Made Man

Nick Masesso, Jr.

 “Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.” – Albert Einstein. (Upon hearing of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi)

This Pope smokes dope; definitely, toking some serious Kush, as high as Snoop Lion and Giraffe pussy; in the tube, five by five, locked down and dialed into cosmic truth. It’s not kissing cripples and riding the bus that impresses me; I’m no sycophant of the fantasy empire. I should stipulate here that in the same way my new world dentist drilled the mercury fillings, a thing once thought kosher, out of my teeth, I drilled all the imprinted Catholicism out of my brain just as soon as I got hip to the swindle.

A while back a Jewish Junky friend of mine, three days into a serious heroin nod, illuminated me with a story…

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No, Not Trump, Not Ever: by David Brooks

The voters have spoken.

In convincing fashion, Republican voters seem to be selecting Donald Trump as their nominee. And in a democracy, victory has legitimacy to it. Voters are rarely wise but are usually sensible. They understand their own problems. And so deference is generally paid to the candidate who wins.

And deference is being paid. Gov. Rick Scott of Florida is urging Republicans to coalesce around Trump. Pundits are coming out with their “What We Can Learn” commentaries. Those commentaries are built on a hidden respect for the outcome, that this is a rejection of a Republicanism that wasn’t working and it points in some better direction.

The question is: Should deference be paid to this victor? Should we bow down to the judgment of these voters?

Well, some respect is in order. Trump voters are a coalition of the dispossessed. They have suffered lost jobs, lost wages, lost dreams. The American system is not working for them, so naturally they are looking for something else.

Moreover, many in the media, especially me, did not understand how they would express their alienation. We expected Trump to fizzle because we were not socially intermingled with his supporters and did not listen carefully enough. For me, it’s a lesson that I have to change the way I do my job if I’m going to report accurately on this country.

And yet reality is reality.

Donald Trump is epically unprepared to be president. He has no realistic policies, no advisers, no capacity to learn. His vast narcissism makes him a closed fortress. He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know and he’s uninterested in finding out. He insults the office Abraham Lincoln once occupied by running for it with less preparation than most of us would undertake to buy a sofa.

Trump is perhaps the most dishonest person to run for high office in our lifetimes. All politicians stretch the truth, but Trump has a steady obliviousness to accuracy.

This week, the Politico reporters Daniel Lippman, Darren Samuelsohn and Isaac Arnsdorf fact-checked 4.6 hours of Trump speeches and press conferences. They found more than five dozen untrue statements, or one every five minutes.

“His remarks represent an extraordinary mix of inaccurate claims about domestic and foreign policy and personal and professional boasts that rarely measure up when checked against primary sources,” they wrote.

He is a childish man running for a job that requires maturity. He is an insecure boasting little boy whose desires were somehow arrested at age 12. He surrounds himself with sycophants. “You can always tell when the king is here,” Trump’s butler told Jason Horowitz in a recent Times profile. He brags incessantly about his alleged prowess, like how far he can hit a golf ball. “Do I hit it long? Is Trump strong?” he asks.

In some rare cases, political victors do not deserve our respect. George Wallace won elections, but to endorse those outcomes would be a moral failure.

And so it is with Trump.

History is a long record of men like him temporarily rising, stretching back to biblical times. Psalm 73 describes them: “Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. … They scoff, and speak with malice; with arrogance they threaten oppression. Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance.”

And yet their success is fragile: “Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly they are destroyed.”

The psalmist reminds us that the proper thing to do in the face of demagogy is to go the other way — to make an extra effort to put on decency, graciousness, patience and humility, to seek a purity of heart that is stable and everlasting.

The Republicans who coalesce around Trump are making a political error. They are selling their integrity for a candidate who will probably lose. About 60 percent of Americans disapprove of him, and that number has been steady since he began his campaign.

Worse, there are certain standards more important than one year’s election. There are certain codes that if you betray them, you suffer something much worse than a political defeat.

Donald Trump is an affront to basic standards of honesty, virtue and citizenship. He pollutes the atmosphere in which our children are raised. He has already shredded the unspoken rules of political civility that make conversation possible. In his savage regime, public life is just a dog-eat-dog war of all against all.

As the founders would have understood, he is a threat to the long and glorious experiment of American self-government. He is precisely the kind of scapegoating, promise-making, fear-driving and deceiving demagogue they feared.

Trump’s supporters deserve respect. They are left out of this economy. But Trump himself? No, not Trump, not ever.

American Demagogue:BY DAVID REMNICK

Nearly three decades ago, Howard Kaminsky, of Random House, called on the real-estate developer and self-marketing master Donald Trump at his office on Fifth Avenue. Kaminsky brought along a cover design for “Trump: The Art of the Deal,” its author’s literary début. Trump seemed reasonably happy. Just one thing, he said. “Please make my name much bigger.”

It was all so funny once. For a long time, Trump, with his twenty-four-karat skyscrapers, his interesting hair, and his extra-classy airline, was a leading feature of the New York egoscape. The editors of the satirical monthly Spycovered him with the same obsessive attention that Field & Stream pays to the rainbow trout. Trump never failed to provide; he was everywhere, commandeering a corner at a professional wrestling match, buying the Miss Universe franchise and vowing smaller bathing suits and higher heels. You could watch him humiliate supplicants on “The Apprentice” and hear him on “The Howard Stern Show” gallantly describing the mystery of Melania’s bowel movements (“I’ve never seen anything—it’s amazing”) and announcing that, “without even hesitation,” he would have had sex with Princess Diana. As early as 1988, Trump hinted at a run for the White House, though this was understood to be part of his carny shtick, another form of self-branding in the celebrity-mad culture.

And now here we are. Trump is no longer hustling golf courses, fake “universities,” or reality TV. He means to command the United States armed forces and control its nuclear codes. He intends to propose legislation, conduct America’s global affairs, preside over its national-intelligence apparatus, and make the innumerable moral and political decisions required of a President. This is not a Seth Rogen movie; this is as real as mud. Having all but swept the early Republican primaries and caucuses, Trump—who re-tweets conspiracy theories and invites the affections of white-supremacist groups, and has established himself as the adept inheritor of a long tradition of nativism, discrimination, and authoritarianism—is getting ever closer to becoming the nominee of what Republicans like to call “the party of Abraham Lincoln.” No American demagogue––not Huey Long, not Joseph McCarthy, not George Wallace––has ever achieved such proximity to national power.

Meanwhile, the elders of the G.O.P., like House Speaker Paul Ryan, have declared their disgust, unless, like Governor Chris Christie, of New Jersey, they have sold their souls for a place at Trump’s feeding trough. As yet, no detestable remark, no flagrant display of ignorance, no scummy business deal has dissuaded his followers. Nor will Trump be defeated by the putatively scathing critiques of the commentariat (including this one). Quote his most hateful eruptions––about Mexicans, about Muslims, about women, about African-Americans––and the next day will still bring an arena filled with voters who find him incorruptible precisely because he is rich, and who vibrate to his blunt assessments of the American condition. Last month, John Oliver, a master of the extended comic decimation, opened video fire on Trump after many months of resisting the subject. So hilarious! So devastating! And then Trump cleaned up on Super Tuesday. Don’t they watch HBO in the S.E.C. states?

Pull the camera back, and Trump can be viewed as part of a deadly serious wave of authoritarians and xenophobes who have come to power in Russia, Poland, and Hungary, and who lead such movements as the National Front, in France, and the Independence Party, in the United Kingdom. Vladimir Putin and Trump have expressed mutual admiration. It’s not hard to see why. Putin has obliterated the early shoots of Russian democracy as evidence of weakness and obeisance to the West; his eighty-per-cent popularity rating is built on arousing nationalism and a hatred of minorities (ethnic and sexual), the suppression of dissent, and a bare-chested macho image. Trump says approvingly, “At least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country.”

Yet how has Donald Trump, the coddled scion of a New York real-estate baron, emerged as a populist hero? How does the beneficiary of a draft deferment due to bone spurs on his feet get away with questioning the military record of John McCain, who endured five years as a prisoner of war? Trump believes that his appeal is based largely on what he calls his heroic lack of “political correctness” but which is more accurately described as a breezy penchant for race-baiting, war crimes, and content-free policy pronouncements. At rallies, Trump gets some of his loudest cheers when he calls for the expanded use of torture (methods “a hell of a lot worse” than waterboarding), for the construction of a walled-off southern border (it will be “a beautiful wall”), and for the immediate replacement of Obamacare with . . . “something terrific.”

The question remains why the Trump phenomenon has proved so buoyant and impregnable. Some have earnestly ascribed it to broad social and economic forces, particularly the “new normal” of stagnating wages, underemployment, and corporate “offshoring” and “inversion.” Yet those factors were at least as pronounced in the last election cycle––and Republicans chose as their nominee the father of comprehensive health care in Massachusetts.

The socioeconomic forces are real, but Trump is also the beneficiary of a long process of Republican intellectual decadence. Paul Ryan denounces Trump but not the Tea Party rhetoric that propelled his own political ascent. John McCain holds Trump in contempt, but selected as his running mate Sarah Palin, the Know-Nothing of Wasilla, one of Trump’s most vivid forerunners and supporters. Mitt Romney last week righteously slammed Trump as a “phony” and a misogynist, and yet in 2012 he embraced Trump’s endorsement and praised his “extraordinary” understanding of economics.

The G.O.P. establishment may be in a state of meltdown, but this process of exploiting the darkest American undercurrents began with Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy and, more lately, has included the birther movement and the Obama Derangement Syndrome. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, who compete hard for the most extreme positions in conservatism, decry the viciousness and the vacuousness of Trump, but they started out by deferring to him––and now they ape his vulgarity in a last-ditch effort to keep pace. Insults. Bigotry. Nationally televised assurances of adequate genital dimensions. This is the political moment in which we live. The Republican Party, having spent years courting the basest impulses in American political culture, now sees the writing on the wall. It reads “Donald Trump,” in very big letters. 

Eat the Rich

Nick Masesso, Jr.

“We are what we pretend to be; so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” – Mother Night – Kurt Vonnegut 

The afternoon sky was the color of brushed aluminum when a tangerine twilight turned it into charcoal dusk. As evening descended into night the gloaming dove-grey heavens had the macabre formality of a steel engraving. The dark night’s moonlit winds roared in from Canada and blew a banshee typhoon till dawn. The snow devil set down a foot of fluff while I drifted into tender oblivion; dreaming of sunny black sand beaches that would steam my friends and lovers and me like dumplings, when I woke the weather guy claimed wind chills of fifty below zero.

It was a tranquil almost idyllic morning lit by glints of sunlight sending flickers and flashes of reflections glancing up from the white lake; winds had made frozen caps of…

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