Some Unrequested Advice to Mr. President Trump, In Re: The First 100 Days

Far be it from me to give advice to our President, especially when I actually agree with him. The “First 100 Days!” measurement is such a breathtakingly stupid and destructive media-driven standard that it makes me dizzy. It’s arbitrary and emphasizes the image of “wins” over the long hard work of government.

But it seems to me that when you are “the ultimate deal maker”, and all you promise are “wins”, and have frequently talked about how many wins you’ll get in the first 100 days, maybe you shouldn’t slag it? And maybe you shouldn’t brag about how much you’ve accomplished when it has been essentially nothing?

And maybe the one accomplishment you can point to is filling a Supreme Court seat that was stolen for you and was, by dint of majority, guaranteed to be filled, so much so that a not-particuarly-bright chimpanzee throwing rocks at the Federalist Society could have done the same, maybe don’t brag about how much you’ve done?

And maybe when everything you’ve done has failed, don’t say that you have new plans that are very, very good, and you’re going to have health care and a budget next week, when no one seems to have a bill for either, and Congress isn’t even in session, because people will begin to realize that you just say things to fool them, kicking the can down the road, but now you’re the only one on the road, and you can’t duck away and hide from your own ineptitude, and the tidal wave of unrelenting and greedy bullshit that has taken you so far in life has crashed, has taken you to the top, but it doesn’t work anymore.

And maybe when realizing that take a moment to reflect, probably for the first time in your life, at what you’ve done. Not what you’ve done to other people, of course, because that’s asking the moon to shine only for me, but to yourself. Everyone knows you are a liar now. Everyone knows your little games. Everyone can see that you promise things you have no intention, and no capacity, to deliver. They see you doing the same thing you’ve always done, like building a third casino, and then going bankrupt, and blaming the economic climate, like you weren’t the idiot who built during that climate in the first place (and that other casinos were doing fine, anyway). Maybe realize that it’s too late for you to save your reputation. Everyone knows you are empty, and a joke. You’ve spent your whole life running both away from and inexorably toward your fraudulent nature, and now it is there for the whole world to see.

Anyway, I don’t have any advice for how to deal with that. It just makes me happy to think of you suffering a bit for the trashy horror you’ve brought upon us to satiate your empty vanity.

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When You Elect Trash…

I hope Paul Ryan sees this picture burned on the insides of his eyelids every time he closes his eyes for the rest of his life. I hope this image–three horrible trashy clowns (or two; Kid Rock sucks, but is mostly fine, I guess)–is the very last thing Orrin Hatch sees before he dies, so he won’t be able to convince himself he served his country well. I hope that every Republican who pretends that they care more about the nation than their own partisan nonsense has to have this framed in place of every family photo.

Seriously, what a collection of undignified human garbage (except Kid Rock, who, again, sucks, but seems like Cicero compared to Sarah Palin and Ted Nugent). This is what Trump is doing to the White House, above and beyond his terrible policies and reckless idiocy. This is what happens when we elect a reality show ding-dong who is shunned by anyone with a hint of class or taste or grace. You get these dipshit numbnuts hee-hawing around the White House and mocking someone with more intelligence and decency in one finger than they have put together (and I include the POTUS in that equation).

And what did Nugent, who called Obama a “subhuman mongrel” and told Hillary Clinton to suck on his shotgun have to say?

“We were there for four hours, man!” Mr. Nugent, a 68-year-old Detroit native, said in a telephone interview on Thursday, using a four-letter expletive to signal his amazement at Mr. Trump’s willingness to spend so much time with his three casually dressed visitors.

Why are you amazed? Trump lives for the flattery of minor celebrities. It’s way more fun than being President. We elected an idiot; he’s at his happiest when surrounded by idiots.

During dinner, which ended with flaming baked alaska in honor of Ms. Palin — who stepped away from her job as governor of that state in 2009, after serving as Senator John McCain’s running mate the year before — the president and his guests engaged in a wide-ranging conversation that Mr. Nugent said included the following topics: “health, fitness, food, rock ’n’ roll, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, secure borders, the history of the United States, guns, bullets, bows and arrows, North Korea, Russia” and a half-dozen other issues.

Yeah, I’m sure it was the Algonquin Roundtable. The history of the United States? It was good until 2008 and now it is great again. Remember when we used to win? Liberals lost Vietnam! Who needs more bow and arrows? (To be fair, I’m sure that the guests could talk about guns and bullets and knives and bows and arrow-guns and knife-bullets with the eloquence of Seneca).

And fuck you for talking about Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, unless it was to apologize for crimes against the music they invented. “Cat Scratch Fever” sucks.

“President Trump’s invitation for dinner included bringing a couple of friends,” Ms. Palin wrote on her web page, which displayed behind-the-scenes snapshots with a grinning Mr. Trump.

“Asked why I invited Kid Rock and Ted Nugent, I joked, ‘Because Jesus was booked,’” she wrote.

I bet this idiot actually believe that this is as close as you can come on the earthly plane. If someone asked her 10 years ago who her dream dinner guests throughout all of history would be, she probably said Nugent, Kid Rock, and Trump. This was her goddamn dream come true.

And finally, the picture.

The encounter included a tour of the executive residence, a grip-and-grin session with Mr. Trump in the Oval Office and an impromptu snapshot — featuring a sneering Ms. Palin — in front of Mrs. Clinton’s official portrait as the three guests and their families left through the East Wing.

Mr. Nugent said one member of the group — he wouldn’t say who — asked the three to extend their middle fingers beneath the portrait. “I politely declined,” he said. “Let the juxtaposition speak for itself.”

“The Leftovers” Season 3: You’re Alone in Your Beliefs

(Note: This isn’t a “review” per se of Episode 1 of The Leftovers, nor is it a summary of what came before. We might do a mini-breakdown every week, but there are people far better at that, and at tying that into the big themes, than I am. This is just random thoughts. There are minor spoilers here, but nothing you wouldn’t know just from getting the general vibe. If you’ve never seen the show, the central driving plot point is not spoiler.)

Season 3 of HBO’s The Leftovers, perhaps the most astonishing and awesome (in the literal sense) show I’ve ever seen, opens with colonial characters we’ve never seen in an unmentioned place, though it seems clear it is Australia (it is colder in August than January; the people look Australian; we know the show is going there eventually). But while you can look for Easter eggs, it doesn’t really matter: what matters is that these strange characters are wrapped up in the same mysteries our main characters are. Roughly: why do some things happen and others don’t?

The wordless cold open shows a family of three, a youngish married couple and their young son, enthusiastically following a preacher who divines through what we, on our couches, snicker at as snake-oil tomfoolery, what day a rapture-like event will occur. The family spends the night excitedly standing on the roof, waiting. They are still there the next morning, which sort of sucks, since they gave away their goat and other possessions. Ah, but the preacher gets another date! And the same thing happens.

The mother still believes, with a desperate yearning, when she gets the next date. The father has taken the son away. She climbs to roof on a cold night, a storm comes in, she looks at the lightning with hope and terror and despair…and climbs down the next night, sodden, broken. Laughed at and scorned. Of course nothing happened. Phonies have spent thousands of years convincing suckers that the end was here. And it never was.

But in the universe of The Leftovers, the End did come, of sorts, and that’s the driving tension. If you’ve never seen it (and again, this isn’t a spoiler), one day 2% of the world’s population suddenly vanishes. They might be eating breakfast or at school or driving a car or on TV. Just bam- gone. The show has resolved to never “solve” the mystery, because that’s beside the point. It is more interested in asking what would happen next?

What happens is much how you would expect. 2% is a perfect number, because the world could go on pretty normally, on the surface. But everything is different. Some religions take this as vindication; others have no idea what it means. Dozens, hundreds, probably thousands of new religions and cults spring up, showing finally that there is no difference between the two. Beauracracy tries to make sense of it, but there is a lingering and miasmatic dread everywhere. Every human interaction is changed. How do you become close when the person might disappear? How do you create bonds in the face of such awful mystery?

Those of you paying attention to life might ask: ok, but don’t we all wonder that? After all, we’re all going to die. We all have that looming and terrible mystery at the back of every interaction. Every meeting carries within it the seeds of tragedy. The law of conservation of matter hints that every cloud carries the memories of someone’s weeping goodbyes.

And that is part of the show, to me (I never want to say “that’s what it’s about”, because it is reductive and makes it a lesson). The show at many times seems like an enveloping manifestation of grief, filtered through terror, humor, and an outlandish sense of possibilities. It’s a far stranger and outright weird show than I am making it seem.

But it isn’t just grief. It isn’t “just” that we’re all going to die one day. If there is a central message of the show to me, it became clear in the first episode of this season, which took an incredible show to dizzying heights. As Allison and I discussed it, we came to realize that it was saying, in a way (or rather reminding us), that we’re all alone in our beliefs. Every single one human being has a different faith, because we all have a different way of looking at the world, even if it is just slightly.

Everyone in The Leftovers went through the same thing, ostensibly, to one degree or the other (some to horrifying ones. Carrie Coon’s Nora turned her back on her husband and two kids to grab something and then they were gone). Everyone is looking for answers or trying hard not to think about it. Everyone has an idea or an answer, but even the people in the same churches or the same cults filter what happened through the veils of their own experience. Everyone is broken in their own way, and removed from each other. No one can really know how the other person is handling this world.

Kevin, the primary character, was tormented by a ghost no one else could see. But aren’t we all?

And that’s sort of the point. None of us experience the world in the same way. We can’t. We’re ultimately all alone. You could be staring at the same sunset with the love of your life, the person with whom you share every experience, inseparable, and you can both be describing your inner monologue, but you can never really know what they are thinking, or how they are thinking, or the way the aching orange blabbers through their brain and tingles the nostalgic memory centers buried somehow in their toes. And you can never really know how they feel about dying.

And that’s ok. There are nearly 7.5 billion people experiencing the terrors and mysteries of the world all alone, but we find each other, and come together. The Leftovers shows the aftermath of these mysteries, but it is just an exaggerated look at what we go through just from being alive. It portrays this loneliness and fright as unmistakeable, instead of sublimated. It rips away the veil. But it leaves open the possibility that people still come together, and that there is still light and happiness and joy even in the face of unspeakable loss, which, really, all loss is.

And to me, love in the face of this is the whole point of life. It’s not how we get by. It’s why we get by. It’s the miracle for which we don’t have to wait.

Anyway, watch it. There’s never been anything like this on TV. It’s singularly great, brilliantly acted, beautifully directed, impossibly rich, often funny, difficult, wrenching, and bizarre.