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Friday, August 26, 2016

Proxima be damned.

Okay, we didn't go on the boat trip up the Erie Canal. It was a stupid idea, I admit. Sounds like one of mine. I should remember where it came from, but I often forget the provenance of my worst ideas. Call it a self-defense mechanism ... or call it "Lenny," if you like. Whatever floats your boat.

As is always the case, life intrudes on the best-laid plans. We were all ready to load up our non-existent gondola with pick-a-nick baskets, life jackets, and a bunch of other stuff we don't own, and then the news broke: Astronomers had discovered a small, Earth-like planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, the closest star system to our own. As the story worked its way into newspapers, television and radio broadcasts, and web sites, it quickly reached the attention of our mad science adviser, Mitch Macaphee. His reaction? Let's just say that there was a little mushroom cloud where his head used to be. I thought he was experimenting with some new anti-personnel weapon - a personal nuke, perhaps, like Edward Teller's version of the personal pizza - but he was just mad. Hopping mad.

Why the anger? Well, Mitch has anger issues. I suspect you've gleaned that from previous postings. Zero patience, my friends. The guy just needs happy pills or something, but you can't tell him anything. Anyway, it appears that Mitch has been using the newly discovered planet, Seems very, uh ... proximate.Proxima b, as a staging area for some of his experiments. Why pick that one and not, say, Wolf 1061c? Well, it's closer, for one thing. Like I said, the fucker is impatient as hell - he doesn't want to spend a lot of time in transit. And while he does do some of his mad science work in remote areas of our own planet, Proxima b (or "Sven Njordlosc's planet" as Mitch strangely calls it) gives him the space to do fun stuff like change the composition of the atmosphere or switch the gravity on and off a couple of times in rapid succession. Great times!

In preparation for our last interstellar tour, we looked into doing a performance on Sven Njordlosc's planet. No dice. The inhabitants only want to hear Norwegian Carpenter Songs. "Pleasures of the Dance" is their favorite record, even if it's just a joke cooked up by Monty Python. We don't play stuff like that, I think you know.

Oh well ... I know what I'm getting Mitch for his birthday. Xanax. Lots of Xanax.

Two heads.

The thing called Trump is attempting a new strategy this week: slap some lipstick on the race-baiting pig and hope that that's enough to convince wealthier, suburban G.O.P. voters that they are not, in fact, racists themselves. How do you do that without abandoning the psychotic core of the party of Lincoln? Well, you hire Kelly Anne Conway AND Steve Bannon. Bannon will cavort with alt-right neo-nazis and Kelly Anne will deftly smooth it all over. It's like that guy-with-two-heads movie - one head is a racist Ray Milland and the other is 1970s Rosy Greer. That's the Trump campaign in a nutshell.

The Thing with Two HeadsConway is a good con artist. I suppose you could find her convincing if you choose to forget that in 2012, Trump was birther-in-chief, claiming that his operatives were turning up "unbelievable" stuff on Obama's birth certificate - a campaign that was always about race, about being the "other", about legitimacy. I suppose you could buy what she's selling if you choose to forget the last year or so of fevered rhetoric - NOT gaffes or errors, but deliberate, repeated statements - about immigration, about foreign policy, about law enforcement policy. And I suppose you could believe Conway's contention that Trump is a hard-working, honest fellow who treats people well if you haven't been paying attention to the last 30 years of his very public life. I guess you can believe whatever you want to believe if you try really, really hard.

This is a tough sell, though. Fortunately for Trump, his opponent is Hillary Clinton, and the Clintons are experts at shooting themselves in the foot. Indeed, their drive to reclaim the White House has put us in severe danger of having Trump elected president. That, to my mind, is the most irresponsible thing Hillary Clinton has ever done, save perhaps her vote in favor of authorizing the use of force against Iraq.

Everyone knows that the Clintons are larger-than-life public figures, scandal magnets, and supreme triangulators on policy. In the current phase of American life, probably none of this matters. The political ground has shifted significantly since Bill was president; the Democrats are more weighted to the left than in the 1990s, and the future of the party is substantially to the left of Hillary. That gravitational pull is affecting her now and it would continue affecting her as president. Trump, on the other hand, doesn't feel that attraction whatsoever, and he will lean right to keep his flank happy.

So Clinton v. Trump is a match mad in hell. But let's not resort to false equivalencies, like Michael Steele and others tend to do. Trump is just a dangerous person to allow anywhere near a position of authority, and anyone who supports him should have his/her head - or heads, in the case of Conway/Bannon - examined.

luv u,

jp