Category Archives: The Contrarian

“Only don’t tell me you’re innocent. Because it insults my intelligence and makes me very angry.”

 

Man, Donald Trump must suck at movie trivia.

He clearly doesn’t remember much of The Godfather II.  The series has provided reams of classic quotes in film lore, including making offers that cannot be refused. In the sequel, Michael Corleone gave one as equally memorable:

“My father taught me many things here. He taught me in this room. He taught me: keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” (While some scholars attribute an abridged version to the Chinese general Sun Tzu in the sixth century BC, there are no published sources yet found which predate its use in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1974 script).

Somehow, this is what Trump heard:

“My father teached me a lot, like to make close enemies of your friends.”

How else to explain his latest case of Tweetarrhea, a particularly severe bout of the intellectual runs? Over the weekend, he managed to pound yet another nail in the coffin of his relationship with law enforcement — and insult the intelligence of the kids of Parkland.

In one tweet.

This is it:

“Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter,” the pumpkin-in-chief wrote. “This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and me us all proud!”

You gotta hand it to the guy: He may be the most concise insulter in the history of American politics.

But how does he pick his targets (outside of race and gender)? The only thing more mysterious than his tweets (and grammar) are his cross-hairs, which currently have a bead on Robert Mueller and shot kids.

Both tacks are, at best, bewildering. Mueller made a brilliant counter-punch on Friday with his indictment of 13 Russians for election meddling — and publicly stating that  no Americans were implicated in this set of indictments. Trump took the bait, conceding the meddling but maintaining his distance from it.

This is Mueller is keeping you closer, chump.

The second target is even more mystifying. You’re trying to convince internet-savvy teens that blame lies at the feet of cops? Kids may do stupid things, but that doesn’t make them stupid. Even Wayne LaPierre, the head of the NRA, had to be shaking his head at Trump’s rationalization. Particularly when he heard the words of Cameron Kasky, a Parkland student who lived through the massacre — and is helping organize a March for Our Lives protest calling for gun control.

“This isn’t about the GOP,” he told reporters Sunday. “This isn’t about the Democrats. This is about us creating a badge of shame for any politicians who are accepting money from the NRA and using us as collateral.”

Wow.

Careful picking on the intelligent, Donnie. They have the best words.

Oh, and a helpful reminder of The Godfather: Michael Corleone punched a cop and had to move to Italy to avoid prosecution.

Hey…

 

 

 

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Dear Mirriam (or Webster)

 

Dear dictionary people,

First off, thank you. You’re not like those punk bitches at Oxford Dictionary, who succumb to pressure annually to add new official words, which is like giving someone who can’t ride a bike your car keys; you’re over-arming.

Particularly now, when the world’s last remaining superpower is led by a man with a fourth-grade reading level (and I challenge him to a word-off with my first grade nephew). Last year, Oxford officially recognized “hangry,” an ad idea for Snickers candy bars.

So kudos for being selective. New words are necessary; annual publicity stunts are not. Thank you for being as fluid with language as it is with us.

In that spirit, I’d like to suggest some words that are not in your dictionary, but perhaps should be. Here are the words and their suggested definitions. And I swear, not one of them was inspired by a candy bar.

Philosophize (verb): To expound on a philosophy.

We have proselytize, theorize, realize. Why not for deeper thinking? And it’s much shorter than the accepted alternative.

Nonymous (adjective): To attribute a media story to a named source.

If anonymous is a word, like amoral, apolitical, asexual, etc., why is there no opposite?

Embering (verb): To burn red-hot after a flame dies down.

Example: “He may not have released new music recently, but he embered to the end.”

Fuckery (noun): A bureaucratic mess.

Self explanatory. When you’re asked for the fifth time to fill out a duplicate at the DMV, you’re experiencing governmental fuckery.

Kramer (verb): To barge in without knocking.

Example: “Did you see that video of the professor with the wild daughter? She Kramered the whole TV interview!”

 

 

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The Arithmetic of News

 

The Pew Research Center just released a study that must awaken newspaperpeople in cold sweats, or urine: 81% of Americans get their news from a screen —  either online outlets or social media (a putrid redundancy) sites. That doesn’t even include TV. Of the stragglers left over who get their news from papers or magazines, more than 60% are 65 and older.

So newspapers are literally dying.

That’s hardly new, news or surprising. I’m in the business, and can’t say I really support the concept of newspapers in a modern era. One day, historians will look back at our cultural institutions and think it quaint that we used to get our news from day-old parchment. That living things needed to be killed, shredded and delivered manually for  mankind to learn who won yesterday’s game shows.

Still, the death of papers is not like the death of coal. There has been little evidence that news coverage contributes to global warming (unless you count Trump as a carbon  emissions threat). In fact, consumption of news is at a record high.

So there are elements of newspapers that could still flourish, if not most newspapers themselves. The New York Times and Washington Post have seen a revival of scoops and influence unmatched since the Nixon years. So, they’re likely safe, if Jeff Sessions doesn’t equate reading news to heroin.

But, for the few who have little access to or interest in the Post or Times, the question over what constitutes news becomes as gray as uncertainty.

Our preeminent TV news outlets aren’t helping things any. Every MSNBC segment is simply asking a commentator, ‘Don’t you think Donald Trump is a nincompoop?’ The answer — and endless supply of examples — make for great comedy.  Just ask Alec Baldwin. And it soothes the confirmation biases of two-thirds of the country.

CNN is entering similarly shark-infested waters, accentuating sermonizers over strategists. Still, they’re the only network that gets A-list commentators Woodward, Bernstein and the NYT’s Maggie Haberman, the Three Musketeers of the White House. But they are three in a house of neophytes — who make enough errors to provide the administration defensive mortars.

That leaves the short-bus student, Fox News. For the first time, the network is losing regularly to MSNBC, once unthinkable. The state news agency is learning the limited punditry appeal of columnists from obscure outlets like Axios and The Washington Examiner, whoever the fuck they are now (I worked in DC for six years and never saw a copy). Hint: the outlet is the only measure of a commentator, who are interchangeably uniform.

So who to watch? When does news actually occur? Who to watch when it does?

There may be a simple but pretty accurate algorithm to measure the issue, and perhaps an answer that won’t even require you listen to a single word from the blowhards. Plus, it’s color-coded, so Alabamans can understand it.

It works this way. If possible, put CNN, FOX and MSNBC next to each other on the TV guide, so you can quickly flip up just two clicks for the world pulse.

Don’t bother listening, or even making out he pictures on the screen. Just look at the bottom of the screen: There will be a blue strip or a red one emblazoned across the bottom. Marketing research must dictate those colors — only.

Now click quickly twice, noting the color bands on the bottom.

If you see three red bands splashing BREAKING NEWS, you know that something real happened. An example of this would be the hurricanes or the Vegas shootings, incidents that demanded attention across all manner political spectrum.

If there are two red banners and one blue banner, the news will be negative against trump. The alleged Bannon-Trump split, for instance, dominated the broadcasts of CNN and MSNBC for an interminable span. Fox’s lead stories on the day of Fire and Fury’s release were the cold temperatures in the Northeast, and Jeff Sessions consideration of an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s role into Russian meddling.

If there’s one red banner, the news is good for Trump. Trump’s strike on Syria. His choice of Gorsuch. Stock news.

Finally, if all the banners are all screaming in blue, there is no real news that day. Turn off the TV. Step outside. Forget the Gnash.

We’ve come to measure our world in analytics. Why not the news that dictates it?

 

 

 

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