Chatological Humor: Monthly with Moron

Feb 01, 2017

Gene Weingarten held his monthly chat with readers.

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Good afternoon. 

I have heard from a couple of journalists who aren't happy with my contention (in the poll, and now here) that journalists are at war with the Trump administration.  I understand their discomfort but double down on my assertion.  

Some good journalists are trying their damnedest to frame the situation more benignly, and good for them.  Fred Hiatt does a fine job here.   He's right in theory.  Aspirationally, it is noble.   

But, uh, it's a bit disingenuous. There is a historically unqualified, even malign, presence in the White House.  We have a job to do, which is to remind people of this so they are better equipped to judge, and to resist, if need be.  

Want some additional proof of ongoing hostilities?  Check out yesterday's segment by Jake Tapper on CNN.  This is the famously objective Jake, the paragon of fairness.  Have you ever quite seen anything like this, in terms of sarcasm sliding off into snideness?   I also think it is warranted and completely defensible.  Laudatory, in fact.

Consider that Samantha Bee is holding her own alternative White House Correspondent's dinner this year, an interesting choice:   The real dinner exists to poke fun at the commander in chief.  It's generally genteel, seldom take-no-prisoners. Samantha Bee seems to be warning that the rules have changed. 

Consider this memo from yesterday, from the editor of Reuters to his staff: He is basically instructing them to cover Trump the way they would cover, say, the totalitarian regime of Augustin Pinochet.  

Subtler evidence:  Consider the lead editorial in the New York Times today.  It's about the Neil Gorsuch nomination, but it includes this line, near the end: "... Mr. Trump's failure to choose a more moderate candidate is the latest example of his refusal to acknowledge his historic unpopularity and his nearly three-million-vote loss to Hillary Clinton." 

HIS LOSS TO HILLARY CLINTON?   Technically true, but unnecessarily blunt fightin' words.   A shot across the bow, maybe even designed to goad him, because here is a man who is delightfully goad-able. 

We're at war.  Good for us.  

--

Who was the physically ugliest president in American history?  If you asked experts on beauty, there would probably be a consensus pick:  Abe Lincoln.   A dispassionate look at Abe reveals a grotesque looking man: ungainly in stature and limb, with exaggerated features (check out his huge schnoz and horizontal diameter of his lips) , a look he did much to further ruin with an Amish-style mustacheless beard.   

And yet.  And yet, over decades Lincoln looks became iconic to Americans -- dare we say, handsome?   It was an amazing triumph of substance over form.  It's the way a person in love sees his/her lover -- scrubbed of imperfections.  

The opposite is happening with Trump.  Forrest Trump, the man for no seasons.  The Post has been getting calls from readers imploring us to stop running his photo!   They are okay with our covering him -- it is our job, after all -- but they  just don't want to have to look at him. 

Isn't that interesting?  It troubles me to say this, but objectively speaking, Donald Trump is a handsome man, for a fellow of 70. He looks every bit as sternly presidential as, say, William McKinley.    

And yet, I too find myself put off by his image. Consider this simple silhouette.   

See what I mean?   It's the opposite of the Lincoln effect!  Again, substance triumphs, somehow. 

So, yesterday afternoon I was on the Metro.  I'd gotten some unpleasant news and was somewhat forlorn. Across the aisle from me sat a woman in her mid-forties.   She also looked kind of forlorn.   She was reading a book.

I had three stops to go.  I texted a friend:  "I am about to do something daring and a little risky.  Wish me luck."  

Then I got up and sat next to the lady with the book.  She seemed aware I had done this, and not at all happy about it.    Creepy, right?  Right.  She kept her eyes to the front. 

Then I asked her if she happened to have a pen.   She fished one out of her pocketbook, handed it to me wordlessly.  Still no eye contact.    I had two more creepy things to do.   

"Are you Sarah?" I asked.

No, she said.  "Patty."

"Ah, sorry," I said.  

Things were going great, better than I'd expected. 

"May I?" I said, gesturing to the paperback on her lap. "Could I see it?"  

We were approaching my station.

Very, very dubiously she handed me the book.  

I used her pen to write in it, gave her both the pen and the book back, and then got up and left. On the platform, I looked back into the car, which was just starting to move.  I found her.  I could see the beginning of a big smile.     

The book was mine, The Hypochondriac's Guide to Life.  And Death." I had written:  "To Patty, the pretty lady on the Metro,"  and signed it.  

If you haven't taken the poll yet, please do.  We chat at noon sharp. 

TAKE THE PRE-CHAT POLL

Here's the poll.

URGENT NEWS -- Illinois State just signed a kid with the greatest name in the history of organized sports.  Please say hello to "Kobe Buffalomeat."

The "Kobe" elevates this name from an A to an A-plus.   

Oh, good afternoon.  We're off. 

Alert:  I will have to end this about ten minutes early.  But we're going to get LOTS of stuff in.  

Why allude to youth when you denigrate Trump? "infantile". "immature". "talks like a second grader, making first-grader observations based on a kindergartener's interpretaiton of the world." I mean, I get that you're doing it to try to get under his skin. But would you use language like, "effeminate", "womanly", "talks like an immigrant" just because it would rile Trump? You may not like it, but your generation--Trump's generation--was the generation that had the most support for Trump and his positions. If you're going to stereotype based on age, put the blame where it belongs. Have you seen more xenophobic children or 70-year olds? Trump talks like a septuagenarian, making septuagenarian observations based on a septuagenarian's interpretation of the world.

This is an odd complaint!  

I'm not saying Trump is talking like a Millennial.   Or a twenty-something, or even a teenager.   I am saying he is showing the intellectual rigor, and emotional maturity, of a second grader.  that's hardly being age-ist.    This is a man who, when accused by Hillary Clinton of being a Putin puppet, actually responded: "No puppet!  No puppet!  YOU'RE the puppet."

I don't feel I owe an apology to seven-year-olds. 

I have a theory on Melania. Here are my assumptions: 1) She married him for the money and a kid and a green card etc, 2) She is a private person, 3) She made her peace with who he was a decade ago (similar to now, but less amplified), 4) She was not happy about him running for office but like the vast majority of the rest of us assumed he'd never win, 5) She was really and truly pissed off and humiliated by the Access Hollywood tape. Here's my theory: she decided to stay behind in NY to finish out Barron's school year (a not uncommon idea for many families but unusual for first families) because she is hoping that - given everything she knows about him - without her in the white house, he can't control himself and sexually assaults (or worse) some poor woman, and not only gets impeached / has to resign, but she has an excuse to divorce him. Whaddaya say?

Well, that's all intriguing.   I have a very strong opinion on this subject; it's that we should stop speculating about Melania and what drives her.  We don't know her.  I don't have a clue as to what is important to her.  I found unseemly the endless catty speculation over the meaning of her apparent inauguration smile-becomes-frown.   When Melania wants us to know what she is really like, and what she really thinks, she will tell us. 

 

I chose "#TRUCKFUMP" because honestly (sigh) I don't know that he would understand the others.

I thought of TRUCKFUMP and was so pleased with myself that I didn't google it and burst my bubble.  I'm SURE it must be out there, probably a lot.   

Scenario: President Trump visits the Washington Post for a meeting with the editorial board. Following the meeting, Trump takes an impromptu walk through the newsroom and you happen to be in his pathway. As he approaches you, he extends his hand. What would you do?

I would shake his hand.  Then look down and say, "wow, I always thought I had particularly small hands.  It bothered me a little bit, in terms of male vanity.  But now I see that your hands and mine are about the same size, so it makes me feel much better.  Thanks!" 

The question does remind me of something that happened to me many years ago, about which I'm pretty sure I have written.  I was covering the Italian-American dinner.   Bill Clinton, president at the time, was the guest of honor.    When he arrived, he started working a rope line, shaking hands with the folks.  I was a few feet behind the line of people being greeted.  I had a notebook but wasn't taking notes.   I just looked like any other guest, except schlubbier. 

There was a momentary break in the line.    And when Clinton looked up, what he saw was ... me.   I was four or five feet away, but no one was between us.  

Now, reporters don't shake hands with presidents in a situation like that.  It's unprofessional.  You are not ther to schmooze him, and he is not there to schmooze you.  It's sort of a given.  

But something happened.   His eyes met mine.   And I sensed in him something ... vulnerable.   Who was this guy who was basically declining to shake his hand?   And I found myself drawn in, to reassure him.   I walked forward and shook his hand.   

A second or two later was when I realized I had just witnessed the supreme gift of the great politician.  He had made me feel, wordlessly, just for a moment, somehow that we were the only two people in the room.   It was genius.  

Reading unexpected articles lately--evangelical organizations against the Muslim ban, pro-lifers wanting to be represented at the Women's March, the Koch brothers working against the administration--gave me an idea for a new challenge, and no one has to have water dumped on his or head. Let's start posting "Together Against Trump" messages on social media. All you have to do is get together with a friend or colleague or neighbor who is a member of some group different from you or on the other side of some issue but with whom you stand in agreement against the president. Have signs illustrate the difference and tag it "Together Against Trump." It can be anything from party affiliation to religion to gender to where you stand on abortion, to the more unexpected. Vegetarians and meat-eaters. Cub fan and Sox fan. Bears and Packers. Rock, Rap, Jazz, Classical. Dog people and cat people. Sudoku or crossword puzzles. Whatever will show the variety of people coming together against what's happening. Can we get something like this going?

I can't really be an organizer of such a thing, but I suppose I've done my part by publishing this here.   It's a very good idea.  Instantly gettable.  

If I did one it would be with a young conservative religiously orthodox woman named Bethany S. Mandel, with whom I tangle frequently on Twitter.   Politically, Bethany and I are polar opposites.   She annoys me enormously, because to my obnoxious way of thinking, she has no RIGHT to be so smart but also so wrong.   Her view, which is not entirely without merit, is that I keep MANSPLAINING stuff to her. 

Anyway, she is no fan of Trump, I believe.    

I teach high school journalism. I've been discussing fact-checking, objectivity, and various news outlets and how they approach things. We spent some time on fake news (like pizzagate and LibertyWritersNews and other examples). I've also just tried to make the general point to these kids that we are living in unprecedented, historical times. Advice for the current state of affairs?

Yeah, focus on the issue of how you cover an administration that is historically resistant to being covered, AND rather startlingly willing to tell untruths.   Have the students watch and record how the various media are doing this; how their approaches are similar or different.   These kids can actually be an interesting invesigative resource. 

I can envision only 4 possible endgames to the situation we are in. Endgame #1 - In 4 or 8 years a new President, promising prosperity and peace, is elected; Trump and Bannon walk off into the sunset in a peaceful transition of power. I give this less than a 1% chance of happening. Endgame #2 - A Fascist takeover of the US Government; a guerilla resistance movement arises in response, with Pennsylvania as ground zero; the Union dissolves; a Fascist red state occupies most of the continent, flanked by several coastal liberal enclaves; Pennsylvania is rendered uninhabitable due to the fighting; Steve Bannon smiles in satisfaction. I give this a 30% chance of happening. Endgame #3 - Increasing protests lead to widespread rioting (Fox News ) / massive civil disturbances (WaPo, NYT); Trump declares martial law in one of the liberal snooty states; the Governor of that state nullifies the declaration, leading to a standoff and Constitutional crisis; fighting erupts between "Snoots" and "Rubes", with Pennsylvania as the main battleground, rendering that state uninhabitable; the Union dissolves, etc etc; Steve Bannon smiles in satisfaction. I give this a 50% chance of happening. Endgame #4 - Within the year, a military coup happens; Trump and Bannon are arrested, tried and convicted of treason; the military returns control to Pence, who has been deemed not complicit; Pence presides over a caretaker government until the Congressional elections are done, which ends with an overwhelming victory for the Democrats; Pence appoints Hillary Clinton as Vice-President and then resigns; faithful remnants of the Trump administration take up armed resistance in Pennsylvania, rendering that state uninhabitable. I give this a 20% chance of happening. Do you see any other way out of this mess?

Nope, you've definitely covered all the bases.   The only small quibble I have is that the uninhabitable battleground state will be Virginia, not Pennsylvania.  

really sucked. If you have to do a Google search to find out what it's about, it doesn't work. Worse, the whole mattress factory thing is a stretch. As I told my husband, people don't "sleep" at mattress factories and you don't need a mattress to "sleep".

You are referring to this.   Approximately twice a year I let Horace LaBadie talk me into one of his more arcane jokes.  This was probably too arcane.  Though there is really some value in the strip where, say, five percent get it with a dramatic "aha!"  

Why does Sean Spicer, considering his extensive education and experience, look like a seventh grader that the teacher has just asked to explain his science fair project that his mother put together last night? J. F. Martin

Great analogy. 

By the time of your next chat, this question will be so laughably remote I'm not sure it's worth asking, but...hypothetically, over the next 4 years, Trump continues to be a petulant, immature 5-year-old socially but does something truly miraculous like broker peace in the Middle East, does it redeem him in any way? (Hahaha...no chance, I know, I know...I'm just trying to work myself into a state of denial for the next 4 years.)

I very much believe in the Intentional Fallacy.   If Trump lies and dopes and bumbles and staggers his way into peace in the middle east, he gets credit for it.  He owns it.   In my book.  

Can you tell us your prediction on how the media's relationship with the White House will look in 4 years? I am so seriously disturbed by the White House sending out Sean Spicer to argue about crow numbers. It's so easily disproved - we are not going to be able to trust *anything* they tell us from behind that podium. How is the media going to deal with this?

I think we are going to follow the Reuters lead.   We will treat this administration like any other authoritarian regime. 

Did you march? Why or why not? P.S. If you say no and blame your knee I will be disappointed. I pushed a stroller all day.

The Washington Post asked its journalists not to march.   I didn't. 

fake news or plagiarism?

You are being semantically tricky. 

"Fake news" as used by Trump is not "fake news" as used by me, and most other journos.   When Trump says fake news, he means journalism that makes points with which he disagrees,  usually about him.   "Fake news" as I define it means making stuff up.   Inventing things.    

Making stuff up is the worst thing a journalist can do.  Plagiarizing is the second worst.   

 

 

 

You mentioned Denzel's performance in "Fences" but did not mention one I found superior: that of Viola Davis. The speech, for lack of a better term, that she gives in that movie to Denzel's character was the greatest bit of acting I've ever seen. I'm relatively sure she could read the phone book and I would nominate her for an Oscar.

Agreed.   I think people who know more about acting than I do would say that Denzel's role was harder.  More choices to get wrong.  But I loved Viola Davis.  I also loved her in Doubt.  Watch this.  It's stunning. 

Gene: I was with you right up to the point where you said that Trump ordered a hamburger well done. While I have little or no respect for the guy, I've always understood that steaks should never be well-done, but burgers should. The thinking is that any bacteria or contamination on steaks is going to be on the surface, so the sear basically kills the germs. With burgers, however, the grinding process mixes the bacteria throughout the meat, so that you have to cook the whole thing through to make sure it's safe.

Okay, we are on a favorite topic of mine.   Forgive me for sounding haughty or elitist. 

If you are so scared of your food that you must char it into grey and gritty  tastelessness, why eat it?   

I understand the chemistry.  I am aware that ground round poses more of a threat to the GI tract than does a steak.   But we should not be at war with our food.   I have been having medium rare hamburgers for most of my life and have never gotten sick from it.   But if you feel threatened, don't chew burgers, eschew burgers.   

We'd probably be healthier if we always wore surgical gloves and face masks, you know?  Why don't we do it?  Because life entails risk, and you have to draw some lines.    

 

Mr. W In your column about which hand is used to open the top button on one's jeans, you and your expert suggested that the left hand was used for this task in anticipation of which hand would be used for the subsequent task -- Which hand would be used for "holding". You were indeed stunned to have this subject/question raised by a woman and thus skipped the true next task. Obviously , you and the expert jumped the "gun". The next task after unbuttoning the top button is unzipping the fly. This task is performed much more easily by the right hand since the flap of fabric which covers the zipper is sewn on the left side (looking down from above) . The right hand accomplishes the task much more facilely than the left. So, using the left hand to unbutton is natural regardless of "handedness" because the "task forward" is unzipping, more easily done by the right hand. Whatever hand you use after that is up to you, although , again because of the left over right fabric design of men's underwear around the peep hole, the left hand "opens the door" and the right hand finds and aims "the gun ". Hope that clarifies things. TTFN.

That is in reference to this recent column, which I think I can safely predict will win me my next Pulitzer.  Yes, I think you are onto something there, though in my own personal experience, there is not a discrete "unzipping" procedure.  The unbuttoning leads to a natural unzippage without specific use of the "pull tab" to activate the "slider," which are both terms of zipperology.  

That's an interesting first question you ask on your poll. How does this affect my quality of life? I am a straight white male from the midwest (now a Marylander) with family roots in the US going back before the Revolution and with a good-paying job. These atrocious policies seem carefully designed to leave me personally untroubled. But my wife and kids are Jewish, and my wife's paternal grandparents immigrated from the Soviet Union in the 20's or 30's as refugees from the pogroms. My kids are gay, and nothing has been done to trouble them yet -- but the mere existence of Mike Pence as next-in-line makes us wobbly about impeachment. I'm a scientist, and this administration wants to make science an enemy, but funding for science has been extremely spotty for the past 20 years, anyway -- they were already winning that fight through attrition. So, not much has changed for me, yet. But when it changes, there will be little hope of it changing back in time for my life or career or those close to me.

Hm.   I think the Trump presidency will significantly impact your quality of life, for the worse.  You are vulnerable. 

Question 1 in the poll about affecting the quality of life hit the hardest. I am in a constant state of rage. And I can't quite figure out how to handle it or channel it. I can report that carbo-loading and drinking heavily, which I did for a period after the election, only fill one with remorse. After shouting at a few people yesterday for things totally unrelated to current events, I went to yoga last night and now I sit here aching with sore muscles. That stuff is hard. (Okay, fine the breathing part helped calm me down.) I am trying to find the appropriate issue to go all in for, but man there are so many! The Trump administration is worried about potential terrorists in the refugee population, but what they should be worried about is really pissed off white women of a certain age. I am gonna blow soon.....

You know when it really hit me how awful this all is?   I mean the full blast?  When I was writing the poll, and trying to come up with truly alarming things, and it proved incredibly easy.  With item number 7, and an 8th coming up, and a 9th right behind, I shouted out a two-word curse. The first was HOLY. 

I'm surprised this isn't getting more love. He's a very crude man - I think the crudest hashtag would be the most likely to get his attention.

I also like "fump."  It sounds like a Don Martin word. 

I am very curious what your thoughts are on this hit piece about a nominee's dead mother. Should a Presidential nominee be evaluated based on what his dead mother did or did not do decades ago? Is anything off limits when trying to discredit a nominee by the Washington Post? https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/02/01/neil-gorsuchs-mother-once-ran-the-epa-it-was-a-disaster/?utm_term=.019776030643

Sorry but you lose me here.  There is nothing wrong with this story.  She was a very big deal, she is his mother, and part of the reason she was so controversial is that she was so conservative.  This is not a hit job.  It is not saying that her sins are his.  And this is not an effort to "discredit" him.  

Nearly three years ago (March 18, 2014; https://live.washingtonpost.com/gene-weingarten-130318.html) included a somewhat contrarian position on the Russian takeover of Crimea. Abbreviated, you wrote: Got some people a little riled this morning when I tweeted that I wasn't as appalled as some people by the events in the Crimea. … Putin's a thug, but he's no Hitler and the modern world will not let him become one. …Until 1991, Crimea was in the U.S.S.R, and up to 1954, it belonged to Russia proper. The transfer to Ukraine by Khrushchev was essentially a symbolic one. … And, yeah, a 95% vote is suspicious, but there doesn't seem to be much doubt that the vast majority of Crimeans wanted this. All I'm saying is that, to me, this isn't black and white. … Persuade me I'm wrong, and I'll reconsider. Briefly: have you reconsidered? Or have I missed your follow-up writing on this topic?

What idiot wrote that?  

I guess in general I'd stand behind that, still but mostly because Putin has not rolled into any other countries.  Yet.  I'm happy to welcome dissenting viewpoints.   International politics is not my strong suit.  The older I get the less certain I am that I even HAVE a strong suit. 

 

 

 

I find Trump and 99.9% of his beliefs repugnant. I'm not sure what the remaining 0.01% is, but I'm holding out hope. Having said that, I wonder how many people on social media having vapors over "alternative facts" recall President Clinton stating -- under oath -- "that depends on what your definition of "is" is"? Politicians have always had a flexible relationship with the truth. The difference is this time the liar is far more heinous.

The definition of "is" thing was most notable for the smugness with which he said.   He looked exactly like a smartass college student.  

I liked your hashtags, but I think a better one will be #PresidentBannon - because DJT will go crazy if people think Bannon is really in charge. Also, it was super hard to pick what I was most concerned about in the last 8 days. I picked "fact free" but all of it - the wall, the cabinet, Bannon, climate change/science - all super concerning.

Many people have noted this.  It is true that "President Bannon" would bother him a lot.   Interesting technique to sow the seeds of dissent.   Oooh, that's basically the plot of Othello.   We'd be Iago.  

I'm in the minority that this is what concerns me the most about Trump's administration to date, but it truly is frightening to me. I admit it has far less significance than the National Security Council, Climate Change, or inappropriate connections between Trump and Russia, but that's the point. Here are the normal responses to one's inauguration crowd being smaller than the last president's: 1. (Be quietly disappointed). 2. "Well, it was raining this year." 3. "The first African-American President is going to be a bit of a novelty, and the District is almost half African-American, so sure, Obama's inauguration would pull in a bigger crowd than your average white male Republican." But to insist that there were more people at yours, when photographs and Metro passenger counts clear showed the opposite? Accuse the media of false reporting? Present "alternative facts"(!)? To go to this extreme, and then double down, on something about which he was demonstrably wrong, and that didn't matter at all? There are only two logical alternatives: 1. he is completely paranoid, and believes that the Metro/Park Service/CNN actually lied about ridership statistics and doctored photographs; or 2. he believes that since he's President now, if he says it's true, it IS true. I used to be amused, then I was disgusted; now I'm terrified. These are not the actions of a sane person.

Let's just say that was my answer, too.  It is very disturbing to me on many levels, not the least of which being that Trump ignored EVERYONE'S advice on that one.  He pushed Spicer out there with orders to lie.  

Gene, Long time listener first time caller. I am a federal government employee here in DC, professional not political, I am a public servant at heart. I started in Bush, continued through Obama, so I have worked under both Republican and Democratic administrations. But now I am here with Trump. Part of me feels like I should try to stick it out, and in four years (fingers crossed) come out the other side as a survivor. But for all the policies that have come out in just the first days, the increasing rhetoric and targeting of the apolitical government workers, I just can't. But I'm not a quitter. So I guess I am asking you for permission to sit this one out.

I think I would.  I mean, for one thing, every insider who stays is a potential informant.  You know? 

Gene, I've been going to the White House daily around lunch time to protest. I just stand there with an anti-Trump sign. Today's sign read "Impeach President Bannon." I stand near the north-west entrance to the grounds. Sometimes people leaving the White House grounds approach me and offer a thumbs up or other sign of agreement. Some of these people are journalists, but not all. I get a lot of satisfaction from the idea that people coming and going from the White House are in opposition to Trump. Am I reading too much into these small gestures? On another note, come out and join us some day. There are usually several protestors.

I like the small gestures.  It suggests subversion.   Sedition and subversion are tools. 

I long for the olden days of the weekly chat. There are too many worldwide shenanigans going on for a monthly roundup. Please consider upping the frequency of this chat, even biweekly would be lovely. Please and thank you from a big fan in Fairfax County.

We will discuss.  Hey, apologies for the slower pace of this one.  My computer is doing evil things. 

I think my parents support Trump. When I attempted to ask if they do, and why, my dad became hostile towards me, and basically confirmed all the negative stereotypes about Christian conservatives that I am trying so hard to resist lumping them in with. I think this is the end of my relationship with him. Too harsh? If he had attempted to explain, even if I vehemently disagreed, I would not.

Too harsh. 

Listen, you cannot let Trump destroy personal relationships.  Think of it this way: He would probably love that.  That, as he would see it, loyalty to him could even sunder families!  

Don't let it happen. 

Thank you!

Which specific actions?  Give me a list and i will try. 

Why I picked the appointment of Bannon as the scariest thing: (reposted from Facebook):Reposting from others on my feed: The Bannon problem is EXTREMELY URGENT. Yesterday, WHILE YOU WERE WATCHING THE OTHER HAND IN THE CON MAN’S SHELL GAME… the President removed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence from the National Security Council. He replaced them with Steve Bannon. Bannon has no government, intelligence, or high-level military experience; his experience is leading a propaganda outlet (Breitbart News) that peddles nationalist and white nationalist viewpoints. This would be deeply concerning in and of itself. But one of the jobs of the NSC is to oversee a secret panel that authorizes the assassination of “enemies of the United States Government” – including American citizens. These targeted killings are fully authorized by law under the Congressional military authorization act following 9/11. There is no trial, no due process, and no public record of the decision or the assassination itself. Just to recap the absurdity: the President of the United States has appointed a known propagandist, nationalist, and white supremacist to replace the highest military advisor in the country on a council that authorizes secret, legal, targeted killings of American citizens (and others) without due process.

Well, he doesn't run the panel.  But point taken. 

I am freaked out that he is privy to all this information.   I don't consider someone who spent a career creating divisions to be a patriot who should be entrusted with top-secret information.  Also, he looks weird.  I say that as a man who looks weird.  I wouldn't trust me with this stuff, either. 

I know it's obsolete now, but I never encountered anyone as bothered as I was during the Trump transition that all the signs, seals, websites, and so on referred to "THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT ELECT," sans the obviously required hyphen. Example here: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/mn2QTmnb6zA/maxresdefault.jpg I've also noticed a lot of grammatical and punctuation errors in the White House's various communiques since. I know there are vastly more important things going on, but come on. Really? High school English?

I hope that is simply an indication of the texting generation, where typos are seen as no biggie.  Buecause I don't want it to be an indication of stupidity.   I find Trump's tweet typos / misspellings to be horrifying. 

‘Seriously affecting my quality of life’ only begins to cover it. Some of his statements and actions are making me physically ill. I feel a tightening in my stomach when I read that Bannon is going to be on the National Security Council, or that the decision not to mention Jewish victims in a statement on Holocaust Remembrance was deliberate, or that people with actual expertise and experience are cut out of key decision-making processes, or that his Education Secretary nominee wants guns in schools to protect against grizzly bears and hasn’t followed the most prominent debates on education policy. Every day it gets worse and worse. I’m losing sleep, and I have a constant feeling of despair. No matter who’s been president before, I’ve always been confident in the future of the country, whether or not I’ve disagreed with their policies. I no longer have that confidence, and I often feel that I can’t continue to live in a country that could elect this man. I’d be interested to see a story in which mental health professionals talk about the impact the election result has had on overall feelings of pessimism and helplessness among their clients. On which of his actions bothers me the most, I’m surprised to see so far that the muzzling of scientists got only 2 percent. Much of the other stuff he’s doing can eventually be reversed. The damage he is going to do to the environment will be irreversible.

This is extremely visceral.  My stress levels are elevated. 

I just had a thought.   The verb "Garland" should be created.  It would mean to unfairly put a stinking albatross around someone's neck, to make him unemployable. 

Is this wise? I know this is the kind of snark that is red meat for the left, but it really turns off those voters that Democrats will need to flip the senate, House and White House. Trump should have been easily beaten 2016 and should be more easily beaten in 2020. But that kind of media war and snark is like shooting yourself in the foot to help Trump win again.

I think you are right.  A certain balance needs to be struck.  But the greatest danger here is normalization.  

After the election I joined the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and the Sierra Club. Last week I sent more money to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. Then Trump appointed Bannon to the NSC. THAT is when I went to the local gun store and made my purchases. I'm afraid that the brownshirts are going to start showing up at things like the Women's March and cause trouble. Best to be prepared, since we might not be protected by the police.

I was with you until the firearms . 

That. Was. Awesome!!! Although we disagree completely on politics, I thoroughly enjoy your columns and wit. Keep on keepin on! (From the guy who once asked you to help him find a nice antique watch for his wife, and you passed along one you were going to get for yours. She still wears it, btw, so thank you)

Yay!    

Your anecdote about the lady with the book on the Metro ends cute, but I was cringing throughout. Women face this kind of attention-getting intrusion all the time. AllTheTime. Let the sad-looking woman have her time to herself. Even a well-intentioned intrusion means that she has to stop what she's doing, evaluate the guy, and since risk is never a sure thing, probably give him at least some of the response he's demanding (What's your name? What are you reading? Is it good? Pay attention to me!) whether she wants to or not, because ignoring these guys might get you pestered more, or called a bitch, or shoved as he walks away, or worse. You meant well, but from your telling of the story you knew you were unsettling her. Please don't be this guy. Not even for a cute ending.

Believe me, I understood all of that.  But I believed the payoff would justify it.  Still do. 

I hope it was Patty's book, and not borrowed from her sister Selma.

If it was Selma's, it's now Patty's. 

Hey, sorry about this.  I need to end early, and there are many hundreds more questions awaiting.  I think we are an anxiety-filled country, and people wanted to talk.  

 

I will have a very long update next week, and get to a lot of these questions.  Thank you. 

 

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Gene Weingarten
Gene Weingarten is the humor writer for The Washington Post. His column, Below the Beltway, has appeared weekly in the Post's Sunday magazine since July 2000 and has been distributed nationwide on The Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service. He was awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing.

Weingarten is also the author of "The Hypochondriac's Guide to Life. And Death," co-author of "I'm with Stupid," with feminist scholar Gina Barreca and "Old Dogs: Are the Best Dogs," with photographer Michael S. Williamson.

His most recent book, "The Fiddler In The Subway," is a collection of his full-length stories. He is working on a new book, called "One Day," about the events of December 28, 1986, a date chosen at random by drawing numbers from a hat.

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