Friday, December 30, 2016

No, Mr. 2016, I expect you to die

I'm definitely staying up past midnight on New Years' Eve, and recommend all my friends do the same. If James Bond movies taught us anything, it's this: you can not merely walk out of a room and assume your arch-enemy will die during your absence; you must personally see to this death yourself.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Today's Trump Sawyer, Mean Mean Pride

Longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone recently admitted to what many Trump critics had already suspected: the only reason Trump pretended to consider Mitt Romney for the Secretary of State position was so Trump could "torture" Romney for his former criticism of Trump.

Trump's behavior since winning the election reminds me in many ways of Tom Sawyer (the Twain book, not the Rush song). Twain's Sawyer was arguably the first "realistic" literary portrayal of a child, especially regarding Tom's childish fantasies which, like all childish fantasies, were simultaneously grandiose and incredibly petty.

Remember when Tom fantasized about running away and becoming a rich and famous pirate -- the dreaded Black Avenger of the Spanish Main? He and his crew would terrify the world (and have lots and lots of "orgies," even though they had no idea what "orgies" were, but the pirates in their storybooks sure seemed to like 'em), respectable men and women would all tremble in fear at the sound of his name ... and then (Tom imagined), at the height of his piratical glory, he and his crew would return to Tom's small-town schoolyard at recess, so all his former classmates could see how cool and piratical he was. (And wouldn't Becky Thatcher be extra-upset that she didn't hook up with this super-awesome pirate king when she had the chance!)

Now we have Trump, who managed to become a rich and famous president-elect of the United States ... and he's doing the equivalent of strutting around the schoolyard at recess. "Won't Mitt Romney feel extra-upset for criticizing me? He should've been nice when he had the chance."

At least when Tom Sawyer had his childish fantasies, he had the excuse of being a literal child -- and his Aunt Polly could reasonably hope "Wait a couple years and he'll outgrow it." But that doesn't work for a man of Trump's age.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Trump's Intellectual Confusion

Great was the face-palming in my household this morning when I read that President-elect Trump says he doesn't need to attend intelligence briefings because, quote, "I'm, like, a smart person."

I wonder if on some level, Trump is genuinely confusing the two meanings of "intelligence" -- the intellectual capacity to learn new knowledge or skills, versus the collection of information?

Depending on context, the statement "You lack intelligence" could be an insult meaning "You're stupid," but it could also mean "You have not been given certain information." An "intelligence briefing" is meant to take care of definition number two, but perhaps Trump is somehow viewing it as definition number one, and thus an insult? "I don't need to be given 'intelligence,' which I already have because I'm, like, a smart person?"

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Partisan Politics: Is He A Scumsucker Or A Twitwaffle?

I've been a full-fledged adult for the entirety of this millennium plus a few years to spare, old enough to notice and be disgusted by certain recurring patterns. Specifically, I'm sick of seeing the exact same partisan sports-bar realignments happen every time the White House switches from D to R or back again.

When Bush was president and started grabbing gobs of executive power after 9/11, the right wing made excuses while the left wing righteously decried his assault on the constitution. 

Then Obama got elected and the right wing needed approximately three nanoseconds to rediscover its "pro-liberty, small government" principles. Unfortunately, the right's renewed commitment to individual freedom and protection from out-of-control government power was offset by the left-wing civil liberty fans who suddenly decided constitutional violations were no big deal, so long as St. Obama the Trustworthy was behind them.

Then Trump got elected and the left-wingers immediately re-embraced their Bush-era love of constitutional freedoms, at the same time the right wing re-embraces its Bush-era belief that we really ought to trust the president and government to keep our best interests at heart. Because Zod forbid such ideas as "Be loyal to principles, not personalities or political parties" and "Don't grant power to a politico you like unless you're willing to see that same power wielded by a politico you don't" ever gain mainstream acceptance in 21st-century America.

It reminds me of sports-team fandom -- I say this as someone who's never had the slightest interest in watching team sports, and plain doesn't "get" the appeal of sports-team loyalty (unless you or a loved one are an actual playing member of that team) -- the loyalty is solely to the team name, and has nothing to do with the person who wears it or that person's behavior. To the point where a hardcore fan of the Washington Scumsuckers footbase team thinks Joe Blow is, like, the greatest guy in history while he's the Scumsuckers' lead home run quarterback, especially admired for his selfless charity work with sick children -- then Joe gets traded to the New Jersey Twitwaffles and suddenly he's the worst man since Hitler (and his charity work an obvious ploy to make dumbasses think he's a nice guy). The only thing that matters is the team name: is he a Scumsucker, or a Twitwaffle? 

But at least sports-team brand-name loyalty doesn't have actual real-world consequences. Political team brand-name loyalty does.
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