MY LAWN

Posted in Rants on April 7th, 2016 by Ed

Regular readers who have also enjoyed the work of Bill Bryson likely have noticed that I am also a fan. The man is a very good writer, and I've learned more than a few things about putting sarcasm into print from his work over the years. You can imagine how disappointed I was, then, to read his latest. It's terrible.

Bryson, 64, mis-titled the book. It should have been called "Things were all better back in my day!" or "Old Man Bitches About Everything." I don't know what happened – perhaps it is a simple function of age – but there's no humor or no pleasure in this. It's a man touring England complaining about everything. Literally everything. All the shops in this town are closed! Everything costs too much! That sign has a grammatical error in it because everybody is stupid now! The kid at McDonald's asked me if I wanted fries, and if I wanted fries I would have fucking told him I wanted fries! This museum is just a big gift shop now! Who are these "celebrities" and why are they famous when they have no talent! Kids are so disrespectful these days!

I have no doubt that it is hard to age, to see things change, to wake up one day and realize that the world you live in is no longer the one you know best and with which you are most comfortable. Readers of any age can have some sympathy for it. There is little joy or interest in reading someone go through the process, though.

The thing I wish older people complaining about the state of the world would more often recognize is that choices made by the same generations currently complaining are largely responsible for all that now bothers them. Kids are stupid and don't know how to speak? Well, look what has happened to public education since the 1970s. Yeah, kids with no job prospects will probably just sit around and drink all day. All the cute little shops are gone, replaced by soulless chain stores? Well, changes to the economy and wage stagnation more than explain why people prioritize low prices and convenience/speed (got to make it to that second job on time!) above all else. Your favorite seaside or countryside town is a fraction of what it used to be? Well, all the sources of employment are gone. Why would anyone stay? People are less friendly now? Well, maybe that's because the world is shitty and there's little for them to be happy about.

And that's the part that kills me about When I Was Your Age rants – they're not wrong. I have no doubt that for the modal American, the country was a less shitty place in the past. This argument of course overlooks great advances that have been made in the rights and lives of women, minorities, gays and lesbians, and other people for whom The Good Old Days were not quite so Good. But in terms of the state of the country, I have no doubt that people were generally less miserable and our towns and cities looked less sad and run down Back in the Day. Back when our society was one of generally shared prosperity – again, not without exceptions – and people could get half-decently paying jobs without having to experience lightning-strike luck, I'm sure everyone smiled and said Hello more often. I'm sure people were happier back when the places they live did not look like setpieces for post-apocalypse action movies. Everything is dirty, falling apart, and empty. Boarded-up windows and empty Main Streets don't make people feel cheerful.

If Bill Bryson reads this (that was a joke, relax), yes, you're right. Everything sucks now. Believe me, we know. We get it. It seems like an intelligent person could readily identify the causes, though, and perhaps at least nod at them while cataloging all of one's gripes about the corporate- and gift shop-funded museum world in which we find ourselves. You personally may not bear direct responsibility for creating it, but it didn't happen by accident. Previous generations – your generation – made choices that led to it. I'm sorry you're unhappy with it, but trust me that the young man at McDonald's isn't exactly loving this world either.

WATER WET

Posted in Quick Hits on April 4th, 2016 by Ed

Despite getting little attention over the weekend, the Panama Papers document leak received a substantial amount of mainstream media attention on Monday (at least online). Fortune, the BBC, USA Today, NBC, the Washington Post, and any number of other Very Serious Media Outlets are running with it now, which is a victory by proxy for the kinds of non-mainstream outlets that began pushing hard on the story as early as Saturday evening. The story is unlikely to have much staying power in the U.S., though, and may even fade faster than expected in Europe and the rest of the world due to the nature of the underlying issue.

The first problem with getting U.S. media to cover this extensively is that no major American figures are (yet) involved. It's awfully difficult to get Americans to care about our own politics let alone elected officials in other countries. "Oh man, I can't believe Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugson did that!" is a phrase no American news consumer or media personality has ever used or will ever use. Another problem is the fact that outrage fatigue and general cynicism make it difficult to muster much enthusiasm for scandals that confirm what we already know (or very strongly suspect) about the world – in this case, namely that the rich and powerful live in a separate world that operates under its own exclusive rules and they squirrel their money away in proverbial Swiss Bank Accounts so they don't have to pay taxes like some nouveau riche suburban desk commando with an MBA. Is it fair? Of course not. Is anyone really surprised to learn that this is in fact what has been going on? I doubt it.

Clearly it's an important issue and one that validates a lot of what we already know to be part of the deep systemic social and economic inequality built into our system and our way of life. But therein lies the problem; if everyone is already assuming that water is wet, the headline announcing that discovery is going to fall flat. We openly allow corporations to get away with offshoring their money in this country, and if they're People anyway, why would we be surprised to learn that the elites who control them do exactly the same thing with their personal finances?

I'm not saying nobody should care. I'm saying it isn't entirely surprising that nobody seems too up-in-arms over the revelations. It's nice to learn that our suspicions are correct, but beyond that it fits seamlessly into the worldview most half-smart people have long since held.

HANDFUL OF POCKETS

Posted in Rants on April 3rd, 2016 by Ed

Statistically, I live in an extremely dangerous city. Yet I spend exactly none of my time worrying about being a victim of crime. Part of that is my attitude; generally I believe that if a lightning bolt is going to hit you there isn't much you can do about it. Sure, you wouldn't want to increase your chances of being struck by running around an open field waving a lightning rod during a thunderstorm. But there's only so much you can do. Either they've got your name on them or they don't.

Aside from taking reasonable precautions, the other reason never to worry about it is that crime in the city is heavily ghettoized. This calendar year promises to break all previous records for shootings and gun-related murders in Chicago, but it doesn't take complex geospatial analysis to see the patterns when they're mapped out.

shootings april1

This quote is telling: "Police said the disturbing rise in violence is driven by gangs and mostly contained to a handful of pockets on the city's South and West sides."

Oh, OK then. As long as the people shooting each other are all in the same place.

That quote is accurate but belies the fact that this is not a natural disaster. The police, and most Chicagoans, talk about it like it just happened this way or, among the Trump crowd, is an artifact of race in the most violent areas. The reality is that the police adopted a strategy of confinement, not crime prevention or community service. Just make sure that the borders of "Chiraq" don't extend east of Western Ave. or north of Pershing and everyone can call that a win. If the parts of the city with money are safe, or have what would be considered a normal level of crime for a major city, the police and city leaders don't much worry about the other parts. The CPD has for the last few years adopted a strategy in areas like Austin and South Shore of, "Just call us when we need to come pick up the bodies."

It's nearly impossible to construct an explanation that doesn't involve racism. There's no getting around the fact that the shitty neighborhoods are black and the white and Hispanic parts of the city are safer and more actively policed. The police cite "gang problems" as if white and Hispanic people don't have gangs or drugs. That's not to say that with just a little more effort the police could equalize crime rates everywhere in the city. The problem is that nobody's even trying.

To listen to the national news talk about Chicago you'd think it's Sarajevo in the 90s and we all have to run from building to building in a low, serpentine manner to arrive at the office alive. That isn't reality for most of us. But for some people it is, and we're all uncomfortably satisfied with that.

NPF: ZAHA HADID, 1950-2016

Posted in No Politics Friday on April 2nd, 2016 by Ed

Architects are not household names, especially not living ones. The average reader of Sunday newspapers can probably name Frank Gehry or recognize his derivative blobitechture by sight, but otherwise it's difficult to think of a living architect who might be recognizable to a non-enthusiast or professional in the field. The most important, decorated, and accomplished living one died on Thursday, and her death was no more than a Page 3 level headline.

Zaha Hadid was born in Iraq in 1950 to a wealthy family, which allowed her in 1972 to move to London to study architecture under, among others, Dutch giant Rem Koolhaas (who, like her, would win the Pritzker Prize, the Nobel of architecture). Today both are recognized as founders of the first identifiable successor to postmodern and modernist architecture, a heavily geometric yet smooth style that defies its mathematical origins by blending in place with its surroundings. It is a shame that neither figure is better known, but it is not uncommon in architecture for time to be a crucial ingredient in the growth of one's reputation.

Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center - Baku, Azerbaijan

Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center – Baku, Azerbaijan

In a professional world in which few women become prominent, Hadid won the Pritzker in 2010 (the only solo female recipient to date), two Stirling Prizes for individual works (Rome's MAXXI art museum – get it? XXI? – and London's Evelyn Grace Academy), and the Royal Institute of British Architects Gold Medal, of which she is also the only solo female recipient.

London Aquatic Centre for 2012 Olympics

London Aquatic Centre for 2012 Olympics

The word "visionary" should not be tossed around lightly. Hadid was one. Her architecture of multiple perspectives – buildings that present dramatically different impressions depending on the point at which one views them – is now a commonly imitated aspect of contemporary architecture and even interior design. The BMW Building and the aforementioned Evelyn Grace Academy are probably the most representative examples of this, as well as excellent examples of how geometric designs can be made to blend naturally with the landscape. Any architect can make a geometric design that stands out like a jagged shard from a flat landscape. It takes restraint and an eye for aesthetics that few have or ever will have to make it look natural.

Broad Art Museum - East Lansing, MI

Broad Art Museum – East Lansing, MI

It's sad to think someone so important could depart without attracting more attention. Maybe it is the lack of major projects in the United States. Maybe it is the absence of a loud, garish "Hey look at me" style to her work. While the name might not be familiar to you, she did as much as or more than anyone to shape the way the world around you looks today and the aesthetics of urbanism in the foreseeable future. Her influence will outlive her.

GOOD NEWS, SORT OF

Posted in Rants on March 30th, 2016 by Ed

Amid Trump hysteria it has not attracted much notice that Bernie Sanders has won five straight Democratic contests. Granted, that comes after a string of seven straight Clinton wins so it's not champagne time by any stretch of the imagination. But five wins beats five losses.

The problem is that those five victories did not do a lot to the numbers because few delegates represent those states. Compare the seven won by Clinton (her delegate count is in the left column, pledged only) to the five won by Sanders (right column) and it's clear that not all wins are created equal in this process.

uhoh

What his campaign is banking on is that the worst is over and the election now moves into their candidate's wheelhouse. The Alabamas and Utahs and Texases of the primary process are done with and the remaining states are solid Blue on the whole. If he's gonna do well anywhere, this is where you would expect it. Here's an overview of the remaining contests. In this table and throughout this post we're going to ignore the superdelegates in parenthesis; they're likely to support whoever wins the majority of pledged delegates, just as they did in 2008. For now they are sticking with Clinton. If Sanders catches her, most of them will jump ship once again.

The Democratic Party process has 4051 total pledged delegates (PD), meaning the magic number for a majority is 2026. Currently Sanders has 980 and Clinton has 1243. It's not a small margin, but neither is it insurmountably large. To win the majority of the 4051 total PD count Sanders would need 57.22% of the remaining 1898 PD as of today's date. He's been winning with large percentage majorities in the recent races. Can he keep it up? If he doesn't, he's going to be in trouble by the end of April.

Dem Del

There are two contests before April 19 – WY and WI – with 100 combined PD. For the sake of argument let's say the candidates split those 60 (Sanders) and 40 (Clinton). That would keep the status quo in place until April 19-26, during which six races will occur. Two of the states, NY and PA, are very large with 247 and 189 PD respectively. If Sanders does not win 60%-plus of the delegates available on April 19 and 26 the math for catching Clinton becomes very difficult. California and New Jersey would represent almost all of the remaining PD after April 26.

The Democrats do not use Winner-take-All rules, so the reality is that both candidates' PD total will inch steadily higher as these races unfold. If Clinton scores a decisive win in a large state at this point, though, it would not be the end of Sanders but the odds would start looking very long. On the other hand, wins in places like New York (where Clinton currently leads significantly in an admittedly small sample of polls). He not only needs to find a way to win, but he needs to win by a margin large enough to start catching up. California is narrowing but Clinton leads there as well.

Without those two, the road to a majority is hard to see. Not only winning but winning by a 3/5 majority is a tall order for any candidate. Stranger things have happened, though, and despite falling onto the back burner over the past few weeks the race is far from over. By the end of the day on April 26 we should have a very good idea of how realistic it is for Sanders to catch up. I wouldn't bet my paycheck on that happening, but I wouldn't bet it on Clinton either at this point.

DON'T LET IT BE A BLACK AND A WHITE ONE

Posted in Rants on March 29th, 2016 by Ed

Ice Cube, before he became a comic prop in family vacation movies, understood a fundamental truth about race and law enforcement 30 years ago that still has not sunk in with a lot of Americans.

Ready? All of the issues with race and law enforcement apply regardless of the race of a particular officer. Cops use more force against black suspects. White cops. Black cops. Male cops. Female cops. Cops. That's the point – it's a systemic problem, not a "Few bad apples" problem.

And on the other hand, without a gun they can't get none
But don't let it be a black and a white one
Cause they'll slam ya down to the street top
Black police showing out for the white cop

Sure, it would be a good idea (for any number of reasons) for police departments to hire a diverse group of officers. But "We have black cops too" doesn't mean that issues of race and law enforcement go away. It's still there. If cops generally perceive that black male suspects are a threat, that can go as well for non-white cops as for white ones. Three of the cops who beat Freddie Gray to death, to cite just one example, were black. They didn't stand there and watch the three white cops beat him. They didn't say "Hey you know this seems to be an excessive amount of force." They participated. Whether they were "showing out for the white cops" or behaving how they would have behaved if all of the cops involved were black is conjecture. What isn't conjecture is that black cops, like white, Hispanic, Asian, left-handed, and Turkish-Romanian cops, were part of the problem. Because the problem is bigger than cops. The problem is with the system. We repeat the lie that it's just a few bad apples, one or two loose cannons here and there, because it transfers responsibility from the system to the individual. And when the problem is the individual…oh well, what are you gonna do, right? See also: mass shootings.

Cities are racing to appoint black cops to top positions in troubled departments. Chicago recently jumped on the bandwagon, appointing an unknown, inexperienced (administratively) beat cop named Eddie Johnson as Superintendent in response to public uproar that has already taken down the Cook County State's Attorney in the recent Democratic primary. Look, it makes no sense to begrudge the city promoting a beat cop, a black cop, or a black beat cop to a position of authority. It's probably not a bad idea. The problem is that when these appointments are made, it's not hard to picture everyone in the Mayor's office and Police HQ slapping their hands together and exclaiming, "Problem solved!"

It's not a solution. It is, at worst, window dressing and, at best, a red herring. The problem in Chicago is not that there weren't or aren't enough black cops in the upper ranks. The problem in Chicago is that the police department has proven itself totally rotten, corrupt, conspiratorial, and willing to go to any length to protect its own. Top to bottom. The whole thing. Maybe Eddie Johnson will be a good Super, maybe he'll be gone in six months. Who knows. The point is that appointing him, or anyone else, does not solve the problem. And these appointments of black cops to high ranking position at a time when police departments are reeling from being asked to answer for the massive numbers of unarmed black suspects they bring to the morgue feels a lot less like a legitimate effort to bring diversity to leadership positions and a lot more like a cynical PR ploy to allow the old, white, reactionary base on which urban politics still depends to say "We appointed a colored, what more do you want."

BEYOND DESCRIPTION

Posted in Rants on March 27th, 2016 by Ed

The "Anybody but Hillary" defense of voting for Trump is already bubbling to the surface. It's unsurprising, since it sounds much better than "I don't like brown people but I'm smart enough not to admit it." It will be popular among the usual suspects who were going to vote Republican no matter what despite protests about evaluating the candidates on their merits. You know. Old white people.

In the long run it isn't consequential because 2012 already proved that there aren't enough of them to win an election. The logic, or the implied logic, is pretty interesting though. Whenever I encounter someone who talks about what a nightmare the Bill Clinton years were, I really push them on specifics. Was it the rapid economic growth? The balanced budget? The lack of full-scale wars? Of course Bill wasn't personally responsible for everything positive that happened during his two terms. I'm just trying to wrap my head around what exactly was so bad. It inevitably boils down to 1) He banged an intern, which is important because Reasons, and 2) He humiliated the country by using diplomacy with other nations rather than pulling his dick out and waving it around screaming AMERICA #1 SUCK IT. Nothing rankles these people like a perceived lack of Ass-Kickin' toughness.

Policy-wise, about the worst thing old white people could expect during a Hillary Clinton presidency is for personal income tax levels to stay where they are (Let's briefly ignore the fact that in the name of the god Centrism, she'll probably sign a few gratuitous tax cuts just because). It is very difficult to wrap my head around a level of narcissism and a provincialism of worldview that could leave someone unable to conceive of anything worse than…not getting more tax cuts. But probably getting more tax cuts anyway.

Really? You can't think of anything worse? You'll vote for literally anyone to avoid voting for someone with a proven track record of blowing up small countries (Which Old White People like!) and a level of fiscal liberalism about as powerful as Ronald Reagan's? I mean, I can think of much worse things than that. War. Famine. Genocide. Destruction of the planet. The breakdown of civil order. Worsening economic and social inequality. The loss of personal freedoms in the name of religious dogma. Paying full sticker price for a Dodge Charger. Really, any remotely imaginative person should be able to think of hundreds of worse things than four bland, middlebrow years of Hillary Clinton protecting the status quo.

But not your parents. For them, nothing could equal that horror. For some reason. Look, it can't be explained. Just because. Go clean your room.

NPF: NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN

Posted in No Politics Friday on March 24th, 2016 by Ed

An anecdote of such great interest from Vincent Cannato's American Passage that I don't think my words can do it justice:

Frank Woodhull’s experience at Ellis Island began in 1908 when he returned from a vacation to England. The Canadian-born Woodhull, who was not a naturalized American citizen, was heading back to New Orleans where he lived. As he walked single file with his fellow passengers past Ellis Island doctors, he was pulled aside for further inspection. The fifty-year-old was of slight build with a sallow complexion. He wore a black suit and vest, with a black hat pulled down low over his eyes and covering his short-cropped hair. His appearance convinced the doctors to test Woodhull for tuberculosis.

Woodhull was taken to a detention ward for further examination. When a doctor asked him to take his clothes off, Woodhull begged off and asked not to be examined. “I might as well tell you all,” he said. “I am a woman and have traveled in male attire for fifteen years.” Her real name was Mary Johnson. She told her life story to officials, about how a young woman alone in the world tried to make a living, but her manly appearance, deep voice, and slight mustache over her thinly pursed lips made life difficult for her. It had been a hard life, so at age thirty-five Johnson bought men’s clothing and started a new life as Frank Woodhull, working various jobs throughout the country, earning a decent living, and living an independent life. Mary Johnson’s true sexual identity was a secret for fifteen years until Frank Woodhull arrived at Ellis Island.

Johnson requested to be examined by a female matron, who soon found nothing physically wrong with the patient. She had enough money to avoid being classified as likely to become a public charge, was intelligent and in good health, and was considered by officials, in the words of one newspaper, “a thoroughly moral person.” Ellis Island seemed impressed with Johnson, despite her unusual life story. Nevertheless, the case was odd enough to warrant keeping Johnson overnight while officials decided what to do. Not knowing whether to put Johnson with male detainees or female detainees, officials eventually placed her in a private room in one of the island’s hospital buildings.

“Mustached, She Plays Man,” said the headline in the New York Sun. Despite her situation, officials deemed Johnson a desirable immigrant and allowed her to enter the country and, in the words of the Times, “go out in the world and earn her living in trousers.” There was nothing in the immigration law that excluded a female immigrant for wearing men’s clothing, although one can imagine that if the situation had been reversed and a man entered wearing women’s clothing, the outcome might have been different.

Before she left for New Orleans, Johnson spoke to reporters. “Women have a hard time in this world,” she said, complaining that women cared too much about clothes and were merely “walking advertisements for the milliner, the dry goods shops, the jewelers, and other shops.” Women, Johnson said, were “slaves to whim and fashion.” Rather than being hemmed in by these constraints, she preferred “to live a life of independence and freedom.” And with that Frank Woodhull left Ellis Island to resume life as a man.

That's a pretty powerful statement of how limited the prospects in life were for women in the 19th Century. Not much has been written about Frank Woodhull, but you can find the archived original news stories with a simple Google search.

HOLIDAYS IN THE SUN

Posted in Rants on March 24th, 2016 by Ed

Donald Trump and his supporters are absolutely right about one thing when it comes to immigration.

Hold on. I'm going somewhere with this.

It is correct to say that in the United States, and to an even greater extent in Europe, existing laws on immigration are poorly enforced. What they don't understand, though, is that immigration laws have never been enforced strictly, here or elsewhere. It is today and always has been a matter of political expediency to write strict immigration laws and a matter of economic necessity to enforce them with great laxity.

During the first great American hysteria over immigration in the mid-19th Century – the target of opportunity was the Irish, although over the remainder of the century it evolved to Italians, Poles, Slavs, and all nationalities of Eastern European Jews – restrictive immigration laws were passed not infrequently in Congress. And anti-immigration elites (and labor leaders like Samuel Gompers, who feared the dilution of wages) were regularly incensed to see how poorly those laws were enforced. Weak enforcement was, and is, no accident. During the Industrial Revolution, massive amounts of raw physical labor were needed to mine the coal, pour the steel, work the powerhouses, and many other varieties of hard, physically demanding, often dehumanizing work. Since few Americans could be found willing to work themselves to death for wages that ranged from mediocre to scandalous, the captains of industry of the day understood that they needed another source of labor. Eastern Europeans in particular – not a small of stature people by nature – were ideal candidates. And that's why I live in the United States right now, because sometime around 1910 a guy who looks kinda like me was willing to do literally any job for a chance to live here.

The country admitted millions of immigrants who should have been, by the strict letter of the laws, sent back to Europe. But big business has a tendency to get what it wants in this country, and they wanted bodies. Waving those bodies through the gates without too much regard for immigration laws first made our economy great, then made our society great.

Things are no different today excepting the direction on the map from which the immigrants are arriving. Business needs low cost labor for manual and other unskilled work. Political populism demands strict immigration laws to keep the nativist and xenophobic tendencies in the electorate satisfied. Everybody with power gets what they want – politicians get votes, industry gets labor. In a rare example of wants coinciding, the immigrants get what they want as well. As best anyone who has studied the matter now or historically can determine, what they want is little more than a chance to work like dogs for very little money in return for living here.

So, Trump is not wrong when he says immigration laws are enforced haphazardly. What he is too thick or too politically savvy to mention, though, is that people like Donald Trump are the exact reason that this situation exists. Capital wants labor, and American teenagers are not going to pick fruit in 85 degree heat for 14 hours per day with little complaint. If immigration laws were enforced at the level of the employer – imposing severe penalties for any workplace found employing undocumented immigrants – the problem would disappear. Of course that option is not on the table, because everyone in a position to affect these matters understands how crucial that low-wage labor is to our economy. Those guys stand in the Home Depot parking lot every morning at sunrise because someone is going to give them money in exchange for work, not because they enjoy the view.

The incentives are today what they have always been: win votes with rhetoric and laws, keep the cheap labor coming – and the money flowing – with indifferent enforcement. If our economic oligarchs didn't want and need immigrant labor, the wall would long since have been built.

WORD CANNON

Posted in Rants on March 22nd, 2016 by Ed

I put a lot of effort into plowing through the transcript of Donald Trump's open ended interview with the editors of the Washington Post, and then more into trying to think of what to make of it. Despite the fact that it will be unpleasant, please do try to read it. You have to see it to believe it. It's…it's nothing. It's like a cannon that fires random batches of words at people. A representative passage:

HIATT: But just – given the Supreme Court rulings on libel — Sullivan v. New York Times — how would you change the law?

TRUMP: I would just loosen them up.

RUTH MARCUS: What does that mean?

[Crosstalk]

TRUMP: I’d have to get my lawyers in to tell you, but I would loosen them up. I would loosen them up. If The Washington Post writes badly about me – and they do, they don’t write good – I mean, I don’t think I get – I read some of the stories coming up here, and I said to my staff, I said, “Why are we even wasting our time? The hatred is so enormous.” I don’t know why. I mean, I do a good job. I have thousands of employees. I work hard.

I’m not looking for bad for our country. I’m a very rational person, I’m a very sane person. I’m not looking for bad. But I read articles by you, and others. And, you know, we’ve never – we don’t know each other, and the level of hatred is so incredible, I actually said, “Why am I – why am I doing this? Why am I even here?” And I don’t expect anything to happen–

"What would you do?"

"Something."

"What's something?"

"I don't know, I'll have to ask someone else."

About a third of the country is really excited at the prospect of this person getting in the White House.

OK, one more excerpt, the telling one:

But—and honestly, you know part of—I always say we have to be unpredictable. We’re totally predictable. And predictable is bad. Sitting at a meeting like this and explaining my views and if I do become president, I have these views that are down for the other side to look at, you know. I hate being so open.

So we should have a mentally unstable egomaniac – the Joker, in essence – running the military and the world's largest nuclear arsenal. You gotta keep 'em guessing! Be random and unpredictable so they never know what we might bomb the shit out of next! Who's "they"? Ah, it doesn't matter. We are best served by the rest of the world thinking we are lunatics, like North Korea.

I don't even know what to say anymore. Read the transcript and if any part of you is not deeply alarmed by it, go to hell. This is like the Battlefield: Earth of presidential candidates – if you don't understand immediately and on a fundamental level why it's terrible, I'm not going to be able to explain it to you. Just go away to one of the places in this country set aside for garbage human beings. Try Mississippi.