We Are All Made of Trump

We Are All Made of TrumpIn a world that daily offers fewer pleasures, I was happy to receive a review copy of Paul Bibeau’s new book, We Are All Made of Trump. As he promised some months ago, the book is humor — not horror like last year’s State of Fear. But to some extent it is impossible to be reminded that Trump exists without being horrified.

The book is prime Bibeau. Who else has the insight to equate Donald Trump with John Wayne Gacy? When the time comes, I will be proud to be in the same camp as Paul.

At a little less than 20,000 words, it makes a nice single-sit read. And it’s a deal for just one dollar. Much of it is laugh-out-loud funny. Trump has provided Paul with a great cast of character. Alone he isn’t that interesting. But the book is filled with stories about his entourage as well as his delusional followers.

The Trump Cult

It’s interesting that I had never thought about it before reading We Are All Made of Trump, but there is something like a cult that surrounds the president. It goes well past the evidence-denying Christian fundamentalism — although that was certainly a prerequisite for the rise of Trump. But it helps to explain why people support him despite being far closer to the Antichrist than Jesus. You —
or they, anyway — don’t question what God does. God creates his own morality.

The book reads almost like a novel. It brings to mind Cannery Row. Of course, it doesn’t have a happy ending — or any ending at all. It is a short story collection. But more than that, we are only six months into this nightmare. What’s more, all of Steinbeck’s characters had the great humanity that he is known for. Paul’s oddballs are evil, determined to enrich themselves at the cost of everyone else.

Various Perspectives on Trump

The first part of We Are All Made of Trump — “Lessons and Grumbles” — looks that Trump and modern America from various perspectives. It starts with “Prayers of the People”: a plea to God from a self-aware conservative Christian, asking God to watch over Trump. It’s self-aware in that the writer knows that Trump needs watching over, “There are all those articles out there about how conservative Christians voted for Donald Trump to represent us in Washington, and if he makes us look like a bunch of ignorant jackasses, it won’t help You either.” I suspect, in the quiet of their own brains, many conservative Christians think much the same thing.

This transitions into “Alone on Twitter,” a story about the futility of battling the Trump brigade. Paul perfectly describes what drives these people and why it is pointless:

DeploraB20 wants to be the bad guy here. He’s resigned to it. He’s one of these jerks — I can tell this — one of these older, selfish, ignorant people who is probably bitter about how he got passed over for a promotion, and so he blames everyone around him for that and for marrying too young and taking on more responsibility than he could handle, and now he gets a sick, twisted thrill from saying awful stuff about religious minorities and black people, and the way my grandfather was probably an alcoholic, and I will be too…

Mice and Thumbs

“A Tiny Warning” is written by a mouse being given as much cocaine as it wants as part of an experiment. It notes that the cocaine has the same effect as the smug outrage peddled by conservative media. And “Incoming” is told from the perspective of an asteroid that is going to destroy us all. There is a follow-up from a nuclear weapon. The high point is probably “A Message to America From a Severed Thumb.” The thumb’s name is Stumpy. Need any more convincing?

The Trump Con

No one is a bigger mark than the person who will not admit to being wrong. Thus it isn’t surprising that the biggest thematic element of We Are All Made of Trump is the con. This really gets going in the second part of the book, “Visions and Hunches.” It is also where the real-life Trump characters come in. All of them are trying to deceive one way or another.

Sean Spicer is featured throughout this part. Well, someone who might appear to smart-pants people like Paul, but who spends most of his time claiming that he is not Sean Spicer. Similarly, we find Steve Bannon in his real form as a kind of left-coast stereotype — into natural food and herbs — using words like “mindfulness.” We first encounter him teaching landscape painting on public television in Alaska.

The funniest parts of the book are the stories featuring conservative celebrity Mike Cernovich. He starts by hawking reverse mortgages, but it gets more insane and hilarious from there. I’ll tell you about just one: the erectile dysfunction drug Deploracil.

Buy We Are All Made of Trump Now

There is lots more in the book; I’ve only touched on its delights. And for a buck — less than a cup of coffee — you can’t go wrong. It will also make you feel less alone.

Trump: “Can’t Live in Country With Me President”

Donald Trump InaugurationAt an impromptu press conference, President Donald J Trump announced that he was stepping down as President of the United States as of Monday morning 8 am EST after which he will be immigrating to Iceland. “I just can’t live in a country that would have me as its prsident,” the clearly distraught president stated. He went on to explain that he only ran for president to give himself an excuse to quit his job on The Apprentice before its sagging ratings caused NBC to tell him, “You’re fired.” But, Trump said looking down and shaking his head, “It all got out of control. And now I just can’t continue to live in a country that is this vile and stupid.”

The president dismissed insightful questions shouted from the press corps, like “How many square feet will your Icelandic house have?” and “What wardrobe changes will Melania make?” Trump said, “I did everything I could to lose this election.” He then went through a list of what he said should have been disqualifying actions: admissions of sexual assault, not paying contractors, punishing his infant nephew over a financial grievance with his brother, and three dozen other acts that “only a psychopath would do.” Throwing up his hands he concluded, “What kind of country would elect me?!”

America More Racist Than Trump Thought

“But it’s the racism that really did it for me.” He went on, “I never thought that this country would elect a man as racist and hateful as I am!” After noting that this was a country built by immigrants, he said, “How could half the nation vote for me? It boggles the mind; it really does.”

He went on to say that he felt bad for all the losers who had no choice but to stay a country that was so messed up and vile as to vote him into office. “And now you’re stuck with Mike Pence! I really do feel bad about that. But I have to do what’s best for me and my family, and that means getting the hell out of this country and into a place the people value competence and humanity.”

Presidency as Vile as His Candidacy

This is just what America is: a country that accepts me as its leader. I’m not even a mediocrity; I’m a total incompetent with clear mental problems.

At that point, President Trump opened the floor for questions. Samuel Fronk from Breitbart New Network asked if this wasn’t just a reaction to the president’s recent failure with healthcare reform. “No!” Mr Trump said curtly. “It’s quite the opposite.”

Seeming to calm, he leaned onto the lectern and said, “I thought maybe America was just confused. I thought, ‘If I act just as vile as president as I did on the campaign trail, maybe people will wake up.’ I figured surely you all would impeach me — or at least assassinate me. But no. This is just what America is: a country that accepts me as its leader. I’m not even a mediocrity; I’m a total incompetent with clear mental problems. But I’m not crazy, so I’m leaving America.”

TracyAnn Sheffield of Fox News asked what he thought the future holds for him. Trump responded that the one good thing about his presidency has been that it’s made him feel better about himself. “At least I would never elect me to be president. There really is something wrong with America.”

Mixed Reactions Throughout America

Vice-President Pence was unavailable for comment because he was in a briefing with someone anonymous White House sources say goes by the name Nikolay. Speaker of the House Paul D Ryan released a statement saying in part, “I am saddened that I will not be able to lower President Trump’s taxes.”

Trump supporters around the nation had mixed reactions. Dick Dongle of West Virginia said, “If I’d known Trump was so introspective, I never would have voted for him in the first place.” On the other hand, Maxine Wellstone of Franklin, Pennsylvania said, “Iceland on the west coast, right?”

Political Scientist Jennifer Collins of the Brookings Institute speculates that this news will ripple all the way through to the 2020 presidential election where, “Donald Trump Jr is now clearly the front-runner.”

Problem with Funny Business Names

Funny Business NamesI hate “funny” business names. They are usually puns. For example, here in the Bay Area, we have Site for Sore Eyes Optical Store. Look: I get it. When I first saw there was an eye doctor named “site for sore eyes,” I thought it was amusing. And there are other ones that I’ve thought were fairly clever. There’s the sporting goods store (Guess what they specialize in!) called “The Merchant of Tennis.” Or the “Church of Cod” with a little Jesus Fish symbol. Or best of all a fish & chips place called “A Salt & Battery.” Clever names all!

And then there are names that while clever are just a bad idea. There’s the hair salon named “Cubic Hair.” And the ice cream shop called “The Sweet Dairy-Air.” And most of all, the fishing supply shop “Master Bait & Tackle.” In addition to these all being coarse, they don’t make sense. What exactly do pubic hair, derriere, and masturbate have to do with what they’re selling. (If you know, please don’t tell me.)

This all came up because Will told me about a routine by comedian Brian Regan. Here is the routine that someone shot off a TV:

The problem with these clever names is that they are only ever clever once. After that, at least for me, they become annoying. What’s more, it reminds me of a scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. They are all going to head to Camelot. Then there is a musical number with knights at Camelot dancing arm in arm. Finally, King Arthur says, “On second thought, let’s not go to Camelot. It is a silly place.” And that’s what I think of when I see an ad for Site for Sore Eyes. Do I really want to trust my eyes to such silly people? (Of course, I know intellectually that this isn’t the case, but gut reactions matter regardless of what many think.)

So if you come up with a really clever name for a dry cleaning business, I hope you are a comedy writer and not dry cleaner:

Afterword

There are, of course, truly great names that are clever, coarse, and effective. The best example is French Connection UK, better known as FCUK. But that works especially well because it flatters their customer demographic about offending their non-demographic.

Alternately, some names work as a pun or not. A good example of this is Book Passage, a book store just down the road from me. But notice, it isn’t meant to be funny. It is just meant to be taken in a number of ways, each of which are appropriate to the business. It is also a great book store.

The Yale Record Doesn’t Endorse Clinton

Yale Record Doesn't Endorse ClintonIn its 144-year history, The Yale Record has never endorsed a Democratic candidate for president. In fact, we have never endorsed any candidate for president. This is, in part, due to our strong commitment to being a tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization, which mandates that we are “absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”

This year’s presidential election is highly unusual, but ultimately no different: The Yale Record believes both candidates to be equally un-endorsable, due to our faithful compliance with the tax code.

In particular, we do not endorse Hillary Clinton’s exemplary leadership during her 30 years in the public eye. We do not support her impressive commitment to serving and improving this country — a commitment to which she has dedicated her entire professional career. Because of unambiguous tax law, we do not encourage you to support the most qualified presidential candidate in modern American history, nor do we encourage all citizens to shatter the glass ceiling once and for all by electing Secretary Clinton on November 8.

The Yale Record has no opinion whatsoever on Dr Jill Stein.

—The Editorial Board of The Yale Record
The Yale Record Does Not Endorse Hillary Clinton

Elizabeth Channels Bill Pullman in Independence Day

Independence DayIn less than an hour the polls will open. Americans nationwide will join together with Americans around the world. And you will be launching the largest voting effort in the history of Americankind. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interest. Perhaps it is fate that today is the day to elect Hillary Clinton. And that once again you will be fighting the forces of fascism. Fighting tyranny, oppression, and persecution. Fighting annihilation. We are fighting for our right to live. As gay, straight, black, Asian, white, woman, transgender, immigrant or native born. For today is the day that America declared in nearly one voice “We will not go quietly into the night. We will not vanish without a fight. We are going to live on. We are going to survive. And we are going to defeat the Orange Menace!

—Elizabeth Rogers
Parody from Independence Day

Donald Trump’s Curious Ideas About Racist Hillary Clinton

Donald Trump RacistYesterday, Hillary Clinton delivered a speech tying together Donald Trump’s long history of racism, from his early days excluding African-American tenants from his family’s housing in New York to what Paul Ryan called “textbook racist” comments that a Mexican-American was unfit to judge whether Trump had committed fraud. Trump fired off a peripatetic series of replies. He oddly lambasted Clinton’s speech as “short,” raising the tantalizing question of what further evidence of his racism he believes she should have included. (His racialized hysteria against the “Central Park Five”? His assertions that black people are inherently lazy?) He lambasted Clinton’s use of the racism charge, “the last refuge of the discredited politician,” a cheap trick to which only a scoundrel would resort. Then finally, that evening, forgetting his conviction that only a discredited politician would charge his opponent with racism, Trump appeared on CNN, where he called Clinton a “bigot.”

—Jonathan Chait
Trump: Only Desperate Liars Call Their Opponent Racist. Also Hillary Is Racist.

Obama’s Mass Lesbian Infiltration Plan

Jonathan ChaitBarack Obama is nearing the finish line of a presidency filled with accomplishments ranging from death panels to FEMA camps to the importation of Sharia law. Year eight is a natural time for Obama to unveil the most deviously brilliant plot of them all: mass lesbian infiltration of the agriculture sector. The Department of Agriculture has cleverly designed this scheme as an innocuous outreach summit to LGBT Americans living in rural areas. But Rush Limbaugh has exposed the administration’s true intentions, which are nothing less than a full-scale assault on the last bastion of red-state America.

Here’s how it works. “Rural America happens to be largely conservative. Rural America is made up of self-reliant, rugged individualist types,” explains Limbaugh. (Farmers are “self-reliant” because, even though their sector is technically the recipient of heavy federal subsidies, they are overwhelmingly white.) …

I mean, it’s pretty obvious that once Obama locks up the farmers in FEMA camps, he’s going to need to repopulate the farms with political loyalists, or else the cities will have food shortages. That’s where the lesbians come in. By the time Hillary Clinton is running for her fourth term, red America will have been completely liquidated, and she won’t even need Acorn to steal the election for her.

—Jonathan Chait
Mass Lesbian Farm Infiltration Is Obama’s Best Scheme Yet

Larry Miller’s The Secret of Skiing

Larry MillerWhen I was a teen, there was some comedy competition that ran on HBO or something. It was first done regionally. And then the winners of each regional one met. As I recall, Eddie Murphy won. Now I think Murphy is one of the best comedic actors ever. But I never thought much of him as a stand-up comic. It just doesn’t play to his skills. But in that competition, I discovered the comedian Larry Miller. He was interesting in one particular way: he was the only comedian who did a different routine in the final than he had done in the region — an indication of his greatness.

One of the routines he did was “The Secret of Skiing.” It was about 8 minutes long. But I found a version online that is 35 minutes long. I don’t know if the routine has grown over the years or if he just whittled it down to 8 minute for the competition. It doesn’t matter. It’s magnificent. He’s really an old style comedian. He reminds me of Shelley Berman, although I think Larry Miller is actually more talented.

You owe it to yourself to listen to this. After all these years, I laughed myself silly. Of course, my opinion of skiing is pretty much the same as his — and the goat’s (listen and you’ll know what I’m talking about).

A Somewhat Less Menacing Mark Zuckerberg

Mark ZuckerbergThis movie [Batman vs Superman] is not good, but I liked it more than I expected. Wonder Woman is in the film for some reason, and Jesse Eisenberg decides to play Lex Luthor as a somewhat less menacing, less dangerous version of Mark Zuckerberg.

I’m going to credit that last as an actual decision and not an accident, and it’s… interesting. Maybe the point is that Luthor has never conceived of a scheme to dominate the lives of everyday people so grandiose, and so completely successful, as Facebook? Would Batman or Superman have destroyed the algorithm on Zuckerberg’s dorm room window?

—Robert Farley
Movies on a Plane

Everything about Debra Jackson and Dollar Palace

TownTalkQuote

I got the image above from an email list I’m on that occasionally sends out funny stuff. And it is amusing: the idea that Walmart is a place that one would need to dress up for. Here is the text for those who can’t see the image:

Debra Jackson says she likes shopping at the Dollar Palace because it is convenient and casual.

“I don’t have to get all dressed up like I’m going to Wal-Mart or something,” she said…

This image is very similar to the College of Planning sign image. It’s been around for years, and every few months a new group of people find it and it goes viral. Again.

As far as I can tell, it dates back to an article from 2005 in The Daily Town Talk. It is now called, The Town Talk. It was founded in 1883 and covers central Louisiana.

Dollar Palace Was a Real Place

The article appears to be about Dollar Palace, which had opened in November 2004. (It appears to be out of business now — but it was in business as late as 2007.) These kinds of articles are standard for local papers. There’s a new business in town so a reporter goes out, talks to the owner and the customers, and files a story.

Is Debra Jackson for Real?

Over at the Snopes forum, Ovalescent noted something very interesting:

I’m guessing it’s just from a quasi-rural area where Wal-Mart is the main grocery/department store. If you’re way more likely to run into family or co-workers, it’s a dressier affair. I personally don’t doll myself up, but I always make sure I’m at least brushed out and cleaned up before I go there lest I inevitably run into someone I know.

That makes a lot of sense. When Walmart moves into a rural area, it becomes something of an attraction. Debra Jackson isn’t some idiot redneck who thinks Walmart is such a great thing. But she is recognizing that it is the economic center of her area.

Is It a Hoax?

A lot of people have just assumed that it is a hoax. But there are a number of things that push against that. The first is that it is an image. One would have had to have gone to a lot of trouble to create the base image. Then, there’s the highlighting and pen outline. That’s a lot of work to go to just to make fun of yokels in a pretty gentle way.

Even if it weren’t an image, most hoaxes of these kinds have no details. At the time, various people were talking about it coming from an established paper. (I’ve found a couple of links to the original article, but it is down and nothing on that site is saved on Archive.org.) It wasn’t the standard, “A large newspaper in the northwest reported about a woman…” There are specifics that can be checked. It passes the smell test.

On the other hand, it would be different if Debra Jackson had said, “I love Dollar Palace! It’s the only store where they keep the darkies in line.” (Dollar Palace was owned by Kenneth Williams, an African American.) In that case, I would start looking for signs of Photoshop in the image above. But as it stands, it seems very likely that it is the real deal, and that Debra Jackson had a good reason for saying what sounds like something very silly.

God the Deal Maker

Corey RobinThe Talmud tells a story: the reason God covenanted with the Jews was that they were the only ones who were willing to take the deal.

According to a commentary on Deuteronomy, “When God revealed Himself to give the Torah to Israel, He revealed Himself not only to Israel but to all the nations.” First God goes to the children of Esau, asking them if they will accept the Torah. They ask him what it contains, God says, “Though shalt not murder,” they say, no thanks.

God goes to the Ammonites and Moabites. Same response, only for them the prohibition against adultery is the deal-breaker. He goes to the Ishmaelites, to all the peoples of the earth. Each time, they turn him down. They can’t accept some portion of the Torah’s instructions and injunctions.

Then God comes to the Jews. They don’t ask questions. They simply “accepted the Torah, with all of its explanations and details.” So God “surrendered them [the Torah and all of its details] to Israel.”

You almost get a sense, reading the midrash, of God’s weariness. The Jews aren’t his first choice, but they’ll take the deal. God’s exhausted, history is made.

—Corey Robin
From the Talmud to Judith Butler