Tuesday, January 31, 2017

America Playing Real Life, High Stakes Pokemon Go

The entire country is in the grip of a spectacle so compelling, so consuming and addictive, that historians are already calling Donald J. Trump the first "Pokemon Go" President.

"Everyone is just walking around with their heads down in a phone now, like when Pokemon Go was a big thing," said Dr. David Norwood, Professor of Political Science at Tufts. "And people keep geo-locating protests and marches and stuff."

Trump has forced both his opponents and cheerleaders alike to create online avatars in which their "true feelings" may be known. 

Some of the bigger marches serve as PokeShops where players can make signs, plan a boycott hashtag of something, and catch up on all the outrageous shit Trump did today. PokeGyms--also known as schools and workplaces--are where people who love Trump and people who hate him can spar about whether he's amazing or terrible while Steve Bannon rips the Constitution a new asshole.

Players lob PokeBalls, or actual facts, at gullible Internet trolls prone to propagating alternative facts. And in so doing, they achieve absolutely nothing.

The PokeMon Go Presidency. Let's keep playing and see what happens!

Actually, the "Real Problem" is Maroon 5 and Shirts Without Shoulders

In these troubling times, everyone keeps debating what the "real problem" is. The "real problem" is fascism. The "real problem" is not understanding the white working class. The "real problem" is white privilege. The "real problem" is corporate personhood. The "real problem" is millennials. The "real problem" is the economy. The "real problem" is climate change. The "real problem" is fake news. The "real problem" is the internet. The "real problem" is social media. The "real problem" is Hillary and/or Bernie and/or Congress and/or the Republicans and/or the Democrats and/or Paul Ryan.

BORING! And also, as our President would say, WRONG! The "real problem" is Maroon 5 and shirts with the shoulders cut out of them. 

The success of Maroon 5 and its lead singer, Adam Levine, has long been a personal bugaboo and subject of much consternation and analysis on this blog. 

Like the time I wrote about how Adam Levine and Maroon 5 crashing my wedding would be my worst nightmare. Or the time I wondered whether Andy Grammer was a contender to unseat Adam Levine as the King of All Douches. Or the time before that when I said Adam Levine was the number one most douchealicious celebrity ever. Or that other time when I said the song "summer" hurt my ears like a mothafuckah.

The fact that Maroon 5 continues to release hit after hit despite being the most terrible, God-awful, cloying and deeply insufferable band ever to emerge in the 21st Century tells us clearly what the "real problem" is with the direction America is headed.

It's fucking Maroon 5.

The second "real problem" is shirts with the shoulders cut out of them. I've noticed these shirts popping up with increasing frequency, so far only on women. The first time I saw one, I was at a trampoline park with my kids, and my only thought was, "that one kid's babysitter is missing part of her shirt and she's jumping on a trampoline anyway." 

Since then, I have seen shirts with the shoulders cut out of them absolutely everywhere, as if all of female-kind is suddenly paying collective homage to Swiss cheese and I just haven't gotten the memo that this is now a Thing We Must Do.

Have you no decency?! And by decency, I don't mean you're showing too much skin. I mean it is logically indecent to wear a shirt with no shoulders AND sleeves. It's like, pick one or the other. If you don't need sleeves, you don't need sleeves. You don't need SOME sleeves and then SOME not sleeves. I get that it's supposed to be sexy, but seriously it's just stupid. Admittedly, the line between sexy and stupid can be a fine one, but shirts without shoulders fall squarely on the latter end of that line. That's a fact, not an alternative fact. Shirts without shoulders are the "real problem." 

It's time to RISE UP, America. #ResistMaroon5 and #ResistShirtsWithoutShoulders.

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Two Competing Narratives of Intention and a Third Theory

Two competing narratives of "intention" are emerging from the first weeks of the Trump administration, both of which are nicely summarized in this piece by Jake Fuentes in Medium.

One narrative has it that the Trump administration is disorganized and blundering, and so its extremist policies are playing out chaotically. 

The second view--more sinister and conspiratorial--is that every move by Trump and his inner circle is calculated for a maximum power grab and social manipulation. To test loyalties. To use the language of fascism by hiring "patriots" and firing "traitors" like Acting AG Sally Yates, who would dare to use her independent legal judgment in exercising prosecutorial discretion. To create distracting albeit harmful "shock events" like the immigration ban, while quietly doing far worse "behind the scenes." All with the end goal being a slow-boil autocratic, kleptocratic takeover of American democracy.

I have a third theory, though, which lands in a gray area between these two narratives, and I'm sure better-informed people have thought of this already.

I don't believe for a minute that Trump and his advisers are reading off a fascist playbook and carefully plotting a coup. And while most of them have no idea how government actually works, I don't think they're stupid and directionless either.

I think the truth is somewhere in the middle.

There is a fundamental aspect of human nature--a broader force--at play, and it's revealed over and over again in the way this kind of upheaval plays out around the world. You've seen all those "rules for surviving fascism" and op-eds from citizens of Venezuela and Eastern Europe that comprise sort of a bleak, "What to Expect When You're Expecting a Demagogue" guide. You've seen calls to "resist" in particular ways. And yet all of it feels a bit like a Kabuki play--with the acts playing out in predictable and inevitable ways that lead to a sense of futility.


I think it's because Trump and his administration are simply doing what comes naturally as opposed to intentionally; but what comes naturally happens to be an autocratic disregard for democracy and pursuit of a self-serving and fundamentally un-American agenda.

So where does that leave us, and by "us" I mean the rest of us--including Trump's supporters--who will inevitably suffer under this regime? I think it leaves us in the same place all humans are left: to answer to ourselves and our own consciences.

From a structural standpoint, the good news is that the United States is not Venezuela or Poland. It is comprised of 50 quasi-sovereign states with a lot of governmental power and ability to affect their residents' everyday lives in ways the federal government can't necessarily reach. It is this highly-disparate, 50-state federalist structure--unique to the world--that may yet prove a feature of political engineering that saves our democracy from a demagogue. 

From a moral and human rights standpoint, we only have ourselves to answer to. In the end, societies are comprised of individuals, each of whom must ultimately reckon with their own consciences and values, and take calculated risks in accordance with them. 

In the disorienting, paralyzing moment of asking "what can we do?" the answer is actually pretty simple.

Look in the mirror, think carefully, and act accordingly.

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Monday, January 30, 2017

Well This Should be Interesting

Shakespeare famously wrote in Henry VI, "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." The line was uttered by Dick the Butcher, who in following the rebel Jack Cade, believed that upending law and order could make him king. So although it's often cited as a mandate to decimate a corrupt profession, others have noted that the Bard intended the statement to compliment decent stewards of justice.

Regardless of what he meant, I'd respond to Shakespeare today with three words: Not so fast.

Right now, the Trump administration is teeing up for a grudge match in the United States Supreme Court. It hasn't happened yet, but it will; on which of Trump's various and dizzying constitutional violations is anyone's guess.

The really interesting question will be how Trump will react the first time the United States Supreme Court hands down an order that rebukes one of his actions as unconstitutional. And make no mistake: it will happen. It's not a question of if, but when. To quote Shakespeare once more, if past is prologue, Trump will take to Twitter to rant and rave, and whether he will ultimately respect an adverse court order from the nation's highest court remains to be seen.

Say what you will about their politics, but with limited exceptions, the justices of the United States Supreme Court (and the federal court system in general) are now, and historically have been, decent intellectuals and constitutional scholars with lifetime appointments. 

So regardless of Trump's nominee for the ninth seat on the Court tomorrow, I am confident that someone of the intellectual caliber of Chief Justice John Roberts and at least four of his colleagues will not allow a shredding of the Constitution to go unanswered.

Federal judges across the country have already been signaling this in ruling against Trump's immigration ban, and as noted in the above-linked CNN story, the Department of Homeland Security is now agreeing to comply with those orders when previously it seemed to imply it would not.

It's all very confusing, really.

The once (read: last month) unthinkable idea that an executive branch agency would defy a federal court order is alarming. More alarming, even, than the erasure of the entire judicial branch from the White House website, an omission that was later corrected, but certainly odd in the first place; or the appointment of Steve Bannon, an avowed white nationalist agitator, to a powerful national security council seat normally reserved for generals.

Again, here's the really interesting (and scary) part: a strong and fair judiciary is the last true backstop of a constitutional democracy. The bulk of this work is done in the lower courts, which so far are functioning properly but might not be for long, if and when Trump chooses to flout their orders, and, ultimately, an order from SCOTUS. 

Trump has already declared the media the "opposition party." What happens when the Supreme Court collides with his ego? 

If and when Trump defies a United States Supreme Court order (and let's face it, he might)--and Congress does nothing to stop him (and let's face it, they might)--he will have accomplished nothing short of a coup.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Privilege of Not Having a Leftist Libtard Snowflake Temper Tantrum

There's been a lot of talk of "privilege" lately, but I have to say, I think that currently, the ultimate privilege in this world is to look at a Trump presidency and conclude that any opposition to it is a leftist libtard snowflake temper tantrum.

Some 80 year-old white dude from Kentucky who tried to get into it with me on Facebook said as much. 

I didn't bother to enage. Engagement is futile, but fortunately resistance is not. I will, however, say this: If you're not having a leftist libtard snowflake temper tantrum, it means one or all of three things: (1) you're already a billionaire with zero social conscience; (2) you're a white supremacist whether you admit it or not; and/or (3) you have your head crammed so far down in the sand, you can almost see the impact of trade sanctions on China.

If you're not having a leftist libtard snowflake temper tantrum, here is what you probably aren't:

1. A person of color.
2. An immigrant. 
3. Someone with a pre-existing condition.
4. A rape victim.
5. A scientist.
6. A student of history.
7. A person who has read or studied the Constitution.
9. A person who would hide Anne Frank from the Nazis instead of waving goodbye to their neighbors en route to Dachau.
10. A Muslim.

So personally, I am happy and proud to have a "temper tantrum" and be called a snowflake, a leftist, or a libtard. I've been called way worse and I look forward to spending the next four years fighting for basic human rights and competency in governance.

And guess what? I literally almost suffocated in Washington DC last weekend between hordes of people who feel the exact same way.


Saturday, January 28, 2017

By the Time Dick Cheney is Calling Your Policies Inhumane, You are Officially Satan's #1 Bottom Bitch

There's no other way to say this. 

By the time you have the aptly-named Dick Cheney--Halliburton's favorite ho and war-mongering torture cheerleader who shoots his friends in the face for fun--calling your policies into question on moral and constitutional grounds, congratulations. 

You have made it. You are officially Satan's #1 bottom bitch.

Since President Trump is so consumed with his ratings, reviews, status, and popularity, he'll be pleased to know that he is now--without a doubt--the BIGGEST, BEST, MOST TERRIFIC, BEAUTIFUL fuckboi the Dark Lord Satan ever pegged in all of eternity.

You have to dive deep into the depths of vengeful revanchism and down a black hole of empathy to find someone as evil as Dick Cheney willing to disavow your revanchist policies as un-American. 

Like, really deep. Like, seven circles of hell and then all the way up Satan's asshole and out his mouth again deep.

Basically, if Dick Cheney is saying that something you did is "against everything we stand for" as Americans, you should delete all the contacts in your unsecured Galaxy Note 7 except Satan, text Satan a dick pic at 1:00 a.m., and ask if you can come down to hell for a booty call.

This is what it's like to be on a 747 piloted by a vindictive, screaming toddler who later grows up to be the lead character from American Psycho.

Buckle up, 'Murica! 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Ask an Alaskan if Climate Change is Real

And I mean, any Alaskan who has lived here for any period of time. However they vote, whatever their political views, whatever they think the cause of it may be, ask them if they think the climate that they live in is changing. 

No one who lives here can credibly or reasonably deny it anymore, because it is literally happening before our eyes. Forget about scientists. You don't need a scientist to ask these questions and get answers. Or as Bob Dylan famously said, you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

Ask the residents of Juneau if the Mendenhall Glacier is melting just a little bit more each year--and not just a little bit, actually. At an alarmingly noticeable rate.

Ask the people of Newtok, who voted to relocate their entire village as erosion destroyed it at the rate of 100 feet per year over the past 20 years.

Ask folks who live in Utqiagvik (f.k.a. Barrow) whether their winters are warmer than ever and why the city has been called "ground zero for climate change."

Ask the general managers of the ski areas in the state and the dismal and lost winters they've come to fear and experience with increasing regularity, and whether they're grateful when we even have snow.

Ask my friends who've had green grass and crocuses in their gardens in January the past few winters.

Ask Dominic Ivanoff, a leader of Kotzebue's tribal council, who told the New York Times during President Obama's visit to the state two summers ago about the thinning ice.

Ask organizers of the Iditarod, who can no longer reliably count on snow along 1,000 miles of the Alaskan wilderness' iconic sled dog race trail.

Ask anyone who lives here, and they'll tell you. Not all of them want to admit it, and many don't want to concede it's humans who are doing it. I'm not a scientist. I'm just a person who's lived in Alaska for awhile and who has eyes and a memory.

So the next time you hear our President say climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, or an "alternative fact," see if he can find even one reasonable resident of this state who honestly agrees with him.

Caps Lock, Shift, and Exclamation Point Keys Plan March on Washington

On the heels of the Women's March, local immigration rallies, and planned scientist marches on Washington, DC, a new group has applied for a permit to express its First Amendment rights in response to alleged abuse at the tiny hands of President Trump: 

Three keys on the common computer keyboard and smart phone.

The National Association of Caps Lock Keys, supported in part by its two closest allies, the National Associations of Shift Keys and Exclamation Points--is organizing a massive protest on the Washington Mall to rail against the President's near daily abuse with tweets that include words like SAD!, DISASTER!, NOW!, and Enjoy!

"We hope this will be a truly historic event," said Cappy McLockwood, chief organizer for the march. "For far too long, President Trump has taken liberties that no person--no matter what size his hands--should ever take with us, as well as with our allies in the Shift and Exclamation Point communities." 

The words "speech" and "honor" are expected to make speeches at the rally expressing dismay at being misspelled by the leader of the free world as "speach" and "honer" over and over again, rendering the possibility that this is a mere typographical error increasingly remote.

President Trump's "old, unsecured Android phone," which is arguably the most frequent victim of his abuse, was in the President's pants and thus could not be reached for comment.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Imagine You're on a Plane

Imagine you're on a plane, and that you have no real sense of how safe aviation is or isn't. You know some general history of aviation, but you have no real idea of what's involved in air travel at all. You've just always known that flying is cool and planes get where they're going most of the time.

Then imagine the pilot gets on the intercom and says, "Ladies and gentleman, welcome aboard. We might land safely at our destination, or we might crash and burn. I don't really know. I can't really say either way, but enjoy your flight and the soda and pretzels."

Roughly half the passengers hear this and think it means everything is going to be fine, and roughly half are convinced everyone is going down in a giant fireball, especially because they know the pilot has never flown a plane before.

If I had to distill the current zeitgeist in America right now to the source of the second half's collective anxiety, it's this: no one really knows what's going to happen, because this has never happened before. 

Forget about policy. Forget about politics. In a way, none of that matters. The person we have leading our country can barely read or utter a coherent sentence. He has no interest in governing. He is completely erratic. He is completely unpredictable. He is driven to the brink of sanity by self-obsession and petty preoccupations. And for a lot of us, that in and of itself is terrifying.

But in a way, it would be less terrifying if we knew for a fact we were crashing and burning. At least then, we could take some time to make peace with our imminent demise. Instead, we are left constantly questioning ourselves and asking ourselves if we are overreacting and being crazy. 

We're being told by the second half of the passengers--the ones who thought this particular pilot was the right guy to get us to Maui--that we are all nuts, and we are going to land safely in paradise with 20,000 free miles in our accounts. We hear him talk, and we hear we're going down at 500 miles per hour. 

Which one of us is right? Or will the outcome be something in the middle, like a crash into some trees with survivors? The problem is we don't know. None of us knows.

And I think it's the not knowing--and not having any grownup around who can tell us--that is the source of our collective anxiety and fear.

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I Read the Entire Transcript of President Trump's Interview with ABC News So You Don't Have To

This post is a little longer than usual. 

I have curated the choicest cuts of this Q&A between David Muir of ABC News and Our Dear Orange Leader. Feast your eyes on the cranked-up crazy of the person to whom America has handed over the reins of the free world. 

I am not even going to bother editorializing any of this.To hear Trump speak in his own words about the pressing issues of our time is simply too amazing to be believed. You might not be able to finish reading it for any number of reasons.


DAVID MUIR: Let me ask you, has the magnitude of this job hit you yet?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: It has periodically hit me. And it is a tremendous magnitude . . . And we do have problems in the world. Big problems. The business also hits because the -- the size of it. The size.


DAVID MUIR: Are you going to direct U.S. funds to pay for this wall? Will American taxpayers pay for the wall?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Ultimately it'll come out of what's happening with Mexico. We're gonna be starting those negotiations relatively soon. And we will be in a form reimbursed by Mexico which I will say ...

DAVID MUIR: So, they'll pay us back?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yeah, absolutely, 100 percent.

DAVID MUIR: So, the American taxpayer will pay for the wall at first?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: All it is, is we'll be reimbursed at a later date from whatever transaction we make from Mexico. Now, I could wait a year and I could hold off the wall. But I wanna build the wall. We have to build the wall. We have to stop drugs from pouring in. We have to stop people from just pouring into our country. We have no idea where they're from. And I campaigned on the wall. And it's very important. But that wall will cost us nothing.

DAVID MUIR: But you talked -- often about Mexico paying for the wall. And you, again, say they'll pay us back. Mexico's president said in recent days that Mexico absolutely will not pay, adding that, "It goes against our dignity as a country and our dignity as Mexicans." He says ...

PRESIDENT TRUMP: David, he has to say that. He has to say that. But I'm just telling you there will be a payment. It will be in a form, perhaps a complicated form. And you have to understand what I'm doing is good for the United States. It's also going to be good for Mexico.

We wanna have a very stable, very solid Mexico. Even more solid than it is right now. And they need it also. Lots of things are coming across Mexico that they don't want. I think it's going to be a good thing for both countries. And I think the relationship will be better than ever before . . . We will have the wall and in a very serious form Mexico will pay for the wall.

DAVID MUIR: What are you gonna say to some of your supporters who might say, "Wait a minute, I thought Mexico was going to pay for this right at the start."

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I'd say very simply that they are going to pay for it. I never said they're gonna pay from the start. I said Mexico will pay for the wall. . . .  I wanna start the wall immediately. Every supporter I have -- I have had so many people calling and tweeting and -- and writing letters saying they're so happy about it. I wanna start the wall. We will be reimbursed for the wall.

DAVID MUIR: When does construction begin?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: As soon as we can. As soon as we can physically do it. We're ...

DAVID MUIR: Within months?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I would say in months. Yeah, I would say in months. Certainly planning is starting immediately.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: They shouldn't be very worried. They are here illegally. They shouldn't be very worried. I do have a big heart. We're going to take care of everybody. We're going to have a very strong border. We're gonna have a very solid border. Where you have great people that are here that have done a good job, they should be far less worried. We'll be coming out with policy on that over the next period of four weeks.

DAVID MUIR: But Mr. President, will they be allowed to stay?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I'm gonna tell you over the next four weeks. But I will tell you, we're looking at this, the whole immigration situation, we're looking at it with great heart. Now we have criminals that are here. We have really bad people that are here. Those people have to be worried 'cause they're getting out. We're gonna get them out. We're gonna get 'em out fast. General Kelly is -- I've given that as his number one priority.

DAVID MUIR: Senator Jeff Sessions, your pick for attorney general, as you know during his confirmation hearing said that ending DACA, this is President Obama's policy protecting the dreamers -- that, "Ending it certainly would be constitutional." That you could end the protection of these dreamers. Is that a possibility?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: We're gonna be talking with -- attorney general. He will soon be the attorney general. He's done fantastically well. We're all very proud of him. I thought he was treated very, very unfairly. He's a brilliant man and he's a very good man. He'll do a fantastic job. I'll be speaking to him as soon as he's affirmed.

DAVID MUIR: So, it's a possibility.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: We will be talking to the attorney general.


DAVID MUIR: I wanna ask you about something you said this week right here at the White House. You brought in congressional leaders to the White House. You spoke at length about the presidential election with them -- telling them that you lost the popular vote because of millions of illegal votes, 3 to 5 million illegal votes. That would be the biggest electoral fraud in American history. Where is the evidence of that?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: So, let me tell you first of all, it was so misrepresented. That was supposed to be a confidential meeting. And you weren't supposed to go out and talk to the press as soon as you -- but the Democrats viewed it not as a confidential meeting ... and I mean it. But just so you -- it was supposed to be a confidential meeting. They turned it into not a con... Number two, the conversation lasted for about a minute. They made it -- somebody said it was, like, 25 percent of the ... It wasn't. It was hardly even discussed. . . . .

DAVID MUIR: But 3 to 5 million illegal votes?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, we're gonna find out. But it could very well be that much. Absolutely.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: But we're gonna find out.

DAVID MUIR: ... what I'm asking that -- when you say in your opinion millions of illegal votes, that is something that is extremely fundamental to our functioning democracy, a fair and free election.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Sure. Sure. Sure.

DAVID MUIR: You say you're gonna launch an investigation.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Sure, done. . . .  We're gonna launch an investigation to find out. And then the next time -- and I will say this, of those votes cast, none of 'em come to me. None of 'em come to me. They would all be for the other side. None of 'em come to me. But when you look at the people that are registered: dead, illegal and two states and some cases maybe three states -- we have a lot to look into.

DAVID MUIR: House Speaker Paul Ryan has said, "I have seen no evidence. I have made this very, very clear." Senator Lindsey Graham saying, "It's the most inappropriate thing for a president to say without proof. He seems obsessed with the idea that he could not have possibly lost the popular vote without cheating and fraud." I wanna ask you about something bigger here. Does it matter more now ...

PRESIDENT TRUMP: There's nothing bigger. There's nothing bigger.


DAVID MUIR: Do you think that your words matter more now?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yes, very much.

DAVID MUIR: Do you think that that talking about millions of illegal votes is dangerous to this country without presenting the evidence?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, not at all.

DAVID MUIR: You don't think it undermines your credibility if there’s no evidence?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, not at all because they didn't come to me. Believe me. Those were Hillary votes. And if you look at it they all voted for Hillary. They all voted for Hillary. They didn't vote for me. I don't believe I got one. Okay, these are people that voted for Hillary Clinton. And if they didn't vote, it would've been different in the popular.


DAVID MUIR: You . . . talked about crowd size at the inauguration, about the size of your rallies, about covers on Time magazine. And I just wanna ask you when does all of that matter just a little less? When do you let it roll off your back now that you're the president?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: OK, so I'm glad you asked. So, I went to the CIA, my first step. I have great respect for the people in intelligence and CIA. I'm -- I don't have a lot of respect for, in particular one of the leaders. But that's okay. But I have a lot of respect for the people in the CIA.

That speech was a home run. That speech, if you look at Fox, OK, I'll mention you -- we see what Fox said. They said it was one of the great speeches. They showed the people applauding and screaming and -- and they were all CIA. There was -- somebody was asking Sean -- "Well, were they Trump people that were put--" we don't have Trump people. They were CIA people.

That location was given to me. Mike Pence went up before me, paid great homage to the wall. I then went up, paid great homage to the wall. I then spoke to the crowd. I got a standing ovation. In fact, they said it was the biggest standing ovation since Peyton Manning had won the Super Bowl and they said it was equal. I got a standing ovation. It lasted for a long period of time. . . .  I know when I do good speeches. I know when I do bad speeches. That speech was a total home run. They loved it . . . . People loved it. They loved it. They gave me a standing ovation for a long period of time. They never even sat down, most of them, during the speech. There was love in the room. You and other networks covered it very inaccurately. I hate to say this to you and you probably won't put it on but turn on Fox and see how it was covered. And see how people respond to that speech.

That speech was a good speech. And you and a couple of other networks tried to downplay that speech. And it was very, very unfortunate that you did. The people of the CIA loved the speech. If I was going to take a vote in that room, there were, like, 300, 350 people, over 1,000 wanted to be there but they couldn't. They were all CIA people. I would say I would've gotten 350 to nothing in that room. That's what the vote would've been. That speech was a big hit, a big success -- success.

 A poll just came out on my inauguration speech which was extraordinary that people loved it. Loved and liked. And it was an extraordinary poll.


DAVID MUIR: So, polls and crowd size and covers on Time, those still matter now that you're here as president.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, you keep bringing it up. I had a massive amount of people here. They were showing pictures that were very unflattering, as unflattering -- from certain angles -- that were taken early and lots of other things. I'll show you a picture later if you’d like of a massive crowd.

In terms of a total audience including television and everything else that you have we had supposedly the biggest crowd in history. The audience watching the show. And I think you would even agree to that. They say I had the biggest crowd in the history of inaugural speeches. I'm honored by that. . . . And I've seen crowds before. Big, big crowds. That was some crowd. When I looked at the numbers that happened to come in from all of the various sources, we had the biggest audience in the history of inaugural speeches. I said the men and women that I was talking to who came out and voted will never be forgotten again. Therefore I won't allow you or other people like you to demean that crowd and to demean the people that came to Washington, D.C., from faraway places because they like me. But more importantly they like what I'm saying.


DAVID MUIR: Mr. Trump, let's talk about many of the things that have happened this week. Chicago. Last night you tweeted about the murder rate in Chicago saying, "If Chicago doesn't fix the horrible carnage going on I will send in the feds."


DAVID MUIR: You will send in the feds? What do you mean by that?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: It's carnage. You know, in my speech I got tremendous -- from certain people the word carnage. It is carnage. It's horrible carnage. This is Afghanistan -- is not like what's happening in Chicago. People are being shot left and right. Thousands of people over a period -- over a short period of time.

This year, which has just started, is worse than last year, which was a catastrophe. They're not doing the job. Now if they want help, I would love to help them. I will send in what we have to send in. Maybe they're not gonna have to be so politically correct. Maybe they're being overly political correct. Maybe there's something going on. But you can't have those killings going on in Chicago. Chicago is like a war zone. Chicago is worse than some of the people that you report in some of the places that you report about every night ...

DAVID MUIR: So, I will send ...

PRESIDENT TRUMP: ... in the Middle East.

DAVID MUIR: ... you mentioned federal assistance. There's federal assistance and then there's sending in the feds. I'm just curious would you take action on your own?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I want them to fix the problem. You can't have thousands of people being shot in a city, in a country that I happen to be president of. Maybe it's okay if somebody else is president. I want them to fix the problem. They have a problem that's very easily fixable.

They're gonna have to get tougher and stronger and smarter. But they gotta fix the problem. I don't want to have thousands of people shot in a city where essentially I'm the president. I love Chicago. I know Chicago. And Chicago is a great city, can be a great city.

DAVID MUIR: And if they’re unable to fix it?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: It can't be a great city. Excuse me. It can't be a great city if people are shot walking down the street for a loaf of bread. Can't be a great city.

DAVID MUIR: And if they are unable to fix it, that's when you would send in the feds?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: But so far they have been unable. It’s been going on for years. And I wasn't president. So, look, when President Obama was there two weeks ago making a speech, very nice speech. Two people were shot and killed during his speech. You can't have that.


DAVID MUIR: The last president, President Obama, said the U.S. does not torture. Will you say that?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: . . . .I will tell you I have spoken to others in intelligence. And they are big believers in, as an example, waterboarding . . . Because they say it does work. It does work.

DAVID MUIR: Mr. President, you told me during one of the debates that you would bring back waterboarding and a hell of a lot worse . . .  What does that mean?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: . . .  I have spoken as recently as 24 hours ago with people at the highest level of intelligence. And I asked them the question, "Does it work? Does torture work?" And the answer was, "Yes, absolutely."

DAVID MUIR: You're now the president. Do you want waterboarding?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I don't want people to chop off the citizens or anybody's heads in the Middle East. Okay? Because they're Christian or Muslim or anything else. I don't want -- look, you are old enough to have seen a time that was much different. You never saw heads chopped off until a few years ago.


DAVID MUIR: Mr. President, I wanna ask you about refugees. You're about to sign a sweeping executive action to suspend immigration to this country.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Right . . . You're going to see -- you're going to see. We're going to have extreme vetting in all cases. And I mean extreme. And we're not letting people in if we think there's even a little chance of some problem.

DAVID MUIR: Are you at all ...

PRESIDENT TRUMP: We are excluding certain countries. But for other countries we're gonna have extreme vetting. It's going to be very hard to come in. Right now it's very easy to come in. It's gonna be very, very hard. I don't want terror in this country. You look at what happened in San Bernardino. You look at what happened all over. You look at what happened in the World Trade Center. Okay, I mean, take that as an example.

DAVID MUIR: Are you at all ... concerned it's going to cause more anger among Muslims ...


DAVID MUIR: ... the world?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: There's plenty of anger right now. How can you have more?

DAVID MUIR: You don't think it'll ...

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Look, David ...

DAVID MUIR: ... exacerbate the problem?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: ... David, I mean, I know you're a sophisticated guy. The world is a mess. The world is as angry as it gets. What? You think this is gonna cause a little more anger? The world is an angry place. All of this has happened. We went into Iraq. We shouldn't have gone into Iraq. We shouldn't have gotten out the way we got out.

The world is a total mess. Take a look at what's happening with Aleppo. Take a look what's happening in Mosul. Take a look what's going on in the Middle East. And people are fleeing and they're going into Europe and all over the place. The world is a mess, David.


DAVID MUIR: So, you believe we can go in and take the oil.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: We should have taken the oil. You wouldn't have ISIS if we took the oil. Now I wasn't talking about it from the standpoint of ISIS because the way we got out was horrible. We created a vacuum and ISIS formed. But had we taken the oil something else would've very good happened. They would not have been able to fuel their rather unbelievable drive to destroy large portions of the world.

DAVID MUIR: You've heard the critics who say that would break all international law, taking the oil. But I wanna get to the words ...

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Wait, wait, can you believe that? Who are the critics who say that? Fools.

DAVID MUIR: Let, let me ...

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I don't call them critics. I call them fools.

DAVID MUIR: ... let me talk about your words ...

PRESIDENT TRUMP: We should've kept -- excuse me. We should've taken the oil. And if we took the oil you wouldn't have ISIS. And we would have had wealth. We have spent right now $6 trillion in the Middle East. And our country is falling apart.

DAVID MUIR: What got my attention, Mr. President, was when you said, "Maybe we'll have another chance."

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, don't let it get your attention too much because we'll see what happens. I mean, we're gonna see what happens. You know, I told you and I told everybody else that wants to talk when it comes to the military I don't wanna discuss things.


DAVID MUIR: Let me ask you, Mr. President, about another promise involving Obamacare to repeal it. And you told The Washington Post that your plan to replace Obamacare will include insurance for everybody. That sounds an awful lot like universal coverage.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: It's going to be -- what my plan is is that I wanna take care of everybody. . . .  Obamacare is a disaster. We are going to come up with a new plan ideally not an amended plan because right now if you look at the pages they're this high. We're gonna come up with a new plan that's going to be better health care for more people at a lesser cost.

DAVID MUIR: . . . You've seen the estimate that 18 million Americans could lose their health insurance if Obamacare is repealed and there is no replacement. Can you assure those Americans watching this right now that they will not lose their health insurance or end up with anything less?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: So nobody ever deducts all the people that have already lost their health insurance that liked it. You had millions of people that liked their health insurance and their health care and their doctor and where they went. You had millions of people that now aren't insured anymore.

DAVID MUIR: I'm just asking about the people ...


DAVID MUIR: ... who are nervous and watching ...


DAVID MUIR: ... you for reassurance ... So, no one who has this health insurance through Obamacare will lose it or end up ...

PRESIDENT TRUMP: You know, when you ...

DAVID MUIR: ... with anything less?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: ... say no one I think no one. Ideally, in the real world, you’re talking about millions of people. Will no one. And then, you know, knowing ABC, you'll have this one person on television saying how they were hurt. Okay. We want no one. We want the answer to be no one.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Trump Rewrites the New Colossus

Not like the gilded towers of tacky Russian fame
With tiny conquering fingers astride from Fifth Avenue to Mar-a-Lago
Here at our leveraged, gold-plated gates shall stand
A mighty fine woman, with a tiara, who is a ten, and whose bikini looks really good on TV, and her name, Misty or Crystal or something.

From her jewel-encrusted hand 
Glows worldwide exclusion; her icy blue eyes command the air-pollution that Exxon caused with impunity.

"Keep, Muslim countries your refugees!" cries she with perfect blow-job lips.
"Give me your oil, your tax shelters, your arms deals. Your oodles of real estate money waiting to be made. The cheapest labor that can possibly be bought, send these, whatever will make me as rich as possible as quickly as possible, to me!
I lift my finger above the button "Tweet!"

I Have Some Questions for the Women (Plural) Who Gave Up 6-Figure Salaries to Run Goat Farms and Once I Get Answers I Shall Stick My Head in an Oven

Guess what you guys? There are women--PLURAL--presently walking the earth who "gave up 6-figure salaries to run goat farms!" I have a few questions for these women, and once I get answers to them, I shall go stick my head in an oven.

The first subject of this hard-hitting NOT FAKE NEWS report from Cosmopolitan is Julie Ann "Jake" Keiser, a former "self-described workaholic." According to the article, "Jake":

Partied every weekend, got Botox regularly, wore Gucci and Louis Vuitton, and traveled the world. But no matter where she was--Greece, St. Barts, Hawaii--she felt empty. So Keiser, 43, bought a farm in Oxford, Mississippi, where she now lives and makes her living. She no longer owns an alarm clock. “I wake up to either the sun or the animals yelling at me,” she says. “I envision a Disney farm where everyone wears pink bows and sparkles, and sings to me,” says Keiser. Daffodil Hill farm is still a work in progress, but its signature femininity is unabashed. She only keeps Sebastopol geese, which have voluminous curly feathers. Her chickens, named Prada, Dior, and Fendi, are the rare "lemon pyle" Brahma breed, so named for the subtle blonde hue of their feathers. Her Mini Alpine dairy goats are Valentino and ChloĆ© (Notice a pattern?) — ChloĆ©, the girl, wears a pink collar.

1. Before you decided you felt empty in St. Barts and Hawaii, did you try drinking a Lava Flow with a double-shot of rum and eating some spam masubi?

2. Same question about Greece, but with feta cheese and Ouzo.

3. When you envision the Disney Farm where everyone wears pink bows and sparkles and sings to you, is that usually before or after you reap the daily crop of psychedelic mushrooms from the cow dung piles near the chicken coop and make your morning Chai with them?

4. When the animals yell at you, are they yelling at you to change their names from fashion designers to like, maybe something more farmy like Charlotte or Templeton or something? Or are they yelling at you to make your farm less unabashedly feminine? Or none of the above? I am confused as to what they're yelling.

5. Do non-Sebastaopol geese ever try to get onto Daffodil Hill Farm, and if so, do you have a velvet rope and a pig dressed up like a bouncer to keep them out?

6. Do you notice any change in the taste of Valentino's raw milk when you put little mini Christian Louboutin horse/goat shoes on her hoofs? Or is that not a thing?

7. Do you own a cell phone? If you do it's actually not THAT amazing that you no longer own an alarm clock. After all, it's technically 2017, even in Oxford, Mississippi.

And then there's Leanne Lauricella, 43, who:
Quit her high-paying corporate job in New York to raise baby goats — and dress them in adorable Fair Isle sweaters — on a farm in Annandale, New Jersey. (She was inspired by her husband, who left his Wall Street career to pursue his dream of restoring and selling classic Corvettes.) “When you find and follow your passion, all of the silly things you thought were important, don't seem so important anymore.”

1. When the goats grow up, do you feed them the adorable Fair Isle sweaters they were previously wearing, or no?

2. When your husband found and followed his passion of restoring and selling classic Corvettes, did you tell him he was a huge douche, or was that just sort of obvious from his hobby?

3. Are two of the silly things you once thought were important maybe a Corvette or a Fair Isle sweater? Or are those things still super important?

4. WTF is a Fair Isle sweater, or if I have to ask does that mean I will never know?

Finally, we have Caitlin Cimini, 32, who:
Left her bustling party life on the New Jersey shore by herself almost five years ago when she bought her 200-year-old farmhouse. She originally just wanted more space for a rescue horse she'd felt compelled to take in, but she ended up rescuing more animals from certain death and now keeps goats, pigs, and chickens . . . And money is an issue. Keiser makes about a third of her former six-figure PR salary picking up graphic design clients from home, and selling milk and cheese at the local markets, and "can't remember the last time I shopped for something luxurious or even had a real facial."

1. Do you know Snooki or the Situation and if so, can you introduce me to them?

2. Is your 200 year-old farmhouse haunted by the ghosts of rescued farm animals who died simply because they found you insufferable?

3. Have you considered combining your milk/cheese sales with the lack of "a real facial" by making and selling goat-milk facials? It sounds like something Gwyneth Paltrow would promote on her blog and therefore could potentially close the wage gap of your former six-figure salary.

Once I receive satisfactory answers to these questions, I will go stick my head in an oven.

"Abraca ... What?" is the Most Aptly Named Board Game of All Time

Board games. I can't stand 'em. I realize I'm basically alone in this, since almost everyone I know--adult and child alike--loves board games. Remember that time I tried to learn Settlers of Catan? No? You can refresh your memory here. Spoiler alert: it was ugly.

So you can imagine that trying to simultaneously learn and teach a complicated (to me) board game called "Abraca ... What" with/to my kids went kinda like this:

Paige: Mom, can we play that new board game I got for my birthday? Pleasepleasepleaseplease? Canwecanwecanwecanwe?
Me: I don't know honey, I'm not sure we have ti--
Me: Okay fine, get it down from the shelf. Alright, let's see here. Let me read the instructions. "Game set up: Each player gets six life tokens, four spell stones, one spirit rock, and--"
Paige: Can I be yellow?
Isaac: Oooh, can I be green?
Me: Yes, hang on, you can be whatever colors you want. I'm still trying to figure out the difference between a life token and a spi--
Paige: What are these things for?
Me: I don't know honey, I told you I'm still reading the instructions. Okay, it says, "each player gets ten life tokens, six spell stones, and a reference sheet, the youngest player goes fir--"
Isaac: Youngest player! That's me! What are these little paper cards?
Me: I think those are part of the spell stones. 
Paige: Then what are those plastic black things?
Me: I think they're the life tokens. Oh wait, no. Those are the cases for the spell stones and you put the little cardboard thingies inside them, but you're not supposed to be able to see the other person's spell stones.
Isaac: Why not?
Me: I have no idea. I told you I'm still trying to figure it out. Okay, "the sixth player counter clockwise to the left rolls the di--"
Paige: But we're only playing with three people.
Isaac: Yeah mom, we're only playing with three people!
Me: Oh shit, you're right. Let me start over. "If you're playing with three or fewer people, the player whose birthday falls on the first Tuesday of a leap year rolls the dice four times, then moves his highest number spell stone to the first number in the address number of of his great-grandmother's second house and places it on the board."
Paige: Wait, what? I don't get it.
Isaac: Me neither.
Me: Me neither. GEOFF??
Geoff: I'm not helping you.
Me: PLEASE?! We don't get it!
Geoff: No.
Geoff: Dude, no. You can figure it out. I have faith in you.
Me: No I can't.
Paige: No she can't.
Isaac: Really dad, she can't.
Geoff: Sorry. Not helping.
Me: Hang on hang on. I think I get it now. "Once all spell stones are arranged on the board, the player who can't see the first player's spell stones shouts out a spell to see if they have that spell. Then the other player to the left asks if that player has that spell. If he doesn't have the spell, he loses a turn. Example: Tony, Gary, and Anne have three spe--"
Paige: I don't get it.
Isaac: Can I do this fireball spell?
Paige: No Isaac, you can't do that spell until it's your turn!
Me: This is literally worse than trying to do a logic games section on the LSAT. No wonder I didn't get into Harvard Law School, and the person who gave us this game literally went to Harvard Law School.
Isaac: How about this water spell? Can I do that one?
Paige: If you do that one you'll lose a life token.
Me: We have to leave the house now. We're late for dinner.

And that was as far as we got with Abraca-What, emphasis on the "WHAT."

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Good News! Juneau is Now Alt-Dry

A bit of good news for long-suffering Juneauites who bemoan the trials and tribulations of life in a so-called "rain forest." 

We have now entered a new era of alt-life, f.k.a., "reality," under our Sentient Cheeto Overlord. His Propaganda Barbie has coined a new term called "alternative facts" f.k.a. "lies," but this is actually a really good thing for us.

Let me explain.

The good news for those of us who live in Juneau is that Juneau is now and will forevermore be "alt-dry," as opposed to "wet AF!" On January 20, Alaska's capital city automatically became connected to the road system, and will receive an annual 63 inches of "alt-sun," f.k.a. "rain."

When you go outside and feel the pitter-patter of so-called "rain" and the lash of "wind" on your person, allow me to respectfully correct you and tell you that what you are really feeling and experiencing is alt-warm alt-sun and alt-perfectly-still air.

When you step in a giant puddle with your clogs on the way to work, rest assured that your socks are alt-dry and that the puddle you stepped in is actually an alt-mini-desert. The dirt that is sticking to the bottom of your pants is alt-clean, and the Xtra-Tuffs you will hopefully have the good sense to wear next time are alt-Christian Louboutin stiletto heels.

Speaking of deserts, the Tongass National Forest is being renamed by executive order. It's going to be called the Tongass National Alt-Desert (in order to increase federal funding). All of its trees are actually alt-dunes, its rocks are alt-pillows, and the salmon in its streams are alt-sushi!

Vladimir Cheetos literally tried to rewrite the weather on his inauguration day, and his administration is poised to do the same for us soaking wet, muddy, sodden residents of the country's most remote capital.

Hooray for alternative reality!

Energy and the Laws of Motion: Final Reflections on the Women's March on Washington

I'm rounding out and wrapping up my series of posts on the DC Women's March with a description of my main takeaway. 

It starts with Newton's three laws of motion:
1. An object at rest stays at rest unless and until it is acted on by a resultant force (e.g., a table resting on the ground will not move unless pushed). 
2. Acceleration depends on the forces acting on it and the mass of the object (Force = mass x acceleration). 
3. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
The analogy is imperfect, but: (1) My conscience is the object that was at rest until acted on by the force of developing history; (2) How I respond (or don't) depends on various outside forces, their power, and the mass of my conscience; and (3) For every negative action, there is an equal and opposite positive reaction I can choose to have.

I've touched on these issues before, but participating in the march really brought home a simple, singular truth: we only get one life. We only have so much time, energy and attention to devote to the things we care about. We alone get to decide what matters to us and how best to honor those things, and we have finite resources of time, money, energy, and attention with which to do so.

That's why I've chosen to channel my energy and momentum in a positive as opposed to negative direction.

I'm not interested in having online or in-person arguments with strangers (or with friends and family, for that matter) about why I think Donald Trump is a terrible person. 

I lack the motivation to "convert" people to my way of thinking about feminism, race relations, and the climate. 

I don't have time to defend my participation in democracy, listen to other people criticize peaceful protesting, or explain why peaceful protesting is basic patriotism at work as opposed to a dumb waste of time for privileged snowflakes. 

I couldn't be less afraid of the ramifications (personal or professional) of speaking out loudly--and often--against a person who poses the kind of objective threat to democracy and humanity that Donald Trump does. If anything, I'm afraid of being silent, complacent, and complicit.

This is what I carry with me from the march: a mandate to my conscience to remain in motion, propelled by the energy of millions of like-minded citizens who marched on Washington and the world last weekend. 

To allow my conscience to accelerate toward what I know in my own heart is good, right, and just without allowing the forces of doubt and fruitless arguments and the cross-lobbing of insults to slow it down. 

To make my reactions positive ones that push back against and rise above the noisy fray of self-doubt and the hurling of invective from people who don't really care to engage in anything approaching reasoned discourse anyway.

To not let anything, least of all internet trolls and disorienting media rabbit holes, become the objects that stop my conscience in its tracks. Instead, I want my conscience to be the object that stops affronts to democracy in their tracks.

This weekend, I saw that I am not alone. I experienced with my own eyes, ears, and body the life-force that will allow my conscience to remain in motion. 

It was powerful. It was enormous. It was peaceful. It was beautiful. And it was real.