The Dark (K)Night of Cleveland

Professor Harold Trump arrived in Cleveland and began his final quest to close the sale.  That’s what salesmen do.

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I’m so depressed.  Because Donald Trump made me feel that way in Cleveland Thursday night. The United States, according to Trump, invoking a Reverse-Reagan, is a “tarnished city in a hole.”  I know I am right about this because over at Fox News they’re pounding away at the out-of-touchiness of people like me and everybody else on tv who said we had just seen a speech that was an attempted leveraged buyout of the Soul of America.  Howard Kurtz, like all who enter The Kingdom of Fox, checked his integrity at the door, said in a piece deceptively titled Trump Turns Serious, Rolling the Dice on a Policy-Packed Speech“Trump was all business, and his mission was to persuade wavering voters that he has the depth and discipline to run the country. In short, to pass the commander-in-chief test.”  Did it work?  More later.

The pre-speech film bio was mistitled, considering its pessimistic subject.  As a counterpoint to Bill Clinton’s 1992 seventeen-minute intro called The Man From Hope, Trump’s should have been billed as The Man From No Hope–Unless You Elect Him. When the history of this convention is finally written, let it be said that Melania The Plagiarizer had much better taste stealing from Michelle Obama than Donald did in stealing his ideas for dividing the country from the ’68-vintage Richard Nixon. “Law and Order” was better off being put away as a phrase from the ash heap of history and as a successful NBC police/law franchise. Believe me.  Roger Simon in Politico nails it:

Nixon used urban riots and racist fears to gain voter support. Trump has found a new enemy: “Nearly 180,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records, ordered deported from our country, are tonight roaming free to threaten peaceful citizens!”… “Roaming free” is the kind of vivid, fearful imagery that one needs to sell this kind of campaign. Expect more of it in the weeks ahead. The speech, whose transcript was footnoted on every page, promised action so swift that not a minute of the Trump administration would be wasted: “I have a message for all of you,” Trump said. “The crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon come to an end. Beginning on January 20, 2017, safety will be restored.” Don’t ask how.

Irony or coincidence? It all sinisterly ties together when you appreciate the connection between the deposed Fox News Chief Roger Ailes and Trump. Like tugboats passing in the night, Ailes was put out the door (with a cardboard box of mementos and $40 million) with Trump triumphant on the exact same day.  Ailes, whose foray into political coaching and consulting began with Richard Nixon in ’68, ends with his Fox News nurturing and fostering the legitimizing of the Insanity of Trump for these many years.  The consistency is wondrous.  Nixon listened to Ailes and turned around his nasty image via town hall meetings (new at the time) with “ordinary” citizens asking him humanizing questions.  Check one out here.

It’s not “Morning Again in America,” anymore as it was for Reagan’s syrupy, sunny reelection appeal in 1984.  It’s “Midnight Again in America,” according to Trump, who sets a new record for chutzpah by a self-proclaimed savior NOT in the specific role of Adolph Hitler by uttering these words to the nation:

“I AM YOUR VOICE…. Nobody knows the system better than me… which is why I alone can fix it.”

All that said, I hope I’m not wrong. Initial polling right after the speech, specifically on CNN, indicated mass approval of the Savior. BizPac Review: For viewers, a whopping 57 percent said they had a “very positive” reaction to the speech, while only 24 percent said the speech had a “negative effect.” Even more incredible for Trump was that 73 Screen Shot 2016-07-23 at 11.00.43 AMpercent of viewers said the policies proposed in the speech would move the country in the “right direction,” with only 24 percent saying otherwise. The speech left 56 percent of viewers saying they are “more likely” to vote for Trump.  

On his way out of Cleveland, Trump continued his feud with Ted Cruz and graciously complimented the National Enquirer for their award-winning work in general, and their remarkable, groundbreaking, fact-free-innuendo-laden non-investigation of the John F. Kennedy assassination in particular. “This was a magazine that, in many respects, is respected. They got OJ [Simpson], they got [John]Edwards, they got this. If that was The New York Times, they would have gotten Pultizers for their reporting. I’ve always said, ‘Why didn’t the National Enquirer get the Pulitzer surprise for Edwards? And OJ Simpson? And all of these things?”  Here he lies about his own lies… is this double-lying or lying squared? “I don’t know his father – I met him once – I think he’s a lovely guy,” said Trump. “All I did is point out the fact that on the cover of the National Enquirer, there’s a picture of him and crazy Lee Harvey Oswald having breakfast.”  It does me no good to ask about the reasons or the origins of the delusional breakfast reference in the middle of what should have been a gracious victory farewell to Cleveland.  Yea, right.

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A final footnote here at halftime, between conventions, was the reemergence of Tony Schwartz after 29 years to tell what he really knows about Donald Trump.  Schwartz wrote “The Art of the Deal.”  No, he really wrote the book by himself, with practically no help or cooperation from empty vessel Trump. According to NPR,

Schwartz says the portrait that he painted of Trump in The Art of the Deal is not accurate. “I helped to paint Trump as a vastly more appealing human being than he actually is. And I have no pride about that. … I did it for the money. It’s certainly weighed on me over the years,” Schwartz says. “Now, since he’s … in a position to potentially become president, it makes my decision back then look very different than it did at the time.”

“One of the chief things I’m concerned about is the limits of his attention span, which are as severe as any person I think I’ve ever met,” Schwartz says. “No matter what question I asked, he would become impatient with it pretty quickly, and literally, from the very first time I sat down to start interviewing him, after about 10 or 15 minutes, he said, ‘You know, I don’t really wanna talk about this stuff, I’m not interested in it, I mean it’s over, it’s the past, I’m done with it, what else have you got?’ ”

The idea of a president in an “incredibly complex and threatening world who can’t pay attention is itself frightening,” Schwartz says.

The number of people who know about Schwartz and will have read the original piece in the New Yorker this week is dwarfed 1000 to 1 by the number of people who know Trump from the image makeover in the book, perpetuated for 3+ decades by a co-dependent press, and his carefully-crafted by clearly false image as a strong, successful, decisive leader from Celebrity Apprentice.  God help the United States of America.

 

 

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Hey, Don Jr…. It’s Not The Color Of Your Skin, But The Content Of Your Non-Plagiarism

 

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In the wake of Melaniagate, the undeniable plagiarism that will live in Copycat Infamy, comes extra scrutiny of every word of every subsequent speech given in Cleveland.  The next night, Donald Trump Jr (Uday), speaking before his twin brother Eric (Qusay) and his sister Ivanka (Evita), was falsely accused of the same crime for this moment from his highly-praised performance… and if it’s a Trump, it’s a peformance.  Believe me:

Donald Trump Jr.: “Our schools used to be an elevator to the middle class. Now they’re stalled on the ground floor. They’re like Soviet-era department stories that are run for the benefit of the clerks and not the customers.”

The American Conservative: “What should be an elevator to the upper class is stalled on the ground floor. Part of the fault for this may be laid at the feet of the system’s entrenched interests: the teachers’ unions and the higher-education professoriate. Our schools and universities are like the old Soviet department stores whose mission was to serve the interests of the sales clerks and not the customers.”

The original source was F.H. Buckley, a law professor at George Mason University who writes for the American Conservative, and wrote a piece called Trump vs. the New Class: The Donald is a liberal—just like Ronald Reagan was. Buckley helped write Eric’s speech, so you can’t plagiarize your own words.  I actually like this important line from that piece better: In a troubled economy, Obama told voters that he had their back. Romney came across as the boss about to hand you the pink slip. And Obama won.

One could hardly not notice that Donald Trump, who made his mark on tv by fake-firing people, seemed incapable of taking immediate action like his fake take-charge persona would indicate. You mean he didn’t demand to get to the bottom of who was responsible for feeding his wife those cribbed words from the dreaded Michelle Obama and firing said person.  You mean tv isn’t real life?  Or Trump is all hair and no cattle?  Oh I, know… he didn’t want to upset the Swiss watch-precision of his Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 11.23.41 AMcampaign by canning someone in the middle of the convention which might push the pushing out of Roger Ailes of Fox News from the headlines.  Yea, that’s it!  He’ll get to it later.

But I forgot to get to the point, which is the actual content of the non-plagiarized one-liner… the analogy that just.. plain… stinks… and makes no objective sense.

Our schools and universities are like the old Soviet department stores whose mission was to serve the interests of the sales clerks and not the customers.

Are United States public school teachers part of some wealthy elite intent on self-preservation only, with no regard whatsoever for students?  It’s that bad?  It’s universal? Now he needs to make America smart again.  I realize part of rightwing dogma is the complete dissolution of the public schools, to be replaced by delightfully competitive (with each other) private schools or charter schools (unaccountable public schools) and the magic of the free market will make your kid motivated and smart… Carl Icahn for Education Secretary, too. But I looked hard and couldn’t find any evidence that clerks who toiled in the old GUM department store in the Moscow were anymore oblivious to the needs of the customer than the average person making $9.50 an hour in today’s Walmart in Tulsa.  My recollection of the Soviet days is that you really, really needed to be a member of the Communist Party to be part of the elite.  Were the clerks members of the Party?  I have no idea. Are teachers, who may or may not be in a union in the United States equivalent in some way? Who knows? Who cares? Trumpiness is the new world coined by Stephen Colbert, superseding Truthiness.  Via QZ.com:

Colbert reprised his “the word” segment to coin a new term to describe what drives Trump supporters: “Trumpiness.” The term plays off another term Colbert invented during the second Bush administration, “truthiness,” (video) which means “believing in something that feels true, even if it isn’t supported by fact.” Whereas truthiness has to feel true, however, Trumpiness does not, he said, citing a Washington Post story that shows some Trump fans don’t even believe his pledges to build a wall. The comedian ended the bit by summing up what fuels the Trump machine: The candidate is “an emotional megaphone for voters full of rage at a government that achieves nothing…And if you don’t share their feeling that you don’t recognize your country anymore,” Colbert added, “trust me, if Trump wins, you will.

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RNC: Night Two Predictions

6:18 pmReince Preibus is forced to comment when the media exposes a “Roger Ailes Defense Fund” fundraiser that features a cardboard standup of former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson in the lobby of Quicken Loans Arena. Convention goers are encouraged to have their photos taken with cardboard Gretch as they put their hands on her boobs. At $20 a pop, organizers are able to raise more than $90,000 before they’re shut down

7:15 pm–Several RNC staffers are interviewed leaving the arena after being fired. At least twelve of them were dismissed by Trump after telling the nominee that they couldn’t get a B-2 flyover to happen indoors. The staffers express relief at “being able to get the hell out of Cleveland”

 

Melania

 

7:49 pm–Melania Trump addresses the delegates. Thirty seconds in, they realize she’s delivering The Gettysburg Address. As they begin booing, Mrs. Trump deftly switches and starts reciting the lyrics to American Pie

 

Tiffany

 

8:16 pm–The nominee introduces his daughter Tiffany as “the daughter I only kind of want to bang”

9:03 pm–Trump brings the ballpark idea of the “Kiss Cam” to the RNC, but it turns tragic when a 75-year-old delegate from Arkansas has a heart attack while making out with a hot 68-year-old. Trump is seen motioning for the EMTs to get the deceased man “the hell out of here” before Ted Nugent’s set

 

Chachi

 

10:10 pmScott Baio is heard in the hospitality suite complaining that he couldn’t find a woman under 45 to take back to the hotel. He also complains that everyone keeps calling him “Chachi” and they all seem to have forgotten “Charles in Charge”, which is also the name of the sex move he wanted to show someone under 45 in his hotel room

11:06 pmChris Christie passes out after minute six of his speech when his blood sugar falls dangerously low. It takes a while for medical personnel to realize something is wrong, as his eyes have been lifeless since April. Trump, once again, violently urges the EMTs to “get him the hell out of here”, so that Charlie Daniels can perform his stirring anthem “Obama, You Suck”

11:33 pm–Day two is gaveled to a halt after an impromptu salute to Roger Ailes. An unidentified old man chases Kimberly Guilfoyle around the stage and attempts to grab her butt. The crowd cheers when Guilfoyle trips, but the 83-year-old man is unable to capitalize, as he sustains a fatal heart attack. Trump, once again, tells the EMTs “get him the hell out of here” because his crews need to put up the replica set from Caligula for night three

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Hello, Cleveland! No Cavalier-Sized Victory Parade Scheduled For Trump This Week.

 

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One thing that is a 100% sure bet:  The Republican Convention in Cleveland will draw the highest television ratings we’ve seen in our lifetimes.  Why wouldn’t it?  Trump’s Delusion…. that he’ll actually be elected president… makes its last stand in a totally controlled environment this week.  When the Nielsens come in huge he’ll predictably brag about them and add the rating number to the insufferably boring recitation of the victorious glory days of primaries past he spits out, from memory, to kill 40% of the time at his rallies.

Speaking of controlled environments, I was in Cleveland over the Fourth of July weekend and one of my lifetime complaints has been addressed Screen Shot 2016-07-17 at 10.59.44 AMthere: smoking in casinos.  I wondered if I was the only person in the world who liked to play blackjack but hated smoking and the smell of the casino.  The Jack Casino in downtown Cleveland is smoke-free. Delightful. Las Vegas made the calculation years ago that the connection between smoking and gambling was too strong to risk banning it.  Risk what?  That people just won’t gamble, or gamble as much if they can’t smoke for a few minutes or hours at the Bellagio?  That always made as much sense as the fake warnings airlines issued when it was suggested flying become smoke-free. (the law officially changed in 1990) Nervous flyer-smokers were supposedly being denied their Constitutional rights, would stop flying and the airline business would come to an unprofitable end.  Try telling someone under 40 that at one time you could smoke on an airplane.  They won’t believe you.

“Sincerity – if you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

That stolen George Burns/Groucho Marx quote appears to be what will decide this presidential election that eclipses all others in having two candidates with such high negatives, albeit for different reasons.  If you’re an undecided voter, you need to consider whether you think that the past, horrible or allegedly horrible things that the candidates have done in their public and business lives are likely to be a replicable roadmap to their behavior as president.  Or, are the most egregious errors that will be pointed out simply unfair exaggerations that can always be countered with, “yea, but what about?…..”

No matter what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did regarding her cavalier attitude towards email security, do you believe she’d actually try to continue to have a private server as President Hillary Clinton, caring so little about state secrets that she’d continue her careless ways unabated… she must hate America even more than Barack Obama?  If not and you think that last sentence was written by Sean Hannity, then she should get your vote.  If you don’t think she went on a 15-hour bender, sleeping through the Benghazi disaster, only to wake up for 3 minutes to call off the readily available troops to rescue Chris Stevens and company, then she should get your vote.  If you think the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy outweighs Hillary Clinton’s own personal foibles and insecurities, she should get your vote.

If you don’t believe that Donald Trump stiffs his contractors and workers, trying to negotiate them down, he should get your vote…  if you don’t believe that in 2006 he started Trump Mortgage specifically to become a lending slumlord, read this: Cleveland’s Pain Was Donald Trump’s Gain.

A deeply reported story on NextCity.org from local writer Dan McGraw looks at how the Republican Party is about to nominate in Cleveland a man who encouraged investors to exploit the foreclosure crisis. Donald Trump “once sold subprime mortgages through a short-lived venture called Trump Mortgages and taught America, through a for-profit education company he founded called Trump University, how to profit from foreclosures,” the story notes. In the same year that Slavic Village neighborhood of Cleveland lost 783 homes to foreclosure, Trump University “was running ads with a picture of its founding namesake and the message, ‘Investors Nationwide are Making Millions in Foreclosures … And So Can You!,’ ” McGraw writes.

If you think the above is malarkey, vote for Trump.  If you believe his explanation on why he, allegedly the richest guy to ever be a nominee, refuses to release his tax returns (it’s not the law that he has to…. he’s under audit… the Yankees lost 3 in a row….)…. if you don’t care that his returns would show how little he’s ever given to charity, how much lower his yearly income is than would be typical of someone of his alleged net worth, how little in actual income tax he has been paying…. that he hypocritically demanded the VP-Political Apprentice candidates show him their returns…. then vote for Trump.

 

My macro-confidence grows over some things that have always stuck out, for me, about Trump.  He is the richest, most brilliant businessman guy I’ve ever seen who has never produced one person who has said, “he made me rich.” Every other mogul spawns disciples.  The real people who’ve had any kind of financial dealings with Trump, directly or indirectly, seem to be people he’s ripped off and destroyed through schemes and scams over the decades. The tax return thing is so far beyond inexcusable that it cannot be explained away.  And picking Mike Pence to show what a Team Unity Player he is should be seen as the transparent, ultimate flip-flop that it is.  The establishment Republicans can like me…. they can really like me!

Here are some key words for the Republican Convention Drinking Game: God, Obamacare, 35%, Mexico, China, the blacks, the Hispanics, women, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, bathrooms, Second Amendment, tennis balls, law and order, Benghazi, Lyin Hillary, Radical Islamic Terrorism, Obama, Nobama, Lebron, apologize, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, dishonest, illegal alien, Cleveland Orchestra, Republican Party, Titanic.  Enjoy the show!

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Nick Cage Stars in Political Remake of ’97 Thriller About Trump: Con Hair

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The guy who never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity delivered (in his name) a deliberately less than completely inflammatory reaction (for him) to the police shootings in Dallas.  But it was bad enough.

Sorry, Trump does not merit even the tiniest benefit of the doubt with his pathetic, boilerplate “statement” Friday morning. Read it closely:

“It is a coordinated, premeditated assault on the men and women who keep us safe. We must restore law and order. We must restore the confidence of our people to be safe and secure in their homes and on the street. The senseless, tragic deaths of two motorists in Louisiana and Minnesota reminds us how much more needs to be done.”

The first word that had no place in there was, “coordinated.”  That would indicate more than one person was involved.  Trump didn’t know whether that was true when the statement was issued.  It is a textbook example of rushing to judgement with no facts, just misinformed speculation.  He may turn out to be right…. then will brag he “knew” it first and predicted it. It makes sense, however, when you remember he’s America’s Conspiracy Theory Champion… conspiracies by definition involve more than one person.  Like the one where all the people helped fake Obama’s birth, citizenship, and education.  Or new FOD (Friend of Donald) Ted Cruz, now speaking at the convention, whose father was involved in the conspiracy to kill JFK.  Remember, Trump learned that courtesy of the National Enquirer…. which provides the all time greatest campaign scoop headline: “JOHN F. KENNEDY’S SECRET SON ENDORSES DONALD TRUMP!”

Nice dog whistle code putting Nixon’s “law and order” in there, too. Does a generalized call for law and order have anything to do with Philando Castile of Minnesota, the motorist (actually a passenger) who you (conveniently) forgot to mention was black, who got shot obeying a policeman’s order? The sloppiness of calling them “two motorists” when Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge was not in a car is pathetic. That it was semi-corrected later means nothing.  It shows a total lack of attention to facts and detail.  Amazingly, he’d have been better off just calling them “two black guys.”

“Our nation has become too divided. Too many Americans feel like they’ve lost hope. Crime is harming too many citizens. Racial tensions have gotten worse, not better. This isn’t the American Dream we all want for our children,” Trump said. “This is a time, perhaps more than ever, for strong leadership, love and compassion. We will pull through these tragedies.”

But most importantly of all, I have this question: did the campaign tie up Trump in a rubber room, not permitting him to call “the shows,” forcing out this type of mealy mouthed politician statement? Aside from the NYC Police Commissioner telling Trump to f— off when he wanted to visit a local precinct to pose for a photo op with NYC cops, they must have put him in a straight jacket most of the day. The statement was so obviously written by someone else… not Trump… that it is, in the end, worthless. That’s not his voice. He doesn’t talk like that, he doesn’t write like that…. it’s not his language. Spit at the tv if you hear Trump given some kind of “credit” for this “presidential”-type statement in these circumstances.

Later, he put out another non-Trump-type statement on Facebook.  I have to tell the truth…. it’s both amusing and sad, very sad, believe me.… to see the guy who trashes Hillary for using a teleprompter  brag about his lack of need for one using a teleprompter under duress.

Bored with the minutia and work involved in going all-in attacking Hillary for the credibility issues she faces because James Comey followed the law, he’d rather defend his retweeting anti-Semitic appeals to the white supremacist crowd, the Unappreciated Greatness of Saddam Hussein, and the sleeping habits of Chuck Todd of NBC.  That was his week of rallies until Dallas.

Trump used to flippantly say that every disaster was helpful to him… the poll numbers seemed to bear that out after Paris and San Bernadino.  But that was long ago in political time.  We’ll find out soon enough if the country is not any kind of expanded version of the Republican primary electorate.  It doesn’t feel like it.  Josh Marshall brilliantly chips away at the Infallibility of He Who Will Make Us Sick of Winning…. Trump, Dominance Politics and the Limits of the Bullshit Production Model

So much of Trump’s whole way of approaching, or rather attacking life is, as I’ve said, sensing the crowd, sensing the audience and either telling them what they want to hear or knocking them off their stride with unpredictable, aggressive tactics. You can do that in a sit-down with a fellow mogul over lunch where you go from 0 to 60 with over the top tactics they’re not expecting or used to. But that’s an immediate, almost intimate encounter; you can likely only pull it on the same person a limited number of times. (Remember, only one major bank, DeutscheBank, will do business with Trump. He’s shut out at all the rest.) But the stage Trump is now is quite a different one. There are a lot of people out there and people have a lot of time to watch. Trump has passed himself off for decades as a great philanthropist. Only under the hot glare of presidential election scrutiny has that claim been revealed to be more or less baseless.

A great salesperson can say something so magnificently and convincingly that you believe because you want to believe even if it makes no sense at all. Salespeople tell stories, beautiful or horrifying ones. Trump can say Hispanics actually love him. But in his meeting this morning with House Republicans he was talking to people who have been inundated by evidence and have an existential need to know the truth. The standard issue bullshit is just no easy match for that audience under those circumstances.

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So Jesus, Moses, and Loretta Lynch Are In The Airport. Guess Which One Bill Clinton Chooses To Talk To?

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One of the worries of the Hillary campaign surely has always been about whether Bill… along with his overall popularity and his baggage would be, on balance, an asset or a liability. Additionally, would he be disciplined enough to not go off the rails like he did in South Carolina in 2008, when he went hard after Barack Obama’s claims he’d been against the Iraq War, and noted that Jesse Jackson had been able to win SC in ’84 and ’88?

It’s almost as if there’s a pathological need by the Clintons to periodically supply their enemies with a new Dangling Participle of Scandal That Never Was, which gets added to the Permanent Pile of The Never Really Proved.  Nice move there…. shifting the “can he be disciplined and not say or do stupid stuff?” card, even temporarily, away from Trump.

Two versions of this latest entry from the What the Hell Were You Thinking Dept, Unforced Error Division:

Bill Clinton, AG Loretta Lynch meet on tarmac in Phoenix…..

US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Bill Clinton meet privately in Phoenix before Benghazi report

An aide to Bill Clinton confirmed to CBS News that the meeting wasn’t planned in advance: President Clinton saw the attorney general on the tarmac and wanted to say hello, so he boarded her plane to talk….

The meeting comes as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is still under investigation for her email practices–and also came the day before House Republicans released a report criticizing the Obama administration’s response to the 2012 Benghazi attacks.

Lynch told reporters that the topics of Benghazi and Clinton’s email server did not come up, and that she and Clinton spoke largely about his grandchildren, golf and travel.

“Actually, while I was landing at the airport, I did see President Clinton at the Phoenix airport as I was leaving, and he spoke to myself and my husband on the plane,” she said. “Our conversation was a great deal about his grandchildren. It was primarily social and about our travels. He mentioned the golf he played in Phoenix, and he mentioned travels he’d had in West Virginia.”

“There was no discussion of any matter pending for the department or any matter pending for any other body,” Lynch added. “There was no discussion of Benghazi, no discussion of the State Department emails, by way of example.”

Yes, we know Bill Clinton is just so damn friendly that his good, Southern manners absolutely wouldn’t allow him to not pay a visit to the one person on earth who, if she were not above reproach, might possibly be influenced by the husband of Hillary Clinton, subject of the Hardy Boys latest:  The Case of the Dripping E-Mails.  How serendipitous for them: two ships in the Hillary Navy passing one another in open water in the Phoenix airport!

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The stupidity of putting Attorney General Lynch in the position of having to say specifically the things the two of them didn’t talk about (no discussion of Benghazi, no discussion of the State Department emails) will mean to the Never Hillary crowd, led by Trump, to say those items were exactly what they talked about.  If I was advising the Republicans here I’d take the Lynch denial and merge it with “I want you to listen to me,” he said. “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” And the issue will float along right up until election day, even though nothing can be proven and Lynch’s integrity is unassailable. Just add it to the list.  Just don’t call it Lorettagate.

 

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Netflix Original: The Fundamentals of Caring

If Paul Rudd was discovered to have the (ahem) “Bill Cosby problem”, I’m pretty sure that America would fall into a depression and cry for days. Currently, Rudd is competing with Chris Pratt over (seemingly) the title of  NICEST GUY EVER. I pray that neither one of them gets caught banging the babysitter so much as jaywalks

Rudd’s character Ben has a secret in The Fundamentals of Caring and he spends an hour and a half running from it, but not in the way that people do in John Grisham movies. He’s suffered a trauma and tries to bury it by caring for Trevor (Craig Roberts), a young man suffering from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which is as bad as it sounds. At first, Ben and Trevor clash, but then an impromptu road trip bonds them and they deal with the awful stuff that’s making them miserable

Along the way, they pick up Dot (Selena Gomez) and Peaches (Megan Ferguson), the latter of whom is extremely pregnant. Our unhappy quartet attempt to mesh into a dysfunctional family as they seek out cheesy roadside attractions and, ultimately, seek out Trevor’s horrible, estranged father (Frederick Weller)

Selena Gomez and Craig Roberts
Selena Gomez and Craig Roberts

One hidden gem in the cast is Trevor’s mother, Elsa, played by Jennifer Ehle. Ehle plays Elsa as no-nonsense English woman, who has been worn down by her son’s disease and her husband’s desertion, but she also has an undeniable vulnerability. Elsa’s doesn’t coddle Trevor, but she shows great concern when Ben suggests taking him more than an hour from his house for the first time ever. The greatest compliment I can give Ehle is that I was left wanting more Elsa

I am loathe to pile on the late, lamented Vinyl (as I did here), but the five minutes of Bobby Cannavale that we get in The Fundamentals of Caring are better than everything he did in the (lamented) first only season of Vinyl

Fundamentals comes from the mind of Rob Burnett, who was David Letterman’s right-hand man for many years. Some will find tonal qualities similar to the Apatow Empire, but I also detected a little hint of We Need To Talk About Kevin and the slightest aroma of Little Miss Sunshine. Not entirely a comedy, but also not strictly a drama. Netflix has once again shown that it’s investment into original content makes for quality programming. While Fundamentals may not be in the same league as HBO’s excellent All the Way, it’s another “date night” winner for Netflix

The Fundamentals of Caring is now streaming on Netflix

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If Smartest Man Ever, Trump, Had No Idea What Brexit Was, How Could Average Brit Be Expected To Know?

 

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I hate to be writing about this Brexit disaster.  After all, the week began on such a promising note, with the NBA’s Cavaliers reminding us why sports has always been the truly great, original reality show that can delight and deliver the seemingly impossible.  Inexcusably mixing metaphors, Cleveland’s 2016 basketball miracle is about to give way to a Republican Convention that could end up adding to the one-word descriptions of previous sports-related disasters that plagued the city. “Believeland” is the ESPN documentary that chronicles those Cleveland failures… to be reedited by June 30!  The Fumble, The Drive, The Shot…. say hello to The Oaf. Synonyms include The lout, boor, barbarian, Neanderthal,fool, dolt, dullardidiotimbecile, moron, halfwit, lamer, cretin, ass, jackass, goon, yahooclodblockhead, meathead, butthead, meatball, bonehead, knucklehead, chuckleheadlamebrain, palooka, lug, bozo, hoser, boob, chowderhead, lummox, knuckle-draggergaloot, klutz, goofus, doofus, dork, turkey, or dingbat.

The week ended with the world holding its breath over what may turn out to be the worst British miscalculation since 1938. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had returned from sharing tea with Adolph Hitler and stoodScreen Shot 2016-06-26 at 12.22.58 PM in the same spot in front of 10 Downing St. that current PM David Cameron occupied while announcing his resignation last Friday. Chamberlain said:

We regard the agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again….My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honor. I believe it is “peace for our time.” Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.

The major difference between the two decisions is that the Brexit vote was just that… a UK-wide referendum, not the judgement of one politician, as was Munich.  That doesn’t make it any better, wiser, or any less subject to regret.  It’s never a sure thing, but when given the choice, defendants often pick one judge over a jury of their so-called peers to decide their fate.  There’s no right answer, but the Brexit vote may actually disprove Winston Churchill’s quoting that “many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…”  It must be remembered, right now, that the world, led by the United States, decided two world wars emanating from Europe in the 20th Century was enough, and that economic ties via the European Union and its predecessors would go far to prevent a third.  The old adage that democracies don’t go to war with each other was a foundational idea.

I can’t recall in any election such a stark, generational divide.   From The Daily Mail in a perfectly headlined piece This vote doesn’t represent the younger generation who will have to live with the consequences’: Millennials vent fury at baby boomers for voting Britain OUT of the EU,” Lily Bowen wrote: ‘Older generations really don’t realize how badly this will affect our future #EUref.’…. While Matt Cooper tweeted: ‘Brilliant, once again the older generations get to decide what’s best and we’ve got to pickup the pieces #EUref.’  I can’t see how you keep a society together with grandparents voting what they think are their short-term interests at the expense of the grandkids.

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You had to know the Brexit outcome was a bad decision when delusional golf-course empresario Donald Trump flew to Scotland, where they voted heavily to remain, and ignorantly pronounced himself both prescient and understanding of what just happened. Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 11.32.19 AM

 

 

Only after November 8th will we know if Trump will have gotten away with this kind of garbage…. and that’s being nice to garbage…. blowing two full days of what’s left of his intellectually and financially bankrupt campaign– bigfooting his way to promote another business failure, with the world press in tow, for the free publicity.  As more and more of Trump’s con-man frauds, scams, and general Fleecing of America Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 11.17.07 AMschemes are revealed, your hopes rest with the truth punching through and hitting enough Americans upside the head that he gets slaughtered in the general.  Here’s another we’re just learning about: Cambridge Who’s Who. What? Huh?  The New York Times says Cambridge “generated hundreds of complaints that it deceptively peddled the promise of recognition in a registry, as well as branding and networking services of questionable value. Dozens of people who paid Trump-endorsed businesses were also sold products by Cambridge, which benefited from its partnership with Donald Trump Jr. through “leveraging relationships built by the Trump empire,” according to Cambridge.  Trump is like the John Wayne Gacy of politicians: every time you think you’ve found all the dead bodies buried beneath the floorboards, a few more gruesomely appear.

Is it possible for a huge swath of a country to make a move based on a miscalculation based on misinformation resulting in mass buyers’ instant remorse and regret?  It may be, in this case.  Millions have already signed petitions calling for a second vote, and many of those are people who voted to leave. It’s quite clear that disinformation, ignorance, and nationalistic emotion took hold with a whole new level of sticking it to the man, to the intellectuals, to anyone in power with no regard to the consequences. The Bregretters! How some voters who backed Leave vote now claim they want to STAY in the EU . . . ‘I didn’t think my vote would count’ 

Sorry, Brits.  You’re not going to get a do-over anymore than the Republican Party is going to get a do-over in Cleveland.  The difference, so far, is that Brexit has immediate and long-term damage components to it; the nomination of Trump as the Republican candidate is not a final decision by the entirety of the American electorate.   There are no Lincolns in British politics, and we have none here right now.  Lincoln said this in December of 1862:

We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just — a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.

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Brexit: The Next Year in the UK

June 30, 2016–In a tragic misunderstanding, The Duchess of Cambridge throws Prince William‘s wardrobe and personal effects onto the front lawn of Kensington Palace, saying that she had to expedite the process, as, in the future, there would be fewer immigrants to help her with the task

July 4, 2016–Donald Trump produces a gigantic American-themed fireworks show near the London Eye, complete with John Philip Sousa marches blaring to the crowd and free nachos for everyone. Many people who voted for the Brexit seem happy, but a little confused by the celebration

July 5, 2016–Trump declares his intention to stick around for a few days in England to help dismantle the NHS. This offer is roundly rejected, but Trump saves face by giving out coupons for free rounds of golf

Credit: CNN
Credit: CNN

August 13, 2016–In another misunderstanding, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley ships the entire state surplus of confederate flags to Queen Elizabeth

September 10, 2016–Sir Paul McCartney briefly considers renouncing his British citizenship and becoming Canadian, but quickly decides it’s not that bad

November 12, 2016–Following Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election, the President-Elect phones the Queen and asks if there’s anything that would not allow him to also be Prime Minister. Queen Elizabeth faints, but, fortunately, is caught by three servants before she can suffer a concussion

December 15, 2016–President-Elect Trump threatens to bomb Scotland if they decide to stay in the European Union. White House aides change the nuclear codes for the sixth time that day

February 9, 2017–Former Prime Minister David Cameron is seen weeping as he strolls through the streets of London mumbling “What went wrong? Who am I? Why am I here?”

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March 21, 2017–The English Tourism Commission releases their new slogan “Still Zika Virus Free”

April 8, 2017–A special commission releases it’s findings that the alarming lack of violence at football matches is due to a national malaise over the Brexit. Fortunately, a majority of Britons still think Manchester United are rubbish

May 26, 2017–After being taunted by Germany for the better part of a year over the effects of the Brexit, England bans German porn. This triggers an economic crisis, but President Trump promises that America will step in to consume even more than ever before

 

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Rush Limbaugh: Anatomy of an Obsession

It’s important, as we careen towards November, that Rush Limbaugh‘s single-minded focus on the Clintons is the main reason that his media empire grew to such great heights during the 1990s. At this point, lobbing verbal bombs at Hillary seems almost reflexive. Listeners would tune in on their radios daily during the Clinton administration to hear Rush attacking Bill and Hillary for any number of sins (Whitewater, Travelgate, etc.)

And so it came to pass that the radio show wasn’t enough of a platform for spotlighting the sins of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Rush Limbaugh, the TV show ran in syndication for four years and was produced by future Fox News head honcho Roger Ailes. In fact, there has been much speculation that had the Limbaugh TV show been more successful, Ailes would not have been available to crank up Fox News

Limbaugh’s television show was supposed to be an conservative alternative to those late night shows that were (allegedly) brainwashing America with their liberal slant. After all, how many times did parents shake their head in horror at some lefty drivel spouted by Arsenio Hall (answer: None)

One particular incident from the Limbaugh TV show is particularly instructive and we’ll work from this source material

It was November 6, 1992 and America had just elected it’s first Baby Boomer president. Millions of Americans were becoming comfortable with the First Family to be and the prospect of having the first child in the White House since Amy Carter in the 1970s. This You Tube video is our best visual preservation of Mr. Limbaugh’s TV show from 11/06/92 and a transcript will help us navigate what happened

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It’s unclear why Mr. Limbaugh is wearing a hat which appears to rep Yale. I’m not sure if he’s paying tribute to his fallen leader, George H.W. Bush or sending a bat signal to his future leader, George W. Bush, but I’m sure that, whatever the reason, it’s hilarious. Perhaps Yale had just instructed women on campus that “no means no” or some other liberal claptrap

In any case, the master is riffing on a piece by David Hinckley of the New York Daily News

So, my friends, in today’s New York Daily News right here, holding it here in my formerly nicotine-stained fingers, it’s the obligatory in-out list. Every time there’s a massive change somewhere, people are in, people are out. I’m now out. It says about me on here, Rush Limbaugh, loud-mouthed conservative and Bush favorite, trusts no one to the left of Pat Buchanan. He’s out.’ You know, they wish. In their dreams

The crowd slavishly applauds, as though fed their cue from a blinking sign in a television studio. Oh, wait!

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David Hinckley of–of the New York Daily News wrote this, and what he has–he’s got–it’s very strange. He says, In: A cute kid in the White House. Out: Cute dog in the White House.’ Could–could we see the cute kid? Let’s take a look at–see who is the cute kid in the White House

He pivots, like a true pro, to see what’s on the monitor. This pops us

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He then mock protests, as though he is terribly offended

No, no, no. That’s not the kid

Then, this picture shows upLimbaugh4

That’s–that’s the kid. We’re trying to..

Crowd applauds because the sign tells them to

Later, El Rushbo pleads

There I go. My friends, I apologize again. I — that’s the third time the crew makes a mistake by showing you Millie the dog when I intended to show you Chelsea Clinton, and then I followed with that terrible story. I’m — I hope you’ll forgive me. I’m fatigued. I’m tired. I really don’t — in fact, you know what I’ll do? Let’s pretend this is a daytime talk show and that I’m a guest on, say, Sally, Phil or whatever. How can I make amends to you for what I just did? I can spank myself. People who spank themselves, next RUSH. Watch this. (Rush stands)

I’ll do it with my left hand. I — I’m right-handed, so it won’t hurt as much. Do it with my left hand.

(Rush spanks himself, screaming and crying; written on screen, Ouch!!!’)

It’s actually much worse when you realize that he admitted they did that joke three (3) times. In various forums over the years, Limbaugh has claimed it was a technical error, which is a lie because:

  1. His television show was pre-recorded (vs. live), so any technical errors could have been fixed with editing before air
  2. Otherwise, what’s the damn joke

On November 10, 1992, Limbaugh offered a “heartfelt” apology

And I’m terribly sorry. I don’t — look, that takes no talent whatsoever and I have a lot of talent. I don’t need to get laughs by commenting on people’s looks, especially a young child who’s done nothing wrong. I mean, she can’t control the way she looks. And we really — we do not — we do not do that on this kind of show. So put a picture up of her now and so we can square this.

(Photo shown of Bill and Chelsea Clinton, who is making a sour face)

(Laughter and applause)

Bearing one’s soul is often an emotional exercise

One of my favorite stories from the Limbaugh canon is when Rush and Bill came face-to-face at a New York restaurant in 2007. Longtime Limbaugh listeners might have expected Rush to spew invectives at Clinton, detailing how he’d ruined the country, or some such thing

Instead…

I reached out my hand, “Mr. President, it’s a pleasure to meet you”. We shook hands and so forth , and he hung around for two or three minutes, maybe five

Here’s hoping that in the future, Limbaugh comes into contact with former President Hillary Rodham Clinton at some swanky Manhattan steakhouse. And, in my mind’s eye, they exchange pleasantries and chat amiably for a few minutes, as Limbaugh’s current wife tells him to turn up his hearing aid

But, would you really blame her if she slapped the snot out of him?

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