Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Trump's Lips

Trump has the oddest mouth on television. As he speaks his lips writhe forward, away from the gums, as if grasping for contact with the real. Word-gas forms around his tongue. Behind the prehensile lips, in the deep shadows of his maw, two rows of baby teeth cry for ground meat and American cheese and giant boobs four or five times a day, regular, heavy, very heavy feedings. The lips, beyond conscious control, smirk in fearful embarrassment and wiggle this way and that as defensive slime flaps them outward in irregular patterns--is what some people have claimed. 

Sunday, September 23, 2018

A Deserved Loss of FaIth

A solid majority of Americans, after the New Deal, believed in our system. Then we were lied into a war in Vietnam, lied to about Watergate, lied to about people of color, lied into a pointless war against Iraq and now lied to about a rapist named Kavanaugh. Bill  Clinton joined the process of weakening New Deal supports for people in need. Today polls show that a large majority of voters share a hard-earned cynicism about an oligarchical "democracy" that values greed and power far above the happiness of our people. 

The problem is not with the "deep state," the civil service, government employees, Washington media, etc. The problem is that Alexander Hamilton's intense campaign for a financial oligarchy has managed to subjugate half of one political party and all of the other. The consequence is a fragmenting, alienated society unable to build trust or consensus. Jefferson warned us. Ben Franklin warned us. We had a republic once, a flawed republic. We've lost it. Voters are angry and confused--many voters support idiotic candidates, looking for change in any form. To regain even a semblance of democracy, we need a cleansing movement, a giant shift. That's not news--it's obvious.

Saturday, September 22, 2018


Presidential reputations rise and fall. In my lifetime, I've noticed two remarkable changes.  When I was in college Truman was considered one of the worst Presidents in history, largely because of a relentless Republican campaign to paint him as corrupt and soft on Communism. That's all gone now. And Grant was portrayed by my history professors as a brutal drunken general and a foolish or corrupt President.

In recent years younger historians have pointed out that Grant won the Civil War, popping Lee like a pimple, and, as President, smashed the KKK, enforced the civil rights of people of color and wrote America's best autobiography on his deathbed.   (You can see how these achievements disqualified Grant in the books of Southern professors.)

At the moment Thomas Jefferson's reputation is in disarray, in part because, although he very quietly considered slavery a bad thing, he did nothing about it. But it may be time to reconsider. Jefferson was the most radical President we've had, opposed to Hamilton's goal of maintaining a governing oligarchy. Jefferson did not like oligarchies. "Those who rule are a confederacy against the happiness of the mass of people," he wrote in a letter. At the time of his death, Jefferson believed he had defeated the Hamiltons of America--but, dude, look at us now.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Rules of the Game

It turns out that Unindicted Co-Conspirator and USA President Spanky has a below average penis, according to Ms. Daniels, a porn actress. She did not find Spanky a generous lover. This is too much information, but it may explain why Spanky nominated a high school rapist to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. Self-centered and under-endowed, Spanky strongly dislikes women (and men).

There’s no legal bar against rapists serving as justices. Before Spanky became President, there was, apparently, a tacit understanding that Presidents wouldn’t nominate rapists,murderers or child molesters. Of course it may not have been a conscious understanding. It’s probable that no prior President, not even Nixon, had given the matter any thought. 

This points out a problem with laws or rules in general. They don’t begin to cover the possibilities halfwits can dream up. We rely on unspoken understandings to keep society functional. Spanky sees unspoken understandings as opportunities to cheat.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Size Counts

Enough evidence has been gathered to establish that entitled teen Pencilneck Kavanagh,  currently applying for a job as Supreme Court Justice, tried to rape an underage girl at one of his prep school parties. He was too drunk to hold her down, and she fought loose and got away. Everyone at her school heard about it. She's passed a lie-detector test. But it looks like the Republican senate, including Republican women senators, will find Kavanagh well-qualified and vote him in. The argument is that Kavanagh can, after all, represent a key part of America, the part that is white, male, privileged, wealthy and entitled to special private schooling and boyhood jinks like rape. 

If Pencilneck becomes the final vote needed to seal the corruption of our highest court, what can we do? 

Congress has the power to change the number of people on the Supreme Court. The original edition, in 1801, had 5 members. I mention this because three of the current members are originalists.  They need to shed those 3 members to get to the original number. 

 In 1807, 7 members huddled together in soiled black robes. Congress decided in 1837 that 9 members would be better, then went to 10 in 1863. By 1867 they realized that 7 was absolutely the best number, until 1869 when 9 was chosen again.

If the Democrats ever regain power, I suggest that 435 justices would be a good number. That may seem big, but I think I recall that in ancient Athens, mere juries (citizens chosen at random) were about that size, a nice cross-section of white male Greeks (not enslaved). 

Monday, September 17, 2018

President Spanky's Brain

I don't have much interest in IQ tests. I doubt if they measure intelligence, which is hard to define. They measure test-taking skills (nothing to sneeze at). They predict how well a student will do on related tests.

I read a thread today about Pres. Spanky's IQ, supposedly over 150. He's never been tested. Somebody "estimated" his IQ, using Wharton admissions standards. I've sat on admissions committees. Kids from a rich family get admitted regardless of standards. The object is build up the place's funding. Trump, a Fordom mediocrity, got into Wharton because his family was wealthy and knew people. 

Once someone like Trump gets admitted, he hires someone on a scholarship to write his papers. No sweat. As a dude close to him once said, "You don't know anyone as stupid as Donald Trump." And I don't. Trump likes to play golf because he can keep his own score and cheat. Try to imagine him playing chess.

Saturday, September 15, 2018


I read someplace long ago that the Rasmussen poll is Republican. It's not like some other polls, which attempt to measure things. Rasmussen apparently aims to be inaccurate. It's a Republican liar. For example, this morning it shows that President Spanky is slightly below the fifty percent line when it comes to approval. The legitimate polls show much worse numbers. 

I used to wonder why anyone wanted a poll that lies, but maybe it's useful in encouraging voters who prefer stupid candidates. If they believe the election is close and the candidate is dumb,  they turn out. (Remember what a friend of the President said: "You don't know anyone as stupid as Donald Trump." And, honestly, I don't.)

Monday, September 10, 2018

The Question That Matters

In graduate school I attended faculty senate meetings along with many other spectators. At one meeting a famous professor challenged somebody even more famous, asking him if he really understood deconstruction. “Understand it? I haven’t even taught it,” was the response. That’s when I discovered how professors learn a new subject. Get a textbook and teach it, and try to keep a page ahead of the students.

All that was a good thing to know when, ten years later, a dean called me into her office, put down her newspaper and told me that I was going to be teaching religion. I explained that I knew nothing about the subject, except that God was three persons, a father, a son and a holy spirit, some kind of identity crisis. And then He sent Himself down to be crucified by the cops.

 She sent me out to buy a survey text. That's how I became a professor of the desert religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) and Greek and Norse stuff and Buddhism and Hinduism and others. I learned that the Yazidi did not eat lettuce, which strongly recommended them to me. Only a fool eats lettuce. I became religious, apparently. But students found the course disappointing. The text did not even try to answer the obvious if simple question that has mattered most for ten thousand years: which God is best?

Saturday, September 8, 2018

The Bang Your Head Cafe

In the 1970s there were large, flat parts of the nation where dining choices were limited. My wife and I drove across the country and back maybe twice a year; and one summer we stopped for lunch in a small town in the endless cornfield of Nebraska. 

Calvin Trillin once claimed, on seeing this cornfield, that the state motto of Nebraska was "Too long." 

I remember that, and I remember a comic who claimed that the state motto of New Jersey was "Shuduppa you mouth."

We entered the small town's only cafe and sat the counter. I asked the server (as they were not called in those days) what sort of sandwiches they had. "Meat," she said.

After a few seconds my wife said, "What kind of meat?"

"Meat! Meat!" The server, apparently a high school girl, stared at us with concern, perhaps wondering if we spoke English. 

We ordered meat sandwiches, which turned out to be grey beef between slices of white bread. As we were slowly chewing, the server turned and stepped to the side and rammed her head into a huge refrigerator with a projecting ledge.  For a second I thought she'd done it on purpose.  The girl staggered back a few steps and stood with her back to us, holding her gong in her hands. "Are you all right?" my wife asked.


We went back to chewing meat, and the girl wiped down the counter and twice more in the next ten minutes, banged her head into the high metal ledge.  

We left a big tip and drove on. We had dinner 200 miles west at a chain called  Stuckys, cheese sandwiches that came sealed in plastic.