a very short conversation about health care

My friend: “I can’t believe what the Republicans did. They hate poor people.”
Me: “I dunno. Seems like it, doesn’t it.”
My friend: “Oh c’mon, they despise poor people.”
Me: “Naw, it’s more like the Republicans are Rick Blaine and poor folks are Signor Ugarte.”
My friend: “What?”
Me: “You know, like in the movie Casablanca.”
My friend: Casablanca? What the hell are you talking about?”
Me: “You’ve never seen Casablanca?”
My friend: “Well, yeah, of course I’ve seen it. But what’s Casablanca got to do with Republicans passing a hateful health care bill?”
Me: “Remember that scene? The one with Humphrey Bogart and Peter Lorre?”
My friend: “Oh, yeah, right. He wants to search Bogart’s office, and he pulls a gun, but Bogie knocks him out and takes his gun and searches him, and when Peter Lorre wakes up, Bogart gives him back the gun, and Peter Lorre points it at him again and demands to search his office. Great scene.”
Me: “That’s from The Maltese Falcon.”
My friend: “Oh. Right. Sam Spade and…Peter Lorre.”
Me: “Joel Cairo.”
My friend: “What?”
Me: “Peter Lorre played Joel Cairo in The Maltese Falcon. In Casablanca he plays a guy named Signor Ugarte.”
My friend: “Okay. I’m still confused.”
Me: “What I’m saying…or trying to say…is that Republicans would probably despise poor people if they gave them any thought.”
My friend: “Okay. Wait, what?”
Me: “Congressional Republicans…and this is just my opinion…don’t care enough about poor people to think about them enough to actually despise them.”
My friend: “But if they did, they would.”
Me: “Exactly.”

comrade trump will leave his hat on

You know what’s disheartening? I’ll tell you. The recently published Reuters interview with Comrade Trump. Wait, let me amend that. Any interview with Comrade Trump. Hell, let me amend that again — any interview with almost anybody about Comrade Trump. They’re all disheartening, and they’re disheartening for the same reason.

Here’s the reason: Trump is a fuckwit. An arrogant fuckwit. An arrogant fuckwit who is unaware of his own arrogance and fuckwittery. There’s not even a word to describe the staggering degree of arrogant fuckwittery the man exhibits.

For example, this from the Reuters interview:

“This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.”

He thought it would be easier. He thought being President of These United States would be easier than running a branding chop shop from Trump Tower. He’s surprised to find running an entire nation is more work than his previous gig. Jeebus Pericles, that is just so completely fucking astonishing. And what makes it even worse is the undeniable fact that Trump’s doing a shitty goddamn job of it. The job is harder than he thought and he’s not even doing it well. It’s not just that Comrade Trump is fumbling around in the dark without a flashlight. It’s that he’s so woefully unprepared that he doesn’t even know flashlights exist.

Not sure why it’s so dark in here.

Worse still, Trump can’t be bothered to listen to the folks who know anything about flashlights. Six days — six days — after he took office he dismissed entire senior staff of the State Department. Almost none of them have been replaced. In March he fired about half of the 93 U.S. Attorneys — the chief federal law enforcement officers within a particular jurisdiction. None of them have been replaced.

Every so often Comrade Trump acknowledges that he doesn’t know what the fuck he’s doing. Health care? “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.” Nobody except anybody who’d spent five minutes thinking about health care. North Korea? “After listening for 10 minutes, I realized it’s not so easy.” Imagine what he might have learned if he’d managed to listen for fifteen minutes. NATO? “They asked me about NATO and I said ‘NATO is obsolete’ not knowing much about NATO. Now I know a lot about NATO.” No. No, you do NOT know a lot about NATO. You only know a little bit more about NATO than you did before, because before you knew nothing at all. A little bit more just seems like a lot when you’re completely fucking ignorant.

Tomorrow is Comrade Trump’s hundredth day in office. It takes about a hundred days for most presidents (not counting William Henry Harrison, who died after 32 days in office) to gain their footing and develop their stride. Not Trump. Trump’s still stumbling. In the dark, sans flashlight. All he’s really succeeded in doing in these hundred days is to scatter glass all over the floor. Because he likes the sound it makes when it shatters.

Pretty soon he’ll probably decide to take off his shoes.

the comments

Don’t read the comments. This may be the most frequently shared piece of internet wisdom. If you value your sanity, do NOT read the comments. The comments aren’t healthy. They’re not safe. They’ll sap your will to live. They’ll shred your already loose grasp on reality. The comments will steal your soul. Whatever you do, do NOT read the damned comments.

The comments — they’re what this generation has instead of Vietnam. It’s where you lose your innocence and youth.

“Never get out of the boat,” Chef says. “I didn’t get out of the goddamned eighth grade for this kind of shit.” Never get out of the boat and don’t read the comments. Sounds like good advice. Or…you can read the comments, ignore the damned boat, abandon your innocence, and explore the heart of darkness.

Last week I wrote something about the Charging Bull and Fearless Girl that generated a metric ton of comments. I didn’t read them all. I couldn’t; who has time to read a metric ton of comments? But I’d set up this blog so new commenters must be approved (I rarely get a lot of comments; an approval process wasn’t expected to be a chore), so I was forced to glance at each comment long enough to determine if it was legit or if it was an opportunity to date Russian models or buy genuine Michael Kors handbags for 80% off.

Now that things have slowed down, I’ve been dipping into the comments. And you know what? Some of them are brilliant. Some — surprisingly few, really — are stupid and/or offensive, but for the most part the comments are composed by folks who sincerely want to express a point of view. There really wasn’t much heart of darkness to be found. It was more like the scapula of darkness, with moments of the raised middle finger of darkness.

But here’s the thing — and I think it’s a wonderful thing: people are arguing about art. I’m going to repeat that very slowly, because it’s not something you hear very often. People. Are arguing. About art.

“The girl must go!” “The girl must stay!” “She is an affront to Capitalism!” “Patriarchy must die!” “Your argument is not valid!” “If YOUR argument was valid, it would be easier to find images of women fighting with swords!” “I have no response to that, but I will continue to argue!” “I shall argue on as well! Have at you, varlet!”

They’re thinking about the purpose of public art, they’re forming opinions about the legitimacy of various forms of artistic expression, they’re debating the pros and cons of commissioned art, they’re arguing about depictions of gender in art, they’re reflecting on how context shapes the meaning of art, they’re having passionate disagreements about the intersection of art and economic systems, they’re fighting about what constitutes appropriation and what qualifies as guerrilla art. People — lots of people — are arguing about art. How cool is that? Very cool, is how cool.

There are a lot of recurring topics in the comments that I’d like to address, but I don’t want to turn this into Greg’s Fearless Girl vs. Charging Bull blog. So I’ll just natter on about two of the more prevalent comments.

Lots of great works of art have been commissioned.

Yes, that’s absolutely true. Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel was often mentioned in the comments. But here’s the difference: Michelangelo’s contract to paint the ceiling specified some of the elements to be included (the 12 apostles, for example), but he insisted on the right to interpret how to present those figures. The Pope, for example, didn’t approve of Michelangelo’s decision to include nude figures, but he painted them the way he wanted to paint them. In contrast, as noted in AdWeek, the design of  Fearless Girl was predominantly market-driven.

We were so meticulous with Kristen about designing the girl’s look. It was super important to us, and to everyone at McCann, that she feel relatable to all kinds of girls and all kinds of women…. Every tiny detail of that pose, and particularly the face, and her tilt and angle, was so carefully designed to articulate a really specific message.

Let me be clear: there’s nothing wrong with that. Commercial art IS art, and commercial artists have to be exceedingly talented to turn a marketer’s concept into a piece that works as art while still selling a product. That’s not easy. But it’s important to distinguish between a commissioned work of art in which the artists has the agency to interpret the design and a commissioned work in which the design is largely presented to the artist.

Nobody reads the plaque / nobody knows Fearless Girl is/was a marketing tool

The plaque has actually been removed. In fact, it was removed before I wrote my blog article. A new plaque which doesn’t mention SHE is in its place. Here’s the new plaque:

Fearless Girl was placed in New York City’s Financial District, in honor of International Women’s Day 2017, to celebrate the importance of having greater gender diversity in corporate boards and in company leadership positions. She also stands as an inspiration for the next generation of women leaders”—presented by the New York City Department of Transportation Art Program and State Street Global Advisors

It doesn’t mention SHE, but it acknowledges State Street Global Advisors. More, it suggests Fearless Girl was created to honor International Women’s Day. Again, the decision to install the statue on that date appears to be as much of a marketing strategy as anything else.

“[T]here was a lot of discussion with State Street about the timing of this, because it was so important and meaningful. Launching it on the cusp of International Women’s Day really provided so much fodder for people to emotionally react to her.”

Again, there’s nothing wrong with this — aside from the misleading impression that the primary purpose of the statue is to honor International Women’s Day. I do believe the marketing team is sincere about honoring that day; but they’re professionals and they knew the statue would have more impact because of the date it was released. It was a clever, deliberate, calculated decision AND it also promoted a feminist perspective.

It’s also true the great mass of people are unaware that Fearless Girl was a marketing device — but the great mass of people weren’t the target audience. They were targeting the folks who make investment decisions. And hey, it worked. According to Fortune, SHE ‘has received $3.2 million in new inflows since March alone, half of its total inflows in 2017 so far.’

Fearless Girl is a very effective tool for increasing inflows — which I assume means money (I have to acknowledge that I’m a dolt about matters of finance; Fortune also pointed out that SHE is listed on the NYSE ARCA exchange, not the Nasdaq, as I claimed — and while I’m sure the distinction is important, I haven’t a clue what it means).

Let me repeat this one more time: there’s nothing wrong with running a successful marketing campaign. The problem I have is with the repeated suggestion that Fearless Girl was first and foremost a work of art rather than a very clever and rewarding advertisement for financial services.

~

I still love Fearless Girl. And I’m still bothered by her backstory. I still think Arturo Di Modica has a point — that the installation of Fearless Girl has both appropriated his work by making it an essential aspect of the new statue, and it’s altered the original perception of his work. And I still don’t know what should be done about it.

But I know this: people are talking about art. We’re out of the boat. And this is exactly what I got out of the goddamned eighth grade for.

seriously, the guy has a point

I got metaphorically spanked a couple of days ago. Folks have been talking about the Fearless Girl statue ever since it was dropped in Manhattan’s Financial District some five weeks ago. I have occasionally added a comment or two to some of the online discussions about the statue.

Recently most of the Fearless Girl discussions have focused on the complaints by Arturo Di Modica, the sculptor who created Charging Bull. He wants Fearless Girl removed, and that boy is taking a metric ton of shit for saying that. Here’s what I said that got me spanked:

The guy has a point.

This happened in maybe three different discussions over the last week or so. In each case I explained briefly why I believe Di Modica has a point (and I’ll explain it again in a bit), and for the most part folks either accepted my comments or ignored them. Which is pretty common for online discussions. But in one discussion my comment sparked this:

Men who don’t like women taking up space are exactly why we need the Fearless Girl.

Which — and this doesn’t need to be said, but I’m okay with saying the obvious — is a perfectly valid response. It’s also one I agree with. As far as that goes, it’s one NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio agrees with, since he said it first (although, to be fair, probably one of his public relations people first said it first).

But here’s the thing: you can completely agree with the woman who responded to my comment AND you can still acknowledge that Arturo Di Modica has a point. Those aren’t mutually exclusive or contradictory points of view.

Let me apologize here, because I have to do some history — and for reasons I’ve never understood, some folks actively dislike history. It’s necessary though. So here we go. Back in 1987 there was a global stock market crash. Doesn’t matter why (at least not for this discussion), but stock markets everywhere — everywhere — tanked. Arturo Di Modica, a Sicilian immigrant who became a naturalized citizen of the U.S., responded by creating Charging Bull — a bronze sculpture of a…well, a charging bull. It took him two years to make it. The thing weighs more than 7000 pounds, and cost Di Modica some US$350,000 of his own money. He said he wanted the bull to represent “the strength and power of the American people”. He had it trucked into the Financial District and set it up, completely without permission. It’s maybe the only significant work of guerrilla capitalist art in existence.

People loved it. The assholes who ran the New York Stock Exchange, for some reason, didn’t. They called the police, and pretty soon the statue was removed and impounded. A fuss was raised, the city agreed to temporarily install it, and the public was pleased. It’s been almost thirty years, and Charging Bull is still owned by Di Modica, still on temporary loan to the city, still one of the most recognizable symbols of New York City.

Arturo Di Modica (the one in the beret)

And that brings us to March 7th of this year, the day before International Women’s Day. Fearless Girl appeared, standing in front of Charging Bull. On the surface, it appears to be another work of guerrilla art — but it’s not. Unlike Di Modica’s work, Fearless Girl was commissioned. Commissioned not by an individual, but by an investment fund called State Street Global Advisors, which has assets in excess of US$2.4 trillion. That’s serious money. It was commissioned as part of an advertising campaign developed by McCann, a global advertising corporation. And it was commissioned to be presented on the first anniversary of State Street Global’s “Gender Diversity Index” fund, which has the following NASDAQ ticker symbol: SHE. And finally, along with Fearless Girl is a bronze plaque that reads:

Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference.

Note it’s not She makes a difference, it’s SHE makes a difference. It’s not referring to the girl; it’s referring to the NASDAQ symbol. It’s not a work of guerrilla art; it’s an extremely clever advertising scheme. This is what makes it clever: Fearless Girl derives its power almost entirely from Di Modica’s statue. The sculptor, Kristen Visbal, sort of acknowledges this. She’s said this about her statue:

“She’s not angry at the bull — she’s confident, she knows what she’s capable of, and she’s wanting the bull to take note.”

It’s all about the bull. If it were placed anywhere else, Fearless Girl would still be a very fine statue — but without facing Charging Bull the Fearless Girl has nothing to be fearless to. Or about. Whatever. Fearless Girl, without Di Modica’s bull, without the context provided by the bull, becomes Really Confident Girl.

Fearless Girl also changes the meaning of Charging Bull. Instead of being a symbol of “the strength and power of the American people” as Di Modica intended, it’s now seen as an aggressive threat to women and girls — a symbol of patriarchal oppression.

In effect, Fearless Girl has appropriated the strength and power of Charging Bull. Of course Di Modica is outraged by that. A global investment firm has used a global advertising firm to create a faux work of guerrilla art to subvert and change the meaning of his actual work of guerrilla art. That would piss off any artist.

See? It’s not as simple as it seems on the surface. It’s especially complicated for somebody (like me, for example) who appreciates the notion of appropriation in art. I’ve engaged in a wee bit of appropriation my ownself. Appropriation art is, almost by definition, subversive — and subversion is (also almost by definition) usually the province of marginalized populations attempting to undermine the social order maintained by tradition and the establishments of power. In the case of Fearless Girl, however, the subversion is being done by global corporatists as part of a marketing campaign. That makes it hard to cheer them on. There’s some serious irony here.

And yet, there she is, the Fearless Girl. I love the little statue of the girl in the Peter Pan pose. And I resent that she’s a marketing tool. I love that she actually IS inspiring to young women and girls. And I resent that she’s a fraud. I love that she exists. And I resent the reasons she was created.

I love the Fearless Girl and I resent her. She’s an example of how commercialization can take something important and meaningful — something about which everybody should agree — and shit all over it by turning it into a commodity. Fearless Girl is beautiful, but she is selling SHE; that’s why she’s there.

Should Fearless Girl be removed as Di Modica wants? I don’t know. It would be sad if she was. Should Di Modica simply take his Charging Bull and go home? I mean, it’s his statue. He can do what he wants with it. I couldn’t blame him if he did that, since the Fearless Girl has basically hijacked the meaning of his work. But that would be a shame. I’m not a fan of capitalism, but that’s a damned fine work of art.

I don’t know what should be done here. But I know this: Arturo Di Modica has a point. And I know a lot of folks aren’t willing to acknowledge that.

 

 

 

the news — it ain’t for sissies

See, here’s the problem: there’s just too much shit happening. I have some very simple and very general criteria for selecting topics for this blog. They include (but are most certainly not limited to) the following:

  • shit I find amusing
  • shit I find infuriating
  • shit that alarms me
  • shit engages my interest or curiosity
  • shit that makes no sense
  • shit I think people ought to be thinking about but aren’t
  • shit that usually makes sense but doesn’t in this particular instance
  • shit that’s hilarious
  • shit that makes me want to punch somebody in the throat
  • shit that ought to be in the news but isn’t

It used to be I could read the news in the morning and it was usually fairly easy to pick out one or two things that fit several of those criteria. And then I’d think about that thing for a bit, then start banging out words in a row. Easy peasy Socrates-y. It was all blue sky and fair winds.

But then Comrade Trump got sort of elected. Now everything is happening all at once, and all the time. Shit has got out of hand, so to speak. Now I read the news and I’m screaming “Bank left! Bank left! Don’t turn this corner, Rick!” Now I read the news and what I see is this:

  • shit I find interesting, but alarming and infuriating, that makes no sense, but is somehow hilarious and yet makes me want to punch somebody in the throat.

Shit has become complicated. I’m talking about shit like this: Devin Nunes steps down from simultaneously leading and deliberately undermining the House investigation into Comrade Trump’s multitudinous connections with Russian agents who actively engaged in dozens of covert and illegal operations designed to subvert the U.S. election in favor of Donald Trump after it is revealed he (and we’re back to Nunes here) willfully misled the public and the members of his investigative committee about information he secretly obtained that he claimed supported Trump’s unfounded claim that he’d been illegally wiretapped by President Obama (but which didn’t actually support that claim at all), said information which came from White House operatives (one of whom apparently used to work for Nunes) whose names he refused to release.

And that’s just Nunes. Hell, that’s just Nunes on one particular day. Toss in similar news items about Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner, and just about every venal sumbitch on Trump’s Cabinet of Nazgûl PLUS the fact that Comrade Trump can’t seem to go for more than about 75 minutes without doing or saying something that’s so profoundly ridiculous/incompetent/offensive it makes your eyes water — and hey, it’s sort of paralyzing.

It used to be that I read the news in the morning and I felt informed. Now I read the news and I feel like I’ve escaped after taking fire from all directions. I feel like plucky Flying Officer Terry Waine — I’ve made it through today’s bombing run, but the fuselage is rapidly shredding around me and flames have erupted in the cockpit. And I still have to turn back and try to rescue Boots.

And then, after I crash-land back at base, I’ll have to do it all again tomorrow. It’s exhausting, is what it is.

nunesghazi

In the constellation of Republican Fuckwittery, Devin Nunes has always been among the dimmest of stars. It’s not because he’s stupid, it’s — wait, let me rephrase that. It’s not just because he’s stupid, it’s also because until recently he’d never done anything worth anybody’s notice.

Nunes was your basic Republican Drone — anti-science, climate change denier, anti-choice, Koch Brothers addict, anti-tax, anti-Planned Parenthood, pro-Citizens United. Very pro-Citizens United. So pro, in fact, he supported the Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act, which made it harder for the IRS to discover the names of donors to so-called “social welfare” nonprofit groups, which made it easier for funds from foreign sources (like, for example, Russia) to be used to covertly influence U.S. election politics.

But in 2015, that began to change. Based on his education (he has a B.S. in agricultural business and an M.S. in agriculture) and his extensive experience (he was appointed to be the California State Director for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development section) Nunes was selected to become the Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

And lawdy, that boy has made a name for himself now. Let’s take a look at how Nunes has distinguished himself recently, shall we?

  • Served on Comrade Trump’s presidential transition team.
  • Announced the intelligence community had no evidence of contact between Russian operatives and the Trump campaign or the Trump transition team.
  • Rejected calls for him to subpoena Trump’s tax returns to determine if there were financial ties to Russia.
  • Rejected demands for a House select committee to conduct an investigation into the Trump-Russia connection, saying “There’s nothing there.”
  • Called Michael T. Flynn, Comrade Trump’s National Security Adviser “the best intelligence officer of his time.”
  • After Michael T. Flynn resigned due to lying about his ties to Russia, said the Intelligence Committee wouldn’t investigate Flynn’s ties to Russia because, “From everything that I can see, his conversations with the Russian ambassador — he was doing this country a favor, and he should be thanked for it.”
  • Defends Comrade Trump’s tweets about his ‘wires being tapped’ illegally by President Obama.
  • Michael Ellis, a lawyer who worked for Nunes on the intelligence committee, is hired by the White House counsel’s office to work on national security matters.
  • Admits there’s no evidence Obama illegally wiretapped Trump.
  • Says maybe there’s evidence Obama illegally wiretapped Trump.
  • Holds Intelligence Committee hearing at which FBI Director James Comey and Admiral Mike Rogers (Director of the National Security Agency, Commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, and Chief of the Central Security Service) say Trump was not wiretapped.
  • Visits a source at the White House (wait, where is Michael Ellis working now?) who shows him a report stating the Obama administration may have accidentally captured communications between Russians and Trump and/or his associates.
  • Informs Comrade Trump about the report.
  • Announces the report to the news media at an impromptu press conference.
  • Remembers he’s the Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and informs them of the report. Promises they’ll get to see the report.
  • Admits to everybody that the report stated the surveillance was legal and focused on Russian operatives, not Trump or Trump’s advisers, or the Trump transition team.
  • States he won’t reveal the name of his source, not even to other members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. (Wasn’t there somebody who worked for Nunes on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence who recently got a job at the White House?)
  • Fails to produce the report under question to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
  • Cancels a scheduled public hearing with James Clapper (former Director of National Intelligence), John Brennan (former C.I.A. director), and Sally Yates (recently fired Acting Attorney General, who warned the Trump administration about Michael T. Flynn, the also recently fired former National Security Adviser).
  • Tells reporters “Nothing has been canceled. Everything is moving forward.”
  • Tells reporters there’s no reason for him to recuse himself from the investigation.

Let’s face it, Nunes is a fuck-up. He’s unqualified to lead this investigation and he’s a fuck-up. He’s a partisan hack whose hackery is limited because he’s a fuck-up. He’s a fuck-up who was out of his league when he was the California State Director for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development section.

Wait, let’s let Brando have the last word on Devin Nunes:

it ain’t hoo-ha

I have been unreasonably and uncharacteristically busy for the last couple of weeks. There’s been SO much to rant about and so little time for any serious (or semi-serious, or even farcical) ranting. As much as I’m capable of actually hating anything, I hate being too busy to have fun.

But I’m never too busy to read the news — and I have a very broad definition of news. Sometimes it includes Vanity Fair, and this morning I read an article by Graydon Carter entitled The Trump Presidency Is Already A Joke. Carter (who, by the way, has hair that’s as architectural as Trump’s, but where Trump’s hair is Escher-esque, Carter’s is more Frank Gehry) makes the fairly obvious argument that Comrade Trump is a cartoon figure rather than an earnest administrator, but at the end of the third paragraph he writes something astonishing.

The thing is, if Trump has made any sort of arrangement with the Russians—Kremlin, oligarchs, F.S.B., Mob, or any combination of the four—to drop the Obama-era sanctions in return for past favors, the hoo-ha surrounding his Russian connections now makes that almost impossible to deliver. Whatever support he has received from the Russians over the years presumably came with promises of a payback. If Trump can’t follow through on this, he might be in serious trouble.

Let me offer a different perspective on what ‘the thing is’. The thing is that if those sentences were written about anybody in political life OTHER than Trump, they would have been written as part of a political obituary. That’s what the thing is — that Comrade Trump, after just a couple of months in office, has so eroded the concept of integrity in government that a comment about the president’s possible collusion with a foreign power is relegated to the third paragraph.

Let’s just take a moment and unpack what Carter wrote.

…if Trump has made any sort of arrangement with the Russians—Kremlin, oligarchs, F.S.B., Mob, or any combination of the four…

Shorter version: if Trump committed treason with Russia.

…to drop the Obama-era sanctions in return for past favors…

S.V.: by accepting a bribe.

…the hoo-ha surrounding his Russian connections now makes that almost impossible to deliver.

Not so S.V.: The multiple investigations by Congress, the FBI, and the Treasury Department, coupled with the long-overdue increased scrutiny by news agencies have hosed Trump’s ability to follow through on his treasonable arrangement.

Whatever support he has received from the Russians over the years presumably came with promises of a payback.

S.V.: Putin expects to get his beak wet.

If Trump can’t follow through on this, he might be in serious trouble.

S.V.: Putin will cut a bitch.

Of course, it’s not just Trump who’ll be in serious trouble. And it’s not just his coterie of greedheads and fascist ideologues, who’ll be in serious trouble. These United States will be in serious trouble. Hell, These United States ARE in serious trouble. No matter what happens now, Putin wins. The very fact that this fuckwit occupies the Oval Office has compromised the integrity of the U.S. and undermined our confidence in democracy.

The most ridiculous facet of this tectonic mess is that it’s entirely possible — even probable — that Putin played Comrade Trump for a chump. It’s possible/probable Trump just saw collusion with Russia as a business arrangement that would give him an edge over his competitors, not as treason. It’s possible/probable that Trump fell victim to the old gambler’s adage: if you can’t spot the sucker in your first half hour at the table, then you’re the sucker.

In the past, Trump has always been able to stroll away from a bad deal. When he fails, he declares bankruptcy or gets a loan from his family or enters an arrangement with some dodgy financier. You don’t get to walk away from Putin. I’m not saying Putin is Keyser Söze. He’s more like Keyser Söze’s younger brother. The respectable member of the Söze clan. Keyser Söze in a suit and tie. When he’s not riding bare-chested on a fucking horse.

Graydon Carter ends his article with this bit of bullshit:

Trump’s legacy and that of his family could end up in tatters. The self-lauded Trump brand may well wind up as toxic as the once self-lauded brand of another New York-Palm Beach family: the Madoffs.

Trump’s legacy. The only people who give a rat’s nasty ass about the Trump legacy are people named Trump.

I’m pleased the editor of Vanity Fair is already writing about the end of the Trump presidency. But I wish he wouldn’t minimize the scope and magnitude of Trump’s transgressions. Even if he was played for a chump, Donald Trump is still personally responsible for seriously degrading and corrupting the office of the President of These United States, and for casually pissing on the very idea of governance.

That ain’t hoo-ha.