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.

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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!

quiet jim
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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Make America Choke Again

earth dayAlthough it happened almost 50 years ago, I clearly recollect celebrating the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970 when our entire eighth grade class marched several block to a nearby college to listen to speeches denouncing the ongoing desecration of the environment and warning of the looming disaster should things carry on as they had for a 100 years.

I also clearly recollect the conditions that drove the demand of activists that the government do something substantial to deal with the problem. At the time I lived near the shores of Lake Erie downwind of several steel mills and other dirty industries located in Ohio that abused the waters and the airs for profit. Ohio was the home of the infamous (and inflammable) Cuyahoga River, slicked with oil and debris which caught fire on several occasions, most notably in 1969 when the fires damaged a bridge and (horrors!) forced some steel mills to shut production temporarily.

I witnessed the devastation to Lake Erie caused by local company Hammermill which during the process of manufacturing paper dumped hot, contaminated water into the lake. Sensing warmth, hundreds of thousands of fish would swim toward the Hammermill docks and quickly suffocate. Looking out from the shores one could watch a silvery carpet of dead fish undulate with the slow motion of the dead lake.

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My grandmother owned a cottage on Lake Erie with a private sand beach. It had been in the family for decades. Starting in the mid-60s the appearance of dead, bloated fish entangled in the newly thick seaweed stripped away the allure and romance of waterside living. My grandmother dumped the property for a song when it became clear no one wanted to go there anymore.

On many Saturdays I would accompany my father to the city incinerator where locals with ID could dump household trash directly into a 10 foot square opening in the floor that led to a raging blaze. The only thing left from the incineration was the smoke and ash that was sent directly into the air from a tall, brick chimney. No scrubbing required – just the pure mix of mercury, arsenic and lead to mix with the same miasma emanating from automobiles, trucks and trains running on dirty fuels.

And speaking of dirty, by the time Earth Day was a thing it was becoming noticeable that a lot of people were content with disposing their garbage right into the highways and byways of America, and onto public spaces, and into the waters that communities tapped for drinking. Clearly, Americans just didn’t give a shit anymore. Witness this clip from a Mad Men episode that captures the attitude I remember quite well.

Today, gone is much of what some might call the “good old days” when people were free to shit on the environment and in turn ingested all the poisons thrown back at them with predictable health implications. Hammermill closed shop, and so did the incinerator. Lake Erie is mostly restored, and that cottage my grandmother sold is now among properties fetching several hundreds of thousands. (Sidebar: Lake Erie, the shallowest of the Greats, remains vulnerable to algae blooms from farm runoff, and the effects of an invasive species epidemic.) Vehicles are much less polluting and the internal combustion engine is facing potential obsolescence.

All this thanks to the Clean Air and Water Acts and the formation of the EPA. People born after the early 1970s (about 65 percent of the population) have no recollection of how horrible the environment was in the U.S. – especially in industrial parts of the country. Perhaps that’s why there seems to be little outcry now that the EPA is in the slimy hands of Scott Pruitt – the most corrupt villain in Trump’s house of wax (followed closely by on-the-take Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke who never met an unspoiled expanse of scenic beauty and didn’t see oil derricks and strip mines.)

Today the New York Times paired a succinct summary of some of the milestone environmental disasters that predated the efforts to solve the problems with a devastating expose of Pruitt’s corruption, venality and audacity.

To all those out there content to overlook Trump’s crimes against the environment as long as the stock market rises and the 401k’s grow – contemplate which cancer regimen you’d prefer to spend your portfolio gains.

RIP Verne Troyer

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Diminutive actor Verne Troyer died the other day at age 49. No official cause of death was revealed, although it had been reported that he fell off a sheet of paper. Troyer was most famous for his portrayal of Mini-Me, a tiny alter-ego of Mike Myers’s Dr. Evil character in the Austin Powers franchise. Troyer was hailed as a consummate professional – one who never forgot his lines (or would have forgotten had he had lines.)

Here’s one of my favorite scenes from Goldmember.

At a trim 2’8”, Verne played his first role as a stunt double for a baby. He later found semi-fame performing in music videos, visiting Howard Stern, and playing himself on reality TV where his alcoholism shined. On The Surreal Life Verne drove his scooter into a room on the set, pissed on the floor and summarily passed out.

Upon hearing that Verne wanted to be cremated, Austin Powers co-star Robert Wagner said he knew where to get some dead wood. You know, for the fire.

End Note: Ivana Know Where She Gets Her Ideas

In an interview with the NY Post’s Page Six, Ivana Trump muses on her ex-husband’s pursuit of a second term, concluding, “I don’t think it’s necessary. He has a good life and he has everything.”

She added, “Maybe he should just go and play golf and enjoy his fortune.”

Ivana – dahlink! – what the fuck do you think he’s been doing?

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They Fell for the Con-Man

tenorFlame-throwing maniac Ann Coulter, Inforwars’ crazy-man Alex Jones, talk radio’s Michael “Savage” Wiener and Fox TV’s Fucker Carlson are among many right-wingers who are newly pissed at Trump for bombing Syria. It seems they took the patently obvious con-man for a principled leader.

They apparently believed Trump when he bloviated about the foolishness of intervening in Middle East fiascos and ill-conceived nation building. They reveled in his direct attacks on Obama for being a clueless “leader” at a time when Trump was just a grating private citizen. They adored shit like this:

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Now that Trump has fully flipped and made good on his telegraphed threat to bomb Syria, the hard right expresses shock and dismay that the Very Stable Genius has reneged on stuff he said over and over, discovering that it all just amounted to armchair conversation.

Alex Jones went on a hilarious, batshit rant, slamming his desk and spouting “fuck Trump” and (horrors) “fuck his family!”

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Others stuck to Twitter to express their dismay at Trump’s treachery – even suggesting the Syrian government was not responsible for the chemical weapon attack.

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Sadly, the real fools in all of this are the Ann Coulters, Alex Joneses, Laura Ingrahams and countless lesser known right-wingers who should have known better. It’s like they ordered the grilled shit sandwich and then recoiled when the waiter brought them a piece of shit between two slices of bread. You really can’t complain about getting a shit sandwich when you order a shit sandwich.

C’mon guys. You must have read Art of the Deal where Trump wrote about his use of “truthful hyperbole” – which most people call lying. You must have heard about his bankruptcies, his serial adultery, his non-payment to contractors, his tax evasion. The man is a consummate prevaricator.

He was going to focus on “making America great again” and “America First” to such an extent that he’d have no time to play golf – or even leave Washington. Right. Consider just this one grotesque account from a devastating timeline in New York Magazine:

“Trump jets to Mar-a-Lago via Air Force One at a cost to taxpayers of $142,380 per hour. For years, Trump heckled President Obama for taking vacations and golfing trips at government expense. If elected, he vowed, he would “rarely leave the White House, because there’s so much work to be done.” In fact, during his first three months in office, Trump’s taxpayer-funded flights to his private properties exceeded $20 million — on track to quickly surpass the amount Obama spent on travel during his eight years in office. Trump made more than 90 visits to his golf courses and played almost twice as much golf as Obama. His family joined in, requiring Secret Service agents to rack up an extra 4,054 days of taxpayer-funded travel to keep up.”

Trump was going to tear up trade agreements, torpedo the Iran nuclear deal, drain the swamp, hire the best people. He was going to repeal and replace Obamacare with “health care that is far less expensive and far better,” and that the whole thing would be done “essentially simultaneously … the same day or the same week … could be the same hour.”

And don’t forget Trump University.

But more than any other promise, Trump was going to build a beautiful wall on the Southern border to keep out rapists and drugs. It was his favorite go-to applause line on the campaign trail. And lest we forget, Mexico would pay for it “one hundred percent.” One week into his presidency, Trump admitted full tilt to Mexico’s president Enrique Peña Nieto that it was all for show – something any eighth grader (let alone a professional political pundit) should have known all along. Trump told Peña Nieto that the wall was “the least important thing we are talking about.”

Trump’s back-down from building the wall was the last straw for Coulter – her shit sandwich, so to speak. Once Trump’s earliest and biggest cheerleader, she now calls him “a shallow, lazy ignoramus,” adding, “he’s not giving us what he promised at every single campaign stop.” Duh.

In a revealing interview with the New York Times, Coulter explained that she’s done with Trump. She’s one of a growing cadre of “Former Trumpers” as she calls them; one-time supporters who are now disillusioned with him.

Disillusioned that a fully-documented con-man let them down.

I would call it deluded instead.

Memo to Starbucks: Coffee is Black

Latest libation from Starbucks: Venti Soverchieria with a Double Shot of Razzismo. Delivered personally by the CEO. List price $50 million (according to some lawyers.)

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Congress Say the Darnedest Things

SayA few months ago the Republican-led Congress placed a tax bill on Very Stable Genius’s desk which he signed, thus lowering tax burdens by the millions for corporations and rich people while showering the proles with an average tax cut of about $12 a week. Of course there is a cost for this largess.

The Congressional Budget Office reported the other day that – thanks to the latest tax scam – the budget deficit is on pace to surpass $1 trillion in just a couple years. The Party of Fiscal Reprehensibility strikes again. Dems – who have only slightly more credibility on this issue – have strived to take the high ground.

Chuck E. (Cheese) Schumer whined, “From Day one the Republican agenda has always been to balloon the deficit in order to dole out massive tax breaks to the largest corporations and wealthiest Americans, and then use the deficit as an excuse to cut Social Security and Medicare.” Nancy Pelosi blasted, “The C.B.O.’s report exposes the staggering costs of the G.O.P. tax scam and Republicans’ contempt for fiscal responsibility.”

Defending the GOP was Representative Jeff Duncan, a conservative Republican from South Carolina who made this provocative statement: “To every House Democrat on social media today complaining about the debt and deficit for the first time: I look forward to seeing you vote for the balanced budget amendment later this week. That is of course assuming you are actually serious about addressing our debt.”

Congress say the darnedest things.

Let’s make this easier to understand with a bonehead analogy: You work at a Home Depot (sorry). Your colleague Jeff Duncan stacks boxes too high and they keep tumbling down on customers. You complain. In response, Jeff, festooned in an orange apron arrogantly defies you to join him in repealing the law of gravity. You shake your head and quickly apply for a job at Lowes.

Now consider this week’s Congressional inquisition of Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg over his company’s fast ‘n loose stewardship of user data. Zuck the Fuck played the proper trained seal and offered a sufficient quantity of mea culpas to the preening senators to ensure a delay on regulations, thus assuaging stock holders who drove the shares up during his testimony. Give him props, at least, for buttressing his financial position.

Many of the Senators on the Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees – prepped, no doubt, by millennial staffers 1/3rd their ages – tried mightily as they grilled Zuck to sound in synch with modern technology, invoking terms like cloud, scraping data and dark web. (Sidebar: At least none of the august members of the committee referred to the internet as a “series of tubes” as defunct crustacean Ted Stevens once risibly did.)

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A lot of moral grandstanding and regulatory threats were spewed forth from the high ‘n mighty senators, but one line of attack seemed ill-considered: Ron Johnson of Wisconsin pushed the Zuck on the subject of Facebook’s terms of service. His contention: No one actually reads the lengthy legalese before clicking “agree.” Of course he’s right. The terms are several thousand words long, many of which are more than two syllables.

In other words, Johnson was chastising Facebook for constructing terms of service documents that are too complicated and wordy for anyone to read, resulting in passive acceptance – and all the shit that follows.

But, when it came time to reflect on the big, 2000-page Republican tax cut bill, Johnson saw things a bit differently. After Dems complained about having no time to review last-minute changes made by the Reps, Johnson said, “You really don’t read this kind of legislation … you have to study it and you have to study the major provisions.”

Congress say the darnedest things.

Speaker of the House and Eddie Munster doppelganger Paul Ryan just announced his retirement as a 20-year government-tit man. Noting, “I didn’t want this job at first and most of you know this, I really actually didn’t,” Ryan went on to revel in his many accomplishments including “reforming” taxes such that rich people and corporations get an even bigger slice while the deficit is set to balloon out of control in a couple years. He also articulated his disdain for big government programs, including Medicaid and Social Security. Ryan said in a recent interview that his goal of capping Medicaid was on the verge of success, noting, “We’ve been dreaming of this since I’ve been around — since you and I were drinking at a keg.”

(Sidebar: I’ve had dreams in my youth when drinking at a keg – and it wasn’t about Medicaid. Not even close.)

Curiously, well before he entered the dark world of politics, young Ryan paid part of his out-of state tuition at an Ohio public university with an evil thing right up there with Medicaid: Social Security survivor benefits received after the death of his father. Mr. Anti-Social Security said later on, “It was a tough time for our family, and Social Security was there to help us when we needed the help.”

Right.

Congress sure do say the darnedest things.

End Note: A Great Word

Aibohpphobia – The fear of palindromes.

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Death Race 2018: Rise of the Machines

ped1Elaine Herzberg has the dubious distinction of being the first pedestrian killed by an autonomously-driven Uber vehicle which was undergoing tests in Tempe, AZ. Apparently Herzberg was in the process of crossing a busy street while walking her bicycle when she was struck. Although the Uber car was monitored by a human in the driver seat (who was not paying attention, according to video from inside the car), the self-driving system did not respond in time.

Uber temporarily suspended tests in Arizona and California, and then quickly settled with Herzberg’s family – presumably to avoid a court case that could have set ugly precedents for dealing with accidents involving autonomous vehicles.

Clearly, the specter of imperfect robotic vehicles barreling down the road has instilled fear in many who call for a moratorium on testing – and even a ban on deploying the technology altogether.

It’s unfortunate that a shitty company like Uber has invested in autonomous R&D, because they are bound to cut corners and deviate from safety standards which will invariably lead to more negative stories like Herzberg’s – and to more calls to slow down or stop the research. No one is better positioned to scuttle peoples’ confidence than the inept fools at Uber.

That would be too bad. As the technology improves and finds itself embedded into more and more vehicles, allowing them to communicate with each other and share data, highway safety will improve.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “In 2013, there were 4,735 pedestrians killed and an estimated 66,000 injured in traffic crashes in the United States. A total of 4,653 traffic crashes each had one or more pedestrian fatalities. On average, a pedestrian was killed every 2 hours and injured every 8 minutes in traffic crashes.”

Strangely, none of this generated a call to ban human drivers.

A fatality every 2 hours, and yet no one is calling for human-operated vehicles to be banned. In fact, the trend seems to be leaning toward increasing punishment of the jaywalking pedestrian rather than the motorist. Last December, a guy in Saugerties, NY stepped into traffic from between two park cars, was struck by a car, went to the hospital for shoulder and hip injuries, and received a ticket for failure to yield right of way to vehicle.

So let’s be cool when autonomous vehicles occasionally mow down granny, and think instead of the wonders to come.

Just offer free Amazon Prime and shut him up

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Trump is upset at Amazon for not paying enough taxes. This from a guy who said minimizing taxes makes a person smart, and probably paid nothing in federal taxes for more than a decade. He also doesn’t like that Amazon sends some of its products using the US Postal Service, deriding the on-line retailer for treating the USPS like a “delivery boy.” The Postal Service hasn’t weighed in on whether it feels like a delivery boy, but they have stated plainly that the contracts they have with Amazon cover costs (which is a concept you rarely connect with the Postal Service.)

Trump has a boner for Amazon for shirking taxes, but he’s flaccid when it comes to other profitable corporations that paid no federal taxes in recent years, such as International Paper, Priceline.com, General Electric, and Duke Energy.

Most likely Trump is pissed because he hates the coverage he gets from the Washington Post which is owned by Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon. In fact, Trump has often tweeted about negative WaPo articles as fake news and sometimes ends his 140 character tirades with #AmazonWashingtonPost – as if Amazon owns the newspaper.

As with much of what Trump says and does, his attacks on Amazon – because he hates the coverage he gets from a newspaper tangentially connected to the company – are bad for the country. As are his slams against the NY Times, and CNN, as well as his cocksucking endorsements of Fox News and (of all things) grocery store faveThe National Enquirer.

When an insecure, narcissist leader like Trump gets to punish and reward companies based on the level to which they are willing to lick his ass, real trouble abounds.

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Zuck You!

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Mark Zuckerberg holds his cock for you

Although the mesmerizing 2010 film “The Social Network” is not a documentary, it’s clear from the portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg that the Facebook founder was an anti-social douchebag who likely stole ideas from others and fucked over friends so as to develop a Harvard campus-wide platform for picking up girls and humiliating those who chose not to play along. At no time did Zuckerberg seem to envision a time when Facebook would grow to a level that would cross into terrain requiring adult supervision – even as he pressed hard to expand Facebook off the Harvard campus onto other colleges, and eventually across the universe.

As with any entity that takes venture capital and makes an IPO, Facebook eventually had to satisfy investors by making and growing revenue at a dizzying clip. Recognizing that the users of Facebook were not the customers, but rather the product, Zuckerberg and his lieutenants embarked on an aggressive strategy to make money the only way it conceivably could: through advertising. Any advertising. Especially advertising that compelled Facebook users to log in more often, for longer periods of time so they could consume more of it.

For years, Facebook has fooled around with its terms of use and privacy policies – so much so that the users mostly shrugged and complied. After all, the addictive Facebook had become for millions not so much a forum for ideas or a cool way to communicate, but rather a tool for self-validation. Accumulating “friends” and capturing “likes” was proof of existence. Similarly, “unfriending” became the ultimate insult, the most damning form of disrespect (although some might argue that changing one’s status from “in a relationship with X” to “single” without notifying X is more insidious.) The user base gladly, if irresponsibly, shared enormous amounts of personal and psychographic data just so they could give a thumbs up to a gif of a masturbating monkey.

The recent revelation that Cambridge Analytica – founded by the cretinous Steve Bannon, Robert Mercer, and Mercer’s amply-foreheaded daughter Rebecca – vacuumed up detailed profile info on 50 million users without their knowledge or consent just adds further evidence that Facebook is a nefarious entity with no scruples and little interest in maintaining integrity.

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Rebecca Mercer shines up her forehead before the drive-in movie is projected on it

And it’s through Facebook that the Trump campaign most likely colluded with Russians to influence the 2016 election. It is no secret that Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Prince Jared of Kushner investigated the idea of micro-targeting pliable voters in swing precincts so as to target them with materials that could sway them toward the Orange Man. Here is Jared speaking to Forbes right after the election: “We brought in Cambridge Analytica. I called some of my friends from Silicon Valley who were some of the best digital marketers in the world. And I asked them how to scale this stuff. We basically had to build a $400 million operation with 1,500 people operating in 50 states, in five months to then be taken apart. We started really from scratch.”

Okay, so we know that Trump’s campaign – like others before it – sought to use big data analytics to influence specific voters. But influence them with what information? And when? That’s where the Russians come in. We at Major Terata are convinced that Russians developed phony stories and memes trashing Hillary Clinton that were posted on the Facebook feeds of pliable users chosen by Kushner’s team, and delivered on a schedule determined by the Trump campaign.

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Sadly, some Trump voters believe this

The granularity of those chosen to receive bullshit stories was down to the precinct level. So rather than blanket the entire U.S. Facebook population with patently ludicrous messages, the Trump campaign was able to direct the Russians to pinpoint the propaganda and avoid broad opprobrium from less-gullible voters.

And what did the Facebook company do while this subterfuge was taking place? Other than counting profits, nothing.

Zuck you, America!

Weapon of Mass Distraction

Twenty years ago the names Linda Tripp, Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky were spoken ubiquitously on cable news shows. Viewers were bombarded by reportage on a cum-stained dress and moist cigars, the meaning of “is,” and Ken Starr’s fetishes. Meanwhile a little known facial-hair club for men called Al Qaeda was plotting to blow up embassies, sink a U.S. naval destroyer, and hijack planes in an unlikely attempt to destroy iconic buildings. Who knows how much the distractions related to Bill Clinton’s dalliances and subsequent impeachment led to blindness on the looming reign of terror that would peak on September 11, 2001.

I can’t help harkening back to that time when I see non-stop coverage of the lurid stories revolving around Trump, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal on CNN and MSNBC (but not Fox which is smitten instead with Obama and Clinton). As before, should we expect a shitstorm of evil and incivility to follow in the wake of America’s single-minded, idiotic obsession with presidential sex?

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Can anyone answer this question: Why are so many men interested in these women?

WTF?

What is this man offering to the young boy in this statue situated at the Adelaide Catholic school in Australia? Is it perhaps Jared from Subway and his foot-long hero?

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Tee Shirts by Major Terata

Order yours today! Made in America for Americans. Choose from XXL, XXXL, XXXXL, and XnL

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Stroke the Orange Ego – Win a Prize

horsebackIf Trump meets up with Kim Jong-Un – and that’s a big “if” despite Trump’s giddy announcement the other day that he’d do just that – expect the roly-poly North Korean dictator to play the Orange Man with a carefully concocted brew of conspicuous compliments, over-the-top ceremony, expensive gifts, and maybe even an allusion to a future Trump Tower Pyong-Yang.

There’s no way feeble narcissist Trump could resist the pomp and circumstance. Left to his own devices, Trump would pull out the troops from Seoul, give KJU (yes, people now refer to Mr. Un by his initials) a lifetime membership to Mar-a-Lago, and arrange a three-way with Stormy Daniels and his choice of Kellyanne Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders or someone named Tiffany.

And he’d do all those things in exchange for a commitment written in pencil to denuclearize someday, or a declaration that Trump the bestest president in all of history (way better than that Kenyan Obama) – whichever comes first.

Consider what Trump said about Putin during an interview with Bill O’Reilly in April 2016: “I think he said some really nice things. He called me a genius. He said Trump’s a genius. Okay. So, you know, that’s nice.” In return for the disputed “genius” comment Trump has turned a complete blind eye to Russia’s demonstrated affronts to U.S. and European democratic institutions, and their flagrant incursions into neighboring countries.

Philippines president and self-confessed murderer Rodrigo Duterte said in a speech, “Trump is a realist, a pragmatic thinker,” adding “Trump wouldn’t become a billionaire if he were stupid.” Such asslicking has its benefits. Instead of marginalizing Duterte for his thuggish behavior and moronic policies, Trump praises the dictator for his fine work on dealing with the country’s drug problem (by gunning down anyone who might be a drug dealer or user.)

Egypt’s hard-hearted leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi with appropriate obsequiousness proclaimed this about Trump, “Since we met last September, I have had a deep appreciation and admiration of your unique personality.” Trump paid it right back. “I just want to let everybody know, in case there was any doubt, that we are very much behind president el-Sisi. He has done a fantastic job in a very difficult situation. We are very much behind Egypt, and the people of Egypt.” (Sidebar; Trump also slobbered over el-Sisi’s shoes.)

Other world leaders who have traded no-cost ego-stroking for valuable concessions from Orange-man include Recep Erdogan of Turkey, Chinese president-for-life Xi Jinping, Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

In reality, what little competent diplomatic and military staff remains will do whatever they can to dissuade Trump from meeting KJU because they know Trump will fold like a cheap card table. They know that all Little Rocket Man has to do to get Trump off his back AND keep his nukes is hold his nose and stroke Trump’s furry pate.

No doubt the White House comms team has already fabricated stories to spring on the press explaining away Trump’s eagerness to meet KJU. Maybe they can weave in the Stormy Daniels affair somehow.

Celebrities-turned-Politicians

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We at Major Terata do not believe Cynthia Nixon has the right experience to become the governor of New York. The former co-star of “Sex and the City” is probably not even qualified to be the mayor of Callicoon, NY. Likewise we are not convinced Oprah Winfrey would make a good POTUS (although we’ve come to know that “good” is a very fluid attribute.) These observations put us in the camp of the New York Post’s Maureen Callahan who penned an opinion piece titled “When we will get over celebrity politicians like Oprah and Cynthia Nixon?”

The gist of her column is that untested, unqualified left-wing celebs have a lot of nerve deigning to believe they deserve to jump into top level political jobs.

Oddly, Maureen makes only a passing mention of the ultimate, unqualified celebrity hack who aspired to and won top office. And she had nothing to say about right-wing entertainers who have gone directly from the movies or music studios into politics – Clint Eastwood, Sonny Bono, Schwarzenegger – or have toyed around with the idea – Kid Rock, Ted Nugent, Antonio Sabato.

Callahan also picks on Chelsea Clinton, even though the former first daughter hasn’t made any moves to compete for an elected position. Yet she overlooks the political aspirations of another first daughter, Ivanka Trump.

Come on, Maureen, you started out so well only to fall into the NY Post hypocrisy hole.

Get Out … of TD Ameritrade

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If you’re a black man and you meet this dude from the TD Ameritrade TV commercial, run away! – or your brain will be harvested for insertion into the cranium of an old, white hedge fund manager whose portfolio hasn’t beaten the S&P 500 for five straight years.

End note: Best synopsis yet for Oscar-winning film “The Shape of Water”

Grinding Nemo.

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Doping & Curling. What’s Next, Pine Tar on Those Little Brooms?

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Aleksandr Krushelnitckii snorts human growth hormone off his bronze medal.

Curling may not appear to be a difficult game, but precise deployment of a heavy object on a slippery surface combined with the need to follow the object so as to polish the ice in front of it can pose significant challenge to the less adept. Just check out this particular curling fail involving a man whose ability to shuffle down the ice is markedly impaired.

Still, despite the frictionless ice, the special shoes, and the glorified floor scrubber, it would appear that curling is much like golf – a challenging game of skill but not really an endeavor requiring any particular store of strength, endurance or stamina. So it came as a surprise when Russian curler Aleksandr Krushelnitckii and his playing partner wife lost out on a bronze medal after the Court of Arbitration for Sport officially ruled Krushelnitckii guilty of doping.

What possible reason could there be for a curler to dope? Mainlining Moosehead Ale to appear more like a Canadian?

Guns and Cheese

Trump sure knows how to convey empathy as exemplified by his cheesy grin and erect thumb in this official photo taken at the hospital where students are recovering from wounds inflicted by a mass shooter at Marjory Stoneham Douglas high school. Maybe he’s thinking something like “Shot at your high school? Get three free credits at Trump University (if you live to graduation.)”

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Humira Horror Show

Someone please tell the little girl in this Humira ad (which is titled “Missing” by the way) to watch “Get Out” – and then run awaaaaaaay!!!!!

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Term Unlimited

Now that China is moving to rescind its limit of two terms for its leader, let’s start the countdown clock to how long it takes for crazy Trumpsters to start calling in earnest for the same in the U.S. so as to Keep America Orange forever.

We at Major Terata give it to mid-March.

After all, what American wouldn’t want to return to a monarchy under the House of Trump. Next up in 2032, Queen Ivanka I.

Sleepwalking Sarah Sanders

After a full day of prevaricating in front of the cameras, White House spokesblob Sarah Huckabee Sanders likes to take a dreamy walk on the High Line.

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Pass Out the Pistols

In a memorable episode of “All in the Family” Archie takes to the airwaves to deliver his opinions on gun control, which, as you would expect, are decidedly negative. But what made his appearance on TV so ridiculous was his solution to airline hijackings: arm all the passengers. At the time such a proposal was understood to be so outlandish that it transcended debate. Archie’s idea was patently foolish and everyone in the audience knew it.

Now, however, following another mass shooting last week, this time at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school, some have proposed a similar solution to a societal ill: arm the teachers (or hire professionally-trained armed hall monitors). Trump made his case for arming some teachers and giving them bonuses for doing so, and then channeled the NRA (or perhaps the porn industry), declaring, “You want a hardened school, and I want a hardened school, too.”

Here are the reasons why it won’t catch on.

There are about 90,000 elementary schools in the U.S. and another 22,000 high schools. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public school systems employed about 3.2 million full-time-equivalent teachers in the fall of 2017. Although the NRA would have multiple consecutive orgasms if school districts around the country went on a bender to purchase guns for millions of teachers, is it really feasible to outfit, train and compensate such a large, inexperienced group in the finer points of handling weapons and shooting humans? And what about the cost? Will taxpayers passively accept the inevitable hike in taxes to fund such a program?

Perhaps some schools will opt to hire armed guards. For all intents and purposes this would constitute a serious increase in payroll – on the order of tens of thousands of new employees taking paychecks, paid vacations, health benefits and pensions. I’m sure that will go over well with fixed-income seniors who shoulder a good chunk of the school tax burden.

Add to the expense of arming and training teachers to pack heat the inevitable increase in the costs of insurance. Insurance companies don’t care one way or the other about such things as Second Amendments – they only care about one thing: risk. And a school full of teachers in possession of guns is at higher risk for disaster than one that is free from weaponry. You can guarantee that on a daily basis some teachers around the country will leave their guns unattended in an unlocked desk to be pilfered by wily students. Will the next mass shooting take place with a gun stolen from a teacher? You can also guarantee that in the course of a school year dozens of teachers will accidentally discharge weapons, perhaps with tragic results.

Here is a cop lecturing students about gun safety. If it can happen to him . . .

Insurance companies will not like this, and push up premiums accordingly – to the consternation of taxpayers, many of whom are no doubt pro-gun.
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I think it’s also realistic to worry about the effect of false positives. How many people will be shot by armed teachers who mistakenly perceive a mass shooting threat? It’s a very real concern knowing how many people have been shot and killed by police who mistook a cell phone for a gun. It’s easy to imagine a teacher pulling a pistol on a distraught student when in the past he would have taken a subtler approach as an unarmed counselor. And it’s easy to image multi-million dollar lawsuits brought by grieving parents prevailing in court – and the subsequent increase in taxes and insurance premiums to cover the penalties.

Now consider the mind of a would-be mass shooter. It’s well-known that many mass shooters desire to go out in a blaze of glory by so-called “suicide by cop.” Will the presence of an armed professional roaming the hallways actually attract mass shooters? A middle-aged former cop sitting at a desk with a rifle just might make the mass shooting all the more daring – just what a warped teenager on a death wish might hope for.

But if it works is it worth doing? Would the presence of armed adults in a school stop or cut short an armed assault? Columbine High School employed an armed guard, and his involvement was obviously limited, as two armed students successfully massacred more than a dozen kids. Scot Peterson, the armed sheriff’s deputy assigned to Stoneman Douglas where 17 people were killed took cover outside rather than charging into the building when the massacre began, according to the Broward County sheriff.

So much for counting on the good guy with a gun.

If the NRA was the lobbying arm for the auto industry

  • Cars would not have airbags, or seatbelts, or shatterproof glass, or any other safety features that add unnecessary costs (or give the impression there is something dangerous about cars.)
  • Anyone could own and drive a car anywhere they want to. And they wouldn’t be required to register it.
  • Reckless driving would be blamed on mental illness.
  • Drunk drivers would not lose their licenses to drive, because there would be no such thing as a license to drive.
  • Auto makers would never recall a vehicle because they would be immune from lawsuits over shoddy construction.
  • After every pile-up on the freeway, word would go out that the government wants to take away your car. You would then go out and buy two more cars.
  • The best way to deal with bad drivers would be for good drivers to run them off the road.
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Trump Falls for the Columbo Treatment

muellercolumboThose old enough to remember watching the TV series “Columbo” will recall with head-shaking amazement how the eponymous, bumbling, trenchcoat-wearing detective always cracked the week’s criminal case by luring the perp into a false sense of security that he was dealing with an idiot – when in fact Columbo was a mastermind of detection. Columbo – played with blithering aplomb by Peter Falk – would stammer, fumble, scratch his head, and otherwise act the fool, all the while ensnaring his prey. There was always just one more thing to ask the suspect.

Early in an episode the criminal would acquire a sense of invincibility in the face of Columbo’s perceived ineptitude – then fall hard in the end when the evidence was piled high in front of him. Columbo essentially solved crimes by wearing down the suspect into exasperation, driving him to the point of practically begging to be arrested just so he didn’t have to entertain anymore of Columbo’s irritating questions.

Watch Columbo do his shtick.

I now think Trump is that type of suspect. Imagine an episode with special prosecutor Robert Mueller as Columbo and Trump as the arrogant criminal. True to the formula, Trump goes over the top to protest his innocence, presuming that the flunky Mueller and his dumbass staff will quickly veer from the trail and fold up the futile investigation. For someone who professes innocence at every turn, and throws shade at the likes of Hillary Clinton, Obama, Rod Rosenstein and Jeff Sessions, Trump sure as hell sounds like a guilty man.

Wouldn’t it make more sense for an innocent Trump to step aside and let Mueller come to the conclusion that no collusion with Russia took place and that no crime was committed? Why continue to denigrate the investigation and seek to shut it down if you’re innocent when letting it play out is the best way to achieve complete and incontrovertible exoneration?

The answer must be that Trump fears Mueller will slog along like the rumpled Columbo and methodically back him and his team of nitwits into a corner. This will proceed post haste should Trump ever come to be interviewed bu Mueller.

Of course, Trump could deviate from the “Columbo” script and take out his inquisitor – but something tells me Mueller has a package ready to publish should a firing be in the offing.

Like the old TV series, expect to see Trump’s ashen face when Mueller slams the steel filing cabinet shut.

Thoughts and Prayers

“Thoughts and prayers” translated: “Sorry – now please go away.”

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Cut, Cap and Balance: A promise right up there with Repeal and Replace

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Deficit-hawk and V.S.G. Trump grabs a slice before signing another piece of Republican-devised debt-laden legislation.

Trump signed a bill this week that hikes spending, increases the deficit and raises the debt ceiling.

Now for a trip down memory-hole lane.

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The Straight Poop

Unlike most companies, toilet paper manufacturers can’t advertise on TV by depicting the proper use of their product for the purposes for which it is intended. Dodge can demonstrate Ram trucks scaling the steep, red mesas of the American Southwest without getting ticketed by the National Park Service, TaylorMade can highlight Jason Day beating golf balls 350 yards so as to convince a 30-handicapper that he can do likewise, and Sonic can show two bi-curious simpletons in their car deep-throating a Chili Cheese Coney.

But the makers of toilet paper really can’t depict some guy wiping his ass after taking a nice, satisfying shit. That’s a road too far. Instead, the ads invariably skirt the obvious by showing people (or cute animals) caressing the paper, absorbing liquids with it, or in probably the most famous TV ad campaign for toilet paper, squeezing it.

Charmin got the point across that their paper is softer than a corn cob by introducing Mr. Whipple, a skeezy grocery store manager who harps on female customers for squeezing the product, only to be caught molesting the rolls himself in the end. This foolishness went on for many years.

Now, we have a new form of toilet paper ad that seeks to weave the many uses of toilet paper (except ass-wiping) into the fabric of our lives. Consider this ad for AngelSoft:


The piece features a progression of vignettes starting with a doting single father (who looks like a stereotype liberal from central casting) holding his baby daughter while waiting to enter the women’s bathroom so he can change her diaper and ending with him comforting his grown-up and bawling teenaged daughter after her date went badly. AngelSoft manages to somehow insert toilet paper into each vignette. In the middle, the father teaches his daughter how to shave her legs by demonstrating the task on his own hairy appendage – and when he nicks himself, AngelSoft comes to the rescue.

The big question: does this guy have no adult female friends who could step in once in awhile to help with the “girl” stuff? And does the daughter have no friends who can share grooming tips?

Because if they don’t, I’d hate to imagine how good old dad personally demonstrates for his daughter the proper way to use feminine hygiene products.

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Zip for Brains

In a new TV ad from ZipRecuiter, we learn – according to the title of the spot – that “the smartest way to hire” is to engage the vaunted online head-hunting firm . . . and to conduct employment interviews with women candidates in a sports bar. Perhaps this venue allows the recruiter to test the applicant’s capacity for downing tequila shots, or her ability to detect the presence of a roofie in a Cosmo. (Note that the big interview takes place when the entire bar is empty with the presumed exception of a randy barback.)

I predict the geniuses at ZipRecruiter have a follow-up spot that takes place in a Hooters, and they got the Cos to be the spokesman. “Hey hey hey – welcome to UnzipRecruiter. Have a drink – but stir it first.”

C’mon, Zip. If your ad agency is this stupid at least instruct your marketing department to pay attention to the headlines.

Less Than Zero

During an off-the-cuff encounter over immigration with the press yesterday, Trump said this about his sacred wall: “I’m going to build it way under budget, but we’re putting down $25 billion for the wall … we will build it way under.”

That’s gonna be a tough claim to meet, given that Trump reminded Americans repeatedly the budget for the beautiful wall would be all of zero.

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Beware the Modani Furniture Scam

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This table is probably sitting in some thieving douchebag’s living room right now.

Late last year I ordered several pieces of furniture from the Modani Furniture store on 3rd Avenue in Manhattan costing over $10,000, and had the load shipped to my house. Because I was not yet prepared to set all of it up, I had the shippers stack the many boxes in a side room. Although I ordered 14 items (three tables, eight chairs, a sectional sofa, a bed and a rug), the shippers arrived with 19 boxes as some of the items came disassembled in multiple boxes. The dining table, for instance came in three boxes for legs, top and glass surface.

After unloading their truck the shippers did a cursory inventory, pointing out some boxes against the wall that were obscured by other larger boxes. I signed off.

When the time came to set up the stuff, I learned that a coffee table I had ordered was not among the lot. Apparently I was duped into thinking one of the dining table boxes was the coffee table.

I appealed to Modani and got the expected form letter: you signed off on the order so go away. Rather disappointing given the amount I dropped with them, and my stated intention of purchasing additional pieces.

When I worked at a grocery store in my teenaged years I had to verify that loads brought into the store by deliverymen matched the invoice – and very often found them wanting. It might be a missing case of milk, a dozen bags of Doritos or a tray of hamburger buns. Never an amount that would draw instant attention – just enough to feed the deliveryman’s family for a week, or to trade with another driver who may have lifted a case of pop. When I called them out, they always acted perplexed. Sometimes they’d challenge my ability to count to 12, or try to fast-talk me with a double count, pointing out the whole milk, the butter, the cottage cheese, the skim milk, the eggs, and the whole milk again.

Ultimately, we’d go back to the truck and – amazing! – the missing inventory would be sitting there, half-hidden/half-in-the-open, no doubt for plausible deniability. “Oh, sorry, I must have missed that one,” came the usual lame reply.

The scam continues. Watch out for it. Even at supposedly upscale Manhattan establishments.

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The Least, to Say the Least

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Are you as smart as a first term president?

Trump underwent a physical exam this week where it was discovered that under that baggy suit and four foot long tie exists an obese blob consisting of 40 percent special sauce. No mention of the orange skin affliction, but overall, the examining doctor proclaimed Trump in excellent health. He went further to attest that Trump scored a perfect 30 on a cognitive test – a test that Trump requested so as to allay fears that he’s an addled fool.

Here is the test that Trump aced. Can you? (Note to Don, Jr. – do not attempt to shoot any of the animals on the page. They are not real.)

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The VSG Strikes Again

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Michael Wolff in his controversial new book “Fire and Fury” devotes a chapter to commenting on the rampant ineptitude of Trump’s skeleton-crew administration in the first few weeks following the inauguration. To make his point Wolff cites the hurried executive order banning travel to the U.S. by people from one of the so-called “countries of concern:” Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Not only did the rushed out order cause a shit storm of chaos, especially at the nation’s major airports, but it also quickly received blockage from federal judges. After the judicial beat-down, Trump’s crack staff massaged the order around the edges and reissued a new version a short time later – only to have it slapped down once more as a poorly disguised, and unconstitutional Muslim ban.

Naturally, Trump & team argued the order was devised strictly to protect Americans from harmful entities and in no way constituted a Muslim ban. To which the judge responded in essence: dude, you said it was a Muslim ban. Sure enough, the Trump campaign website specifically claimed “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

Is that the kind of work you’d expect from a VSG – Very Stable Genius – like Trump? Pushing edgy doctrine while simultaneously undermining it with hackneyed comments and bald-faced lies?

The VSG showed his prowess early on when he fired FBI Director James Comey for the flatfooted and ill-advised announcements he made during the 2016 campaign. Then within days the VSG blithely admitted during a TV interview that he actually fired Comey because the Director was investigating Russia collusion – a statement that has only deepened the misery for Trump and his acolytes.

In his quest to Make America Choke Again, the VSG directed his Interior Department head Ryan Zinke to open virtually all United States coastal waters to oil and gas drilling. Merely days later heads spun to the news that Zinke had decided to exempt Florida where the VSG has a tony, ocean-front property and the governor there needs popular support in his political career quests. As expected, within hours of the flip-flop announcement almost every other governor of a state with a coastline demanded the same exemption Florida received, basing their arguments on the very capricious action directed by the VSG. The VSG struck again. Now it seems likely that the vast expansion of off-shore drilling will remain a wet dream for the extraction industry while lawsuits pile up in courts for decades.

And now, just the other day in face-to-face negotiations with Reps and Dems in Congress over plans to figure out immigration, the VSG opined that certain people from certain countries should receive lower priority when being considered for entry into the U.S. (if not kept out altogether.) Certain people, who as the VSG explained, hail from “shithole countries.” It was no doubt understood by those in the meeting that such “shithole” residents have a greater propensity than Norwegians to be smelly, ignorant, diseased, less-blonde, and consumers of weird foods.

Any hope for striking a good immigration deal for the country has likely been cast to the winds because the VSG just could not maintain a minimal sense of decorum.

What portends for 2018? Will a solution be hammered out for any of the myriad problems facing the country this year? Will North Korea behave itself? Can the stock market retain its upward trend? Could Trump play even more golf in 2018 than 2017?

Ask the VSG – then ask him again in five minutes.

Skidding the Friendly Skies

A Pegasus Airlines Boeing 737 skidded off the runway in Trabzon, Turkey, traveled over the edge of a cliff and stopped just short of plunging into the Black Sea. No doubt many of the 162 people aboard the plane needed time afterwards to change out of soiled underwear, but anyone reading the news story might wonder what all the fuss was about.

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Recounting the situation a Pegasus spokesman noted the 737 “had a runway excursion incident.” Sounds like something you might see at a fashion show.

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“Mudbound” – A Movie Based on a Novel that Did Not Write Itself

A pretty redhead took the barstool next to me at Gigi’s Trattoria located on a main thoroughfare of Rhinebeck, a tony escape village close to an Amtrak station affording seamless getaways for wealthy New Yorkers seeking bucolic environs. She sipped a cocktail. The year was 2006.

Something about her demeanor struck me as something akin to subdued elation. A little time passed before we became engaged in conversation. She introduced herself as Hillary Jordan, the author of a novel titled “Mudbound” which had just been published after winning the Bellwether Prize. The Bellwether was created by novelist Barbara Kingsolver to recognize an unpublished work of fiction that addresses issues of social justice.

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Hillary Jordan

Hillary gave me a spare yet tight plot summary of her debut novel that suggested she had been through the pitch dozens of times before – no doubt making the case for consideration to any number of literary agents and publishers. And she described the many trials and tribulations endured along the way: how the publisher made her excise hundreds of pages from the manuscript and directed her to rewrite sections wholesale. Hillary did take pride in maintaining control of at least one aspect: the name of the book. You see, the story takes place chiefly on a farm in the Mississippi delta right after World War II – a muddy plot of land that maintains a powerful grip on its occupants. To her, the word “mudbound” said it all. I don’t recall exactly what title the publisher preferred, but I’m sure it was unremarkable.

Sometime later I purchased a first edition copy at Oblong Books around the corner from Gigi’s. (I suspect Hillary was enjoying that cocktail following a satisfying meeting with the Oblong people about the details of her upcoming reading.) Hillary signed books at Oblong, read an excerpt from her novel, and answered questions. I posed one: would she write another book that continues the stories of the characters in “Mudbound.” After all, she had created memorable characters whose stories were not over when “Mudbound” concluded. Her body language indicated her relationship with the subject was largely over. “No,” she said, explaining that she had on the drawing board a completely different subject for her next book which would come out in 2011. Titled “When She Woke,” her second novel certainly was a departure from the first.

Ten years after that brief encounter at Gigi’s I read that “Mudbound” was going to be made into a Netflix movie – and yes, perhaps through Hillary’s persistence, the title of the story remained intact from book to film. “Mudbound” the movie has been nominated for several awards including a Golden Globe for best supporting actress, a SAG award for best ensemble cast, and a Writer Guild of America for best adapted screenplay.

In Friday’s edition of the New York Times, Netflix ran one of those “for your consideration” ads touting “Mudbound” as a candidate for best picture and best supporting actress. The ad also pushed the movie for consideration for best adapted screenplay by Dee Rees and Virgil Williams.

Nowhere in the full-page spread was there a mention of Hillary Jordan as the author of the novel on which the movie was based. And given that Netflix thinks the screenwriters are worthy of Oscars, it’s unseemly that the original writer would not merit a citation. But that often seems to be the lot of the writer whose sole contribution is merely the entire superstructure of the product on the screen.

Rolling Blunder

An elderly woman in a wheelchair tried to ride a descending escalator at Portland’s airport the other day with predictable results.

From the surveillance video it appears the woman hesitated for a second before concluding it was not worth the extra 30 seconds to seek out an elevator. Her family is suing Alaska Airlines which manages the concourse where the fatal tumble occurred. Many people might question how the family thinks they could prevail given that the recording shows no malfeasance or negligence on the part of the airline.

But forget that. The better question to ask would be, “How did someone so stupid manage to live so long?”

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