President Elect Trump’s First Press Conference: Cliff’s Notes Edition

I have read the full transcript of Trump’s first press conference as President Elect so that you do not have to.  My Cliff’s Notes version is only slightly  shorter than the original transcript but, critically, it adheres to Kellyanne Conway’s admonition that we must stop believing the things that Trump says and does and instead look for the truth that exists within his heart.

TRUMP: Hello.

Let me start by saying that I give the best press conferences.  Nobody gives better press conferences than me.  I used to give press conferences on a daily basis but then I had to stop because dishonest members of the press were reporting on my words and actions rather than the truth within my heart.

I’d also like to take this moment to thank the news organizations that have pandered to me and to let the news agencies that reported the findings of our intelligence agencies know that they are now declared FAKE NEWS.

Okay, with that out of the way, I’d like to say that everything good that is happening in the country right now is because of me.  Also, I met with Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba, and we’ve come up with a great plan to outsource the creation of new jobs in America to China. It’s a good thing you elected me President.

I am the best job producer that God has ever created.  If certain things happen, including luck, we’re going to do a real job on the United States, believe me.

My inauguration is going to be beautiful.  We have tremendous talent.  We’re going to have all of the bands.  Everything is going to be very, very elegant and very, very special.  The crowds are going to be huge and I’m having a movement.

Can we talk about my movement for a moment?  My win was very beautiful and we’re going to work hard to reward the states that voted for me.  We’re going to provide a lot of security for those states and create jobs for them and take care of their veterans.

Speaking of Veterans, I made my only sane appointment today by naming David Shulkin head secretary of the Veterans Administration.

I will now answer questions.

Q: How awkward was it for the intelligence agencies to brief you on your own treasonous acts?

TRUMP: That’s classified.  But let me say that I’ve read the reports about my organization spying for the Kremlin and acting as an agent of the Russian government by making changes to the official Republican Party positions on the Ukraine so that they will not blackmail me with the video they have of me being peed on by Russian prostitutes and it is all FAKE NEWS.  And, by the way, this information was gathered by people who are opponents of me, not people who like and support me.

And sure, the Russians hacked us, but do you know who else hacks us?  Other people and other countries.  We had so much hacking going on.  Do you know what we are going to do?  We’re going to assemble the greatest computer minds and form a hacking defense.  These computer minds are going to be tremendous.

Let me also take a moment to laugh at the DNC for getting hacked.  They should have had hacking defense like we had.

Q: Could these allegations color your attempts to become best friends forever with Putin and, if so, will that color be yellow?

Trump: Well you know, the Russians just came out today and said that all of this is FAKE NEWS and indeed, that it’s totally FAKE and that none of this has happened.  I really respect the Russians for saying that they never colluded with me to spy on Americans and undermine our Democracy.  I think it takes real bravery to say that and I’d like to say again that the Russians are really great, just tremendous people and I really respect them a lot.

And, by the way, did you read the things the Russian hackers released about John Podesta and Hillary?  How embarrassing for them.

But no, seriously, hacking is bad and it shouldn’t be done.  But holy shit, the things that the Russian hackers released!  My organization was able to coordinate with the Kremlin to release information revealing that Hillary Clinton was told what one of the questions was before the debate by CNN.  Can you imagine if the Russian hackers had released the information about me receiving debate questions ahead of time by Fox News?  That would have been the scandal that brought down my bid for the Presidency, not the stuff about me sexually assaulting women or insulting POWs and Gold Star families or advocating openly fascist views.

Q: So Putin ordered the Russians to interfere with our election process to get you elected?  Will you punish him for helping you?

Trump: Well, if Putin likes me, I think that’s a great thing.  Is he likes me enough to undermine our democratic institutions, that’s a huge asset to this country, not a liability.  Russia can commit war crimes in Syria to help us fight ISIS and ISIS is number one tricky.  #Obamacreatedisis

I really hope that Putin and I will be best friends forever.  Can you imagine if Hillary was elected president?  Do you really think that she would be tougher on Putin than me?  Give me a break.  I love the guy.

Q: Are you seriously being blackmailed by the Russians because you let Russian prostitutes pee on you while staying at a hotel in Moscow?  Is this really happening?!

Trump: Let me tell you what I’m into.

I’m a pretty big deal and when I travel to Russia, they have these cameras that are so small with modern technology that they will put them in strange places and I won’t know.  When I was in Russia with Miss Universe, which really did so very well and there are so many beautiful women and this is something that I am involved with, people reminded me that there are cameras everywhere and that I hate to be on TV.

Do you believe everything I just told you?

Also, by the way, I’m very much afraid of germs so letting Russian prostitutes pee on me takes a lot of bravery.

Q: Good God, your business conflicts of interests are insane.  But wait, I can’t even ask you about that yet because I gotta go back to the Russian thing.  Does Russia have leverage on you because of your financial interests there?  You’re totally going to let us see your tax returns one of these days, right?

Trump: Do you know how you can tell I don’t have any financial interests in Russia?  Because I tweeted about it.

Did you know that real estate developers in general and me in particular, have very little debt?  I have so little debt that I have not paid taxes in over 20 years.

Oh, by the way, this weekend I got an email from a Prince in Dubai who was going to give me two billion dollars if I helped him transfer his family’s funds out of the country but I turned him down.  I didn’t have to turn him down because I’m president and it’s not possible for the president to have conflicts of interest.  I didn’t even know I had this loophole.  I have something that other people don’t have.  I could run the Trump organization, which is a great, great company by the way, I could run it and be President and you can’t do anything about it.  But I won’t do that.

Do you see this ridiculous stack of folders that we have theatrically propped up behind me?  Those folders are full of blank sheets of paper and those blank sheets of paper, and there are so many of them, look at them all, they are very important and official legal documents which say that I am going to let my kids run my business for me while I’m President.  You can’t look at those papers but you can look at the big, impressive size of the stack which has got to impress you because it’s so large.  It’s like something you would see in a cartoon or if a giant man boy was trying to imagine what legal documents would look like.  These blank papers, by the way, were all prepared by an amazing law firm that I have hired to make sure I’m behaving ethically.  You know this is a great law firm because they were just named Russian Law Firm of The Year.

Q: Do you think it was a good idea to collude with the Russians to hack the DNC?  Also, will you release your tax returns?

Trump: When you are as shady as I am, you get audited so hard.  I would love to release my tax returns but I can’t because I’m being audited.

Q: Actually, there is no law preventing you from releasing your tax returns while being audited.

Trump: Did you know that the only people who care about my tax returns are reporters?  The American people actually don’t care and have no interest in seeing all of the horrible conflicts of interest and dodgy practices that can be seen by investigating my tax returns.  These are true facts that I have just made up.

Q: I’m pretty sure those are not true facts.

Trump: Nope, you’re wrong.  I won when I became president and now nobody cares about anything anymore.  The American people are no longer allowed to care about my tax returns.  Look it up.

Do you know what else you should look up?  The federal election results and how many people voted for me. During the election people learned how enormous my company is.  It’s so powerful, my company, we could have you crushed for asking these questions.  We have interests in so many countries and I am so proud of this that I will continue to brag about it even though it makes everyone nervous because this would seem to present massive conflicts of interest with the decisions I make as leader of this country but you don’t have to worry about that because I cannot have conflicts of interest as President.  Those laws don’t apply to me!

These are my children who I love because they are like extensions of me and my own ego and they will be running the company.  I don’t have to do this but I’m going to do it anyway to shut all of you up and I’m never going to speak to my children again.  I’m not even going to look at them.

(Adult children ramble on for hours about the absurdity of pretending that putting your children in charge of the family empire in anyway resolves any conflicts of interest between what’s best for that empire and what’s best for the country.)

Trump: Thank you for saying all of that. (ph)

Q: What’s amazing is that not only do you have massive conflicts of interest, but most of the people you’ve nominated to serve in your cabinet also have completely insane conflicts of interest which should disqualify them from holding those positions.  Can we expect that you will set an example by withdrawing all of these nominations and stepping aside as President elect of the United States?

Trump: I think, when you watch what’s going on, it’s brilliant.  Rex Tillerson is a great example of the type of people I’ve nominated for my cabinet.  He’s made so much money for Exxon mobile and had an oil deal with the Russians worth billions of dollars which was held up because of sanctions placed against the Russians for committing war crimes and now he’s going to be in a position to have those sanctions lifted.  So these are the sorts of people I want on my cabinet and I’m very proud of them.

Q: Hey, can I ask you about Obamacare?

Trump: Oh, for fuck’s sake.

Q: The Republicans totally have a plan worked out to replace Obamacare as soon as it’s repealed so that millions of Americans don’t lose their insurance and the market doesn’t completely collapse. Right?

Trump:  Totally.  Democrats suck and Republicans rule.  This is really complicated stuff that you wouldn’t understand but we’re totally going to do what you just said.

Q: I represent  mad cheddar and I would like to ask how much you’re going to cut taxes for giant corporations.

Trump: So, so much.

Q: I have one question and it’s about the Supreme Court and Border Security.  On Twitter this morning you asked if we were living in Nazi Germany?  What the fuck kind of point were you trying to make there?  Do you have issues with the intelligence community who are investigating your possibly treasonous interactions with the Kremlin?  Are you going to nominate someone to the Supreme Court soon? Are you interviewing people?  Do you have a timeline? It looks like US tax payers are going to have to pay for your border fence.  How will you get Mexico to pay us back?

Trump: It’s not a fence. It’s a wall.  You just misreported that.

I’m too impatient to figure out how we’re going to do all of this so we’re just going to start building the wall and then we’ll make Mexico pay somehow.

Hey, remember when I was campaigning and would say we’re going to build this wall and people would go crazy?  I would ask who was going to pay for the wall and all of the people would scream out, I would have like 25,000 or 30,000 people all red in the face and screaming with spittle flying out of their mouths that the fucking Mexicans were going to pay for the wall.  That was great.  You people don’t like to report on that but that’s an actual thing that happened.

Anyway, I love Mexicans.  I have so many illegal immigrants working for me.

I’ve got like 20 ideas for people I want to appoint to the court and they are all great.  Right now, as these words are coming out of my mouth, I’m making impulsive decisions about the timeline for nominating someone.  It’s going to be the first thing I do as soon as I’m inaugurated. I literally just came to that decision while I was talking because you asked me a question about it!

Q: This morning you said we are living in Nazi Germany?  Why would you say such a thing?

Trump: I can’t believe the intelligence agencies are investigating the treasonous things I’ve done in collusion with the Russians!  It’s disgraceful.  Buzzfeed is a failing pile of garbage and they will suffer for this.  CNN too.

Q: I’m from CNN.  Can I ask a question?

Trump: No.  I have declared CNN to be a purveyor of FAKE NEWS and they are no longer recognized by the state.

Q: Did you know that Lindsey Graham is going to send you a bill demanding tougher sanctions for the Russians?

Trump: Lindsey Graham is going to do that?!  I didn’t know he was going to do that!  Lindsey Graham and I have been out to get each other for a while. That dirty son of a bitch.  That’s all right.  He’s a good guy.  I’m not going to get revenge on him.

Q: I’m from the BBC

Trump: Fuck you guys too.

Q: Thanks.  So, if the intelligence community comes back with proof of your collusion with the Russians will you say or do anything that a sane person would consider an appropriate response?

Trump: There is no way they can ever get any of this to stick.

Q: What are you going to do to punish independent news organizations for exposing the truth about you and your administration?

Trump: Everyone just has to accept that people who speak ill of me are very dishonest people and that all truth flows from me.

Q: Don’t you think it’s fucked up that you are openly fighting with the US intelligence agencies in a very public way? Can you clearly state that you will continue to talk out of both sides of your mouth on this issue?

Trump: Nobody has more respect for the intelligence agencies than me.  As soon as I take office I’m going to gut them and install my own people and then we will come back with a major report on hacking that will totally absolve me and the Russians of any sort of collusion.

And by the way, everyone is being hacked. Everyone but the Republicans is being hacked and that’s because the Republicans have hacking defense.  God, we hacked the Democrats so bad!  No wonder they can’t run the country!

Q: Earlier you said that the Russians were involved in hacking the DNC…

Trump: Maybe, maybe not.

Q: So why have you been undermining our intelligence community for weeks and siding with the Russians against them?

Trump: No one has more respect for our intelligence agencies than me but man have they fucked up now.  How could they leak this?  Those dirty sons of bitches.  Maybe it was someone in my office who leaked this!  I tell you who it wasn’t.  It wasn’t my executive assistant Rhona.

You know what?  Fuck this shit.  I’m done answering your questions.  I’m not even going to say goodbye to you.

Advertisements

Captain America: The First Avenger

52 Movies: Week 20

I’m changing up the format here. This is obviously not the movie poster, rather a classic Alex Schomburg cover from my own comic collection.

While I have a lot to say about Captain America the character, I don’t have a lot to say about the Captain America the movie.  It was pretty much exactly what one would expect going in.  The cast was excellent and I love that they made it a period piece but the script was very by the numbers.  Out of all of the movies leading up to The Avengers, Captain America felt the most like a bridge to that feature film rather than a feature film in it’s own right.

This is not to say that it was a terrible movie.  I thought Captain America’s origin was well told but, once we got past that, there was not much in the way of dramatic tension.  I wonder how much of this is the fault of the character?

It’s funny — From a philosophical point of view, Superman and Captain America are two of my favorite characters.  I like my heroes to be, well, heroic and, despite their super powers, in the case of both superman and Captain America, it is their strength of character that makes them true heroes.

In Captain America: The First Avenger, Steve Rodgers tells Dr. Erskine, the scientist developing the super soldier serum that he wants to enlist not because he is particularly anxious to kill anyone but because he hates a bully.  Later, Dr. Erskine tells Steve Rodgers that he was selected for the program because a weak man understands the value of strength.

Superman does not share Captain America’s meek origins but his adopted parents raised him with similar values.  Superman’s creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were both the children of Jewish immigrants and their hero, created in the 1930’s, was a populist crusader, protecting those without a voice and fighting against tyranny and oppression in all its guises.  Similarly, Captain America was co-created by Joe Simon who came from a poor Jewish family and whose father had also immigrated from Europe.  Far from being a jingoistic symbol of nationalism, Captain America also fought for those noblest of American values that early 20th century immigrants valued so highly — Freedom from oppression, opportunity for all and social justice.

These are the values that make characters like Superman and Captain America so much more appealing to me than vengeance fueled vigilantes like Batman. I like the heroes who are Boy Scouts because they appeal to the better angels of our nature, their values reflect my world views and they, quite honestly, inspire me.  Unfortunately, all of these features that make them so appealing to me on a personal level, also make them somewhat boring on a dramatic level.  It’s hard to write compelling fiction featuring heroes who are so perfect and I can count on one hand the number of Superman or Captain America stories that managed to find the right balance.  By contrast, there are countless compelling stories featuring Batman and his ilk, with Christopher Nolan’s soon to be completed trilogy being just the latest example.

I’m looking forward to seeing the Avengers this week.  Writer/director Josh Whedon is a master of group dynamics and if anyone can grab hold of what is essential in Captain America’s character and integrate that into a team-based story, it’s him.  While Captain America: The First Avenger, managed to nail Cap’s origin story, the latter half of the movie ran afoul of the challenges inherent in wringing dramatic tension out of such an iconic hero.  Accordingly, I can only give the movie three stars.

Eternal Summers — The Dawn of Eternal Summers

52 Albums: Week 16

Eternal Summers — The Dawn of Eternal Summers

Eternal Summers describe their music as “Dream Punk” and it’s an appropriate label in that their music combines dream pop with lo-fi indie punk influences.

The Dawn of Eternal Summers is apparently a release of early recordings in anticipation of their second full length album due out in June.    Be that as it may, it’s a full length collection that I’ve been listening to all week so, for the purposes of this blog, I’m considering it a new release album.

As a rule, Dream Pop rarely captures my attention for very long but it’s perfect as background music while working.  Fans of the genre, however, will find a lot to love on this album which is solid throughout.  I would also recommend the track “Able To” to pretty much anyone as it’s one of the better songs I’ve heard all year:

I give the album three and a half stars based on my personal taste but it deserves more so be sure to check it out if you like the track above. I’m looking forward to checking out their new album in June.

Listen to The Dawn of Eternal Summers on Spotify.

Enemy of God by Bernard Cornwall

Enemy of God by Bernard Cornwall

I don’t know why I have so much trouble reviewing Bernard Cornwall’s books.  He’s one of my favorite authors and I love just about everything I’ve read by him.  Enemy of God is no exception.  When it comes times to write a review, however, my thoughts can generally be summed up  by saying “This book was awesome, just like everything else Cornwall has written.”

Enemy of God is the second book in Cornwall’s take on Arthurian legend.  Like all of his books, (and unlike most other modern re-telling of the Arthur legend), it is full of period accurate historical detail.  Also like all of his other books, it is full of intrigue and fantastic battle scenes.

The subject matter, in this case, is epic on a scale unlike anything else I’ve read by Cornwall.  I’m looking forward to reading the third and final book in the series this Spring.

X-Men: First Class

52 Movies: Week 19

X-Men: First Class

There is a good movie somewhere in here but it is continually undercut by a ham-fisted script.

X-Men:First class is set in 1962 (with some flashbacks to 1942) and it covers the origin of the titular team of super-powered mutants.  I should confess that I am a huge X-Men geek and have been since I was ten so this is an origin story that I know like the back of my hand.  To its credit, X-Men:First Class does a good job at capturing some of what I love about that story.  In particular, the relationship between Eric Lehnsherr (the holocaust survivor who will go on to become the super-villain Magneto) and Charles Xavier (the founder and leader of the X-Men) is a fascinating and tragic story about two friends with very different views on the relationship between mutants and homo-sapiens.

Eric Lehnsherr is played by Michael Fassbender and Charles Xavier is played by James McAvoy.  Both actors do a fantastic job and the scenes featuring the two of them (which comprise the bulk of the movie) are all excellent.  Unfortunately, the rest of the cast turn in mostly terrible performances, perhaps hamstrung by the often terrible dialog they are given.  Jennifer Lawrence, who I love, is terrible in X-Men: First Class, even while her character’s arc is mostly interesting.

Some of the script problems come from having to shoe-horn in a lot of material in a little over 2 hours.  At times, however, I felt like we are being given the dumbed down version of reality that plagued comic book movies for so long until movies like Sam Raimi’s first two Spiderman movies and Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies showed that you can successfully ground comic book movies in the real world.  X-Men First Class certainly attempts to do just this on the fact of it — The Cuban Missle Crisis is a major plot-point.  But heavy handed dialog from extras who serve only as plot devices undermines this reality and repeatedly pulls the audience out of whatever immersion they may have been feeling.

All of that having been said, the movie’s action set pieces are well done and there are moments that really scored a direct hit with my inner comic geek.  (The first appearance of the team in uniform was almost worth the price of admission alone.)  X-Men: First Class is better than other movies in the X-Men franchise and it is entertaining for fans of the genre.  It’s still a disappointment, however, as there are the makings of a truly great movie here and it never quite comes together.  Three stars out of five.

Spiritualized — Sweet Heart Sweet Light

52 Albums: Week 15

Spiritualized — Sweet Heart Sweet Light

Sweet Heart Light Heart is a sweeping album, successfully blending Shoegaze, Britpop, Rock-Gospel, Blues and large scale orchestral arrangements into a grand, cohesive whole.  Spiritualized has been around since the early 90’s and while Sweet Heart Light Heart draws on some of the groups earlier sounds, the efforts are focused by singer/guitarist Jason Pierce’s near death experiences and medical treatment while writing and mixing the album.

The album’s highlights are among the best songs I’ve heard all year.  Take the track ‘Mary’ for example:

The song starts out in a Slowcore, Dreampop vein reminiscent of Low but, over the course of six minutes, it builds into something entirely epic featuring strings, noisy, angular guitars and horns. This ambition and richness of sound is present throughout Sweet Heart Sweet Light. The album’s best song is “Sweet Jane” and, if you have ten minutes to spare, I highly recommend director AG Rojas’ excellent, long-form video. (Elements of the video are NSFW.)

Good as this album is, ambient, shoe-gazy music sometimes tries my patience and the album sags a little bit from time to time.  I give Sweet Heart Sweet Light four stars out of five.  It will be interesting to see if it sticks around in my rotation long enough to make my year-end top ten albums or if those duller songs turn me off enough over time to drive me away from the album.

Listen to Sweet Heart Sweet Light on Spotify.

Playlist: A Month And a Half

Inspired by my favorite music podcast, Rock Solid, I have put together this play list featuring days of the week.  Six weeks worth of songs, to be precise:

Listen to A Month And a Half on Spotify.

This is a long playlist, perfect for listening to at work, or on a lazy Sunday morning.  (Something about songs featuring days of the week — A lot of them are contemplative.)  There are some obvious choices missing from this list — You can safely assume I hate those songs.  (Elton John, Steeley Dan, etc.)  Here’s the full playlist:

  • Sunday Morning Wednesday Night — Spoon
  • I Don’t Like Monday’s — The Boomtown Rats
  • Sun Comes Up, It’s Tuesday Morning — Cowboy Junkies
  • Waiting For Wednesday — Lisa Loeb
  • Like a Summer Thursday — Alela Diane
  • Friday XIII — Deer Tick
  • Saturday — Built To Spill

  • Sunday Bloody Sunday — U2
  • Blue Monday — New Order
  • c u next tuesday — Ke$ha
  • Wednesday (No Se Apoye) — Mike Doughty
  • Thursday — Asobi Seksu
  • Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.) — Katy Perry
  • Come Saturday — The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart

  • Sunday Best — Agustana
  • Monday Morning — Fleetwood Mac
  • Ruby Tuesday — The Rolling Stones
  • Wednesday — Drive-by Truckers
  • Blackouts on Thursday — Les Savy Fav
  • DUI Friday — Fishbone
  • Saturday Come Slow — Massive Attack

  • Sunday — Bloc Party
  • Monday Morning — Death Cab for Cutie
  • Tuesday Night — Social Plaza
  • Wednesday — Tori Amos
  • Holy Thursday — David Axelrod
  • Jebidiah Moonshine’s Friday Night Shack Party — Audra Mae
  • Saturday Night — Misfits

  • Sunday Morning, Coming Down — Johnny Cash
  • On a Monday — Ry Cooder
  • Tuesday Morning — Michelle Branch
  • Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. — Simon & Garfunkel
  • Thursday — Jim Croce
  • Friday’s Child — Nancy Sinatra
  • The Heart of Saturday Night — Tom Waits

  • Pleasant Valley Sunday — The Monkees
  • Monday — The Jam
  • Tuesday’s Gone — Leonard Skynyrd
  • Ash Wednesday — Elvis Perkins
  • Thursday Evening Swing — The Cats & The Fiddle
  • Black Friday Rule — Flogging Molly
  • Finch On Saturday — Horse Feathers
  • One Sunday Morning — Wilco