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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.

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.

The Good and the Ghastly by James Boice

The Good and the Ghastly by James Boice

James Boice’s The Good and The Ghastly is a bit of a mixed bag. The books strengths are the same as its weaknesses. Every thought in this book is followed through to its logical extreme and this excess is at times brilliant and at other times tiresome. Boice’s writing is at times self-indulgent and overly clever but, at the same time, it is this very indulgence that produces the book’s better moments.

The Good and The Ghastly is set in the 34th century when, after a nuclear holocaust, civilization has rebuilt itself along nearly identical lines to our present day civilization. The protagonist is a sociopath with delusions of grandeur and the book is unflinching in its violence. The narrative voice is all over the place. Sometimes second person, sometimes first person, mostly third person.

There are times where the novel’s brutal and relentless poetry approaches genius. In the end the book very nearly won me over by sheer tenacity. The final 30 or so pages are mostly great and if the book had ended one chapter earlier I would have rated it one full star higher but, alas, he lost me again with the last chapter.

Dead Snow

52 Movies: Week 3

Dead Snow

Dead Snow delivers pretty much everything you could possibly want from a Norwegian Nazi zombie movie.

I told you that I would be doing a lot of genre jumping for my movie reviews.  Last week I was trying to decide between Dead Snow and The Tree of Life.  I went with Dead Snow but The Tree of Life will be next week.

Dead Snow is a Norwegian horror movie written and directed by Tommy Wirkola.  The plot involves a group of medical students who decide to spend Easter weekend at a remote cabin in the mountains near Ørksfjord.  On their first night in the cabin they are visited by a local man who fills them in on the region’s dark past.  During World War II Ørksfjord was occupied by a particularly brutal company of SS.  As the war came to a close the Nazis began committing atrocities against the populace in the act of stealing their valuables.  The people rose up, killing many of the Nazis and driving the rest of them, including their leader Standartenführer Herzog, into the mountains.  Rumor has it that the Nazis haunt the mountain passes to this day and, sure enough, it is not long before the student run afoul of the zombified remains of the Nazi company.

Dead Snow features excellent production values and effects.  It’s beautifully shot and Wirkola really takes full advantage of the contrast between pure white snow and bright red blood.  Oh so much blood.  Most importantly, the movie has a wickedly perverse sense of humor.  Dead Snow repeatedly serves up fresh shocks that had me laughing out loud to the very end.  I won’t spoil any of them here but, if you are a fan of the genre, you must see this movie.

This is easily one of my favorite zombie movies and I give it four stars.

Coming Soon: Albums and More Books

I was going to hold off on doing an album a week until next year but, screw it.  The first good album of 2012 dropped this week and I’ve decided to run movies, music and books simultaneously.

For music I’ll be doing something a little bit different in that I will only be reviewing albums released in 2012.  As not too many albums are released in early January, I’ll be playing catch-up a little at some point but I don’t think I’ll have any trouble finding 52 new releases this year.  I’ll be using the same 5 star rating system that I use for movies for music.

For books, I’m likely not going to pull off another 52 Books in 52 Weeks this year but, who knows?  It will be close so maybe I’ll make a push in the end.  I have been reviewing the books I’ve been reading over on Goodreads, however, so I’m going to republish those reviews here.  Unlike movies and music, my reading year is tied to my birthday rather than a calendar year.  I’ve read 25 books since my last birthday so I’ll be publishing a review every day or so until I’m caught up.

I’ll also start tagging my posts so people can more easily locate the movie, album or books reviews.

52 Movies in 52 Weeks

I’m expanding the scope of this blog to encompass all things pop-culture.  In addition to posting occasional book reviews, I’m starting a new 52 Week project, 52 Movies in 52 Weeks.  Future 52 Week projects may include 52 albums, 52 artists, etc.

While 52 Movies in 52 Weeks is nowhere near as challenging as 52 Books in 52 Weeks, I’m taking on the project as a commitment to mindfully viewing at least 52 movies this year because I only saw a small handful of movies in 2011 and it’s a state of affairs I would like to rectify.

I will, accordingly, be viewing and reviewing at least one movie a week for 2012. These do not have to be new movies and I will be all over the place in terms of genre and relative cinematic merit.

Movie reviews are better with arbitrary rating systems and mine will be as follows:

One star: I hated it with a burning passion.  ‘A terrible piece of shit.

Two stars: No sir, I did not like it.  ‘Not recommended.

Three stars: Mildly entertaining; Decent but flawed; Recommended with some reservations.

Four Stars: An excellent movie. ‘Highly recommended.

Five Stars: I loved it.  Destined to be a favorite of mine.

There you have it.  Reviews to start sometime this week.

The Road to Samarcand by Patrick O’Brian

The Road To Samarcand by Patrick O'Brian

I could not have picked a better book to finish my 52 Books in 52 Weeks effort.