President Lear.

Last week I posted a link to a blog post speculating on whether the president is in the early stages of dementia. This week the theory is picked up by the reputable medical news site StatNews, and I have to tell you, I think they’re on to something:

(In interviews and public statements in the ’80s and ’90s), Trump fluently peppered his answers with words and phrases such as “subsided,” “inclination,” “discredited,” “sparring session,” and “a certain innate intelligence.” He tossed off well-turned sentences such as, “It could have been a contentious route,” and, “These are the only casinos in the United States that are so rated.” He even offered thoughtful, articulate aphorisms: “If you get into what’s missing, you don’t appreciate what you have,” and, “Adversity is a very funny thing.”

Now, Trump’s vocabulary is simpler. He repeats himself over and over, and lurches from one subject to an unrelated one, as in this answer during an interview with the Associated Press last month:

“People want the border wall. My base definitely wants the border wall, my base really wants it — you’ve been to many of the rallies. OK, the thing they want more than anything is the wall. My base, which is a big base; I think my base is 45 percent. You know, it’s funny. The Democrats, they have a big advantage in the Electoral College. Big, big, big advantage. … The Electoral College is very difficult for a Republican to win, and I will tell you, the people want to see it. They want to see the wall.”

His mood swings, his intemperate blurting, his inability to find a story and stick to it — these are not small things. West Wing leaks describe a latter-day King Lear, alternately raging and out of it, boasting of his big ol’ TV and his double-scoop chocolate pie. His wife is batting his hand away in front of the world. This is an administration in chaos (but you knew that). And of course, none of this is new since last year; we’re only seeing in greater detail what’s been obvious all along.

Which is to say, I’m switching my exasperation from you-know-who to the people who voted for him, who watched all these speeches and said, “Yep’m that-there’s some straight talk. He’s my man.”

This guy will go to his grave believing he’s the greatest. There’s a case to be made that his brain is growing plaques. What’s 60 million voters’ excuse?

Meanwhile, Monica Lewinsky grew into a very impressive woman, and I regret every bad thing I said about her back in the day, and there were quite a few bad things to be said.

And Fox News has finally slow-walked its Seth Rich story retraction into the spotlight. But what’s Newt Gingrich’s excuse? If I were Pope Francis, I’d be tempted to … well, to do something really rude and undiplomatic.

Wednesday has been achieved, or is at least in sight. Hallelujah.

Posted at 7:48 pm in Current events | 68 Comments
 

Not interested.

So the vice president returned to his native state to address graduates at the University of Notre Dame commencement, and some students walked out.

It’s early yet – it happened this morning – and I expect the blowback is coming. It won’t be the full rank exhalation of Troll Twitter, but enough people will say enough stupid things that it’ll qualify as a skirmish. So here we are again, where an administration whose representatives admit to considering changing libel laws isn’t considered a threat to free speech, but college students protesting or declining to listen to a handful of troll speakers is.

I’ll state my bias right here: I think most speakers should be allowed to speak. I think protesting them short of shutting them down is fine. And I say that knowing the speakers we’re talking about here do not come in good faith; they’re trolls, basically, and if you don’t believe me, Google “milo on women” or “ann coulter book titles” and get back to me.

Early on in this administration, there was a certain both-sides harrumphing about “respect for the office,” i.e., that certain niceties were due to the person behind the Resolute Desk, because s/he occupies the highest elective office of the most powerful nation on the planet. This was offered as explanation for seemingly decent people taking jobs in that administration; they were Serving Their Country, not toiling for Trump. Show some respect.

Only respect wasn’t shown by the person who actually held the office. He continued to treat the place like the set of “The Apprentice” between shots, a place to be tolerated, barely, between trips to Palm Beach. In which case I think the average citizen is absolved of any need to tug his or her forelock, don’t you?

The great American value of listening respectfully to all sides is rooted in the idea that all sides approach the marketplace of ideas in the same spirit. And that’s clearly not the case with speakers like Ann Coulter or Milo Whatshisname. It might not even be the case with Charles Murray. Some opinions are expressed merely because to do so is lucrative for the speaker, or because it gives others the chance to mau-mau an authority figure.

A couple-three years ago, one of the young Republicans groups at a local high school got someone to pay Rick Santorum’s speaking fee to give a talk at the school. But, they said when they made this request of the administration, he needed to speak during school hours, because he’s such an important national figure. Single-celled organisms have more savvy and spine than the superintendent in the job at the time, and at first he said yes, then no.

Of course the No opened the floodgates of Free Speech Suppression, etc. So he had to reverse himself again, and now you can’t google the incident without wading through half a dozen pages of right-wing websites that waved that bloody flag to tatters. (And the thing is, the supe had the perfect response right in front of him – a policy that said individuals brought in by private clubs, etc., could speak all they wanted, after school. He should have said, “Sure, kids! Bring him in. I have to coach soccer practice that day, but take lots of pictures and let me know how it turns out. Oh, and turn out the lights on your way out, OK?” The guy let himself by played by a couple of 17-year-olds.

So. Change of subject: Pippa’s wedding! Love to look at the Brits in their upper-class native habitats, funny hats and all. I thought Kate looked awful, but the real revelation was the nanny, who looked like she was wearing a grown-up version of the Brownie uniform. Turns out she was, sorta. The uniform identifies her as a graduate of the prestigious (yes, really) Norland nannies’ school:

But today’s graduates are also trained in martial arts, kidnap evasion by using the pram, self-defense, and advance driving techniques; they are in all regards thoroughly modern Mary Poppins.

To answer the obvious question, i.e., why hasn’t this been in a James Bond film yet, well, I don’t know the answer.

The week ahead will be a grind. Expect light posting, unless catastrophe explodes on Air Force One, in which case, well, carry on.

Posted at 4:58 pm in Current events | 101 Comments
 

A nut job weekend.

Now that we have yet another news bombshell exploding, seems time for a weekend thread. Anything else to put in there? Well, for Kirk and anyone who’s been a copy editor, there’s this:

“KOs” – I ask you. The woman was literally KO’d, but she’s also in critical condition. It got changed, I’m happy to say.

Crime in my neighborhood:

It’s either this, or contract murder.

Let’s see how the weekend goes, shall we?

Posted at 4:27 pm in Current events | 35 Comments
 

Some words about birds.

I was thinking I should change my social media profile pix, or avi, as the kids call them. I was further thinking it should betray a hint of wit. Maybe a crying eagle superimposed over a flag, I mused, and googled the very same.

Oh, you find so much:

I had to look up what happened June 28, 2012. Anyone? No Googling! OK, I’ll tell you: It was the day the SCOTUS decision affirming the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act was handed down. And the Constitution burst into flames, the Statue of Liberty fell apart and everyone lost their grammar. “The day when” — yikes.

Better to go with a classic, maybe?

No flag, but simple, fierce, screaming — this may be my eagle. What could it be saying? Knowing eagles, it could be anything from get me a dead salmon to pick apart to another fucking eagle cam? I told you never again, Bob.

But I looked some more, and I think this is my eagle alter-ego. (Alter-eagle?)

That eagle’s going to a Ted Nugent concert, you just know it.

I haven’t changed my pic yet. But speaking of birds…

Man, this guy:

This may or may not be Cooze’s congressman; if so, I wonder if his inbox has started to coruscate with the towering obscenity of Cooze’s scorn, but on the other hand, no, because the world has turned against this soulless skinflint, who begrudges something like $37 worth of parts and labor to make it easier for baby ducks — baby fucking ducks, people — to get into the Capitol’s reflecting pool. I encourage you to click and read the replies, because they are poetry:

And many are better than that.

Ducklings. DUCKLINGS. Who in the world hates ducklings? I ask you.

Wednesday is behind us. Yee-haw.

Posted at 8:48 pm in Current events | 98 Comments
 

Our speeded-up world.

And now we’re into serious obstruction-of-justice territory. Tell you what: Maybe we should just replace this blog with a ticker, make it easier to keep up.

The president is also planning to make a speech, about Islam, in Saudi Arabia later this year. I see nothing but upside from that one, too.

(I know not everybody is an HBO subscriber, but I continue to believe nothing in Washington is as true as “Veep,” the half-hour comedy starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus. And Stephen Miller is Gary from “Veep,” only evil. Seriously, though, imagine working in this place.)

So how does this end? Impeachment? No. Congress will never find the guts. I predict resignation, after some empty “success” like the passage of a crap tax-cut bill. He’ll declare victory and be Barron’s full-time dad by Labor Day, maybe.

But I know better than to put any money on any outcome.

Eighty-two degrees here, all of a sudden. It’s like the southwest exhaled and it all blew up here. We have two more days of this, then Friday it’ll barely touch 60. Sounds like perfect weather for the Bro-romper.

Back to eating my popcorn and waiting for the next shoe to drop.

Posted at 8:38 pm in Current events | 64 Comments
 

He did what?

It’s Monday, I want to watch a few stupid TV shows and not the fact the president… the president… the president of the United States revealed highly classified information to the motherfucking Russians.

Because he was bragging, evidently.

Those of you who follow my links know I don’t often post highly partisan sources, but today I saw an Alternet piece wit this totally not-alarming headline:

The video that suggests Trump is suffering from Alzheimer’s, and damn if I didn’t think he has a point.

I’d make a Doctor Strangelove joke, but it wouldn’t be funny.

Or maybe you’d prefer a smarter way to clean your house.

Posted at 8:49 pm in Current events | 62 Comments
 

Whiplash.

On Saturday, I got up early and headed for Eastern Market around 8 a.m., and that was a good idea — got a parking place and got my shopping done before the crowds descended. I took a counter seat at my usual breakfast place, the place already packed. As I was leaving, a party of three was waiting for a table. Working guys, two wearing shirts IDing them as employees of the packing plant around the corner. The third had on a T-shirt with this charming message: Marriages don’t fail. Wives fail.

“I think there’s a table open in the back,” I told them as I left, knowing it was dirty, knowing it was a two-top, but fuck all of them. I know people have different senses of humor, and maybe it was some sort of take-my-wife-please thing, but something about his face said no, he was a Victim of Family Court and That Bitch. So he’ll wear his little shirt around, it makes him feel like he’s stickin’ it to the (wo)man, and he’ll be virtually guaranteed that the next one he falls for will be cut from the same cloth.

I wanted to tell him, “Dude, it’s a loop. You need to break the cycle.” But I didn’t have that kind of time, so I just directed them through a crowded coney island to a dirty table, knowing they’ll have to make their way back when they see it’s too small. I wonder if the other two guys will blame the third guy.

Now I am become Bitch, part of the loop.

The men’s-rights guys are feeling their oats of late. You can hardly go on MR Twitter and not see the sneering at Emmanuel Macron and his old-ass wife, who is quite fetching but undeniably well past her childbearing years, which makes him a cuck or a eunuch or fag or whatever their term of art for such arrangements is.

And you’d get whiplash if you look too quickly at Mike Huckabee, tweeting his pride in his daughter Sarah, deputy White House press secretary:

Ha ha! Three preschoolers! Wait, what? How is that OK? I spent Kate’s preschool years being lectured endlessly about the need for every child to be raised by their parents, not some nanny or caregiver or what-have-you. Sure, it could be a spouse, but Sarah Huckabee Sanders isn’t married to some cuck, but a man every bit her equal, career-wise.

It’s hard to keep up, I’m telling you. But I know those kids will be lucky to see their mom two hours a day. I believe it was Rahm Emanuel who said that the only parent working in the White House who sees his or her kids is the one in the Oval.

I’m rereading “The Handmaid’s Tale,” as we started a Hulu subscription to watch the adaptation. Very well done, very specifically scary. I try not to get too paranoid these days, but face it, as the dug-in positions keep getting more dug in, it’s hard to be optimistic:

The talk-show host Rush Limbaugh was positively giddy, opening his monologue on Wednesday by praising Mr. Trump for what he called his “epic trolling” of liberals. “This is great,” Mr. Limbaugh declared. “Can we agree that Donald Trump is probably enjoying this more than anybody wants to admit or that anybody knows? So he fires Comey yesterday. Who’s he meet with today? He’s meeting with the Soviet, the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov! I mean, what an epic troll this is.”

Given the enthusiasm of the president’s apologists, it is likely that much of Mr. Trump’s base will similarly rally to him as it has in the past.

But perhaps most important, we saw once again how conservatism, with its belief in ordered liberty, is being eclipsed by something different: Loathing those who loathe the president. Rabid anti-anti-Trumpism.

I guess, when the president’s health fails because of his shitty diet, that will be another case of IOKIYAR. We won’t be helping children learn to eat better, either, because that was Michelle Obama’s idea, and anyway, parents should be teaching their children, like the Huckabee-Sanders co-prosperity sphere (with a bloodline strong in Southern-style obesity).

Speaking of whiplash.

I have a bunch of depressing links to post, but I’m not going to. It’s a beautiful Mothers Day, my daughter has promised to make me dinner later, and I’m going for a bike ride. And if you’re reading this Monday, happy anniversary to us. Twenty-four years, celebrated Saturday night with a restaurant meal that made this dress feel tighter than it looks by the last bite:

Good week, all.

Posted at 4:13 pm in Current events | 66 Comments
 

Who is this man?

For all that I complain about having to think about Donald Trump, I admit that I spend a lot of time thinking about him voluntarily. I was flipping through laps at the pool the other day when it came to me why I find him so unnerving: I can’t find the human inside.

I may be bitchy and glib, but I consider myself a fairly empathetic person, in the sense that I try to figure out what’s going on inside people that makes them act the way they do. We’re all just little boys and girls, after all, scared and lonely and fearful and silly by turns. It doesn’t excuse our bad behavior, but it does at least begin to explain it. On the surface she might be a bitch, but when you understand that inside she’s terrified that now that her looks have faded no one will ever pay attention to her again, well, at least it makes her easier to approach.

I can’t do that with Trump.

There are clues. Has anyone else noticed that his desk and credenza are almost devoid of family pictures? He has five kids, three kids-in-law, several grandchildren, and one family photo. It’s his father. Seen here:

This man is 70 years old. To say he has “daddy issues” is almost a joke. Anyway, I’d think a man with daddy issues would act more like a son. He doesn’t. He’s Big Daddy. Only the original Big Daddy had a wider vocabulary. He knew what “mendacity” meant:

(Goddamn, Liz, that dress. I’m invited to a black-and-white ball next month, and I need that dress. Size 10, please.)

Anyway, I keep searching for the one scrap of actual human feeling that I can grab hold of, attempt some sort of mind-meld with the president, and keep coming up empty. I can understand that he’s intensely narcissistic, but even a narcissist should show some occasional fellow feeling. All I’m getting — it’s like I’m standing over a brain scan here — is a yawning void, or a grim landscape littered with…coal dust and lava, maybe.

Anyway, the big presidential talkers today were the Time story, in which we learn that Trump gets two scoops of ice cream on his chocolate cream pie, while Pence prefers a fruit plate. And also this:

But few rooms have changed so much so fast as his dining room, where he often eats his lunch amid stacks of newspapers and briefing sheets. A few weeks back, the President ordered a gutting of the room. “We found gold behind the walls, which I always knew. Renovations are grand,” he says, boasting that contractors from the General Services Administration resurfaced the walls and redid the moldings in two days. “Remember how hard they worked? They wanted to make me happy.”

Trump says he used his own money to pay for the enormous crystal chandelier that now hangs from the ceiling. “I made a contribution to the White House,” he jokes. But the thing he wants to show is on the opposite wall, above the fireplace, a new 60-plus-inch flat-screen television that he has cued up with clips from the day’s Senate hearing on Russia. Since at least as far back as Richard Nixon, Presidents have kept televisions in this room, usually small ones, no larger than a bread box, tucked away on a sideboard shelf. That’s not the Trump way.

I know a lot of people put their big TVs over the fireplace, but I’ve always hated that placement. And never mind the watch-TV-while-eating thing. Sigh.

The other one was the Economist interview. You can look up the link; I prefer this excerpt from a gobsmacked Matt Yglesias at Vox:

The Economist then rightly asks him how something like eliminating the estate tax could fail to benefit the rich, and Trump appears to enter a fugue state:

I get more deductions, I mean I can tell you this, I get more deductions, they have deductions for birds flying across America, they have deductions for everything. There are more deductions … now you’re going to get an interest deduction, and a charitable deduction. But we’re not going to have all this nonsense that they have right now that complicates things and makes it … you know when we put out that one page, I said, we should really put out a, you know, a big thing, and then I looked at the one page, honestly it’s pretty well covered. Hard to believe.

Do take the 10 minutes it takes to watch this entire video, of a constituent with a powerful head of steam confronting Rep. Tom MacArthur, who should be staring blankly at the wall after this beatdown.

Finally, because we must enter the weekend on an up note, a charming profile of Dwayne Johnson, i.e. the Rock, in GQ. The writer visits his private gym, in L.A.’s warehouse district:

Johnson’s in Los Angeles now to film HBO’s Ballers, but he’s got gyms wherever he goes. He’s building one at his farm in Virginia, where he keeps his horses (and also, he says, a piano once owned by Benjamin Franklin; it came with the farm), and he has a workout facility at his primary residence in Florida, where he lives on a compound on the edge of the Everglades, in a tiny rural town popular among professional athletes who yearn for country living within an hour’s drive of Miami. As he crisscrosses the country for work, he’s constantly scouting new spots. If he has to go to New York for a night, he will find a gym there, and it will be in a dank, subterranean room, probably off an alley that only Johnson can find. If you have a basement, he might be in your house right now, doing leg presses and staying hydrated. Found an incredible little out-of-the-way spot, he might write on Instagram, under a photo of himself lifting your washing machine. #HardestWorkersInTheRoom #ByAnyMeansNecessary #LateNight #StopNever.

He seems to be a genuinely nice guy. Maybe he’ll be our next president. Sigh.

A good weekend to all.

Posted at 8:54 pm in Current events, Popculch | 78 Comments
 

The grind goes on.

Ugh. A…not grueling day, but a frustrating one. Lots of dry holes, unreturned calls, all that stuff. And deadline is approaching like death, so double the frustration. The people you meet when you don’t have a cattle prod, know what I’m sayin’?

And yet, as you newspaper people know, sometimes everything can come together at the last minute. You just have to be patient. And then you have to panic. Because it’s important.

But at the end of the day, there is little that a grilled pork tenderloin, asparagus, roasted potatoes and a big glass of wine can’t fix. I was out last night for a bit — met a couple friends/colleagues for drinks overlooking the river, where we relaxed deeply, laughed loudly and downloaded an app to settle bets over the passing freighters. In the middle of this the Comey news landed. Truth be told, I didn’t pay attention to it until afterward, and it was like a really bad fart in the room, which perhaps explains my frustration last night. Is this ever going to end? Of course it will, but I fear not before I forget what it’s like to spend days, weeks not thinking about what’s happening in Washington, because I trust the nation is in, if not good then at least competent hands.

Times like these, we need our friends, we need our laughter overlooking the river. I hope you have something where you live — a river, a lake, an ocean, the healing water from which we all came. And friends, or family.

What do I have for you to read tonight?

There’s this, which has been around for a while, but worth your time — Laurie Penny on Princess I’s book:

Ivanka does not directly call herself a feminist; that plays badly among the base, for whom those of us who believe in justice and equality are baby-killing, castrating, terrorist-sympathising man-hating riders of the vaunted cock carousel. The word “feminism” does not appear in the book; the phrase “my father” appears thirty times, and “brand” or “branding” fifty-nine times. While we’re counting words, in a book about women balancing the demands of work and family, the word “nanny” appears only once. Ivanka has at least two of these, plus other household staff, which you’d think would make it a lot easier to attain this model of feminine self-production and reproduction. However, this book is part of a marketing strategy pitched to sell one of the world’s richest and most powerful women as everywoman—she has problems just like you do, after all. She worries about how to manage her time. “Get some servants” is not yet an acceptable motivational hashtag, but give it four years.

For your science nerds: How the Soviets turned a wary fox into a friendly dog in only 56 generations:

“How to Tame a Fox” sets out to answer a simple-seeming question: What makes a dog a dog? Put another way, how did an animal that started out as a bloodthirsty predator become one that now wants nothing more than a nice belly rub and the chance to gaze adoringly at a member of another species? In the late 1950s, a Russian scientist named Dmitri Belyaev decided to address this puzzle by taking the unheard-of tack of replicating the domestication process in real time. He and his colleagues took silver foxes, widely bred in vast Siberian farms for their luxurious pelts, and made them into friendly house pets. It was a deceptively simple process: Take the puppies from only the friendliest foxes, breed them and repeat.

When you’re feeling sad and stressed, you can hardly do better than five minutes with Tom & Lorenzo. Rosamund Pike should have checked with them before getting dressed.

Night, all.

Posted at 9:04 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 44 Comments
 

The never-ending crisis.

Oh, ferfuxsake, is this EVER going to end? Just…is it possible to have one. Blessed. Week without having to deal with this ongoing donkey show in Washington? This is like watching monkeys flinging poo, only more maddening.

Can anything slow this trainwreck? What’s it going to take to make this right? Can it ever be made right? Will more rhetorical questions help? We can do this all night. And all day, too.

In the meantime, I’m sure you’ll be discussing this forever. Here are some bonbons if you get bored:

First Comey, then McMaster? Sure, it could happen.

It wasn’t economic anxiety, it was cultural anxiety. Like we didn’t know that.

That’s entertainment:

And here, finally, a couple of kitty pix. First, the nice kitty:

And then, the psycho one. Cooze, a rehab job for you?

Look at those eyes.

Posted at 10:11 pm in Current events | 54 Comments