“I’m President and You’re Not.”

“I’m President and you’re not,” Donald Trump said to a reporter from Time magazine today, as evidence that his presidency was going just fine, thank you very much. I’m president, therefore I must be doing a bang up job.
I’m not sure if that’s circular logic, begging the question, or just your basic, run of the mill, garden variety non -sequitur, but it’s sure as hell a logical fallacy of some sort, because it makes no damned sense at all.
First, there are approximately 300,000,000 Americans. Trump just said that none of us are fit to question him, because he’s President and we’re not. Neil de Grasse Tyson and Bill Nye are not President. Bob Dylan is not President. Oprah Winfrey is not President. Bernie Sanders, to Americas eternal discredit, is not President. Therefore Trump must be a better President than any of them could possibly be, because he is President.
American history is full of examples of Presidents who were terrible Presidents. Bush (both of them, actually. Senior usually gets a pass because Junior was such a ginormous bundle of alcoholic suck, but he’s the one who started all the Iraq shit), Reagan, Nixon, Johnson (yadda, yadda, yadda, EPA and Civil rights notwithstanding, the Viet Nam war killed a shitload of people and was the defining issue of those times), Hoover, Coolidge, Harding, Buchanan, and plenty of people would add their own favorites to this list, but it just goes to prove: being President does not make you a good President.
There are millions and millions, probably billions of people in this world who are doing a job which they are not the absolute best in the world at. Look at me. I’m obviously not the greatest writer in the world, but I would never say, to anybody, “I’m a writer, and you’re not.”
I think that for Trump (and, in this aspect, I think Hillary was exactly the same) the important thing was becoming President, that was the ultimate goal, and he’s not overly concerned with whether anybody thinks he’s a good President or not.
Which is fortunate for Donald Trump. Because he’s not.

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Hey, Mr. Gore Suck

Well, let’s see what’s new in the news. Once beloved TV has been Rachel Maddow claims that a Bernie Sanders site was being run from Albania. Well, could be, I suppose. There were like thousands of pro-Sanders sites. It didn’t take too much to set one up. Doesn’t really make much difference. The action is in the comments and it would have been pretty much the same as for any other site.

Al Franken and Sheldon Whitehouse, neither of whom are in my political good books at the moment, got in some pretty good digs at Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. Whitehouse brought up the very real and needed to be mentioned fact that sleazy, right wing Republican donors have spent, between stonewalling Garland and now backing Gorsuch (I’d never heard the name spoken until about half an hour ago, so I’ve been pronouncint it Gore Suck, which I think is better) somewhere in the neighborhood of $17 million, which is a pretty nice neighborhood. Franken brought up a case where Gere Suck ruled against a truck driver who abandoned his trailer because he was freezing to death. The story makes sense if you her the whole story, but I try to limit this blog to 500 words, max., so i’m not going into it.

I hope the Al Franken has finally found his balls (hint – they were in Hillary’s handbag), and Whitehouse, too, and they will somehow find the votes to impeach. I doubt it, though.

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On the (Wrong) Road

Some books should never be made into movies and On The Road is sure one of them, I’m watching it right now and it is so bad I am mesmerized, it’s like they’ve changed the whole spirit of the story, stripped it of it’s energy until it’s just some boring, creepy guys wandering around in the dark at night with hunched shoulders, smoking lots of cigarettes, quoting bad poetry to each other, oh, Jesus, here’s the scene in the Mexican whorehouse and they just make sex look ridiculous, jittering around to bongo music and now they are in the market and in the book you felt a bit of the common humanity of all people, here you see racial stereotypes and ugly Americans and this is pretty close to the end I guess because that’s where the book ends, if I recall correctly, when Dean abandons him sick in Mexico and heads home.
What was fast on the page, rolling from paragraph to paragraph like a cascading mountain stream, becomes slow and boring and painful to watch as a film, being badly acted is only part of it, it’s like the director didn’t know which was to go, to make it an ode to the novel, which they do in parts, lots of narrated sections, or to actually turn it into a film, telling a story (there was no story, really, it was a long poem about America in the ’50s, the music, the newfound feeling of boundless mobility, the exuberance) and developing the characters and the question is, as Firesign Theater used to say “How can you be in two places at once when you’re not anywhere at all?”

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Miracles of Modern Science

Sergi Santos, a sex robot designer (yes, that is an actual job description) has come up with a new twist: a sexbot that can play hard to get. Here’s the video: https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/3115956/meet-samantha-and-artificially-intelligent-sex-robot-who-really-likes-to-be-kissed/
Basically, if you’re touching her on the arms or hips, you might get some sexy chat, that’s somewhere between ‘family’ and ‘romantic’ modes (his terms, not mine), but you can turn on her inner sex machine with a kiss. Now, if you watch the video (which, if you’re expecting something sexy, don’t), when the designer says ‘she will respond to a kiss,’ he reaches over with his hand to pry her mouth open. It was the unsexiest damned thing I’ve ever seen.
I thought to myself, ‘He needs a 4th mode.’ In addition to ‘family,’ ‘romantic,’ and ‘sexy,’ she should maybe have an ‘educational’ mode. In my head, I was saying it sarcastically, but as soon as I said it I realized what a great idea that is.
Future sex robots (of both genders) will function much as a driving (or flying) simulator does today. You’ll even be able to get a certificate. “This certifies that Joe Jones has achieved level 8 in the art of cunnilingus” for instance, or “Charlie Smith can correctly locate the significant erotic points on the female body.” In the future, if you’re out on a date with a girl (a real one) they may ask (demand) to see your certificate before they take you home.
I’m not sure if that will make the world a better place, or a worse one. But I am quite seriously predicting that’s one way they will be used.

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Roll Over, Beethoven. Chuck’s Coming.

When I was a little bitty boy, my grandmother gave me a cute, little toy, silver bells upon a string, she told me it was my ding-a-ling-a-ling. Not your typical rock ‘n roll song, but a fun, little, comic ditty.
It was the popular hit at the time, the one time I saw Chuck Berry live. It was in a big, old building, like a derelict factory or something, in Des Moines, sometime in the early 70s.
He showed up ridiculously late, and the crowd was starting to get pissed off, but when he came he put on a hell of a show.
It was a teenage wedding and the old folks wished them well, you could see that Pierre really, truly loved the mademoiselle….
That was the song that my brother Dennis played at my wedding, 15 years ago. I’m sure that none of Helena’s Czech or Polish relatives new any of the words, but most of them were so hammered by that point it didn’t matter anyway, and plenty of people were dancing. Love that song, but did not realize until today that it was by Chuck Berry. Another one I didn’t realize was his, until I started writing this article and wanted to make sure about ‘You Never Can Tell’ so went to Wikipedia, was ‘Memphis, Tennessee.’
Marie lives on the South Side, high up on the ridge, just a half a mile from the Mississippi bridge….
Currently, every Thursday, in one of my larger classes, there is a boy called Johnny (I’m sure among his friends he goes by Jan, or maybe Honza, but it’s an English class), and I call him Johnny B. Goode. Maybe I’ll stop doing that now. Maybe I won’t.
The point is, Chuck Berry is an artist whose songs have influenced my life greatly, they have struck at key points and they have left a mark. And now he is gone. I’m not particularly saddened, he made it to 90 and had a full and interesting life which, although it had it’s rough patches, including a couple of stretches in the old Iron Bar Hotel, also had a lot of great moments.
RIP, Chuck Berry. Your music will never die.

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This Week on TV

I’ve been seeing a lot of films this last week with a bit of history in them, like today it was Bridge of Spies with Tom Hanks about the negotiations to get Frances Gary Powers back, and there was a film called Confirmation about the Anita Hill hearings, and The Rat Pack, and some piece of crap about John McCain, with Woody Harrelson in it, and it seemed to be focusing on Sarah Palin and totally blaming her for McCain’s defeat, as if he’d had any chance before he picked her.
Of course, when I say I saw these films, I mean I saw the last half, or the last 3/4ths, because I’m talking about TV viewing. Catching a film at the beginning is like catching the perfect wave right at the top, and that doesn’t happen very often.
They are interesting to me, because they make the news real (I am old enough that what is now history was once news. So, I still have unresolved issues and sometimes find myself shouting at the TV during these period dramas), they put faces behind the names, even if they are actors’ faces. Usually, directors try to get actors who resemble the main characters at least a little bit – Kevin Costner playing Jim Garrison in JFK was a glaring exception, and a serious flaw in the film.
The most interesting to me was the Rat Pack film, because it focused heavily on Frank Sinatra’s connection’s with mobsters and how that affected his relationship with JFK, which was closer than I’d realized. Also, some interesting stuff about Sammy Davis, Jr. that I hadn’t known.

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The Handshake That Didn’t Happen

My old journalism professor at El Camino Community College, back in the day, used to call them ‘grip and grin’ photos and, in her opinion, they were the worst kind of photograph a photojournalist could take.
You know the ones. Somebody’s holding a trophy, or an oversized check, or its just two politicians smiling and shaking hands. The picture is posed, uninteresting, and the only reason to have it accompanying the article is to have SOMETHING accompanying the article.
The handshake that didn’t happen would have been a grip and grin photo. Not much newsworthiness there. The articles would have said “Trump Meets With Merkel; NATO, Other Issues Discussed.
But, the handshake didn’t happen. Merkel and Trump sat, and let photographers take pictures of them, without speaking much. Then a photographer said “How about a handshake?” which, honestly, is about the journalistic equivalent of the damned Kiss Cam at basketball games. Still, it was a chance for Trump to salvage some respect out of the meeting, the reporters were throwing him a bone, and he blew it. The request for a handshake was ignored.
Now, I confess that my initial reaction to the hullabaloo was ‘people are over-reacting again. If Trump didn’t shake Merkel’s hand, that also means Merkel didn’t shake Trump’s hand, so which is it? And why is it a big deal?’ Then I thought about it a bit more. It wasn’t Merkel avoiding the handshake. She’s been a world leader for a while, and knows the protocol. She even managed to deal with Silvio Berlusconi after he called her ‘an unfuckable lardass.’ (My Italian speaking friends assured me that that was an accurate translation.) She’d have willingly shaken his hand and pretended the talks went well, because that’s what world leaders do.
Trump reminded me of a student (8 years old) earlier this week who folded his arms across his chest and refused to say ‘congratulations.’ Trump was even less classy than that. He sort of looked down and pretended he didn’t hear the suggestion while his handlers herded (yes, herded is the correct verb) the photographers out of the room.
No class, no courage, and no social skills whatsoever. My guess is that the meeting was very uncomfortable for him because he had to sit there with Merkel and be reminded, with everything she said, that that is what a real world leader looks like, that is what a real world leader sounds like, and it pissed him off.

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