Friday, July 29, 2016

Will there be any Clinton vs. Trump TV debates? (A bit of idle speculation.)

We know Melania Trump swiped part of her speech from Michelle Obama. Now
 there’s prima facie evidence that Donald Trump got his political philosophy 
from Tony the Tiger. But that’s not what this post is about.

Somebody in the Trump camp must be sweating bullets.

It's  quite nearly a given that opposing Presidential nominees are expected  to debate each other on television. Which leads me to wonder what’s going through the minds of people at Trump headquarters.

No, I’m not talking about the mind of Donald Trump himself. I’m sure he thinks he can walk in front of the cameras, call his opponent “crooked Hillary” a few hundred times, and promise he’ll be like Tony the Tiger of Sugar Frosted Flakes fame, and make America grrrrreat! again. And that will be that.

But less bloated heads in Trumpland must assuredly know better. As we saw during her speech on Thursday night, Hillary is calm, confident, knows her stuff in depth, is not likely to be rattled easily, and has a fat dossier on Trump.  

So for openers, if Hillary, or questioners from the press ask Trump a single “how” question, his goose is is deep fried in oil sludge.

“How will you pay for that when you also promise to cut taxes, Donald? What government waste are you specifically talking about? How much will this program cost and how did you calculate that, Donald? Will you really give nukes to Saudi Arabia and risk the resultant mid-Est holocaust? Will you actually permit your pal Putin to march in and take Poland and Hungary? Nice tie you’re wearing Donald...why did you have it made in China?”

And so on. Not to mention all the tangible horrors waiting for Hillary to pull out of Trump’s past and demand that he answer to, from the Trump University Follies to stiffed carpenters and plumbers, to bankrupt casinos. And what’s Trump specifically going to counter-punch with other than “she got $600,000 for a speech,” and “Don’t believe her, she’s crooked, folks.” 

The one danger is that Trump will try to shout down anything Hillary says. But that can be, and should be addressed in advanced of the debate. It ought to be stipulated that during each candidate’s turn to talk, the other candidate’s microphone shall be turned off by a neutral time keeper. In fact, I like that idea so much, that in the name of civil discourse I think this rule should be extended to all political debates, not to mention all those migraine-inducing Shouting Head Festivals on CNN.

But back to the Clinton-Trump debate:

I can’t imagine anyone in the Trump camp who wants the disagreeable duty, after the first debate if there is one, of handing The Donald a bloody plastic bag with something horrifying in it and saying, “Mr. Trump, Hillary said I should give this to you for a souvenir.” 

The Donald will of course make a face and ask, “What is that?” And the Trump staffer will have to say, “Those are your testicles, sir.” Whereupon The Donald will discover for the first time that during the debate he lost something without even realizing it.

So I’m saying there’s a better than fair chance that Trump’s handlers will find an excuse not to let him debate. Any excuse. It might be a flareup of the old “foot thing” (whichever foot he decides to remember it was) that kept him out of the military. Or it might be the petulant announcement that “I refuse to even be in the same room with Crooked Hillary.” It might  even be, “the press is so biased against me that I can’t debate her.” 

Nobody will be fooled, but I’m guessing that Trump will use any escape hatch he can find to  run like a scared rabbit. And if he doesn’t run from the first debate, he even more likely will before the second. 

You say his ego is far too inflated to miss a an opportunity to appear on national TV and demonstrate that, no matter what anybody says, vulgarity is not dead? Just remember that what’s really inflated is just another gas bag. And the more inflated they are, the more easily and louder they pop.

My advice to Hillary: declare some debate dates, get the network time reserved, and if Trump doesn’t show up, debate from your side and let the camera point to an empty chair when it’s Trump’s turn. 

As for me, if there ever actually is a Clinton-Trump debate, or two, or more, I intend to sit in front of the television set with two bowls. One will contain a heaping serving of popcorn. The other will be filled to the brim with schadenfreude.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Maureen Dowd, Donald Trump, and Don Rickles


In today's Sunday New York Times, columnist Maureen Dowd writes:
Nothing should be remarkable with Trump anymore. But it was still remarkable to see him the morning after his balloon-drop coronation as head of the Republican Party return to trolling Ted Cruz. There’s a dissonance in his bleak dystopia and his brash diss-topia as he switches from Dr. Strangelove to Don Rickles.
That's an outrageous insult to Don Rickles.

Maureen Dowd, Donald Trump, and Don Rickles


In today's Sunday New York Times, columnist Maureen Dowd writes:
Nothing should be remarkable with Trump anymore. But it was still remarkable to see him the morning after his balloon-drop coronation as head of the Republican Party return to trolling Ted Cruz. There’s a dissonance in his bleak dystopia and his brash diss-topia as he switches from Dr. Strangelove to Don Rickles.
That's an outrageous insult to Don Rickles.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The morning after, or, ten events that could very well happen if Donald Trump becomes President

Yes, yes, of course it includes this, but read below to learn how we'll get there.

1. Putin rejoices and moves Russian troops into the former Iron Curtain satellite nations — Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, Poland, Albania, Romania, Hungary, the former Czechoslovakia, and the former Yugoslavia (including Melania’s home state of Slovenia.)

2.  Some of the captured nations appeal to NATO for defense aid as Russian tanks rumble down their streets.

3. Donald Trump says he will look into the contributions to NATO that these countries have made and will get back to the world after he discusses the matter with his accountants who at this very moment are flying to confer with him at Mar-a-Largo. Meanwhile, he reiterates that Putin is very strong (unlike Hillary) and he admires that, but that he can easily negotiate a solution to this mess with Putin.

4. Putin shrugs, says in Russian, “What the hell,” and sends troops to take over Germany and Finland.

5. Trump says payments from Russia’s newly-acquired nations were insufficient to warrant heavy boots-on-the-ground expenditures to defend those countries, but that he will “consider” sending in a few spy drones "to see what the hell is going on."

6. Putin reinstalls Russian nuclear missiles in Cuba and and announces he has pointed some of them toward Miami, Houston, Washington D.C., New York, Chicago, the Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, and just for the hell of it, Phoenix and Indianapolis.

7. Trump calls Putin and demands to negotiate the situation. Putin mutters the Russian equivalent of a statement that if Donald’s fingers aren’t really as short as reputed, he should go have a sexual relationship with himself.

8. Enraged,Trump launches a nuclear strike at Russia. Some of the nukes, powered by aging missiles, fall short of their targets. One lands on London and blows the capital city of our longtime ally to smithereens. Several nukes explode in the Atlantic ocean and the North Sea, poisoning those waters with radiation for centuries to come. Russians shoot down others. However, one missile does manage to get through — and hits the abandoned nuclear power plant in the abandoned city of Chernobyl, just as it was programmed to do more than 30 years ago, before Chernobyl's meltdown.

9. Trump again demands to negotiate with Putin. This time, Putin agrees. Trump negotiates the unconditional surrender of the United States to the newly reformed USSR. 

10. The Russians transport ISIS troops to the United States to “restore order.”  From a secret bunker below what’s left of Trump Tower, Secretary of Homeland Security Tiffany Trump issues a four-step plan to Americans who either think they are suffering from radiation poisoning or who get captured by ISIS troops: “One: Stand with your feet 18 to 24 inches apart.  Two: Do a deep knee bend. Three: Stick your head as far between your legs as it can go. Four: Kiss your butt goodbye."

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Republicans demonstrate that their party is nothing more than a comic book, while Melania Trump all but lip synchs Michelle Obama

I  must say, watching the first night of the Republican convention last night was almost as entertaining as my first exposure to comic books.

I tuned in too late for the floor fight to boot Trump off the ticket. News reports have the Republican-Trump Complex squashing their opponents like a bug, thwarting what could have been a grave embarrassment to the party and The Donald.

But I tuned in just as the comic book characters that represent the Republican Party came onscreen.

Among them  were Mr. Flag Wrapper — Willie Robertson, the
Duck Killer Willie disses the American 
flag by using it as a sweat rag
long-bearded, hillbilly-ish, Duck Dynasty dude, who took an American flag and used it as a sweat rag to wrap around his head. Had a Democrat done this on TV, no doubt the Republican outrage machine would have been belching steam and giant clouds of volcanic ash. "How dare some lib-tard desecrate the flag?!?!?!"

But should a Republican even use the flag for toilet paper? Well heck, that’s showing he has a patriotic ass.

Is he Rick or is he Clark?
Then former Governor Oops of Texas, perfectly disguised as Clark Kent, got up and said something so forgettable that I can’t remember what it was. Sort of the way he forgot the three departments he'd eliminate if he remembered to become president.

Another huge highlight for me was Rudy The Air Chopper Giuliani, the so called “security expert.” Rudy's “accomplishments” included establishing a super-double-secret emergency command center for grave emergencies in the World Trade Center, shortly before 9-11 (but after terrorists had already tried to bomb the World Trade Center with a truck bomb in the garage of one of the towers.) 

Shucks, what made Rudy think that just because they failed once to blow the place up, and because it was a symbol of what the terrorists decided they hated about America, that they would never back and try again? 

Crazy Rudy. His gestures are in-sane!
Rudy last night looked as if he had lost whatever common sense and sanity he ever had. He turned into a cross between a super villain out of Batman, and a former New York TV appliance salesman named Crazy Eddie, ("His prices are in-sane" said Crazy Eddie's slogan.) 

It was like a nuthouse ballet to watch Rudy wildly gesticulating, chopping at the air, with his hands, looking like somebody the cops would blow to smithereens if only he were black and someone whispered, “He probably has a gun, and as you can see, he’s a whack job.”

And finally there was Melania Trump, all but lip synching the wife of the man Donald Trump says we should hate. There were some interesting demonstrations on TV this morning: Michelle Obama says it, then Melania Trump says the identical thing. Then Michelle says something. Then Melania Trump copycats again.

"I'm not really bad. I'm just ghost-
written that way."
But I don’t believe Melania plagiarized Michelle. I believe it’s the fault of plagiarizing speechwriters, who put Michelle’s worlds in Melania’s mouth. I feel just a bit sorry for Melania. 

I suspect that after his first very costly divorce from Ivanna, and a later divorce from Marla Maples, The Donald’s lawyers have engineered prenups so harsh that Melania would be all but living on the street if she ever divorced The Donald. So she's trapped, forced to forever mouth plagiarized words and defend a loose cannon of a husband.

She’s like that beautiful but not in control character in the movie, “Who Killed Ronald Rabbit?” I’m talking about the cartoon character Jessica Rabbit who spoke the immortal line, “I’m not really bad. I'm just drawn that way.”

And these are the people that roughly half the voters want to put in charge of America’s future?

God help us! 

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

He's alive! He's alive, I tell you! I saw him on a wall. He's alive!

Old icons never die. They just vanish for a while, and then show up on walls with a
new crop of facial hair.
I think the first time I laid eyes on him I was about 11 or 12. A kid in my class named Bernie Feuer turned me on to him. I'm talking about Alfred E. Neuman, the “What, me worry?” boy.

I always wondered what became of the "What Me Worry?" boy. Well, I've wondered about Bernie Feuer, too, but this piece is specifically about the face that lured me into Mad Comics.

For years, he kept me entertained. He kept me spending my dimes, and later my quarters, just to get a laugh from his gap-toothed mug. It was the face of what today you'd call a nerd. In those days, there was no such word as nerd.

Eventually I grew up and went to college. And then, decades later, the last time I looked at Mad, he wasn’t there any more. Or maybe he was confined to a page or two that I missed. At any rate, I didn't see him.

Was he brutally murdered in an editorial putsch? Was he exiled to some distant file drawer to wither away in our aging memories? Had he escaped to another country, where he now thrives by practicing, say, psychiatry or obstetric medicine, or acupuncture?

I don’t have the answer for sure. But it would appear that he became a surrealist artist, in the tradition of Salvador Dali. Or maybe he's just a fading dandy these days, paid by a shipping line to dance with single ladies on cruise ships.

Whatever the case, here’s how you can find him, today. Go to the northwest corner of Second Avenue and 35th Street in New York City. There he’ll be, at least for a while, up against a wall, staring at the garbage cans that would be at his feet, if he had any feet. He has been put on display in this fashion by something called The Bushwick Collective, or so they sign his portrait.

Hello, Alfred. Or may I call you Al? And by the way, after all these years you finally look a trifle worried to me. Perhaps you fear that a Republican congress will cut your Social Security and Medicare benefits. Or privatize them. Or both. Or is "privatizing" another way of saying they're going to cut you to the quick?

And question: if Donald Trump actually manages to get himself elected, and then actually manages to build a wall between the United States and Mexico, should your portrait be on the wall, too? And if so, on which side of the wall?

Anyway, I’m glad to think you’ve finally learned to worry. Why should you be any different than the rest of us?