Bornstein Again


After all the build up about “transparency” on medical records, it turns out that Team Trump was firing blanks. Make that firing blanks full of bullshit:

Promises from the Trump campaign of greater transparency about the GOP nominee’s health fizzled Wednesday amid a blizzard of conflicting statements from the campaign and almost comical levels of TV puffery.

Early reports from Trump’s much ballyhooed TV appearance on Dr. Mehmet Oz’s show, which was taped Wednesday afternoon, suggest little new about Trump’s health was revealed. Trump merely gave the TV doctor a one-page summary of his physical examination, which was conducted by none other than gastroenterologist Dr. Harold Bornstein, the same doctor that wrote Trump “will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”

At this point, I should not be amazed that the MSM falls for Trump’s flim flammery and con artistry but I *am* appalled. One reason I am so pissed off about the campaign coverage is that I follow many members of the political press on Twitter and they chatter endlessly about trivia. A saving grace of political Twitter is Norm Ornstein who has been chastising the MSM more and more lately:

Norman was stormin’ at the vacuous Chris Cillizza of the WaPo who is an easy mark for Team Trump. He falls for their bullshit every time. The thing that needs fixing at the Fix is their adherence to the Clinton Rules. I’m beginning to think that the Cillizas and Halperins of the political media want Trump to win because they think he will be “more fun” to cover. It’s all just a game to them: forget about his crypto-fascist appeals to bigotry and xenophobia. They won’t suffer if the country elects a white “nationalist” as President. It’s all fun and games to them. They don’t care about things like this in Oregon:


They don’t care that rally protester beatings are back with a vengeance. In this case, a 69-year-old woman with an oxygen tank in North Carolina:


Photograph via TPM.

They don’t care that this is what Trump’s often violent rhetoric inspires. It’s not a war on human decency to the MSM, it’s all a game. The media see (sees?) itself as an umpire or a referee in the game of politics. If that’s so, they’re like football refs who throw flags on every play against one team while allowing their opponent to beat up old ladies and brag about it in post-game interviews.

End of an almost manic digression, which is, to paraphrase Jimi Hendrix, a frustrating mess.

Back to the latest shiny object that distracted the MSM from focusing on the Trump scandals. After days of promising “transparency” all Team Trump released was a one page letter from this guy:


Dr. Harold Bornstein: Jolly Joker.

Let’s review the bidding. A reality teevee star goes on another reality teevee star’s show to release a one page letter by the former’s shaggy lap dog doctor. It’s also con man to con man: Dr. Oz is *almost* as sleazy as Donald Trump. It’s celebrity apprentice tweet time:

This gives a whole new meaning to the term share and share alike. I’ll skip the Sonny jokes…

I used the Randy Newman Born Again billboard picture at the top of the post because it supported my punny title: Bornstein Again. There’s another reason for the Newman reference. He’s famous for using the “unreliable narrator” in his lyrics. That’s what the MSM is in this election cycle an unreliable narrator as well as an easy mark for the Insult Comedian’s shell game. Hey, he’s using a teleprompter, he’s a normal candidate. No, he is not.

I’ll give Randy Newman the last word with a song from Born Again, which I’m convinced mocks Trump supporter, Gene Simmons. Just look at the billboard picture again: it’s tonguetastic:


Keep Calm, And…


Sure, the latest polls in some swing states show the race tightening, and there’s never — never — any excuse for complacency; however, I still think this is less an election about convincing allegedly undecided voters (I really doubt there are many of those) and much, much more about the parties and candidates getting their voters to the polls. Hence, the furious efforts by the GOP to disenfranchise Democratic voters…and their full court spin of any news that’s less than favorable to HRC.

Wingnut partisans are looking to instill a panic, in the hopes it will feed on itself. And, in addition to the whole “Washington is wired for Republicans,” you’ve got a media that’s looking out for themselves (or worse). Blowout elections don’t sell papers or generate website clicks. That they’re willing to play with dumpster fires is shocking, and in at least one case, genuinely deplorable, but that’s how they roll, I guess.

Yes, there’s the possibility of the nightmare scenario…and the very fact that there are enough of the basket of — or if you prefer, and I do, the sack of shit — is troubling, but … hell, we’ve always known they were there: they voted for Goldwater, for Wallace, then Nixon, they cheered and gloated when Ronaldus Magnus (blessed be Thy Name) went all in for States Rights in Mississippi, and later when Junior pretended to have a mandate … and they’d love to see the Trump train wreck (“bring it on!”) …but that should be motivation enough to get Democratic voters out in numbers sufficient to win. And that’s the goal. A win. A blowout would be nice, but I’ll take any victory the Democrats can get.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Neon Jungle

This week features a crime fiction classic by one of the masters of the genre: John D. MacDonald. In many ways, he was to crime fiction set in Florida what Raymond Chandler was to Los Angeles crime fiction. High praise indeed. And The Neon Jungle is one of best novels even if it set in an unnamed city. I usually prefer specificity but what can I tell ya?



The Natural Family, Blessed By God

Die in a thousand fires, you solipsistic, privileged dick: 

Donald Trump unveiled something resembling a plan to give new parents a child-care tax credit, but one of his strongest supporters already sounds wary of it.

While being interviewed by CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Wednesday, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) expressed skepticism about whether Trump could really find enough money to pay for his plan just by eliminating “waste, fraud and abuse” in unemployment insurance.

Even more interesting, however, was King’s assertion that only “natural families” ought to benefit from the proposed policy.

In other words: No gay people need apply.

“I want to respect all people, but I want to promote the natural family, Chris, and I think that’s the most wholesome thing we can do,” King said. “The natural family is a man and a woman joined together in — hopefully — holy matrimony, blessed by God with children.”

“Blessed by God with children?” I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS.

How do we determine they were blessed by God? Are the children marked in some way, like Harry Potter’s lightning bolt? Is there a mole somewhere that identifies them as being born of true virtue? I would assume those born of rape, incest, or just because the condom broke wouldn’t have this holy signifier.

Do accidental honeymoon babies count? What if the mother is pregnant on her wedding day but doesn’t know it and finds out later? Does that factor in? Do we date the blessing by conception date, or circumstances? Does it matter if the couple is engaged?

Are adoptive families, including LGBT families, not blessed? Are foster parents not blessed? Those people work harder for their families on their laziest day than any knocked-up-on-prom-night teenager ever will; why is that not a blessing?

If you have a child via surrogate, who is blessed? You? The surrogate? What if there’s a sperm or egg donor? Are you and your husband blessed or is it the owners of the biological material? Should you, at the very least, have to split your “natural family” credit with them?

Is a “natural family” one that includes grandparents? If you’re raising your grandbaby, is that baby your “natural family” or do you have to apply for some kind of personal adjustment or naturalization certificate? None of this makes any sense to me.

A well-meaning churchgoer once told me, when I was trying to get pregnant and worried about my age, of the story of Abraham and Sara. I suppose she was trying to be encouraging: “See, geriatrics like you, in your mid-30s, have babies all the time!” But what I heard was, “Biological children are for those deemed worthy, so if you don’t have a child by magic, clearly you are not worthy in the eyes of God.”

I wonder if my family — whose story goes something like, “when two people love each other very very much and involve a team of doctors and surgeons, if they’re very lucky they can make a baby” — would be considered “natural” by King’s standards. I wonder if we’d be considered blessed by God.

“I want to respect all people,” says that store brand fascist up there, that knock-off version of a human being, whose political career consists of being bought out of the back of somebody’s van in a stadium parking lot. Sure, Stevie. You want to respect all people, but not so much that you consider all people like PEOPLE or anything. You want to respect some people more than others, and you’re not even bothering to hide very well who you think counts more.



The Fog Of History: Health Care, Health Scare


Tricky Dick and Rocky at Walter Reed Hospital, 1960.

The murmurings about Hillary Clinton’s health have been bubbling amongst the Trumpers and alt-right white “nationalists” for months. There’s no truth to any of it, but the minute HRC shows that she’s human, the MSM goes, as our Britsh friends would say, around the twist. One of the few media types willing to call Trump a liar, Lawrence O’Donnell, was all over it like a cheap pantsuit:

…because the news media was clearly in the middle of a nervous breakdown on its way to a complete collapse which happened the very next day when Hillary Clinton felt a little sick and decided to go home. You’ve seen the video a few thousand times by now of Hillary Clinton being helped into a car as she was clearly feeling faint. Hours later, we got the word from her doctor that she’s been diagnosed with pneumonia, and she’s going to slow down for a few days. And today the news media lost its mind, lost all perspective on what matters in this presidential campaign. Lost all perspective on how voters should make their choice and Hillary Clinton’s health became the most important thing this the world.

Here’s the deal. I had a virulent case of viral pneumonia when I was a thirtysomething law student. It knocked me on my ass and I was woozy and dizzy as hell. I, for one, am impressed at how Hillary powered through her bout with pneumonia by attending the 9/11 ceremony. It means a lot to her: she was Senator from New York when the planes hit and was in the middle of efforts to aid the first responders. Btw, it was the first public 9/11 anniversary event Donald Trump ever attended. Guess he was too busy with the Trump Tower Mumbai. Hmm, will he use that as an example of his love of brown people? Nothing would surprise me at this point, y’all.

Athenae wrote a fine post about the health scare the other day as did Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams:

Can you blame the Clinton campaign, which has been under absurd scrutiny for every head turn, every cough, for initially keeping Hillary’s illness quiet? Could the Clinton team not know that if you’re looking for an argument that someone is unfit for a job, having a treatable and temporary illness sure seems more credible than ‘is actually an ignorant, incompetent bigot but at least has a penis,’ right?

Her opponent is actually a giant, walking, talking penis with cotton candy piss hair, but Embeedub’s point is well taken. Her Salon colleague, Digby, pointed out that GOPers get sick too and includes a list of manly men who have fainted in public:

General Petraeus faints at congressional hearing.

Major General James Martin fainting at a press conference in February.

Attorney General Michael Mukasy fainting in the middle of a speech in 2008.

GE CEO Jim Campbell collapsing at a Joe Biden speech in 2010.

Silvio Berlosconi, Italy’s prime minister at the time, collapsing in 2006.

Bill Daley passing out at his commerce secretary appointment ceremony in 1996.

It’s swell that Trump’s analog, my main man Silvio, made the list: nobody’s a bigger dick than Silvio. Bunga, bunga.

The best thing I’ve read or seen about the health scare was from the aforementioned Lawrence O’Donnell who focused on the history of Presidential health issues. I’ll give you a link to his piece since MSNBC makes it hard for mere mortals to embed its shows. They do, however, provide transcripts. It’s time for an extended excerpt of his remarks:

Franklin Delano Roosevelt indisputably one of our greatest presidents was dying in his final re-election campaign and he died less than 90 days after taking the oath of office for the final time.

The country did not feel deceived, the country felt sad, the country mourned, the country didn`t rail against Franklin Roosevelt`s lack of transparency about his health.

FDR was never transparent about his health, never. He tried to hide that he used a wheelchair for years and largely got away with it since there were no television cameras then to follow him around.

The more I thought about FDR and the fictional president that I was writing for Martin Sheen [in The West Wing] to play, the more I realized that I for one don’t really care about a president`s health.

And when I thought about Jack Kennedy, who had more serious health problems than he ever let the press know about, I realized that health might have nothing to do with how long a presidency lasts.

JFK got a thousand days, and he was more than healthy enough to do the job of president on November 22nd, 1963 when the presidential limousine turned into Dealey Plaza in Dallas.

No one knew that was going to be the last day of the Kennedy presidency. And the truth of the matter is none of us know when our last day is coming.


The news media has struggled to identify the voting issue in Hillary Clinton`s health and finally it landed on transparency.

That`s the problem here. Hillary Clinton hasn`t been transparent enough. She hasn`t been honest enough with the press.

Compared to what? Compared to whom? We have known absolutely nothing about the health of most presidential candidates and most of our presidents.

Most of our presidents were elected before medicine was anything resembling a science. Doctors had no idea how healthy Abraham Lincoln was or wasn`t.

And in the 20th century, the press didn`t even get curious about the president`s health, until after President Kennedy.

And there has been – there has never been any law or rule about what candidates must disclose about their health, and so it`s been a haphazard process. Some reveal more than others and absolutely none of them reveal everything. None of them.


The founding fathers believed that what voters needed to know was who would take over for the president in case the president drank out of the wrong cup of water one day and fell over and died, because that`s how easy it was to die back then.

Hillary Clinton`s supporters want her to be president as long as she thinks she`s healthy enough to be president. And Donald Trump`s supporters want him to be president as long as he thinks he`s healthy enough to be president.

That`s why my fictional president Jeb Bartlett, that`s exactly what he thought his voters wanted. And ultimately, it fell to me in season six to finally write what the drama had been demanding for five years.

To hit the president with an attack of M.S. so severe that he could not hide it. It happened on Air Force 1 on the way to a summit in China.

He knew exactly what he was going to do, go out there and tell the voters what he thought they needed to know. No more and no less.

I considered apologizing for that extended excerpt but I won’t because O’Donnell nailed it. People take ill and recover every day of the week. Pneumonia is not an exotic, always fatal disease. As you can see at the top of the post, Richard Nixon was hospitalized during the 1960 campaign and nearly won the election. I guess his frenemy, Nelson Rockefeller, didn’t slip any plutocratic plutonium or ice-nine into Tricky’s water…

In more recent times, the Reagan White House minimized the President’s gun shot wounds in 1981. We now know that he nearly died. Then there’s the matter of when his Alzheimer’s came on. Would all the Reagan idolators have demanded he resign as President because he was deceptive about his health? I doubt it.

The example of FDR is legendary. He was a very ill man when he ran in 1944 but we were fighting a war and needed him. He gave his life for the country he loved. Should we condemn him for that and the fibs about his paralysis? He was a great President even though he was confined to a wheelchair.

Jack Kennedy is another good example. He had Addison’s Disease, which was serious but not life threatening. Kennedy was also the President who stood almost alone against advisers who wanted to go to war with the Soviets during the Cuban Missile Crisis. That ill President prevented a nuclear exchange. Should we condemn him for his lack of candor about his health?

In the end, the most important thing a President brings to the Oval Office is their experience and judgment. General/President Eisenhower had both in spades: he also had a heart attack in 1955 and his people initially shaded the truth about it. The real problem with Donald Trump is not the farce he’s been playing out about his medical records, it’s the fact that he thinks we should risk war with Iran over gestures made by Iranian sailors at US ships. Now that’s sick.

Malaka Of The Week: Tropical Storm Malakas

I don’t usually make fun of tropical systems but this one has an unusual name to say the least. I thought it was joke the first time someone shared the story with me on the book of faces but it’s the real deal. Here’s hoping it’s not guilty of any major malakatude.


UPDATE: It has been upgraded to a typhoon. Oy, such malakatude.


Newsweek: Relevant Again

I subscribed to Newsweek magazine for many years. The advent of the internet news cycle rendered it so irrelevant that I don’t even recall when I let my subscription lapse. It may be ephemeral but Newsweek is relevant again because of Kurt Eichenwald’s fascinating cover story on the Trump Organization and national security.

Eichenwald addresses Trump’s transition from developer to brand licensor in great detail. It turns out that the Insult Comedian hasn’t built anything since 2007; instead, he’s been selling the Trump brand to an assortment of crooked and politically connected developers across the globe. And I thought he was opposed to crony capitalism. The most interesting segment is about the Trump Organization’s operations in Turkey:

In 2008, the Trump Organization struck a branding deal with the Dogan Group, named for its owners, one of the most politically influential families in Turkey. Trump and Dogan first agreed that the Turkish company would pay a fee to put the Trump name on two towers in Istanbul.

When the complex opened in 2012, Trump attended the ribbon-cutting and declared his interest in more collaborations with Turkish businesses and in making significant investments there. In a sign of the political clout of the Dogan family, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Trump and even presided over the opening ceremonies for the Trump-branded property.

However, the Dogans have fallen out of favor, and once again, a Trump partner is caught up in allegations of criminal and unethical activity. In March, an Istanbul court indicted Aydin Dogan, owner and head of the Dogan Group, on charges he engaged in a fuel-smuggling scheme. Dogan has proclaimed his innocence; prosecutors are seeking a prison sentence of more than 24 years.


With the Dogans now politically radioactive, Erdogan struck at the family’s business partner, Trump, for his anti-Muslim rhetoric. In June, Erdogan called for the Trump name to be removed from the complex in Istanbul and said presiding over its dedication had been a mistake.

This is no minor skirmish: American-Turkish relations are one of the most important national security issues for the United States. Turkey is among the few Muslim countries allied with America in the fight against the Islamic State militant group; it carries even greater importance because it is a Sunni-majority nation aiding the U.S. military against the Sunni extremists. Turkey has allowed the U.S. Air Force to use a base as a major staging area for bombing and surveillance missions against ISIS. A Trump presidency, according to the Arab financier in direct contact with senior Turkish officials, would place that cooperation at risk, particularly since Erdogan, who is said to despise Trump, has grasped more power following a thwarted coup d’état in July.

I wonder if the Trumpers will spin this as an example of an authoritarian strong man who hates the Donald? Perhaps his  business related feud with Erdogan is part of Trump’s secret plan to defeat ISIL. Probably not…

Trump’s supporters have been attacking Kurt Eichenwald in the vilest terms on Twitter and via email. Anyone surprised? Here’s one of his more memorable ripostes:

Nice. I hope Mr. Eichenwald keeps digging into Trump’s sleazy business affairs. Well done, sir.

It may not last, but for the moment Newsweek is relevant again.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Future Blues

I had no idea Canned Heat was still around. I’m not surprised: bands that played at Woodstock have a long shelf life. Canned Heat was your basic blooze-rock boogie band, Southern California style. They weren’t known for their cover art but the package of Future Blues ruled as well as rocked. I hope the moon landing truthers haven’t used it to prove that Neil Armstrong never hit a tee shot on the moon.


The best back cover scan I could find was of a CD reissue of the 1971 album. It could be subtitled Hippies On The Moon:


The full LP isn’t online, so here are the first and last tracks of the original album:



Trump Lives in Our America

This is a sitting governor, guys, so talk to me some more about how Trump is such an outlier. 

“I want us to be able to fight ideologically, mentally, spiritually, economically, so that we don’t have to do it physically,” the tea party politician said in a Saturday speech at the Values Voters Summit, an annual gathering of religious conservatives. “But that may, in fact, be the case.”

Bevin said he was asked in a recent if the nation could “survive” a Clinton presidency, and he responded that it would be “possible” but at a great “price.”

“The roots of the tree of liberty are watered by what?” Bevin continued. “The blood, of who? The tyrants to be sure, but who else? The patriots. Whose blood will be shed? It may be that of those in this room. It might be that of our children and grandchildren.”

I keep seeing these idiot headlines about how we’re now living in “Trump’s America” or some crap, like this just happened, like this is new. For fuck’s sake, Republicans have been calling Democrats traitors since at least 9/11 if not the 1930s. Before the Creeping Sharia Menace and the Secret Muslim Infiltration it was the Russkies and the Commies and the Reds that Real Americans were gonna have to rise up against with full fanfare and drama.

Other Real Americans, natch, not people like this.

People rightly said when the Tea Party came around that this is where Republicans have been going for years, just louder and dumber, and we were all either ignored or ridiculed. People rightly said, when Sarah Palin was nominated as VP, that this was not just a problem with one halfbright woman, that her elevation was indicative of some pretty serious weaknesses in structure and values, and they were ignored or ridiculed.

And now we have GOP presidential nominee Trump and sitting governors of entire states calling for armed insurrection if we elect a pretty middle-of-the-road, frankly kind of boring conventional politician who will probably not change anything very profoundly. And everyone acts like that’s just a low pressure system moving in, like that’s just the weather and the way the earth turns.

America didn’t just “turn into” Trump’s America. It didn’t “become” this way all on its own. People did this to it, and other people ignored it, or went along because the numbers favored it that day, or decided they couldn’t be bothered or risk looking like dirty hippies. A thousand little decisions were made by actual people every single day and if you don’t listen to those saying hey, that and that and that and that are not going to add up to anything good, you don’t get to bitch at the rise of Cheeto Jesus and pretend you didn’t see it coming.


Who Works Sick

It’s a joke, the “mom cold” versus “dad cold” thing, a bad unfunny joke that plays on traditional middle class family roles and stereotypes, and I saw it repeated over and over on social media when Hillary Clinton nearly passed out after what surely was her 10 billionth event in 2 days and then waited like six seconds or something to tell everybody she had pneumonia.

(Can we please stop acting like she hid her dementia for years? We had a president who did that, and a bunch let their wives/aides run stuff, and no they shouldn’t have done that, and everything was fine.)

Of course she was working sick. The president doesn’t get a sick day ever. But a WOMAN president especially doesn’t get a sick day. Mom doesn’t get to stay in bed all day the way dad does, amirite ladies? Mom doesn’t get a cold. Mom has to be dying before somebody takes her seriously, whereas if Dad stubs his toe he’s in traction for weeks. Har dee har har.

You know who else doesn’t get to have a cold? You know who doesn’t get to take sick days, really?


Spare me talking about Hillary’s health by referencing comfortable women whose husbands are assholes. Those women can have honest conversations with the dickheads they’re married to, or find a new husband who is less of an adolescent.

Let’s talk instead about what it means when nobody in the family gets sick time.

Let’s talk about if you’re hourly, and your spot on the line can be filled by pretty much anybody.

Let’s talk about if you’re contract, and the work has to get done no matter what or the check don’t come.

Let’s talk about if you’re the owner of a one- or two-person operation, and being sick means closing the doors.

Let’s talk about if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. Let’s talk about if you don’t work, your kids don’t eat. Let’s talk about if you don’t work, within a non-trivial amount of time you will be living in your parents’ basement at the age of 50.

Let’s talk about that, in addition to how much it sucks that your dumb failed-adult partner doesn’t do laundry.

Sick time isn’t just the privilege of men (there are plenty of stay-at-home dads whose partners’ careers depend on their health). It’s the privilege of WEALTHY men who can afford things like “paid leave” for themselves but refuse to grant it to their employees.

I mean, look at this shit before you get all mom cold on me here:

They’re usually part time: About 74% of full-time workers get paid sick leave, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics, while around 24% of part-time workers get the perk.

They work for small businesses: Smaller companies are more likely not to offer paid sick leave, largely because of cost. Around half of firms with 50 or fewer workers offer the benefit while 81% of those with 500-plus employees have it, according to Paul Harrington, director of the Center for Labor Markets and Policy at Drexel University.

They’re often in the service industry: Workers with service sector jobs, like food service or hospitality, are likely to go without sick time, along with those in health-care support services, including home health aids or dental assistants.

“Those are the exact type of jobs that you want people to stay at home because they have such high interactions with customers and co-workers,” said Jessica Milli, a senior research associate at The Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

Many are Hispanic: Hispanic employees are less likely to have paid sick leave than white, Asian or black workers, according to Milli, with less than half of Hispanic workers getting the benefit.

They’re on the lower end of the income ladder: Government data show 90% of the top 10% of earners get paid sick time off, while 21% in the bottom 10% get it.

“Part of that is that you are more likely to be part time in the [lower bracket],” said Harrington.

It sucks that mom doesn’t get a day off, and that even at the executive level women are judged more harshly than men on this.

It also sucks that executive-level women’s employees don’t get a day off, and that they — men and women — have to work sick at least as often as Hillary does.


The Impolite Truth

I had a bit of fun earlier at the expense of Roger Stone and David Duke. It’s what I do. But the more I’ve thought about the MSM reaction to the “basket of deplorables” flap, the angrier I’ve gotten. The basket cases of the MSM are convinced that pointing out bigotry is as bigoted as bigotry itself. It’s nutty. Once again, Catch-22 is being applied to those of us who believe that telling the truth is the best way to fight bigotry in all its forms. That’s what Hillary Clinton did last week: it was also an invitation to the other basket to reconsider supporting an authoritarian racist flim-flam man for President.

It’s exhausting writing the same thing over and over again but as long as we have an optics obsessed press corps dedicated to both-siderism and false equivalency, it’s necessary. It’s not rude to discuss bigoted Trump supporters, it’s imperative.

Let’s get to the point of this post. I wanted to make sure that everyone sees two great pieces on this controversy. First, Slate’s Jamelle Bouie compares the instant analysis by Ron Fournier and the usual suspects to theatre criticism. Second, the Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates speaks an unspeakable truth, How Breitbart Conquered The Media.

Both Bouie and Coates stress how the MSM has focused on the appearance of HRC’s basketry as opposed to the substance of her statement. Anyone who doesn’t live under a rock knows that there are more bigots out there than you can shake a stick at. They used to bite their bigoted tongues but they’ve been emboldened by the Tea Party and Donald Trump as well as the election of our first black President and the prospect of the first Oval One with ovaries. It’s open season on the Other and it’s not rude to point that out.

In the long run, it’s probably better that the haters have been drawn out into the open. We’ve gone from GOP dog whistling to bullhorn bigotry and it’s not a pretty sight. I deplore those who deplore HRC’s basket of deplorables: all she was doing was speaking the truth.

It amazes me that Beltway Borg Collective continues to insist that we should be polite to the rudest man in American and his obnoxious followers. You have to fight fire with fire and insults with ridicule. And that’s the impolite truth.

Tweets Of The Day: Roger Stone Meets David Duke

Ratfucking Roger is at it again. His latest effort is an attack on Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” remark complete with a wink at the white supremacy crowd thereby proving her point:

I’m unsure of the origin of this crudely photoshopped image but its provenance is obvious from the presence of Pepe the Frog. That’s right, a badly drawn cartoon frog is the slimy symbol of the white nationalist alt-right thugocracy. The Nazis had the swastika, these cretins have a cartoon frog; proving that Darwin’s law of evolution does not apply to right-wing symbolism. Oy just oy.

Speaking of neo-Nazis, the erstwhile Gret Stet Fuhrer Wannabe chimed in with what passes for wit in his world:

Nice how Dukkke combines anti-Semitism, ageism, and Islamophobia in one meme. He’s a versatile motherfucker in his dotage. It’s certainly better done than the Deplorables meme and frog free as well.

I’ve never seen Weekend At Bernie’s but I know from reading Roger Ebert that:

The movie tells the story of two interchangeable, unremarkable young men (played by Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman) who work for an insurance company. They discover that someone is stealing from the company and take their discoveries to Bernie, their boss (Terry Kiser), who is, in fact, the thief. He invites them to his summer home on an island, where he plans to have them killed. But first someone kills Bernie.

The young executives are frightened, and don’t know what to do. They prop Bernie on a couch in the living room, and just then a floating party of weekend drunks drifts in – and nobody notices that Bernie is dead. This leads to a macabre weekend in which the hapless Bernie is carted around everywhere, apparently alive. He visits the beach and even goes boating, all as part of a desperate plot by the two heroes to conceal his death until they can find out who’s trying to kill them.

Movies centering on dead bodies are rarely very funny – which would be a truism if so many directors didn’t try to make them. The most famous example is Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Trouble with Harry,” one of his less successful movies, but Blake Edwards did pull off the idea in “S.O.B.,” a movie in which a dead man is able, briefly, to play an important role.

Why don’t dead characters work? The temptation is to say that we find them in bad taste – that the idea is too gruesome to be funny.

But comedy is often founded on bad taste and the offensive. I think the problem is more obvious. They don’t work because they require the other characters to be so stupid.

Roger forgot about Sunset Boulevard wherein Bill Holden narrates part of the movie whilst floating in Gloria Swanson’s pool, otherwise his point is well taken.

What’s next from Stone and Duke? Projectile vomiting? Dog shit jokes? They should consider making a bro-comedy with cameos from the pukes on Stone’s tweet. How about The Deplorable and the Unspeakable or Under the Sheets with Roger-n-Dave or perhaps The Ratfucker and the Klansman? Of course, Mel Brooks was there first with the Klan jokes:

Stay classy, Roger-n-Dave. You proved the truth of the “basket of deplorables” remark. There are racists lurking in the Twitter sewer, some of them are frogs but Roger-n-Dave are just toads and deplorable ones at that.

UPDATE: Facebook blocked my attempt to share this post. I guess you’re not supposed to mention David Duke’s name or call a ratfucker a ratfucker. It did allow a tweet link to be entered. The Zuckerdude’s algorithms can bite me.

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati -Auld Lang Slime edition

Welp, I’ve been putting this off since forever, but it’s time to dig out some artisanal hand-crafted barrel-aged bullshit from the archives.

Since the Summer’s never-ending freepathon has finally ground to a halt with only three weeks to go until the Fall one starts, it’s probably a good time to ask:

Where DOES the money go?


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Three Miles

I have an extensive workout playlist, three times as long as the longest time I’ve ever worked out. I fiddle with it constantly, trying to figure out if Eminem follow or precede Rihanna and if Peter Gabriel would be offended by opening for Air Supply. There are a lot of songs about hot girls on it, a lot of Nicki Minaj, a lot of songs about steep climbs. There are a lot of songs I’m pretty sure are about blowjobs. There’s a lot of EDM.

I could have burned like Pompeii
Lived in the ruins of me
I was so bruised and bandaged
My turn to do some damage

I start with the playlist because that’s where the race starts. And because without it, without something trivial and dumb and cheesy to focus on this year while I waited eight months to be able to run again, I’m pretty sure I would have gone all the way crazy.

By the time my back went out in February I was already worn down to a nub.

In November, Kick and I started getting sick. Off and on sick: She’d have a cold, and then I’d have a cold, so one of us was always miserable and couldn’t breathe. Up until that point, my almost-2-year-old had been a sweet, easygoing baby; in an instant she became 30 pounds of toddler anger and nonstop running nose. One of us was always up all night and the other one was always pissed about it the next day.

I took her to urgent care and her pediatrician. I didn’t go to the doctor. I didn’t have time: I was working two jobs, two part-time jobs that, cobbled together, added up to a decent salary. One job, I’d gotten relatively recently and enjoyed quite a lot. Another I’d worked at for nearly a decade, that paid really badly but that I thought maybe I could love.

I said to the latter’s powers that be, hey, been at this for a while now, would really like to have some security and a raise. (It had been eight years without one.) They put me off, and after months of footsie and amid growing resentment on both sides I said look, I’m 40, I gotta quit screwing around and feed the baby (and her college fund). Do this or I’ll walk.

I’m a grown-up. If I said that, I had to be prepared for the answer to be, “We’ll miss you.”

“We’ll miss you,” they said.

I was prepared, but it burned, all the same.

The same week, the VERY SAME WEEK in November that I got the miss-you e-mail, I quit an organization I’d loved for 20 years. I helped build it with my hands and with time I couldn’t afford to give and money that wasn’t mine to spend, and I loved it like a person. It was tough to love, always, because nobody knows how hard organizing is and everybody thinks they can do it better and everybody tells you so all the time, but I told myself the hard parts didn’t matter. And then, suddenly, they did.

And because it was never about me, because I said that all the time, because nobody owes me shit and my feelings aren’t important in the face of what that organization tries to do, the minute I found myself making it about what I wanted I quit.

I culled social media. I stayed away from gatherings. It was the best, best thing for them, and for me.

It felt like an amputation. Feels.

The holidays came and went. Kick’s cold went away. Mine didn’t. I developed a deep, dry cough that shook my entire body. But I kept telling myself, I was working. My husband was working. We had a roof over our heads and our families were with us. We were all alive, and together, and once things got warmer it would all be okay.

I repeated it to myself, over and over, with each new work or home crisis. It would all be okay.

Then in February I wound up in the hospital.

If this was a movie about an athlete, this would be the part that gets condensed down to 30 seconds, at the end of which she’d be strong and hard and perfectly tanned. This would be the part where the soundtrack becomes super-important, but this part would be quick.

Victory’s within the mile
Almost there, don’t give up now
Only thing that’s on my mind
Is who’s gonna run this town tonight

I actually really hate working out. I need the music to think about because the runner’s high, that chemical rush you get when you feel like you can run straight through a wall? In years and years of running I’ve felt it exactly twice. I need songs about moving your body like a cyclone and having parties at rich dudes’ houses to get me past the feeling that this is all useless and I should just quit.

After the back injury I spent 10 weeks in physical therapy. My right hip and pelvis were incorrectly aligned, and likely had been that way since my 2014 c-section. I’d either torn or severely pulled several muscles, and once that went away, the sciatic nerve pain showed up, arcing down my right leg. It took me six ibuprofen every single morning to get the pain down to manageable enough levels that I could go to work.

I’ve always thought of myself as healthy. I’ve never been skinny or pretty, but I thought of myself as tough. As strong, and capable of recovery. If nothing else, I can take a punch. Knock me down, I get back up, and eventually I will get back up one more time than you can knock me down.

Now I could barely get up. I couldn’t pick up my daughter, who grew angrier and angrier with her cranky, frequently incapacitated mother. She didn’t understand the distance I was putting between us. She woke in the middle of the night demanding milk, as she hadn’t in months, and lifting her in my arms for comfort hurt so much my vision blurred.

The physical therapist said I had a good prognosis. He kept telling me I wasn’t overweight, though I didn’t ask him about weight, except to ask if there was something I should be eating, like if I eat spinach will I grow a new damn spine and right hip? I wasn’t thinking about my weight then. I was thinking about being able to move without excruciating pain.

“Do you see a lot of athletes in here, sports injuries and stuff?” We’d been talking about hockey.

He lifted my right knee, told me to lean into the pushback. “I never see anybody healthy here.”

I wasn’t thinking about my weight and I gained 15 pounds during those ten weeks. I was drinking too much wine and eating too much junk and not bothering to cook. I was working two jobs, still, having promised the We’ll Miss You people I would finish up a project in return for a bonus. I was scrambling every second from the moment I got up until the moment I read myself to sleep and sometimes sleep didn’t come until midnight. I was drinking too much coffee in the mornings and late into the afternoons, and making peanut butter sandwiches at midnight.

I didn’t feel like myself in my head, and now when I looked in the mirror I didn’t look like myself either. Nothing fit. Everything I owned was worn and tight, and I couldn’t afford to replace it.

I theorized that Kick was going through a sleep regression. My husband and I were arguing a lot. Family and friends had their own problems, much worse than mine, and I felt like I wasn’t there for them. The house was always a disaster.

There wasn’t a level on which I felt I was succeeding.

“You’re not overweight,” the therapist said. “Most of the people I see here, by the time they get to me they’re 400 pounds and have breathing problems.”

We talked about running and he seemed optimistic. He thought I would get back pretty quickly to where I’d been before.

I had no idea where that was.

When I signed up for this 5K I was icing my right hip after every walk of more than 5 minutes. I walked on a treadmill for three months, working my way from a painful few steps to 10 minutes, then 20, then 25. It hurt like hell.

In May I was put on a 20-day course of anthrax-level antibiotics for a sinus and chest infection that caused the cough that caused the back injury, and that finally knocked out the constant illnesses. I’m religiously careful about picking Kick up, though sometimes I can’t resist. Her cold vanished in the spring, and she became my happy baby again, sleeping soundly and eager to play.

I finished my work, collected my bonus, disconnected that e-mail account from my phone and went on to jobs that paid decently and treated me well. I cut back on the wine and ate salad and cleaned my house. I ran not to the point of pain but to have something to concentrate on that wasn’t work or childcare or anything but me. I got new clothes that fit. I think I’ve lost a little weight, but I also don’t care about that as much as I care about feeling healthy again. Feeling strong.

The race started well. It was a cool, clear morning and there was Katy Perry at the starting line. At about mile 2 my back locked up. I felt the muscles clench and though my lungs were burning and my right knee ached and I was getting a side stitch I could have run through all of that, but with my back I take no chances now. I slowed to a walk, then ran again, then walked some more.

Gray-haired grandparents passed me. People pushing jogging strollers full of what looked like half a dozen middle schoolers passed me. I looked for Kick and Mr. A and didn’t see them. The run was a charity event for the local zoo and I’m pretty sure at one point an actual tortoise blew by me like I was standing still. I crossed the finish line at something like 40 minutes out. It wasn’t the victorious moment I dreamed of.

I crossed that finish line, though. I’ll cross another, and another, and eventually it will hurt less and feel better. I keep telling myself that, because what’s the alternative? I’m still broken. And everything that happened this year was either waiting right there for me to take it back up again, or following me close behind.

The physical therapist was wrong. I’m not back to where I was before I got hurt, and to be honest I’m not sure where I am right now. But I know I won’t be staying here. The music’s still playing and that means I have farther to go.

You and me we’re goin’ nowhere slowly
And we’ve gotta get away from the past
There’s nothin’ wrong with goin’ nowhere, baby
But we should be goin’ nowhere fast


Things That Began to Make Sense Again

It’s hard to remember, I wrote in the intro to the First Draft book, just how many people lost their entire minds right after 9/11. I was at work, and so was almost everyone I knew, and by the end of week 3 I was so exhausted of hearing stupid shit that I could barely speak to anyone. There were a couple of things that made immediate sense in a way that the sheltered columnists screaming about torture and the unemployed dimwits beating up shopkeepers couldn’t.

The first was this, which I try to post every year around this time: 

More people come to stand with us on the corner. People walk out into the street to look. The building on a hundred million postcards, panned past in establishing shots in a thousand movies, visible from my bedroom window growing up, has an angry jagged yell full of twisted steel and fire punched into its side. I don’t know what else to do, so I stand there, mouth agape, and stare at it. It seems like a particularly realistic CGI rendering in a movie trailer. I try to get my brain to deal with what my eyes are telling it, but it’s just not sinking in, and just then a hot fragment of something or other lands on my head, and I duck my head to shake it free, and as I do, I see a shirt cuff land gently on the sidewalk a few feet away. I stare at that, too. “Dude, look at that, this is seriously seriously bad,” I start to say to Bob, who’s digging in his bag for his tape recorder, but I don’t have time, because I’ve turned my attention back to the building again, and the building has chosen that moment to die.

The second was this, literally the only fictional treatment of that time I can remotely stand, that doesn’t feel treacly or false or too little or too loud:

(The later seasons, and honestly, the later episodes of the first season, went really fucking far off the rails but that first one was like oh, thank God, something makes sense again. When he asks the therapist where the grief counseling was for every time he lost someone on the job because that happens all the time … yeah.)

For the life of me I can’t remember his name, and linkrot has ensured I can’t find the story, but I was interviewing a standup comic maybe a month later and asked him about all those columns declaring triviality and humor basically over. I’ll never forget what he said. “Every day is somebody’s 9/11.”


Saturday Odds & Sods: Let’s Stick Together


The cast of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

The Star Trek theme continues. As you surely know, Thursday was the 50th Anniversary of the first episode of Star Trek. I was one of many Trekkies, Trekkers whatever the hell you want to call them who first saw the show in re-runs. Even as a kid, I knew that there were some hokey things about the original show: the sets were cheesy, Shatner was hammy and an unlikely intergalactic babe magnet. But there was so much right about it: the cast chemistry and the writing. In many ways, Star Trek was a parable of New Frontier/Great Society era America. I’ve always liked the optimistic, inclusive message of the franchise and the way it got better over the years. I admit to skepticism when The Next Generation first aired but I was hooked and wound up liking both it and Deep Space Nine more than the original series. It’s hard to beat Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard even when he wore his shorty pajamas. Make it so or is that make it short? This post sure isn’t…

This week’s theme song was written and recorded by Wilbert Harrison in 1962 as Let’s Stick Together. It’s also been done as Let’s Work Together but I decided to stick with stick instead of working it out. I have three versions for your listening pleasure. First, the original recording. Second, Bryan Ferry’s first whack at a song that he made his own. It’s still a staple in his live sets. Finally, Canned Heat who cut it as Let’s Work Together with vocals by Bob “Bear” Hite. Both the singer and his band had awesome names.

Now that we’ve worked that sticky wicket out, it’s time to take a brief break from my incessant punning, But first an animated Star Trek GIF that was suggested by one of the Stephanies:

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“It’s Not About You” AKA- Stop writing shitty columns

Column writing is a lot like comedy: Everyone thinks they can do it and that it’s easy, but only a few people actually have the chops to do it well often.

For every Richard Pryor or Erma Bombeck who breaks ground and creates timeless moments of social awareness, there are thousands of people who think dropping N-bombs or coming up with theories on how socks get lost in the dryer will land them a comedy Grammy or a publishing deal.

And for every Mike Royko or Leonard Pitts who captures the essence of a place or people and shines a bright light on the problems there, there are tons of us (I include myself here) who use too much space to talk only about shit that lacks value to the readership at large.

When I was in college, I figured this out when our paper’s opinion editor asked me to write a weekly column. The first two or three were fine, but then it got into “Here’s what pisses me off this week” and it really went downhill. I stopped writing for a while, that with the promise if something ever really hit home and I thought it mattered, I’d write a column.

When I did, I heard people telling me, “Wow, that was great! You should do this every week!”

No, I shouldn’t. The whole reason it was good was because it had value to me, it had broader applicability to my audience and I wanted to write it. It couldn’t be just about me. It had to include research, depth and value. It had to say, “This is how WE as a collective are seeing X or dealing with Y.

In short, I learned “It’s not about you.”

When I would write without keeping that in mind, I’d devolve into the kind of shit I’ve been seeing this week from a number of professionals.

Start with the column the Minneapolis Star-Tribune had to retract and scrub from its site by columnist “C.J.” that attacked Jana Shortal for her choice of fashion while reporting on the Jacob Wetterling story.

Despite producing a great report on the revelation that a man finally confessed to kidnapping, sexually assaulting and killing the boy in 1989, “C.J.” focused on Shortal’s choice of fashion:


With the exception of a few screen caps floating around, you’d have better luck finding Jimmy Hoffa than a copy of this column, which the Star-Trib apologized for after removing it. Shortal is trying to stay above the fray on this one, refocusing the point of this on the story itself: A dead kid as opposed to her pants.

Another modern marvel of sensitivity, Dave Hon, gave readers a lot to think about in his look at “Why I’ll never date a feminist.”

Hon outlines his thesis that feminists are basically looking for reasons to hate men and that because “political issues have been creeping into the bedroom” he has trouble with people who “are more loyal to their gender and not their significant other.”

After I saw the mug shot and saw the title, I honestly thought it was an Onion satire at first. When I figured out it wasn’t, and I realized that I was going to have to tell “C.J.” to fuck off for “beauty shaming” Shortal, I had this moment:




If the comments after the column are any indication, we’re about six minutes away from when the “wow what a sexually desirous partner” memes force the Internet to implode. Skipping past that for a moment, reading Hon’s column led to several questions:


  • You do understand that by just linking to stuff, you aren’t actually proving anything, right? The link has to have something of value behind it that supports your claim and not just other assholes rambling on without any sort of support for their stupid position? Or that linking to things that simply have a word you want to feature in your point doesn’t make your point true? Based on your use of links to random bits of information that required a stretch of reality to see how they applied to your point, I don’t think you understand how linking works. Looking at your “disagree” videos and your “consent texts” link, I think you don’t understand that links aren’t like a magic spell: Using them on words doesn’t magically make things true.Case in point, check this out: Dave Hon is likely rumored to keep fucking that chicken when the time has come today to do so.
  • You do know what a “time peg” is, right? As in a reason why you are writing whatever the hell you’re writing about at this point in time? For example, a “never forget” 9/11/2001 column makes sense this weekend, as it’s the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on that day. A “Michael Dukakis is Not Getting My Vote for President This Year” column makes no sense because he’s not running for anything other than the bathroom at this point in his life.Why am I reading this diatribe against feminists at this point in life? Did you just get dumped by someone who didn’t like it when you called her “sugar tits?” Did your downstairs neighbors play their Indigo Girls music too loud while you were trying to watch The O’Reilly Factor reruns? Did a woman with an unshaved armpit lean on you during your bus ride to work? What? What is it that evoked the Hon-icane of anger that was this column? You probably want to put that in there…
  • For whom were you writing this? I can’t imagine that you looked at your audience in St. Joseph, Missouri, studied the demographics, determined your niche and then thought about how best to serve those people. The closest thing I can think of is that you and the rest of the cast from the first season of the Big Bang Theory got together over a few beers before one of you uttered, “Women are bitches, man,” thus leading to your magnum opus. I’m sure there are tons of real stories out there that demand attention and could use a strong voice to promote and advocate resolution. Even worse, this showed up in the women’s section titled “Josephine” (shudder), so it’s clear you didn’t really think about what the audience wanted to hear.


There are other questions that came up, including “Why couldn’t you wait until John Oliver was back on the air to publish this? People have already compared you to a rat and an ogre, but Oliver is the master at finding just the right comparative for pea-brained dipshits.” However, I keep going back to the third item: What made you think other people wanted to read this shit?

When I teach opinion writing, the first rule is: This isn’t about you. The other five basic rules all stem from that, most of which people pick up on pretty easily. It’s that first rule, though, that people either forget or ignore too often.

Journalists like column writing for two basic reasons:

  • It conveys an aura of importance. You get to be the voice of authority, deeming a topic worthy of attention and then yourself worthy of explaining to the masses how to think about it. Plus, you get to have your mug shot in the paper, which is really cool. (That said, I have a feeling at least one feminist artist is airbrushing Hon’s mug onto a few maxi-pads as we speak…)
  • It takes less work (when you do it the way these people did) to do a column than it does to do an actual story. Reporters have to go out and get facts and interview people and stuff. Columnists get to be glib and snarky and tell people to suck it. Even better, if people lose their shit over your previous column, this can lead to ANOTHER COLUMN talking about how people hated your last column and why THEY can suck it! It’s like the loaves and fishes of column opportunities!


I get the allure of columns and since we all get to be experts now in whatever way we want, the desire to play the “dig me!” game will always continue to grow. However, the whole reason “mass” media is going down the crapper is because the people in charge of it fail to address the audience principle: If you don’t give people what they want or need, you will cease to have an audience.

And I’d bet a dollar to a dime that no one gives a shit what a columnist charged with tracking the fucking habits of local news personnel thinks about a reporter’s pants or the sexual desires (full-body shudder) of a sentient jar of mayonnaise.

Friday Guest Catblogging: Spot The Data

The Star Trek anniversary theme continues with some images of Data and his space kitty, Spot. The first screen shot features the gruff Klingon, Mr. Worf:


Here’s Data up close and personal with Spot:


Finally, an animated GIF:

Live long and prosper. I feel a pun coming on, which combines two of my nerdier passions, Star Trek and the Grateful Dead. Who among us doesn’t love the song Worf Rat?


Thursday Night Music: Space Songs


Picard has been assimilated.

I seem to have Star Trek on my mind as you’ll see both tomorrow and Saturday. Since I don’t have any Vulcan ears to promenade about in, I decided to post some space songs. Why? Why the hell not? It’s what Kirk and Spock would do but I’m not sure about Picard and Riker. Picard was pretty high-brow: a bald guy who loved long hair music. Enough words, it’s time to rock:

Is Trump Really Running For Grand Nagus?


Today is the 50th Anniversary of the first episode of the original Star Trek series. It’s one of my geekier passions and my favorite series of the franchise is Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It was the series that fleshed out the greedy, horny, big-eared, butt-headed, and misogynistic alien species, the Ferengi; as personified by Quark, lecherous bar owner and smuggler deluxe. The Ferengi are avaricious braggarts who never look when they can leer, never tell the truth when they can lie. Sound familiar? That’s right, Donald (The Insult Comedian) Trump is a Ferengi in hu-man form.

The leader of the Ferengi was called the Grand Nagus and he was played on Deep Space Nine with cackling glee by the distinguished character actor and playwright Wallace Shawn. The Grand Nagus is in charge of enforcing the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition; most of which Trump would find to his liking. Here’s a sampler:

1.  Once you have their money, never give it back

2.  You can’t cheat an honest customer, but it never hurts to try

15. Acting stupid is often smart

16.  A deal is a deal … until a better one comes along

26.  The vast majority of the rich in this galaxy did not inherit their wealth; they stole it

27.  The most beautiful thing about a tree is what you do with it after you cut it down

37.  You can always buy back a lost reputation

49.  Old age and greed will always overcome youth and talent

125.  A lie isn’t a lie until someone else knows the truth

126.  A lie isn’t a lie, it’s just the truth seen from a different point of view

I’m exhausted after reading all 286 rules of acquisition but you get the idea. It boils down to this: Greed is good and anything you do in search of profit is justified. Sounds like Trump in a wingnut shell. The Ferengi analogy even explains Trump’s Putin love: they always suck up and kick down.

I wish I could say the Trump for Grand Nagus thing is my idea but it’s been floating about the internet for quite some time. I am merely propagating it in my endless quest for profit:


The best piece about Trump and the Ferengi Republicans I’ve seen has a swell title: Donald Trump pledges to replace Constitution with the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition. It’s a scary thought but it would require Trump sitting still long enough to watch some DS9 episodes so I think we’re safe.

Repeat after me: Donald Trump will not be the first Insult Comedian elected President BUT may have the lobes to be Grand Nagus.

Now where did I put my virtual yard sign? Here it is: