Chatological Humor update

Feb 14, 2017

Gene's next monthly chat is Tuesday Feb. 28 at noon. You may submit questions here.

On one Tuesday each month, Gene is online to take your questions and abuse. He will chat about anything. Although this chat is sometimes updated between live shows, it is not and never will be a "blog," even though many persons keep making that mistake. One reason for the confusion is the Underpants Paradox: Blogs, like underpants, contain "threads," whereas this chat contains no "threads" but, like underpants, does sometimes get funky and inexcusable.

Greetings, update readers! 

You may have noticed I missed last week's update; it was because I was meeting at National Harbor with Dave Barry and Tom Shroder and Catherine Olsen to plan this year's Post Hunt.  Lubricated by alcoholic beverages, we got WAY ahead of schedule, and actually came up with all five Big Puzzles. 


Yeah, you knew this was coming.  Rumors have been leaking on Twitter. 

No Hunt in 2017.   Despite the best efforts of smart people, sponsor outreach failed.   (Yes, I just wrote "sponsor outreach."  Clearly, I am unhinged.)   It is possible, if unlikely, that there will be a Hunt next year.   

Many folks at The Post and Twitter wondered why we don't Kickstart this thing, and we might, but not for this year.  For this year, we sulk and mope and whimper.   

The Hunt has been going on since 1984 (in Miami) and it moved to Washington not long after Shroder did, in 2008.  (We needed critical mass.) 

For all of you who are disappointed, suicidal, etc., I urge you to remember what happened three months ago.   Keep things in perspective.  We have a LOT more to be depressed about. 

Speaking of which.   Two things. 


You know I have an "in" in the world of aging, brilliant folksingers, right? My main girl Christine Lavin keeps me on top of things, and you tend to get them first.  Check this out.  It is Noel Paul Stookey's secret new song.   Do you not know who Noel Paul Stookey is?  What if I told you one of his best friends was Mary Travers, and another was Peter Yarrow.  No, still????  Fine.  This is Paul of Peter, Paul and Mary. 

No, still?  Go away.  No one likes people like you. 


Meanwhile, as I promised, the remainder of this chat consists of then-unanswered questions from last chat, in which I was inundated by anxiety-laced questions about our new commander in chief. 

The overwhelming hemorrhage of questions persuaded me that I have to do something personally stupid.  I'm not being paid for it, but I'm going to be having a real chat every week -- same time on Tuesdays -- starting next Tuesday. 

The only difference is that there won't be a poll or an introduction, but it'll be us, talking, in real time. 

But for now, this: 


To the lady on the Metro. The payoff absolutely does not justify it. If you must talk to her, just open by telling her you're the author of the book and asking if you can sign it for her. You were super creepy and she was too nice.

This is in reference to the Metro anecdote from the last chat introduction.  

Okay.   I'm willing to accept this possibility.  

I really value unforgettable moments.  Things you can tell people about.  We have too few of them in our lives, and it is all too seldom that we can create one such moment for a stranger.  

In this case, you didn't see the payoff.   I think I made the right call.   I sorta am hoping the lady sees this chat and weighs in.  


Sort of like what Jon Stewart said last night on Stephen Colbert's show, re Trump being such an "exhausting" President. So true.

I wake up every morning and approach the Wapo home page with fear.  What has he done overnight?  What thing has he perpetrated? 


I can't stand it when people are nice to each other - I get overloaded and start weeping, which is what I did when I read your intro. You've always been nice to me, although you don't remember me from the time before, or the time before that. No matter, you are a real man and a sweetheart. xoxo

Thank you.  I'm posting this only because it is in opposition to the first post.  

I want to reiterate: I knew I was risking something.  I think it worked out well, but it might not have.  Please understand that if it was clear I was making her REALLY uncomfortable, I would have stopped and explained.   

What is the world coming to where I (a liberal democrat) is relieved that Trump's supreme court nominee is at least experienced and qualified for the bench, even though I'm sure I disagree with Gorsuch on probably everything. I was seriously worried he would nominate Guiliani or someone similar. At least Gorsuch has the qualifications to serve. Life sucks right now.

I can't get around the fact that you wrote "I is".   

But yes.  Tom the Butcher, also a staunch progressive, just texted me that he is fine with Gorsuch.  "I'm happy to have him," he said.  "He's decent.  He won't let Trump become a dictator." 

Very strange times. 

I'm also wondering if that's the wedge issue. Is there a reporter who, in an interview with Trump, would have the guts to ask him about the perception that Bannon is actually in charge of everything. On that note, I have to say that I'm fully aware of how difficult that would be. I'm sometimes irritated at how reporters seem to ask mostly softball questions, although I know in myself that it is difficult to bring up difficult topics, reporter or no.

There is something simmering.  A potential new line of questioning. 

Watch David Pakman here.  He raises the intriguing question of whether Trump can read.

I think it's clear he CAN read, but doesn't like to do it.  It's possible he is seriously dyslexic.   I wonder if there is a reporter nervy enough to pass the guy a paragraph, at a press conference, and ask him to read it out loud.   And I wonder how Trump would react. 

Interesting to read the poll results. Age clearly matters. I'm old enough to have been caught up in Vietnam, my children are old enough, and grandchildren young enough, not to be caught up in any Trump wars. So though Trump is a deplorable vulgarian and ignoramus, I don't expect him to have any impact on my and mine.

Your third sentence is beautifully written.   However, I think you are wrong.   Give Trump a couple more Supreme Court picks, and your kids and grandkids are scrood. 

I read the question re: taking a job fighting Tump as "would pay 10% of your current salary" rather than "would pay 10% less than you currently earn." I chose "Probably not." But not "No." I'd take one at 50% less. 70% less was ball park possibility. 90% less was probably the bridge too far...but the question really made me wonder why I haven't done more or sought out such a job yet. And I guess the answer is - I can't figure out what the best way to fight is. As you always have insightful things to say, particularly as we face un-chartered madness, I'd welcome your thought: What IS the best way to fight?

Lawyer? Get a job at the ACLU. 

Lawyer? Get a job working for a newspaper. 

Government employee?  Become a mole.

Energetic person?  Volunteer for / get a job with your local progressive candidates.

 Teacher? Run for school board. Work in public schools.  They will be under assault.   

Any other ideas?

How bad is it that I keep imagining disasters on the pinheads that foisted Trump upon the nation? Gut the EPA? Fine, have your misbegotten state sink from frakking. Hate immigrant labor? Fine, watch even more robots take over your jobs. A person doesn't have to be 'educated' to be smart. I feel like nearly half the nation's traded our cow for magic beans.

Love that last line. 

Another good question to add to the poll could be, "If you were unemployed long term and had no job prospects and were offered a well-paying job that suits you by the Trump Organization or any of its properties, would you take it?" I found a cute winter coat recently that I dropped like a hot potato when I discovered it was Ivanka's label, so I presume that's a no for me. But then, I was unemployed for a long time, and I wonder how far my standards would have dropped once I'd eaten through my savings and loans from family.

I'd take that job in a heartbeat.   Seriously. 

I'd use it for opposition research. 

Beginning about a year ago I began sweating more than I ever had (male age 37). I had standing desk and the back of my shirt would be soaked with sweat by the end of the day. When I stood up after sitting on a toilet seat, the toilet seat would be covered in sweat droplets ( I always wiped it up). If I sat on a plastic restaurant seat, the back of my pants would be soaking wet. Any idea what the cause of this increased sweating is?

Hm.  You might want to see a doctor, maybe an endocrinologist.  

Thyroid problems, diabetes.   A lot of sweating can be no sweat, or something to worry about.  See a doc. 

I see the biggest problem for Democrats in 2020 is there are no rising stars to challenge the GOP in the next presidential election.

Understand that about 15 Democrats are currently consulting with consulting type people to figure out some road to viability in 2020.   Some are, like, state senators. 

Do you think that the Republicans will stand up to Trump and his policies? Or will they continue to hope to feed on his hardcore populism's fans?

They will continue to kowtow until his popularity numbers get so low they require an exit.  Then they will be scurrying all over themselves in a massive ratlike scrum to be the first to leave the sinking ship.   

That scene lifted the movie to a whole new level. She out-streeped Streep.


Interesting side-point.  Manteuffel, who is an actor, thinks Viola was terrific in Doubt, but adds that it's a generously written role, easy for a talented actor to own.  It's a gift of a role -- a single, startling, subtle scene as the ma with the complex view of her boy's sexual victimization by a priest who can (and does) help him.  Manteuffel says it is rich with promise; a good actor can nail it memorably.  Several different people have won awards for that role.   This is taking nothing away from Davis.  She nailed it memorably, too. 

I watched "Doubt" at The Olney Theater in 2008 and remember thinking "no one could play that role better." The actor was Deidra LaWan Starnes, and, yes, she nailed it.  Memorably. 

T-Rex is the king of the dinosaurs. I'd say T-Rump is the king of the asses.

Yes.  I have already made this point ! 

Mine reports that she is seeing a continuous stream of clients who are terrified, totally skeeved out, experiencing panic attacks, etc. over the the current administration. She said she has seen nothing like this, not even after 9/11. We are in a midwestern university town, so it's not even like we're ground zero for some of the worst of the onslaught.

Yep.  It's amazing.  It's political, but curiously personal, too. 

I think this is fascinating.   The guy is a very good, very thoughtful, writer.   I do not understand why he was fired.  The piece he was fired for was gentle, and strong, and smart, and good.  

Clearly DC is rife with hypocrisy and charges of hypocrisy. Curious to wonder why no direct charges at DJT's business practices? He is threatening and forcing businesses to be in US, but his own manufacturing is not. I haven't heard it come up. It seems straightforward enough.

Oh, it's come up.  EVERYTHING has come up, but it is all lost in the everything.   

The previous sentence ought to get some traffic.  It is completely true.  Each outrage gets kicked off the screen by the next. 

The only signs that that offended me at the Women's March were "Free Melania." I thought feminism meant the right to make your own choices (however misguided).



but would you consider doing your chat twice a month rather than once a month for a while? I have had to back off on a lot of news consumption because it is so disturbing, but I find your chats so bracing and invigorating.

See today's intro. 

I have had to go on Zoloft since the election. Prior to the election, I was always an even-keeled, reasonably happy person. Now I'm taking SSRIs to get through the next four years. I saw a psychiatrist for the first time last week, and she told me she's seen literally scores of new patients since the election, who all need pharmaceutical assistance to cope with the new administration.

I hear ya. 

This is exactly what the media should not do. It can't lead anywhere good. What should they do? What they have supposed to be doing all along. Ask the hard questions. If the answers are just some double-talk that doesn't answer the question, dig harder to find the real answer. The the White House provides "alternative facts", call them out for being false and provide the the real truth. You know, things that it should be doing all along (instead of providing "analysis" all the time). Going in with any agenda other than "report the news" is what makes people distrust the "media".

You are right in principle.  Absolutely.  The problem is that when you are dealing with a habitually lying administration, normal reporting becomes confrontational.  And columnizing becomes wildly confrontational.  There is a "truth."  It is what we seek.  Under ordinary circumstances, this adapts to objective, classical reporting.  The Wapo exposed Watergate in a dignified, straightforward way.   

But this sh--show is different.  Merely quoting a response to an allegation isn't enough if you understand the response is a demonstrable lie.  You need to say that, and that gets you engaged in battle.   Continuing battles = a war. 

One of the things I personally struggle with in following all of this craziness (State Department senior leadership resigns/fired, acting AG fired, removing key people from security/intel briefings, and the rest of his campaign promises) is I can't tell if all of this is just normal in the course of a transition and it just seems crazy and dangerous to me because I perceive Trump to be crazy and dangerous, or it really is unprecedented and crazy and dangerous. I'm not looking for false equivalency in reporting obviously, but it would be useful to know: this is what Trump is doing and this is what has been done in the past. I'm already scared enough about what he seems to be doing/un-doing...I guess i just want to know exactly how scared I should be.

Scared, but not panicked.  Quite yet. 

I think Trump wants to be dictator.  I don't think the courts will allow him to be, and I think that after months of revolting sycophancy, neither will Congress.  He will sink to such a popularity trough that even those spineless, craven gophers will cave. 


I can't believe it's taken this long, but I've finally signed up for a paid digital subscription. (Apologies for all my time as an incognito free loader!) Your comment about being at war reminded me that I need to put my money where my heart is - and my heart is with trusted papers like the Post calling this administration on its lies, misdirection and enemy-creating. I've been struggling with exactly what your quiz implied - how future me, how history would judge my actions - or my failure to act. So, what else? What's the next step in the call to arms?

Good for you.  Heed the call, people. 

ACLU sponsorship. 

There were numerous stories last year about how little most people trust the media. The numbers are in the single digits. You don't get those kind of numbers by just getting republicans to say they don't like MSNBC. But let's say it's just republicans. Just last week, in a rush to publish scoops, major newspapers and/or sites got the following wrong: -whether the MLK Bust had been removed -whether the WH photoshopped official inauguration photos to make Trump's hands look bigger -specific facts about the Executive Order -that Bannon was being placed on the NSC Committee by Trump's order when the statute required the Senate to approve -the White House set up SCOTUS Twitter accounts for each of the supposed justice candidates for some reason In each case the incorrect facts got much further than the corrections ever well. So far, the "war" you're advocating be declared is full of rushes to judgment and incorrect facts that, at least in some cases, the journalists themselves seemed uninterested in correcting until they were forced to look into it further. There might be intelligent opposition on the right willing to listen to correct facts reported by people willing to present them in a nonpartisan manner. At this point, though, it feels very much like a war being waged on an ideological basis, and the facts are casualties, if necessary, to advance the front. That's not a basis for building trust.

Not quite sure how to answer this, except to point out that these were stupid mistakes instantly corrected and apologized for.  That's not how the administration behaves.  We are trying for the truth, and also to keep a gimlet eye on these people.  They are not trying for the truth. 

I sort of consider that I currently have a job fighting Trumpism: I am a scientist.

Yep.  Keep on truckin'

Gene, your thoughts on Jason Chaffetz sticking his nose into DC? Technically I know he has the power to do so, but man this irks me. Are you bothered? Am I working myself up over nothing? There's so much to be worked up over right now, I don't even know where to focus. Your thoughts?

I have a slight bias toward Chaffetz because he had this conversation with me, back when he was a nobody.  


He needs to butt out.  He is not the first white punk from squareland who wants to be the Wizard of Washington.  Not gonna happen. 

Hi Gene. I went to a conference today, and a high ranking bank manager used his presentation to say "it's amazing how many stupid things this man can say in 140 characters". We also hear lots of elected officials in western democracies denouncing Trump. Yet I keep thinking "it can't be that bad". Tell me I'm right, or tell me why he's worse than George W Bush.

He is way worse than George W. Bush.   George W. Bush is a fundamentally decent man of limited intelligence who surrounded himself with awful people who dragged him in terrible directions.  He was a bad president.  But he was not actively malign, in the sense that he did what he thought was right.  I don't think this guy cares what's right.  I think he's in it for self-aggrandizement, for profit, and for power.  

The best way to drive him nuts is for reporters to not use his name in their stories/posts/etc. Call him The President, The Chief Executive, Commander in Chief, if it's a military story. Whatever title fits the context. Just never call him President Trump. The way he likes to spray his name around on everything -- never seeing his name in print would drive him nuts.

It's true!  He DOES like his brand. 

Chick-Fil-A ran out of biscuits before the breakfast time was over today. HOW in the world does a breakfast biscuit place RUN OUT OF biscuits?? That'd be like you running out of words before finishing a story!

You are right!  that is totally out

As a woman, I can state with authority that you are wrong. I have met attractive 70-year-old men (I am half that age), and Trump is no attractive 70-year-old man. His skin is terrible, his hair is ugly and clearly hiding more ugliness, his fake coloring (skin, hair, eyebrows) is repulsive, and he is...not in shape. As a younger man, he was a solid 6, maybe a 7 taking into account the money. As he is, he's no higher than a 4, and that's generous.


When a President orders National law enforcement to defy a judicial ruling, when GOP removes rules to approve cabinet nominations, when the President appoints political operatives to the NSC and when every conflict of interest is ignored, it seems we are seeing the end of democracy. I'm convinced that the only way to turn this around is to have every one of us move our retirement portfolios to cash and crash the market. That's the only thing that would wake them up.

That is not a good idea. 

"There is a historically unqualified, even maligned, presence in the White House." "maligned"? Sure about that? If you substitute "vilified" it still doesn't read goodly.

Yeah, this was, alas, an editor-introduced error. A rarity in journalism.   I wrote "malign" and someone changed it.  

When does the president become a lame duck? Is the incumbent lame yet?

Oh, he's lame.  He's really lame. 

I have volunteered for several years with a woman who is a German citizen living in the US. Her husband is also a German citizen but was born in Iran. For background, he left Iran in the early days of the Islamic regime. He was a teenager at the time. He was travelling in Germany for work this week when the ban was signed. He can not, as of this writing, return to the US. He lives here. He owns a home here. His children attend school here. He has almost certainly paid more taxes to this country than Donald Trump has. While they remain confident that he will eventually be allowed to return, they are now faced with the necessity of moving out of our country. Given how much he travels internationally, there is concern that there could be more problems in the future. The multi-national corporation he works for has offered to relocate the family to Canada. Good people driven away by a mad man.

I received more than one post like this. 

If you are reading this, poster ... was he allowed back in?  Is he going to stay? 

I get that there's an understanding among reporters that one doesn't speculate about whether someone--let's say...Trump--is suffering from dementia or a form of mental illness. I get that this is in play even when the evidence (family closing around him, isolating him in the Tower, and, well, pretty much everything he says) is strong. But when reporting on what Trump has said, what prompts reporters to clean up the language and make it sound reasonable? For example, when Trump said, "People, countries, they want their own identities", a reporter summarized it as "He argues that this hunger for national identity combined with the influx of non-European immigrants..." That's just one example of many. Trump speaks like a third grader. Why the impulse to rephrase? Is it reporters' love of words? I'm genuinely confused. (Also admittedly confused that there isn't more reporting on what sure looks like dementia from here.)

I don't think we're doing this, and I don't see evidence of dementia.  Trump has always talked like a second grader.  

Meryl Streep had it right. In his very first press conference, Trump berated the media and isolated CNN. But, that's not what bothers me. That was predictable. Apparently, a lot of news organizations had the Russian dossier with the lurid details about Trump for months, but nobody released it. Months? Before the election? Why not? The GOP and their minions (see FBI Director Comey) had no qualms whatsoever releasing scandalous innuendo linking Clinton to Anthony Weiner's alleged crimes, and suggesting that there just might, maybe, possibly, be something damaging in her emails. It really is troubling that the rules of the game have seemed to change and, to paraphrase Sean Connery's character, Malone, from "The Untouchables," the media is still bringing a knife to a gun fight.

The media did the right thing.  The dossier could not be verified.  We are not in the business of printing what is essentially rumor.   And it wasn't just that it couldn't be verified: It also didn't pass the smell test.  Didn't sound like Trump.  

The Comey Crap (Komey Krap) was different: The head of the FBI said something.  Press conferenced it.   That you HAVE to cover, even if it seems to stink, as it did.  You also cover the stink. 

Yes, I think the whole country got played, by Russia and by Comey, who is either a hapless fool or a diabolical evil guy, and I think those two things threw the election to Trump.  But I do not think the media made any serious misjudgments or bad calls.  

I need to re-emphasize something:  The Wapo spent MONTHS elaborately explaining to its readers -- both on its editorial pages and in its extraordinary investigative efforts -- what a disaster Trump would be.   Horses led to water.  Horses' heads held down in the water.   

One of my favorites too- saw you at a Barns concert of hers once. When did she get old? Also as a Syracuse native loved that she recorded her song on the train going by Syracuse.

I was onstage to sing "Sensitive, New Age Guys."  Tom Paxton was there.   HE got old!  And is still wonderful.   


This weirded me out.  I know many people were moved by it, but neither the photo nor the essay persuaded me it was extraordinary, or art, or anything other than soft porn.   I didn't hate it or anything.  I just saw nothing in it other than itself. 

boy that was tough but I finally picked Perry because I think he is the least competent one and therefore least able to make anything happen. Looks like the majority agreed with me.

Another perfectly acceptable answer. 

I'm trying to be a better listener to conservatives to try to understand how Trump happened. Do you have any recommendations for what conservative websites/news sources (other than WSJ) should I be reading? I do read the Economist, but I feel like UK conservatism is pretty progressive compared to ours.

I don't have an answer to this, and I'll tell you why. 

I read a LOT of conservatives.  The Post employs several, as does the New York Times.  They are thoughtful and intelligent and annoying, and I always read them because they have viewpoints that challenge my own, even thought they are wrong.  George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Jennifer Rubin, Michael Gerson, David Brooks, Ross Douthat (Balloon Juice calls him "Douche Hat,") etc. 

But this does me no good because, being intelligent and sophisticated human beings, they are all contemptuous of Trump.  They hate him.  They find him ... vulgar.   

So, where to go.   The intelligent Trump supporter will be someone who is so cynical about politics that he wants the world blown up, and doesn't care if the person doing the blowing up is an obnoxious, infantile vulgarian.  I don't know where to find these people.  Do you? 

An upper decker is when you deuce in the tank rather than the bowl so each flush brings new filth rather than evacuating the mess. It's the traditional response to poorly hosted parties.

I never heard of it as a party weapon.  Ew. 

What's up with the WaPo crosswords? I find the daily ones just too simple to be worth spending time on. Even the Sunday Arts puzzle, which used to be pretty challenging has gotten very easy over the past months. I like Birnholz's Sunday puzzle, but would like to see better puzzles daily. As a fellow crossworder, can you kick someone in the tuchus and get this fixed? Thanks!

I think Birnholz is generally very good.  I don't do the dailies, and am embarrassed to admit that.   I have been doing NYT xwords for (literally) 50 years, and it's a habit I can't break.  I don't have time for two a day. 


Here's something else I don't do: my fellow xworders like to brag about their times of completion, which your computer now digitizes for you.   It's a way of making Mondays and Tuesdays more competitive.  If you've solved one in four minutes, that's worth bragging about.   

But I don't do crosswords like that.  I pick em up, put em down, leave them half done in the bathroom, etc.   Time is meaningless to me. 

It's interesting that on your chat update, both liberals and conservatives considered Rick Perry to be the least horrible cabinet pick. For myself, I figured he's stupid, but not particularly crazy, and therefore not likely to do anything truly damaging. More important, Energy has a huge national security role that I'm sure he is unaware of, and there is so much money wrapped up in the part about energy production that corporations would quickly disabuse him of any notions to create chaos.

I voted Perry, too, for that reason.   Also his eyeglasses.  

I really can't imagine any thing a Trump team and Republican Congress could achieve, even unintentionally, that would be any kind of good much less "shockingly." What would that even look like? I know what I want the catastrophe to be, though. I want the people who voted for him to get exactly what they wanted -- a con man who doesn't pay working stiffs taking away their healthcare, raising their cost of living through stupid trade wars, costing their jobs by bullying companies out of business or out of the US, and sending their military children to fight battles that compensate for the size of his, um, hands. I want the trust fund babies who stayed home because no candidate was good enough for them or voted Green in battleground states because they are too pure to have their bubbles burst and fall through the holes of the social safety net they couldn't be bothered to preserve. I want the white women who voted for Trump to be overlooked or cast aside in favor of incompetent white men at work and/or younger second or third wives at home. I particularly want that for the religious zealots. I want the South to be flooded in the summer and freeze in the winter under crippling amounts of snow and ice. Yes, I know the climate change that would drive that will hurt all of us, but it's going to happen anyway and I want them and their horrible culture to pay first and pay more. Yes, I'm bitter. Do you blame me?

On Twitter, people like me regularly get called "sore losers" by Trumpeters.  It just makes me roll my eyes.  This is not about winning and losing.  We all lost, even them, they just don't know it yet.  

A few days ago I tweeted this:  "Of COURSE we are sore losers. We have to be. If yr not angry, u cannot be an effective voice in opposition to this grave threat to us all."

Oh, that's easy. Option Two would clearly be the better option -- IF there were any conceivable way it could happen. But there isn't. Think about it. Every brand of government is in the hands of people whose goals are somewhere on the spectrum from "awful for the country" to "catastrophic for the country". What Trump wants is terrible. What Pence would want is even worse. What most of the cabinet nominees want is grotesque. What the majorities in Congress want is godawful. There is no chance they, or any combination of them, are going to TRY to do anything "spectacularly good." And there are too many of them, and too many of them are diabolical. for anything spectacularly good to happen by accident or because they failed to prevent it. Even if Trump were to decide to do something shockingly good -- which is unlikely but not out of the question, since he's insane and by definition unpredictable -- he is surrounded by Republican operatives who would stop that from happening. He doesn't understand how government works well enough to fool or thwart them (unlike, say, Bill Clinton, who was great at rope-a-doping Republicans.) He isn't smart enough either (unlike, say, Bill Clinton.) Either Trump and his party will succeed in their plans to destroy the country, or the rest of us, exerting every fiber of our collective beings, will thwart them enough that the situation gets only somewhat worse but not incredibly worse. There is no feasible path to a good outcome. As a loyal American, I would see a shockingly good Trump administration as a much lesser evil than the likely catastrophe I expect it to be. Still an evil, but one I'd accept for the greater good. Since there isn't any possible outcome that isn't some flavor of bad, I'd prefer that Trump's term be so catastrophic that even the ignorant but not insane Trump voters will be unable to avoid realizing that they did this. It needs to be that bad in order to guarantee the generation or more of not-Republican dominance it will take to repair the damage that even one "not so bad" Trump term will likely inflict. It needs to be so catastrophic, especially for the people who believed he'd bring their jobs back AND repeal the ACA AND protect the healthcare they didn't have before the ACA AND make them safe while demonizing everyone who doesn't look just like them AND prevent their children from getting pregnant out of wedlock by bringing back traditional family values while denying reproductive services to half the population, that they'll think twice before voting for a naked emperor again. The effect will wear off in a generation but at least we'd have that long.

I have a particular nightmare scenario.  Bear with me here. 

Trump continues to blithely trash American institutions, infringe on civil liberties, practice blatantly bigoted policies, torture enemies, dabbling at ethnic cleansing, and what have you.   But the economy does swell.   It turns out Wall Street LOVES authoritarianism.   That's what scares me because Americans vote their wallets.  If our wallets are fat we might accept a dictator.  

By the way, you know how football fans hold up a D and a Fence, to urge that defense holds?   People should start arriving at Trump rallies with a drawing of a penis and a picture of a potato.   

You can have that one for free, people. 

Well, of course it is! How else can you explain that the name of the police inspector in the article, Geir Wangensteen Øye, is an anagram for … Ø Yes, Gene Weingarten?!?!?!

Omigod it is. 

Hi Gene, I am a Canadian who discovered you while I lived in D.C seventeen years ago, and have read you ever since, wherever my life has taken me. Following Trump's election, I predicted to myself that while everyone would be shocked - and brave enough to show it - for a short while afterward, it wouldn't take long before people in power and people in the media would start falling like dominoes to support him after all. Normalcy bias would take over, Trump as president would make people shrug instead of gape in horror, and the media would start discussing his rants as though they aren't totally insane. His presidency will gain legitimacy through momentum and outrage-fatigue. Insanity will be the new normal. But there are a few writers out there that I still believe will not fall in line. You are one of them. (Paul Krugman is another example.) So when I saw the title to one of your recent columns (A three-pronged approach...), I was at first frightened that you had already turned to the dark side, but then I read it and breathed a sigh of relief. I expect most news sources will very soon end up pretending - maybe even believing - Trump is not so bad after all. But for the next four years, I trust you not to be one of them. Don't let me down, Gene.

You underestimate us, as a group, I believe.   The media will be lulled into nothing.   We get what he is.   We are in something of a bind, however.   Fred Hiatt wrestles with it quite well, here.  We should not seem to be partisans.  We should strive for even-handedness.   But even-handedness is not the same thing as being blind.  We know what we have here.   We should be committing investigative resources as never before, for the simple reason that Trump has shown us a willingness to lie, to manipulate, and to double-deal, and most dramatically, to conceal.  It is astonishing that this guy is hiding his tax returns, still.   The media must keep our eyes and ears and wallets open. 


Here's another one to add to your collection: Of course this was in Texas and - oh he was executed.

David Grann can really tell a story.  Yes, this persuaded me the man did not kill his children.   Defenders of the death penalty can no longer credibly maintain that we've never executed an innocent man.   

The truly worrisome thing here, beyond the simple, abhorrent facts of the case, is that this involved a long-standing forensic procedure accepted as true and normal, one with tremendous influence over a jury.   How many more such things are there?  We know of at least one:  "bite mark" evidence is bull. 

Jurors love "science."  It has a disproportionate effect on their thinking, which is why, for example, polygraphs are never admissible.   Just too freighted.   Jurors know that eyewitness testimony is often unreliable; they don't like to have to figure out who is lying, who is telling the truth, who is misremembering, etc.  But when some person in a white coat is telling you that his or her science machine has determined scientifically, etc. ....   


No. I think your readers are and people in your bubble are.

I think my readers, and the people in my bubble, represent more of the country than you suspect. And I think their representatives grow daily.  We are witnessing something horrific; I doubt the other side is growing at all.  

The physical toll of Trump is no joke -- my baby is still nursing so I pump at work. My milk supply has plummeted.


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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.

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