first to reject.

lebron1

Trump’s tweet about Lemon and James comports with his oft-deployed theme of attacking people based on their poor intelligence – something Trump could have no realistic insight into. It’s just a cheap shot that can’t be proven or disproven – and as such should never leave the confines of the grade school play yard. To him, all his enemies are “low IQ.” And until he releases his own IQ test results he should stop smearing others.

But since he brought it up, Don Lemon – admittedly not the sharpest tool in the box- is not the “dumbest man on television.” That honor goes to a either Brian Kilmeade or Steve Douchy – both of Fox & Friends.

Listen to Kilmeade’s conclusion that America has a problem because white people keep having sex with other “species” – by which he means non-white humans. He was forced to retract later.

Nevertheless, it seems incontrovertible that Douchy is stupider that Kilmeade – you can tell just by looking at his vacant face. Here’s a nice Douchy slam down from John McCain.

Oops. That wasn’t Steve Douchy, it was his equally moronic son Peter who no doubt got his Fox News gig strictly on merit. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Let’s try again. Here’s a clip of Steve making such a moronic claim about climate change that even Fox toad Geraldo Rivera (another candidate for dumbest man on television) was forced to disagree, calling out his colleague in retardation.

When you think about it, if you combined the IQs of both Kilmeade and Douchy, together these nitwits would be the dumbest man on television.

The Love of Look


This song has nothing to do with this article

It’s human nature to pollute conversation with annoying verbal tics. The introduction of “ums” and “y’knows” belies the speaker’s synaptic delays as he or she formulates the connection from one idea to the next. Other verbal tics serve to soften the introduction of a response to a question (consider how many times Ronald Reagan began an answer with a head shake and a “Well…”) while some are used by people to progress the conversation – the most annoying being “So…”

We at Major Terata are sick of people sticking the word “so” into sentences that don’t require or deserve it.

“So, I was thinking we should see that new Abba movie.” “Sounds good. So, should we try for this Friday?” “Sure. So, do you think your sister would like to come along?” “Not likely. She has a wicked case of crabs.” “So, I can recommend a good doctor.” “She’d appreciate that. So, you’ll text me his name?”

A particularly annoying verbal tic has sprung up among TV pundits who appear with regularity on such hit shows as “The Rachel Maddow Show,” “Morning Joe,” “All in with Chris Hayes,” “AC:360,” “The Sean Hannity Show,” and virtually every other venue that features a half-dozen talking heads sucking the oxygen away from one another. And that tic is “Look.”

The purpose of “Look” is to serve as a rest stop between a pundit’s feeble response to a direct question and his or her attempt to regain footing by barreling headlong into a tangential and incoherent diatribe until either the host or another guest mercifully interrupts. For example:

HOST: What do you think about China’s manipulation of the renminbi?

PUNDIT: The renminbi must not be manipulated. Look. My reporting on China has led me to conclude that the armature sprocket is causing interference which in turn is causing the combustion line to interfere with the flow and the dynaflow—

HOST: –We’re gonna cut to some Breaking News now…

Yes, the interjection of “Look” has become pervasive on the pundit TV circuit – and it really should stop. Those who use it come off like know-nothings caught with their pants around their ankles, or arrogant know-everythings who feel they have to one-up the host with a pithy riposte before moving to the meat of the subject.

Here’s a transcript of a recent airing of “Hard Ball with Chris Matthews.” Matthews splooges out some incoherent word salad that has something to do with Russia. A former Republican congressman must respond.

MATTHEWS: David Jolly, I want to talk to you about your Republican Party. Is it still there? Is the big bad bear now the man you are afraid to poke? It used to be the Russians, it used to be our enemies, now it`s the leader of the Party who is so fearful or fear so much and say that that`s the number one goal of any elected official, do not mess or do not, as Bob Corker said, dare poke the bear.

JOLLY: That`s right, Chris. Look. The GOP that we knew is dead. It`s over. This is the Party of Donald Trump.

You’ll note that the interjection of “Look” is meant to separate Jolly-the-Paid-Guest’s required deference to the host (“That’s right, Chris.”) to his more thoughtful insights on whatever Matthews was trying to convey.

Here’s an example of how a guest uses “Look” to try to recover from sounding like a nitwit. Brian Williams of “The 11th Hour” speaks with former Senator Bob Kerrey about Trump’s meeting with Putin in Helsinki.

WILLIAMS: So what do you think it is, a friend of mine watched the press conference in over in Helsinki kind of a mild Trump supporter, comes away from it and says, he kind of, you could believe they`ve got something on him. What do you think its?

KERREY: Well, you certainly don`t want to believe Vladimir Putin, he says, oh, no we got millions of people. Look, Donald Trump has been talking about running for president since `87 or `88.

Yes, none of this makes any sense. Williams throws Kerrey some brain rot, and Kerrey, instead of demanding, “What the fuck?” goes into an equally incoherent response before trying to recover with the verbal tic “Look.” Clearly in this case it didn’t work.

If you waste enough time listening to programs featuring Stormy Daniels’s attorney Michael Avenatti, you’ll be treated to a lot of “Looks.” Which makes sense after all when you think about it, as foisting a “Look” onto someone comports with the Mafiosi code of communications.

Here is Lawrence O’Donnell chatting up Avenatti about nemesis Michael Cohen in which we get the double-Look.

O`DONNELL: And, Michael, there`s another side of this legal coin. One side of it is you need to hire me in order to get benefits. The other side of it is, which is kind of the old mafia version of it, you need to hire me to prevent this president from doing serious damage to you. I will get this president not to do damage to you.

AVENATTI: Well, there`s little doubt, Lawrence, I don`t know this for a fact, but, look, based on the way I know Michael Cohen and the way he`s conducted himself, there`s little doubt in my mind that probably both messages were delivered. And, look, let me also say this, I seriously doubt that at the end of this, there`s going to be any doubt as to whether Mr. Trump knew what was going on here.

Note that the first “Look” seems to be a dodge away from weakness (“I don’t know this for a fact”) which is followed by a stronger “Look” prefacing a bold statement about Trump’s ultimate culpability.

Why not play a parlor game while sitting in your La-Z-Boy or sprawled out atop your lumpy bed under your stinky sheets: Count the number of times a pundit utters “Look” and you might qualify to squeeze Don’s lemons.

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Papa Boner

pj

I wonder how many people hear the name John Schnatter and think “now that’s Italian!” Nevertheless, the owner of that name who goes by the more familiar “Papa John” is the proprietor of the fourth largest pizza restaurant chain in America, and as a 30 percent shareholder in the company is worth at least $600 million.

Some years ago, presuming that those who like to watch football might also be inclined to consume pizza (regardless of its resemblance to cardboard), Papa John embarked on a close sponsorship relationship with the NFL, and recruited former star quarterback Peyton Manning to appear in TV commercials as himself. Papa was there too in all his oily splendor pitching his pies.

After one-time San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick popularized the silent “take a knee” protest during the playing of the national anthem – and Draft Dodger-in-Chief Trump maligned the spectacle to divert attention from whatever asshole shit he was doing at the time – fan interest in watching NFL games began to tail off. By putting all his pepperoni chips on the NFL, Papa suddenly felt vulnerable. Furthermore, he was placed in the unfortunate position of having to take sides between the players’ right to protest and the “patriots” who make up a big portion of the pizza-eating, football-loving fan base.

nfl
America’s Pastime no more?

As Schnatter was already on record trashing Obamacare for adding 14 cents to the price of a pizza – something he would rather fight than accommodate for the betterment of his employees’ health – it’s probably not hard to figure out where he stands on certain types of people kneeling during the anthem.

(Sidebar: While the NFL continues to fumble their accommodations of the national anthem conundrum, why not just stop playing it altogether? Or would that just spark yet another controversy to be co-opted by Trump to further distract the pliant masses?)

Knowing that the company would inevitably be confronted by media on its position, Papa John’s hired a marketing firm called Laundry Service to help craft messaging. And when you’re so clueless that you have to hire a firm to tell you what to say – especially one called Laundry Service – you should expect rocky seas.

In a conference call with Schnatter and his team, the marketing firm did a bit of role playing with Papa to prepare him for possible hostile questions from the media about the company’s coziness with the NFL. Maybe the Laundry Service flak doing the role playing got under Schnatter’s pigskin, because Papa John was heard defending himself by noting, “Colonel Sanders called blacks niggers,” going on to complain that the Colonel never got called out for his racism. That should have been the end of it, but some person on the call leaked the slur – and then all hell broke loose.

(When will white public figures learn? Just like they’ll never successfully explain away a comment about how their personal travails are equivalent to the Holocaust, they can never, ever utter the N-word under any circumstances without it blowing back on them.)

Now Schnatter is trying to get back on the board of directors of the company he founded in his father’s bar after being forced to resign as Chairman. Meanwhile the stock has tanked and is now down about a third since the beginning of the year.

(In related humorous turn, during an interview with Forbes in January when Papa John’s stock (PZZA) was trading around $68, Pree Yerramilli, a Senior Analyst at Eagle Chase Capital explained why he believed the stock was primed to go much higher. Seven months later it’s selling for about $45. That’s why dudes like Pree are paid the big bucks.)

As with Subway’s Jared and Sambo’s Tiger, John Schnatter is systematically being erased from Papa John’s iconography. Could the company pull an IHOP and change its name? Papa Boner, perhaps?

restaurant
Papa John joins other defunct restaurant mascots

Pop Quiz

I’m guessing most people who didn’t know his full name assumed John Schnatter, founder of Papa John’s pizza was of Italian descent, given the nature of his cuisine and his Mediterranean-like features.

Question: What is the origin of the name of the “Mexican” restaurant chain Taco Bell?

Answer below.

bell

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Trump’s Pecker

peckerprick
A Pecker and a Prick walk into a bar…

One way to distinguish real journalism from the phony version is whether the publisher will pay people for their stories. Real journalists don’t do that. Grocery store toilet paper like the National Enquirer on the other hand does so regularly. The Enquirer has purchased many bombshell stories from insiders who may or may not have witnessed bad behavior of celebrities and other famous souls, and then published their stories whenever the editors believed the sordid tales might drive circulation.

Sometimes the Enquirer has chosen not to publish material they paid for – not because the story was found to be false – but because the publisher wants to protect the subject of the story. Ever since Trump-bud David Pecker took over the Enquirer in 1999, the magazine has bent over backward to protect the Orange Man from greasy revelations about his abject libido. Most recently, Pecker paid $150,000 to former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal for the rights to her first-hand account of her year-long affair with class-act Trump that started shortly after his wife gave birth. Now that would make some great copy and would probably move a lot of papers off the rack above the conveyor belt, but Pecker decided not to publish – a move called “catch & kill.” Hoping to help Trump avoid even more embarrassment right before the 2016 election, Pecker locked up McDougal’s story. As expected, when inklings of the deal leaked in 2016, Trumpists like his communications gal Hope Hicks spouted indignation at the absurdity of it all saying, “We have no knowledge of any of this” and labeling the affair “totally untrue.”

And by “totally untrue” she meant “absolutely true – this is randy Donnie we’re talking about.”

Everyone now knows it’s true because audio tape of Trump discussing the Pecker payment with his shifty lawyer Michael Cohen has just surfaced. Of course, none of Trump’s cult – including the Jesus-loving evangelicals – gives a shit.

Before this whole Pecker-Trump cabal came to light, I had remembered the Enquirer (and others of its ilk like the Weekly World News and the Globe) for producing mindrot about aliens consorting with the Clintons.

aliens

Little did I realize that Pecker’s obsession with Hillary Clinton had become a full-on neurosis. For awhile, the Enquirer portrayed Hillary as a feeble old biddy on her last legs who would be dead before anyone could ever vote for her. Then miraculously, the woman who was supposed to be dead by now gained an astonishing 103 pounds. What a turnaround!

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And I’m sure the Enquirer never doctored the fat photo, just like they kept their hands off this cover photo of Jennifer Anniston.

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As Trump made headway in the 2016 campaign, Pecker’s team ditched the terminal health condition angle and hit Hillary on corruption – no doubt the more effective tactic with the haters who pick up the Enquirer while checking out their bacon-wrapped corndogs and 64-oz bottles of sodey pop.

enq11

I used to work at a grocery store in the 1970s where the Enquirer and other moronic tabloids perched by the checkout counter – and I wondered what kind of asshole would buy into the sensational stories blazed across the cover. Now I know.

By the way, have you heard the latest????

bat-boy

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The Brain Attached to the Mouth

gibberish

In grade school, if you mentioned that you play the organ, you could expect to be queried on whether you also toot the skin flute. It’s just that way in grade school.

I hearkened back to those dismal days and laughed heartily when I heard Trump claim at a rally in Montana: “I don’t have a guitar or an organ. No organ.” Really – no organ? Just a prosthesis, perhaps?

As everyone knows, Trump gives bad speech. His rallies, where he sounds more like Jimmy Joe Jeeter than the president of the United States, feature the faithful hordes in MAGA gear who hang on his every word salad.

This block of words uttered from the puckered mouth of Trump in Montana had almost certainly been translated from Mongolian to Danish to Esperanto back to Mongolian then to English. Either that, or it’s the output of a seriously mis-wired brain. See if you can follow the path from Elton John to important brains while going through hockey and basketball.

“I have broken more Elton John records, he seems to have a lot of records. And I, by the way, I don’t have a musical instrument. I don’t have a guitar or an organ. No organ. Elton has an organ. And lots of other people helping. No we’ve broken a lot of records. We’ve broken virtually every record. Because you know, look I only need this space. They need much more room. For basketball, for hockey and all of the sports, they need a lot of room. We don’t need it. We have people in that space. So we break all of these records. Really we do it without like, the musical instruments. This is the only musical: the mouth. And hopefully the brain attached to the mouth. Right? The brain, more important than the mouth, is the brain. The brain is much more important.”

Get all of that?

I pity the translators who had to turn Trump hash into Korean during the Kim Jong-Un love-fest in Singapore.

TRUMP: I have broken more Elton John records, he seems to have a lot of records. And I, by the way, I don’t have a musical instrument. I don’t have a guitar or an organ. No organ.

TRANSLATOR (In Korean): Dotard says he stomped on the homosexual who wrote “Rocket Man.” He also admits – as our DPRK intelligence concluded – that he has no penis.

KIM: What an asshole.

TRANSLATOR (In English): Supreme Leader Kim wants you to stop playing war games with the South.

TRUMP: Sure thing. (Points to his head) The brain, more important than the mouth, is the brain.

TRANSLATOR (In Korean): Dotard seems to be quoting the Scarecrow from the “Wizard of Oz.”

KIM: Shit, I would have expected him to quote Toto.

TRANSLATOR (In English): Supreme Leader Kim wants you to lift sanctions.

TRUMP: We’ll see what happens. (Points to his mouth) This is the only musical: the mouth.

TRANSLATOR (In Korean): Dotard asked if you will insert organ into his mouth.

KIM: Time to go.

TripAdvisor circa 1941

Gudrun

Gudrun Burwitz, the daughter of Heinrich Himmler, died the other day at age 88. As the chief Nazi architect of the “Final Solution” to the Jewish problem, Himmler treated his young daughter at the time to visits to concentration camps. One such visit in 1941 included Dachau where 30,000 prisoners were put to death.

Little Gudrun who was about 11 years old wrote in her diary: “We saw everything we could. We saw the gardening work. We saw the pear trees. We saw all the pictures painted by the prisoners. Marvelous. And afterward we had a lot to eat. It was very nice.”

No doubt the guests at Dachau agreed wholeheartedly.

One can only wonder, however, what she might have written had TripAdvisor existed at the time.

“The rooms are tiny – not going to lie – but all have a window that opens with dark shutters to block out the sun. We saw a room with a bunk bed – each room has a very spacious latrine that is cleaned out at least once a year. The heating unit is strong and works great, as you can tell from the never-ending plumes of smoke from the stack. The best part is the overhead shower. WOW – a deluge! I give it five bent crosses!”

dachau-bunks
Bunkbeds at the W Hotel in Dachau

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Musings on July 4

declaration

Confident that a Trump cock is bigger than a Hancock, the Orange Man chose July 4th to take his rightful place on the Declaration of Independence, ensuring that his Rorschach Test of a signature goes down as the hugest scribble in Colonial history.

And while he was at it, Trump underlined a few passages he pledged to investigate further, including “absolute Despotism,” “Cruelty & perfidy,” and “obstructed the Administration of Justice.”

3-2-1 Boom!

What would Independence Day be without the fireworks, which thanks to relaxation of laws and rules regulating their possession have sold at record numbers. According to the American Pyrotechnics Association , sales of fireworks to consumers in 2017 reached $885 million – an increase of 7 percent over 2016, and up over 100 percent since states began to expand legality of explosive devices.

When I was a young boy – the kind of person who wants fireworks more than any other demographic – all fireworks designed to blow up were verboten in Pennsylvania. We could light sparklers and black snakes, but not a silver-tube or an M-80, as those products actually exploded.


This was the extent of our fireworks enjoyment in Puritan Pennsylvania.

If someone wanted that kind of contraband they had to drive 30 minutes to Ohio where the rednecks there sold practically every type of fireworks. My friend’s father was one such mule, transporting hundreds of dollars worth of Chinese-made, often low-quality fireworks – many of which failed to explode at the last second, tempting kids into relighting a two millimeter long fuse. And what could go wrong with that?

Eventually, as with lottery tickets and casino gambling, states that restricted sales of fireworks realized they were playing the patsies to bordering states with more liberal laws. Now the map of the country as it applies to fireworks looks like this (curiously, Ohio is now among the most restrictive purveyors):

fireworks

With that much “blue” across the country, the fireworks business (sorry, pyrotechnics industry) should enjoy revenue growth for years to come.

Let’s give them a hand.

hand

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Wharton Wants its Diploma Back

trumpharley
Trump in his riding garb, ready to mount his Harley – and then fuck the company that made it.

Harley-Davidson, once upon a time a darling in Trump’s orbit for making iconic motorcycles in America, has now incurred the wrath of the vindictive Orange man. And how did that happen? Harley exhibited the temerity to behave like a for-profit company whose leaders are charged with fiduciary responsibility to shareholders. It’s a concept a Very Stable Genius businessman should understand and embrace, not vilify.

When the European Union retaliated against Harley and other U.S.-based companies for Trump’s tariffs on their metals and other goods (and who could ever have seen that coming?), Harley indicated that they might have to move production of some motorcycles destined for the EU – to the EU. About one-sixth of Harley-Davidson’s revenue comes from sales of bikes to Europeans – a significant slice that Trump put into serious jeopardy with his “national security” tariffs.

To have a chance at saving that portion of their revenue stream, Harley might have to move the production to avoid the EU tariff that would slap thousands to the cost of American-made bike. That’s not un-American – that’s as American as the Wharton School of Business (as anyone who supposedly attended should know.)

But while Trump was throwing around veiled threats in response to Harley’s supposed disloyalty (“Harley Davidson, please build those beautiful motorcycles in the USA, please, OK? Don’t get cute with us. Don’t get cute.”), his illustrious Treasury Secretary, Steve “the Munchkin” Mnuchin opined as follows: “I can’t possibly understand why Harley would be moving production outside of the United States at this point.”

Really, Steve-o? You can’t possibly understand why a company would make business decisions based on market forces? I guess that’s what makes you one of Trump’s “best people” along with protector of the environment Scott Pruitt and Ejucayshun Secretary Betsy DeVos.

By the way, Trump has to be the first person ever to accuse Harley-Davidson – the preferred supplier to the Hell’s Angels – of being “cute.”

Roe v Trump

Sadly, Trump has another opportunity to put a Neanderthal on the Supreme Court now that Anthony Kennedy has submitted his resignation with the understanding Trump would respect the Justice’s legacy (Kennedy also purchased a stake in the Trump Brooklyn Bridge.)

Of course the Jesus-lovers squirted in their pants (or in some cases, on an altar boy’s face) at the notion that someone who will overturn Roe v. Wade is only moments away from joining the court. Early rumors had it that Trump was planning to nominate Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade until someone told him he was dead (and on second thought, Trump decided that as Wade was the “loser” in Roe v. Wade, he’d pass.)

One such squirter is Iowa’s Greg Heartsill, a conservative State Representative who has been pushing for a new law in his state that would prohibit abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected – usually around six weeks into a pregnancy. He hopes the legislation, which was recently signed into law could eventually overturn Roe v. Wade.

heartsill

Heartsill said, “What we are asserting in Iowa with this legislation is that if you have a heart beat you have a life, and if you have a life the government is bound by the constitution to protect that life and ensure equal protection under the law.”

Curiously, Greg carves out an exception for certain people with a heartbeat – criminals deserving of the death penalty for crimes that Greg deems sufficiently evil. Iowa hasn’t had the death penalty for 50 years, but Heartsill thinks it’s time to bring ‘er on back. “This is not just a matter of justice for the victims’ families, it’s about putting another tool in the toolbox of law enforcement, because the death penalty has been used as a huge bargaining chip,” sayeth Heartsill.

And as Heartsill – the protector of beating hearts in the heartland – is the consummate public servant, it’s not a surprise that he also is introducing legislation mandating lethal injection by ethanol. If it that fails to snuff the perp, Heartsill calls for death by corndog.

Kudlow the anti-Nostradamus

fingers

Larry Kudlow, Trump’s economic adviser, former TV personality and the man who has been wrong about everything, made this bogus claim the other day: “The deficit, which was one of the other criticism, is coming down, and it’s coming down rapidly.”

Sorry, Larry – wrong again. And this time you’re so wrong that it took the average mental midget 4 seconds to prove it. The Congressional Budget Office just published a report on the subject and it more or less (OK, more) refutes Carnak Larry.

cbo
Perhaps Larry had a flashback to 1945 after he and Trump won WWII together

At this point, traders listen to Larry and invest against him with 100% confidence, knowing that he can’t even predict yesterday’s weather.

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Problems Solved with a Stroke of the Crayon

trumpkick

Let’s face it: Trump, led by the nose by his xenophobic advisers Steven Miller and Jefferson Bagins Sessions, blew it with his executive order separating children from immigrant parents seeking asylum. Yes, this kind of shit plays well with the 30% base, but it also has the potential to rile up the usually-moribund fence-sitters to flip against him – just in time for the 2018 midterms.

The optics of tiny little crying children held in cages disgusted viewers across a spectrum that excludes slavish Fox fans. Regardless of your political persuasion it’s gotta be hard to come to Trump’s defense after he repeatedly lied about a non-existent Democrat law for tying his hands and forcing him to incarcerate children away from their parents – thus inviting comparisons to fellow travelers who once ran Nazi death camps and Japanese internment camps (or if you’re Laura Ingraham, “summer camps”.)

For a week or so Trump shirked the problem he created, blaming Congress for inaction – only to cave in and sign in crayon another stupid “executive order” (aka. memo to staff – do something) stopping the separations. While the immediate turbulence on the southern border subsides somewhat, Trump stews.

Reporting on Trump’s turbid mindset following his humbling retreat on a signature issue, the New York Times wrote “He has instead gone on the offensive, complaining to aides about why he could not just create an overarching executive order to solve the problem, according to two people familiar with the deliberations. Aides have had to explain to the president why a comprehensive immigration overhaul is beyond the reach of his executive powers.”

Imagine that. Trump grumbling for instant gratification. If someone would just give him a piece of paper to sign he could solve the immigration problem once and for all. In fact, why not solve every problem with a stroke of the crayon?

Which brings me to the Birch and Swinnerton-Dyer conjecture – a complex mathematical problem for which the Clay Mathematics Institute has pledged $1 million to anyone who solves it.

Although Matiyasevich showed in 1970 that Hilbert’s tenth problem is unsolvable – i.e., there is no general method for determining when equations of the form Xn + Yn = Zn have a solution in whole numbers – the Birch and Swinnerton-Dyer conjecture asserts that the size of the group of rational points is related to the behavior of an associated zeta function ζ(s) near the point s=1. In particular the conjecture asserts that if ζ(1) is equal to 0, then there are an infinite number of rational points (solutions), and conversely, if ζ(1) is not equal to 0, then there is only a finite number of such points.

The Birch and Swinnerton-Dyer conjecture has remained unsolved – until today when the Very Stable Genius Donald J. Trump issued an executive order declaring the conjecture solved. After all, while waiting on the fourth tee Trump, doodling on a scorecard, discovered that 26824404 + 153656394 + 187967604 = 206156734.

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Red Hen Lays an Egg

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This cartoon should not have been necessary

Read an old blog to see that I was never in favor of people taking legal action against homophobic proprietors who refuse to serve gay people. My view was that it’s better to tell the recalcitrant vendor to fuck off than to force him to perform a service that he might be persuaded to botch up on purpose. You want to force a baker to make you a cake against his will? Expect to cut into a three-layer chocolate, dandruff, booger and toejam masterpiece.

The baker from Colorado who refused to make a wedding cake for a couple of gay dudes prevailed in a case decided by the Supreme Court – an outcome that unfortunately may have fostered a new fugly phenomenon: hyper-public refusal to perform a service to those with whom you disagree.

I’m talking about the bum rush given to Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her friends by the management of a Lexington, VA restaurant called the Red Hen.

Yes, Sanders is a stooge and a pathological liar. But when she strolls in for a bite to eat, it would seem she’s off the clock and should be treated as a civilian. You don’t like her politics? Put a photo of her face on the urinal pucks in your men’s rooms.

The Red Hen people should have asked her politely off-stage to not come back in the future – and for good measure, comp her meal. What better way to demonstrate “when they go low, you go high.” But to throw the party out after being seated – very bad form, and deserving of any half-star Yelps they garnered as a result.

You’re a fucking restaurant, Red Hen. How did you lose perspective? You’re obviously anti-Trump, so why make a Trumpian move that always backfires on people not named Donald Trump?

Hell, you even brought down the wrath of hell on poor old innocent bystander Red Hen in Connecticut.

I hope those gay dudes in Colorado are happy for unleashing the latest cultural war. You just couldn’t elope, could you?

RIP Charles Krauthammer

kraut
womp

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A High-Tech Game of Leapfrog

NEC's Earth Simulator Supercomputer Still The Fastest
The world’s fastest computer in 2002; it now fits in your hand where it can crush candy.

In a high-tech game of leapfrog, makers of the world’s fastest supercomputers (and their countries of origin) compete to assemble the machine that will sit at the pinnacle – a determination that happens every six months and is published on the website Top500.org. Taking the number one spot is seen as a validation of a supercomputer company’s technical prowess, and has become a proxy for the innovativeness of countries at large. This clash of the countries started in 2002 when Japanese company NEC reversed years of American leadership by developing a machine that debuted at 5 times faster than the previous number one machine, an IBM system. Although the NEC machine, dubbed Earth Simulator, stayed at number one for two and a half years (a record for longevity at the time), its fundamentally limited architecture prevented it from growing in a financially viable way. In late 2004 IBM took back the mantle with a system twice as fast as Earth Simulator yet one that consumed a fraction of electricity and floor space.

At the end of the month in Frankfurt, Germany, the Top500 group will formally announce that another IBM system nicknamed Summit will grab the top spot – the first time an American company has taken the crown since China achieved number 1 five years ago – and has continually maintained the position since then. (Sidebar: Summit is about 3 million times faster than the IBM system that retook number one less than 15 years ago.)

power9
This is your brain on metal-oxide.

This remarkable improvement in performance is partially attributable to the ongoing increase in the speed and improvement in the design of microprocessors – just as it is with laptops and smart phones. But today, thanks much to software innovations supercomputers are able to grow in scale by “simply” lashing together more and more computers that work interdependently, breaking up problems into smaller pieces that are solved in parallel.

In reality, the only practical limit to making the world’s fastest supercomputer is money. That’s why the cache of holding down the top spot on the Top500 list is as much about a country’s economics as it is about the computer maker’s technical chops.

Researchers in universities and national labs and less-smart members of Congress all soiled themselves when Japan swooped by native IBM and every other U.S. based vendor. (Some dubbed the arrival of Earth Simulator “Compute-nik” in a nod to American apprehension that accompanied the Soviet launch of Sputnik.) And that’s why the half-decade Top500 leadership by Chinese manufacturers seemed to herald a depressing future where China would come to dominate the making of things more strategic than tee shirts, plastic toys and bootleg DVDs.

If China can fund what it takes to make the world’s fastest supercomputers over a long run, what will stop them from dominating any strategically important sector? No doubt they are conjuring up the resources right now to make Summit a one-termer.

The funny thing about the Top500 list is that the rankings are determined by running a computer workload that is not very representative of the kinds of problems actual companies encounter. It may have been OK 20 years ago, but today there is a deep disconnect between the problem that supercomputers run to get on the list, and what modern industry needs to conduct artificial intelligence – yet the old workload persists so that equivalent comparisons can be made year after year.

As an illustration of how the Top500 has become more of a marketing tool than an honest assessment of the state of computer power, consider how companies respond to the publication of the list every June and November. A search of past company press releases will show that when manufacturers like IBM or Cray achieve the number one spot (or some other milestone like the most entries on the list of 500), they pour out gallons of ink touting their innovativeness and commitment to the scientific community. When those same companies underperform, they make pronouncements that the Top500 is not representative of reality and being on the list is actually meaningless – until they capture the top spot again when magically the list becomes relevant once again.

In a telling article in Market Watch a few years back it was reported that the Chinese were primarily using supercomputers as a PR statement more so than to conduct research. According to the author, “it seems a lot of these massive machines, usually made with large government investment, lie idle after they are made, or are even abandoned midway, due to fundamental defects in China’s traditional bureaucratic management system.”

Perhaps one day the Top500 fever will break and companies and governments will focus their attention on investing in technologies that benefit a broad swath of humanity, and not just on the guys who are trying to perfect a nuclear weapon that can fit in your hat.

IHOP Flip Flops

Presumably sensing greater opportunity in the business of lunch over that of breakfast, the International House of Pancakes – better known as IHOP – is revamping its menu to major on burgers over sugar-soaked stacks of carbs. So dramatic is the move that IHOP is actually changing their name (and all their branding which could costs millions) to IHOB.

Kicking it off is this moronic TV ad campaign featuring Manager I-Blob atop the famous blue tiled roof of his restaurant flipping the switch on the new sign – and then, of course, goofing it up and falling off the roof like every half-wit white guy must do in a TV commercial today.

Who knows if IHOP can make such a radical change in focus and go into the very crowded segment against McDonalds, Burger King, Wendys and the many upstarts like Five Guys. In fact, can we be certain that IHOP won’t go in another direction in the months or years to come?

Rumors abound that in the era of Trump nativism the company wants to concentrate solely on the American market. Also, CEO Julia Stewart is known to favor Mexican food.

Might we then expect IHOB to change again, this time to American House of Lamb Enchiladas?

Will that doughy white guy in the TV commercial get back on the roof to flip the sign to … drumroll, please … A-HOLE?

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Trump Gets a Pass This Week

trump bed
OK – We can’t let a blog go by without some level of Trump insult

Trump served up a heap of material this week for those commentators who enjoy skewering his Orange-tinted foolishness. One example: his repetitive lie about a non-existent law (supposedly levied by the Democrats, of course, who they alone can repeal it, but won’t cuz they hate America) that is forcing border agents to separate children from their illegal immigrant parents.

Want another? How about his remarks following the incarceration of Paul Manafort? Trump barely knows him. The dude had really nothing to do with Trump’s campaign and hung around for a mere 49 days, according to Trump – except that it is falling-off-a-log simple to prove Manafort spent 144 days on the campaign, and for much of that time he was the fucking chairman.

OK, one more. Trump claimed during an interview with Fox that many parents of missing Korean War vets lobbied him to intervene with NK to repatriate the remains of the fallen warriors.

My grandmother born in 1905 was the mother of a Korean War veteran. My uncle who died several years ago would have been 90 now, and his mother would have been 113 had she not succumbed in 1977. Still, I’m sure many men and women in their hundred-and-teens have petitioned Trump for action.

No matter. We at Major Terata will let others jerk off to yet another pile of Trump road apples. This week we opine on some topics where we cut Trump a break. After all, any wag who pummels a subject 100 percent of the time without recognizing the occasional blip that contravenes the narrative cannot expect to receive complete and total adoration from readership loyal and otherwise.

Let’s start with Mark Sanford, the sleazy Congressman from South Carolina who was facing a primary opponent in his bid for re-election this year. Some may recall Sanford as the guy who called for Bill Clinton to resign over a sex scandal, but could not bring himself do the same when his affair with an Argentinean woman was revealed.

Mark Sanford
Sanford agonistes

Although the hard-right, Sanford – a card-carrying member of the Freedom Cockus – is the type of supplicant you’d expect Trump to support whole-heartedly, in fact Sanford has become a pariah in Trumpland for having the temerity to level some minor criticism of his president. For such heresy Trump tweet-slammed Sanford at the 11th hour of the primary thus throwing the race to his underdog opponent Kate Arrington who exclaimed this scary observation at her victory rally: “We are the party of President Donald J. Trump.” Uh oh.

Sanford is now playing the weepy victim calling Trumpism a “cancerous growth” on the Republican Party. Dude, look in the mirror. You’re a piece of shit.

Trump ran Sanford out of Congress for the wrong reasons – but who cares. We’re glad that cretin finally got a hot poker up his cracker ass.

It’s surprising no one has yet dubbed it SaluteGate.

During the meet-n-greet in Singapore, Trump worked a line of North Korean potentates. When he came to a ribbon-festooned general who may have committed war crimes, Trump saluted him. Kim Jong-un looked on approvingly. Ouch.

salute

The spectacle of the United States Commander-in-Chief saluting a military officer of a nation with which America is still technically at war caused many in the punditry biz to set their hair on fire.

“I’m not trying to be gratuitous or unfair but isn’t saluting a General from an enemy military sort of a big deal?” tweeted Democrat Senator from Hawaii Brian Schatz. Another Dem Senator, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland noted, “To no one’s surprise, North Korea used our President for their propaganda campaign.”

Despite the negative reviews from the opposition, let’s cut Mr. Bone Spurs a break. Trump appears in a high-stakes summit and is obliged to meet members of the other side. Trump extends his hand to the general and the general instead salutes. What to do? (If you’re one of the 90+ percent of Americans like Trump who never served, you’re not allowed to look up the official military directive on Google.)

Do you stand there with your hand extended? What if the general holds the salute position? Do you stand there like an asshole, eventually putting your hand in your pocket? Do you ignore the guy and move down the line, leaving Mr. Big Hat standing like a commemorative statue from the Korean War?

I think most people in that position would return the salute. It seems appropriate and it lets you move on to the table of hors d’oeuvres. Cut Trump slack. It’s not the end of the world. That’s coming next month.

comey fingers
What has two fingers and fucks over elections? This Guy!!

The FBI Inspector General issued a 500+ page report following their investigation about the bureau’s activities during the 2016 presidential campaign (no, it did not “exonerate” Trump regarding Russian collusion.) As expected, the report killed James Comey – and we don’t care. Although the very tall Comey did the talk show scene after he was fired and tried to pre-empt opprobrium, he remains a pariah to almost everyone. Lefties hate him for shirking established norms prohibiting announcements about ongoing investigations. The guy was constantly blabbing about Hillary Clinton’s emails while he stayed mum about the FBI’s investigations of Trump’s chicanery. (Sidebar: Comey investigated Hillary Clinton for using a private email server while he used a private email server.)

Righties hate him for “disloyalty” to Emperor Trump, a capital offense. No doubt Trump has requested a brief on how his new butt-boy “Lil Rocket Man” might handle such insubordination.
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Either way, Comey was an incompetent asshole and Trump was correct in firing him – only he should have done it on day one of his presidency when Dems and Reps would have concurred. Instead, he blew it by shit-canning the man in the midst of the “Rusher thing.”

Now, all bets are off – until we enter “Celebrity Pardon Season.”

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Who Will Trump Toss Next Into the Woodchipper?

chipper
Is that the sock of John Bolton?

Despite recorded evidence to the contrary, Trump claimed during the 2016 election that he was against going to war with Iraq in 2003 – using the lie as a cudgel against his opponent Hillary Clinton who voted to authorize the invasion. Of course, it’s easy to stake a claim when you’re a private citizen and your actions are hypothetical, but Trump repeated his pseudo-opposition often.

With that background it might seem strange that Trump-the-anti-invader would bring in as his newest National Security Adviser a hard-core neo-con like John Bolton. The former UN ambassador with the “got milk?” smile has long been among so many chicken-hawks who see all the world’s problems as an opportunity to impose shock and awe (and bomb and occupy.) Why would an America-Firster who made the case that the U.S. should stop trying to police the world hire a rank interventionist like Bolton?

Yes, Bolton talks tough which certainly adds to his appeal to Trump – a like-minded guy who adheres to the ethos of “bomb the shit out of them.” Perhaps he brought in Bolton because Trump isn’t actually a non-interventionist. That would make sense because Trump isn’t any of the things he said he was on the campaign trail.

But I think the real reason Trump brought in Bolton as his National Security adviser was to use him as a punching bag, much like he’s treated such cannon fodder as Jeff Sessions, Rex Tillerson, H.R. McMaster, Rinse Pubis, and many others. Bolton is one of those guys who postures as the cock-sure expert – and in Trump world there can be only one cock-sure expert. Already in his brief tenure Bolton has taken opprobrium from Trump who took issue with him for cluelessly bringing up the disastrous (for the dictator) Libya play as a useful model for North Korea. Soon enough, Bolton was banished from discussions about the upcoming meeting with former “Little Rocket Man” and now “very honorable” supreme leader Kim Jong-Un. (Sidebar: Will Trump, in an effort to charm the portly Kim, give him the new nickname “The Chosen Un?”)

Expect Trump to remind people soon enough of Bolton’s ill-advised cheerleading on the 2003 Iraq invasion, casting the war-monger as an out of touch dinosaur who couldn’t measure up to Trump’s demanding standards.

The same will happen to Rudy Giuliani as well. Again, Trump brought in Rudy ostensibly to take over the legal communications job with respect to Mueller’s investigation, Stormy Daniels’s lawsuits, and assorted related slime. But in reality, Trump intends to bash Giuliani – a stooped cretin whom he certainly dislikes. Trump was just waiting for Giuliani to make ill-conceived public comments so he could put his boot on Rudy’s turkey neck. No sooner had Rudy gone on TV to reveal Trump’s “secret” Stormy hush reimbursement to lawyer Michael Cohen when Trump blasted Giuliani, saying he was still “learning the subject matter” and will “get his facts straight.” Take that Mr. America’s Mayor!

Expect Giuliani to get the axe within 60 to 90 days – despite Trumpian complaints that rumors of Rudy’s imminent demise are #FAKENEWS. Giuliani is a media whore – but because he doesn’t look the part, Trump would like nothing better than to snuff out his access to the cameras.

Larry Kudlow, Trump’s new Economic Adviser – and one of the most consistently wrong economic pundits ever – harbors ideas that diverge significantly from Trump’s. Kudlow is all about free markets and the power of globalization. Trump is a tariff loving 19th century mercantilist whose understanding of how the world economy works is simplistic and out of step with “reality.”

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Kudlow is an ass-kissing sycophant, so it is likely he’ll parrot Trump’s viewpoints despite the fact they run counter to Larry’s gut. But it’s only a matter of time before Kudlow stumbles and contradicts his master. And then Trump will pounce. He’ll bring up all the times Larry got it wrong – the stock market, the 2008 recession, unemployment – and force Kudlow to grovel or resign. Or preferably, both.

Mistreatment of others is one of Trump’s favorite sports. For one thing, it can be played by people who have bone spurs in their heels. But treating people like shit helps fertilize the Orange Man’s ego.

Is it any wonder Trump’s “Best People” are actually the worst people? Who, other than masochistic, mediocre hacks who crave access to Trump, would sign up for his bullshit?

Beware that Handshake

Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (L), US President Donald Trump (C) and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte join hands for the family photo during the 31st Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Manila on November 13, 2017.  World leaders are in the Philippines' capital for two days of summits.  / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON

Despite Trump’s effusive praise of Kim Jong-Un leading up to their big summit meeting in Singapore, let’s not forget that the portly dictator has ordered some nasty – and fatal – retribution to his enemies. Most recently, North Korean operatives dispatched Un’s half-brother Kim Jong-nam in the Kuala Lumpur airport by tricking two women to rub lethal chemicals on the unsuspecting Nam’s face. The two chemicals, once mixed on Nam’s skin dropped him within minutes.


Now, imagine a line of NK diplomats in Singapore waiting to greet the Great Orange Leader from the West. The first has chemical A rubbed on his palm; the second, chemical B. By the time Trump reaches Kim Jong-Un, Pence is president.

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The Whiny Bitch

sessionspreciousTrump is a whiny bitch – that much is evident from the myriad times he’s cast himself as having been treated “very unfairly.” Despite having been born with a silver spoon in his mouth and a convenient bone spur in his heel, the Orange man never passes up an opportunity to portray himself in public as the aggrieved party in any transaction. (Behind the scenes he no doubt brags incessantly about his unmatched prowess in securing the best deals of all time.)

But when it comes to his decision to name Jeff Sessions as his Attorney General, Trump has just got to stop complaining that he got blindsided by Sessions’s decision to recuse himself on matters pertinent to investigations about Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Ever since Sessions “betrayed” his master, Trump has relentlessly gone after the diminutive man from a small Shire in Alabama. He constantly berates Sessions despite the fact that the Justice Department has engineered punitive programs on immigration and drug use that mirror Trump’s most evil inclinations. And in the face of all that opprobrium, Sessions suffers in silence. Still, Trump (whose volatile words, deeds, and tweets about the Mueller investigation suggest he knows he and/or his entourage is guilty of several crimes) beats Sessions on the head for his recusal. A recusal that was eminently appropriate given Session’s intimate involvement in Trump’s campaign while the Russia shenanigans were in full tilt.

The other day, Trump made it clear: he wished he had picked someone other than Sessions.

Trump agreed wholeheartedly with a quote from Trey (Draco Malfoy) Gowdy to make his point. Here’s what Gowdy said: “I think what the President is doing is expressing frustration that Attorney General Sessions should have shared these reasons for recusal before he took the job, not afterward. If I were the President and I picked someone to be the country’s chief law enforcement officer, and they told me later, ‘oh by the way I’m not going to be able to participate in the most important case in the office, I would be frustrated too…and that’s how I read that – Senator Sessions, why didn’t you tell me before I picked you….There are lots of really good lawyers in the country, he could have picked somebody else!”

Trump tweeted, “And I wish I did!”

Here’s the flaw in Trump’s whiny, bitchy argument: it is without doubt that advisers to PEOTUS Trump – including Sessions – knew well in advance of Trump’s decision to appoint Sessions as AG that Sessions would have to recuse himself. Maybe Trump didn’t understand, but there’s no way that given the well-established information about rampant Russian intrusion right after the election and the fact that Sessions was intimately involved in the campaign that an inevitable investigation would require recusal.

In other words, Sessions didn’t need to warn Trump that he might have to recuse himself. That outcome was already predetermined before Trump even considered the little man.

In the waning days of the Obama administration, dozens of Russian diplomats were expelled from the U.S. Clearly, before Trump was president the Russian interference fiasco was a big thing. Anyone with a partial brain could see that Russia might become a real issue to be investigated by Congress and/or the DoJ.

But well before the Obama action against the Russki’s, presidential candidates Trump and Clinton began to receive regular intelligence reports. As early as August 2016, Trump was snoring through intelligence briefs that most certainly had covered Russian interference in the election.

But forget all that formal stuff. Trump had to know he was vulnerable on Russia months before he took the oaf of office. Clinton email hacks. Wikileaks. Paul Manafort. Meeting with Russians in Trump Tower. George Papadopoulos. Roger Stone. Carter Page. Steele Dossier. Even if there was no collusion with Russia, Trump should have known the topic would undergo investigation. And if he picked for an AG a toady who worked on his campaign, said toady would have to recuse.

Once again, our Very Stable Genius stepped on his own dick – and is now ginning a smear campaign against his AG for treating his master “very unfairly.” Oh yes – “VERY UNFAIRLY” – in case you missed the nuance.

RIP: Ted Dabney

I can’t say I’m happy Ted Dabney created Pong.

After all, as an adolescent in the late 60′s I had honed a level of mastery of one of the premier amusement games of the times that still involved the deft manipulation of actual objects (e.g. steel balls on a wooden surface.) I spent uncounted hours in the game room of the airport near my home honing my pinball skills, but it soon became clear that pinball would soon fall to the video game. (Sidebar: In the 1960s, in addition to playing pinball in an airport, you could also visit the tower where the FAA controllers plied their trade and stroll out onto the tarmac without a thing called a “boarding pass” to experience the blast from a DC3 taxiing out onto the runway.)

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Ted Dabney in full geek regalia next to his invention.

I first encountered Atari’s Pong in the early 1970s at a local bar called the “Lantern” where the proprietors stuck the bulky contraption away from the manly billiard table. I can’t say I liked the moronic simplicity of the 2D black-and-white graphics, but I sensed that times were a-changin’. From there it was a only small step to PacMan, Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, and, well, you know.

Now slacker dudes and dudesses wearing shades and bulky headphones playing complex computer games with other gamers has become a spectator sport.

Can we thank Ted Dabney, an original member of the Pong team for this unfortunate turn of events? Not really. It was bound to happen that generations of overweight slobs with super-human thumbs would overtake regular humanity – regardless of Ted’s invention.

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The Shit Trump Sez

PoopThis is not a piece about Trump’s wild claims and serial prevarications. Many in the media have dissected his bizarre obsession with the non-crowds at his inauguration, and the provably false assertions that he won the popular vote if you discount the several million illegal immigrants who pulled the lever for Senora Clinton. For years Trump pimped the Obama-Kenya canard, and when he finally admitted Obama was in fact born in America, he took credit for debunking a myth he claimed was started by Hillary Clinton. Yeah, Trump says some weird shit.

But this piece is about the verbal tics that Trump uses; repetitious words and phrases that might suggest the guy has some crossed wires in his addled brain. Consider this mess of words Trump uttered a couple days ago when addressing the on-again/off-again summit with “Supreme Leader” Kim Jong-un.

“We’re gonna see what happens. We’re talking to them now. It was a very nice statement they put out. We’ll see what happens. No, no, we’ll see what happens. It could even be the 12th. We’re talking to them now. They very much want to do it. We’d like to do it. We’re gonna see what happens.”

We’re gonna see what happens. That’s one of the more ubiquitous Trump-tics; spoken so often and in so many situations that the New York Times felt compelled to do a full story on it. Hell, he even got Rex Tillerson hooked on it.

He’s used some variant of “We’ll see” when speaking about the future of Michael Flynn, the Iran deal, Steve Bannon, NAFTA, Syria, Robert Mueller and many other topics for which he has no definite idea what to say. I’m waiting for this inevitable interaction with the press: “President Trump, now that you’ve shit your diaper, will the elastic band withstand the pressure?” — “We’ll smell what happens.”

Trump also loves to go superlative when speaking of himself and his big ideas – so much so that he’s practically worn out the effect.

  • “I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created. I tell you that.”
  • “I will build a great wall – and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me.”
  • “I cherish women. I want to help women. I’m going to be able to do things for women that no other candidate would be able to do.”
  • “I am the least anti-Semitic person you’ve ever seen in your entire life.”
  • “I have the best people.”
  • “I am the least racist person, the least racist person that you’ve ever seen, the least.”
  • “I know words, I have the best words.”
  • “I’m speaking with myself, No. 1, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things.”
  • “I’m the king of debt. I understand debt better than probably anybody. I know how to deal with debt, so well. I love debt.”
  • “I beat China all the time. All the time.”

You almost expect him to apply his over-the-top observations when speaking of bad things. I’m surprised he hasn’t yet noted on his watch the “greatest school shooting ever” or “the biggest, best Ebola outbreak of all time.”

And Trump just can’t help but attach the word “beautiful” to practically every object and subject he speaks about – especially things that are rarely, if ever, associated with beauty – like military equipment, coal and even his fucking temperament!

Of course there’s Trump’s “big, beautiful wall on the Southern Border,” but he’s also said this beautiful shit:

  • “We’re gonna have that big, beautiful door in the wall.”
  • ”I was sitting at the table. We had finished dinner. We’re now having dessert. And we had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen and President Xi was enjoying it.”
  • “Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments.”
  • “One of the things that we will discuss is the purchase of lots of beautiful military equipment because nobody makes it like the United States.”
  • “And the arena erupted in boos toward the end of his [Ted Cruz’s] speech, because they saw he wasn’t going to endorse. And I thought that was a beautiful thing.”
  • “My temperament is totally controlled, so beautiful.” That’s my favorite.

The man mangles the English language more than Foster Brooks or Jose Jimenez ever did.

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Read this and tell me if it doesn’t sound like it was translated from Mongolian into Pig Latin using a Speak-n-Spell. from 1980.

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Conservatives called Reagan the Great Communicator for his ability to read the teleprompter like the professional actor he once was. Trump will go down as the Most Beautifulest Tawker Ever in the Wholest of the Whole World Ever.

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Mo Better Brains

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Mo “the Moron” Brooks wonders how to stop the rocks from falling into the ocean.

Growing up in the 1960s at a time when the space race was on, JFK was pushing science and technology initiatives through Congress, and a thing called “new math” was permeating schools across the country, I came to believe as a grade-schooler that American society would inexorably advance and prosper according to scientific principles. I figured that decisions about the economy, health care, energy production and the like would be made on the basis of science, and as such, life in the U.S. – and perhaps the world – would improve vastly.

As a kid I was truly awed by the Gemini and Apollo moon missions, and the first heart transplant. And let’s not forget Jiffy Pop.

I imagined super-sonic commercial air service, cordless phones, driverless vehicles and cancer cures – ideas that came not just from science fiction novels but from actual R&D that was taking place in the heady 60s. I had every reason to believe at the time, given that man had stepped on the moon in 1969, that a mere 32 years later we’d watch astronauts travel to Jupiter (as portrayed in “2001: A Space Odyssey”) on our wrist TVs.

I loved watching a TV spot in the mid-60s called “The 21st Century” where host Walter Cronkite presented lofty possibilities for which an anxious populace awaited.

Check out some of Walter’s previews of the future as seen from a 1960s lens:

Good stuff from such a hopeful time. But today – with nearly 20 percent of the 21st century gone – it’s clear we’ve instead entered a dark, extended period of anti-science. Members of certain tribes in America vehemently adhere to positions that are demonstrably incorrect and deny the findings of settled science. More and more, people understand natural phenomena from what they’ve read or heard about from the fanciful writings of ancient civilizations.

Who would have thought in 2018 that 4 in 10 Americans (and at least one addled lawmaker) believe the earth is less than 10,000 years old? Or that all humans are descendants of Adam and Eve (who frolicked with dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden); and that Noah somehow gathered pairs of all creatures including penguins from the Antarctic and cockroaches from the Lower East Side onto an ark constructed somewhere around Asia Minor?

We once had as the heads of the Department of Energy – the premier organization responsible for atomic research and the nuclear arsenal – physicists holding PhD’s and Nobel prizes. Now we have a shallow Rick Perry at the DoE helm; a man Trump once derided for his stupidity, saying, “he put on glasses so people will think he’s smart.”

We got to witness the spectacle of Sam Clovis, a one-time radio show host nominated to be the chief scientist (!) of the Department of Agriculture who withdrew from consideration after he had to admit he’s not a scientist. Details.

Scott Pruitt at the EPA is making it hard for scientists to do their jobs, the CDC has limited what researchers can report on, and the Census Bureau is planning to use bogus statistical methods to count the population in 2020.

Climate change denier James Inhofe of all people chaired the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and a retrograde congressman named Mo (short for Moron) Brooks continues as a member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

Consider this embarrassing charade led by Mo at a recent meeting of the House Science committee where the subject of inquiry was the effect of so-called climate change on so-called rising sea levels. Giving testimony to the skeptical Republican Luddites on the committee was Philip Duffy, president of the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts and holder of a PhD in applied physics from Stanford University.

While Duffy tried to blame rising sea levels on melting ice, Mo exercised the unqualified egg-head PhD from the “left coast” on an alternative explanation. Here’s the verbatim retardation:

“What about erosion! Every single year that we’re on Earth, you have huge tons of silt deposited by the Mississippi River, by the Amazon River, by the Nile, by every major river system — and for that matter, creek, all the way down to the smallest systems. And every time you have that soil or rock whatever it is that is deposited into the seas, that forces the sea levels to rise. Because now you’ve got less space in those oceans because the bottom is moving up.”
Duffy tried to interject, perhaps out of a sense of duty to protect Brooks from making a complete horse’s ass out of himself, but the empty-headed congressman from Alabama (yeah, I know) would have none of it.

“What about the white cliffs of Dover? California, where you have the waves crashing against the shorelines and time and time again you have the cliffs crash into the sea. All of that displaces the water which forces it to rise, does it not?”

A ranking member of a congressional “Science” committee thinks that the seas are rising because rocks are falling into the oceans – kind of like how your pool overflows when you drop your cell phone into it.

Damn. By that logic, every time Mo the Moron farts, it pushes the atmosphere further into space.

How far we’ve fallen from the idealistic years of the 1960s. If Walter Cronkite were around today to host “The 22nd Century” he’d probably be showing us diesel-powered AM radios, pencils made from charcoal, prayer-based gun-control, and how dancing in a circle will halt climate change.

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U.S. Moves a Sign

signOn the campaign trail, Trump, like his predecessors dating back decades promised to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from cosmopolitan Tel Aviv to the perennially turbid and contested city of Jerusalem. I wrote a blog predicting he’d never do it – and I stand behind that today. For Trump really didn’t move the embassy; he simply told his minions to pull down the sign that pointed to Tel Aviv and move it so as to point to a small consulate building in Jerusalem. For all intents and purposes, the heart of U.S. diplomacy, including the place where the ambassador and his staff will conduct most of their business, will remain in the fortified confines of the building in Tel Aviv. That didn’t stop the crowds from going wild. Nor did it prevent the terminally narcissistic Trump from sticking his fucking name on the building as if it was the latest “luxury” Trump property.

Trump plaque
How long before this marker is amended to read “Trump Royal Embassy and Country Club” subtitled with the caveat “Negroes, Chinamen and Jews need not apply.”?

Yes, the relocation of a sign drove the crowds wild.

The hard-right leaders in Israel gloated that the new “embassy” signaled America’s inalterable preference for their country’s well-being over all other parties in the Middle East, as if that already hadn’t been well-established since 1948. They’ve remained steadfast in their argument that Jerusalem has always been the capital of the Jews – although the Bible clearly states that the Jews took the city from the Jebusites who were, um, there first. Perhaps the descendants of the Jebusites might one day come forward to reclaim Jerusalem from the invading Jews. Or at least to lobby to operate a casino on the Via Dolorosa.

The so-called “Christian” evangelicals – those zealous “family values” hypocrites who routinely overlook Trump’s multitudinous transgressions against God’s directives – fell into a rapture with the move, as it represents one more step closer to living the Revelations dream. Now that the embassy is located in Jerusalem, it’s only a matter of time before Jesus comes back and smites all the non-believers. Who might they be? Anyone who ain’t a Christian. Who said so? How about the Southern Baptist preacher slash asshole Robert Jeffress who spoke at the embassy opening ceremony – the dude who said “Judaism — you can’t be saved being a Jew,” and further expounded, “Not only do religions like Mormonism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism — not only do they lead people away from the true God, they lead people to an eternity of separation from God in hell.” Yeah. A keynote speaker at the opening of the new U.S. “embassy” thinks Jews are going to hell – and the hard-right Israeli leaders batted not an eyelash.

Jared Kushner, his wife Ivanka, Treasury Secretary and the administration’s token Jew Steve Munchkin and countless hangers-on got to do a big reveal in front of a googoo eyed audience longing for a whiff of Trump glamour. Hell, the spectacle smacked every bit as much as the garish ribbon cutting of the Trump hotel in Washington that took place while the Orange Man was running for president – a position that should have precluded him from benefitting financially from the hotel if anyone bothered to uphold the Constitution.

Of course, the Palestinians also went wild, as is their wont. Given their somewhat limited arsenal, they took their usual approach and conjured up low-level mayhem on the border between Gaza and Israel. As they rushed the border fence (soon to be upgraded to a beautiful wall funded by Mexico), the Israeli military mowed them down by the dozens as their Arab “brothers” sipped fine wines and smoked imported cigars.

Jared the quisling summed up the situation: “As we have seen from the protests of the last month, and even today, those provoking violence are part of the problem and not part of the solution.” Left out was any contemplation as to why 1.8 million impoverished people locked inside a blockaded strip of land the size of Nantucket but with no place to get a decent bowl of lobster chow-dah would protest in the first place.

Most Middle East experts (that is to say people on the polar extreme from the dimwits in Trump’s advisory circle) believe the movement of the sign was a gratuitous ploy by Trump to chalk up a “win” and further cement his bona fides with his Cro-Magnon base that only served to inject more turmoil in the region. So what if the artist of the deal gave away a valuable bauble for nothing in return – he got to carve his name on a plaque. And if that means America has ceded its tenuous position as the premier peace dealer in the Middle East to Russia, China and Iran, so be it. #MAGA.

White Men Can’t Read Instructions

Once again, a major corporation – this time American Express – seeks to endear itself to prospective customers by running a TV commercial poking light-hearted fun at the stupid, lazy, incompetent and slightly paunchy white male who is one-upped by a woman. Gotta admire those millennials on staff at Amex’s ad agency McGarryBowen for their post-feminism wit and sharp sense of irony.

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Clueless white dude studies what might as well be hieroglyphs before tackling the challenge of assembling a crib. Already we know he’s gonna step on his own dick in a moment.

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Right on cue the three whole parts he tacked together fall apart. The fucking guy can’t even put the legs on the crib.

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Thank goodness the woman knows how to handle power tools. No doubt had the white dude somehow gotten past the leg assembly stage he’d be in an ambulance right now with a a drill bit embedded in his eyeball.

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Mission accomplished, thanks to the ingenuity and perseverance of the industrious woman. White dude can’t even get his droopy ass out of the Barca-lounge.

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Holy shit! Mrs. White Dude is pregnant to boot!? I guess that’s why she built a crib. Meanwhile, lard-ass continues sawing logs as he did through all the buzz and whine of the power tools that the woman so masterfully wielded. Tomorrow, white dude nearly drowns while doing the laundry.

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Put a Sock in It!

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No, this is not Jim Halpert stifling a young Michael Scott

If you’re a fan of monster movies you know that the monster must always have a weakness – something that allows the tortured protagonists to finally vanquish their nemeses in the final reel. Dracula had his wooden stake and Werewolf had his silver bullet. The relentless T1000 robot in Terminator 2 had a problem wading in molten steel, and the shark in Jaws had a weakness for consuming anything that entered his formidable maw. The indomitable Martian invaders in War of the Worlds succumbed to simple bacteria that feeble Earthlings had built up an immunity to after breathing in funky air and ingesting green-tinted meat for millions of years.

And the aliens in Signs, like the Wicked Witch of the West couldn’t countenance water spritzed upon their skins – which is the movie from which I drew parallel at a recent viewing of A Quiet Place directed by former star of The Office John Krasinski. This time around, an isolated family must bob and weave in total silence to avoid being chomped on by swift, toothful aliens who apparently overtook the entire globe, leaving nothing but apocalypse in their wake. Visual clues like newspaper headlines presented early on “tell” the audience that although the invaders are unable to see they possess ultra-sensitive hearing capabilities. Additional exposition occurs in the form of a white board in the family’s basement that documents a stream-of-consciousness take on the grim situation that includes the question “What is their weakness?”

The creepy aliens (who bear a remarkable resemblance to the stalkers in Signs) have such superior auditory gifts that any creature that should utter a sound, or cause a sound to be uttered is quickly annihilated in the most gruesome fashion.

So A Quite Place is truly a quiet place as none of the nervous characters dare speak, drop a utensil, or even fart. They walk around barefoot on sandy paths and communicate using sign language – for which each is conveniently fluent, as one of the family members is deaf.

The movie is compact and tense, yet relies too often on cheap jump scares. And when you think about it, there are an awful lot of sounds emitted in the wilds of the forest near the family homestead. Why do the aliens always seek out the source of a human whimper or the sound of a breaking plate when there exists a never-ending background cacophony of rummaging creatures, blowing winds and falling trees to confuse them? I suppose the movie sprints along too quickly to allow the audience to question such thing.

But let’s return to the monsters’ weakness – a subject alluded to often in flashes to that white board in the basement. Yeah … what the fuck is their weakness? What could possibly immobilize a creature that possesses super-sensitive hearing? (Remember: all the world’s nations and their military might could not vanquish what is essentially a marauding pack of unarmed jackals – albeit jackals possessing stunning speed and fangs galore.)

Is it so hard to figure out, as our favorite family finally does, that the power of the aliens’ hearing is also the root of their downfall? Shit, a little bit of feedback throws these wretched creatures to the floor writhing in pain, vulnerable to a shotgun blast in what passes for a face on their planet.

Still, I enjoyed A Quiet Place not in spite of but because of its appropriation of material from other films. Watch it for its homage (intentional or otherwise) to Signs, Terminator, Aliens, War of the Worlds, Predator, and Night of the Living Dead.

Schlock Treatment

I love a good old schlocky TV commercial; one that reeks of amateurism. They’re so much more entertaining than slick ads pumped out by Madison Avenue elites bent on harnessing data and analyzing sentiment – only to produce something forgettable or cluelessly offensive.

Say what you want about production quality – everyone remembers Crazy Eddie, the “Clapper” and the myriad Ronco products hawked on the three-digit channels in TV’s off-hours. Pure fools-gold.

Think about this: the 1990 mob classic Goodfellas for which Martin Scorsese earned an Oscar nomination for Best Director was not entirely directed by him. In fact, Scorsese the master turned over the direction of the TV ad for Morrie’s wigs to window salesman Steve Pacca who wrote and directed his own shitty ads. Feast on Pacca’s handiwork from Goodfellas.

Life Alert is another producer of splendiferous TV schlock. These are the ads that instilled “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” into the popular vernacular. There’s always some old fuck prone on the kitchen floor or spread out in the shower stall squirming in pain – too far from the land-line to call the operator and request the number for 911. Luckily there’s Life Alert.

Consider this gem of schlock that is running now.

It opens with a cheesy homage to Psycho where a confused old fossil collapses in the shower, pulling on the curtain as the shower rings pop one by one. Next up is a woman in pain who gets to recite the time-honored Life Alert “I’ve fallen” tag line. The ad wraps up with a dude who seems to be lounging in the park, but is in fact unable to right his flabby ass. Thankfully the Life Alert operator answers the geezer’s entreaties for assistance and announces, “Don’t worry, help is on the way” – in the form of a fire truck?

That’s strange because I’m pretty sure the geezer didn’t say, “I’ve self-immolated and I can’t put myself out!”

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The March of the Wooden Lawyers

Rudy
How long before Trump fires his newest lawyer, Rudy Giuliani?

On March 10, the New York Times reported that Trump was considering Emmet Flood, a one-time counsel to Bill Clinton, for a position on his feeble legal team.

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The story miffed Trump who took to Twitter of course to slam the “false story” and express confidence in his team of lawyers. One of those lawyers was John Dowd.

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Less than two weeks later Dowd “retired” from doing a great job.

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Trump made sure everyone was clear on his satisfaction with the performance of another of his legal team – Special Counsel Ty Cobb.

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And then on May 2, the March 10 “Failing” New York Times report that Trump disparaged as a “false story” came true. Trump brought Emmet Flood on board. Oh, and Ty Cobb got the boot.

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Just the other day Trump added to his legal team former NYC Mayor and Nosferatu stunt-double Rudy Giuliani. Rudy promptly went on Fox TV’s “Hannity” program and screwed the pooch – and maybe Trump himself. By the time Rudy closed his trap, he had essentially contradicted everything Trump and his former lawyers had uttered about how money moved around the Stormy Daniels affair. Gulp.

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Reading this latest headline, one has to wonder whether Trump will recycle this tweet from 2017:

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…And Yet the Evangelicals Still Love the Orange Man

Despite his routine infringement of all the Ten Commandments, Trump continues to keep the Jesus-lovers enthralled – which says more about them than about Trump. Yesterday, Trump momentarily cloaked himself in piety and participated in National Prayer Day.

Here’s what one bible-thumping cretin – Franklin “son-of-Billy” Graham – had to say:

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And this is Trump ‘Sitting strong’ on Christian faith:

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