Friday, December 28, 2018

In memoriam: the Spy's year-end roundup

Editor's Note:  At this season it is traditional to look back over the past year and compile some sort of bullshit list or another.  Who is the Spy to quarrel with this tradition?  Accordingly, we take a moment to consider the various tropes, ideas, and clich├ęs that we have lost in 2018.  Better have some tissues handy.

By Magnolia Tangere
Content Generator

1.  Paul Ryan, man of ideas

Skulking out of Washington one step behind the final collapse of Republican governance was former Republican genius and man of destiny Paul Ryan.  For years he had wallowed in a warm bath of favorable press about his new ideas (tax cuts for the rich, fucking the poor) and his supposed “moderation.”

Sadly those hot takes did not survive 2018.  Under his leadership, Republicans in the House did all in their considerable power to cover up the high crimes (treason, obstruction of justice) and misdemeanors (paying off blifkes) of the Grifter-in-Chief.  Respect for law and order and the basic principles of the American constitutional system?  If you thought Paul Ryan was going to stand tall for those traditional conservative Republican principles than brother we've got a somewhat charred temporary mission in Benghazi to sell you.

In his defense, though, he did act on his brilliant ideas, running up the debt to provide a $2,000,000,000,000 kiss to the plutocrats who bought and paid for Ryan and his clown car of corrupt incompetents.  The voters thought so highly of his work that he and his party were run out of power, leaving the formerly venerated future of the Republican Party to contemplate something new and horrifying: actually having to earn a living in the private sector.  We hear that Sheldon Adelson could use a few croupiers in Macau.

2.  General John Kelly, patriot

For years, we'd heard about General Kelly's sterling record of service to his country and the wealth of experience that he brought to his job as errand boy [Surely, Chief of Staff? – Ed.] to President U Bum.  We were told long ago in 2017 that he would bring order to the chaotic White House and rein in his tangerine-faced lunatic boss.

How'd that turn out?  Of course, it was bollocks.  The Grifter-in-Chief, having no executive ability or indeed interest in executing anything other than a live shot, simply ignored the efforts of his General to run the West Wing, although he did use the former four-star Marine as his personal firing squad to dispatch such talents as Omarosa.

But it was General Kelly who made the fateful decision to disgrace himself by smearing a Congresswoman (of color, natch) and then when his lies were made clear by the videotape in question, doubling down with some brasshat bafflegab about “empty barrels”.

The only empty barrels we heard go off were the General and the cable news gasbags who had touted Kelly as the savior of the U Bum Administration.

By the way, General Kelly, if we were you, we'd be careful before dining out back home in Brighton.  The local kitchens are staffed by immigrants who, even if their command of English is limited, have a variety of creative ways to prepare your meal so as to tell you what they really think of you.

3. Steve Bannon, crank [Surely, crack – Ed.?] political operative

It seems like many lifetimes and four score impeachable offenses ago, but once upon a time this raggedly alkie was hailed by The New York Times and other West Wing brown-nosers as the political genius who made the Bigot-in-Chief was he is today: a paranoid drug addict with a 38% approval rating.

He may have looked like a broken-down old rummy who had flunked out of rehab a half dozen times but because he always returned reporters' calls and rewarded them with juicy quotes, you would have thought that he was de Tocqueville on meth.  His vision of a racist-populist mobocracy took him far.  Then when he babbled the truth about U Bum to one reporter too many, he came crashing down.  Kind of like every weekend at his house.

Once he was in the Oval Office masterminding the brilliant Muslim Ban that ushered in the Age of Chaos.  Then  before you knew it he was bouncing around Central European s**tholes advising tinpot Mussolini-wannabes how to do in their countries.  He ended up working for pancakes in a grim motel breakfast room in Topeka in front of less than a minyan of fellow true believers.  It turned out without his access to the Tangerine-Faced Grifter he was just another drug-related tragedy.

And in 2018, we all just said no.

4.  Bitcoin

Remember when every Moe, Larry, and Curly was dropping their life savings into some worthless p.o.s. called Bitcoin?  Remember how everyone was sure it was going to rise from $300 to $1,000 to $20,000 to zillions?  Guess what happened: the smart money sold to the suckers, who were left holding a bag of worthless coins.  Think of them as inedible Hanukah Gelt. 

From the breathless yet incomprehensible coverage of the supposed geniuses behind this technological second coming you would have thought that there was something there.  If you were a media gasbag, or an idiot.  Funny how none of the breathless coverage never mentioned the inherent contradiction between something intended to serve as a currency (requiring a stable value) and a wildly speculative commodity.  Seen any Bitcoin ATM's lately?

For a while the marks were even lining up for something called an ICO, which was a lot like an IPO, in that what you bought was a speculative bet on a business model that might or might not work.  If you still think that Bitcoin, Linoleum, Laughinggascoin, or Litebucks are a better bet than what the e-money touts like to call “fiat money”, ask yourself why they were so eager to sell you an algorithm for Federal Reserve Notes.

5.  Hedge Fund Geniuses

Speaking of scams, let's bid a less-than-fond farewell to the hedge-fund and private equity investors who have been taking 200 basis points a year plus 20% of any gains (whether due to their own efforts or those of Mr. Market) to . . . do much worse than the classic boring-investor allocation of 60% equity index funds and 40% bonds, for which the management fee is maybe 10 bp's these days.

The financial pages have burned up for years with the breathlessly suck up coverage of these guys, many of whom are paid tens of millions a year by university endowments to underperform the indices. You might wonder why supposedly smart white people at places like Harvard and Princeton pay huge sums for these paltry results, but, hey if you can scare other less-rich white people into forking over $64,000 a year to be taught by some graduate student, wtf do you care anyway?

As more of these geniuses crash, burn, and close their funds, of course the remaining ones will look better, a phenomenon known as survivor bias.  Even so, if you're waiting for these Masters of the Universe to earn their ridiculous keep, we've got a dead parrot to sell you.

6.  The Third Way

When he was a freshman in Matthews, no one listened to a f**king thing that Mark “Lumpy” Penn said.  For a while, after sending Dick “Luv Me Some Ho Toes” Morris over the side, the Clintons allowed Lumpy to run her 2008 campaign into the buffers.  They finally wised up to what his fellow freshmen had known all along.

He tried a comeback this year by taking some bucks from a few credulous plutocrats to repackage his old, discredited ideas as an anti-Pelosi “No Labels” movement starring a few white schmucks who should have known better, like Seth Moulton.

Then a funny thing happened: Nancy Pelosi beat the stuffing out of him without so much as turning up the lapel on her orange overcoat.  It turned out that the Democrats who voted in force for strikingly original candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Stacy Abrams weren't hankering to be lectured to by a Washington gasbag who had been wrong about everything for the last 20 years.  It turned out in fact they didn't give a flying f**k what Lumpy said just because he went to Harvard and had made some pelf selling himself in DC.

Of course, it wasn't just one putz.  The nonexistent Third Way had a long run in DC. Remember Bowles-Simpson?  Of course you don't; it was utter bollocks.  In any event, as 2018 staggers to a close, Democrats are clear about the progressive way forward: over Lumpy's dead body.

7.  Les Moonves, television legend

If you had in January 2018 bet that, for not dissimilar misconduct, Les Moonves would lose his job running CBS but Judge Creepy McBrewski would be installed on the Supreme Court, you could have gotten handsome odds.

Moonves was an entertainment icon who had made billions for fellow Ladies' Man Sumner Redstone.  His network was number 1.  He had the golden touch and a board that lined up to osculate his tuchus.  He had nurtured legendary talent like David “Send in the Interns” Letterman. Judge McBrewski by contrast was just another Federalist ham-and-egger grinding away on the D.C. Circuit.

And yet ol' Les found himself defenestrated while McBrewski got a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land despite felony sexual abuse.  Maybe that's because the reactionary white men who dominate the Republican Party don't actually care about putting a wannabe rapist on the Supreme Court, while at some point, CBS, being dependent on both talent and eyeballs, felt it had to zip up Les and then deny him his $120,000,000 farewell kiss.

The good news for Les is that CBS will probably have to pay about $20,000,000 to Les's lawyers for the forthcoming arbitration, which should give him some satisfaction.  And as Ileanna Douglas and many other women can tell you, Les was all about satisfying himself.

8  End of year lists

We all know that hacks, like everyone else, don't like to work between Christmas and New Years.  Yet their websites, cable news shows and magazines need something with which to fill themselves.  So why not churn out a 10 best or 10 worst or 10 most memorable list, put it in the can on December 15, and then head to the hills?

One possible answer: because they are so f**kin' lame.  Does anyone really care which TV episodes you liked this year?  Which plays?  Which ballets, ffs?  They don't.

If you want to fill up content without working, why not let your foreign staff provide some content about I don't know the upcoming slaughter of the Syrian Kurds, the enduring catastrophe in Yemen, or just tell us something we don't know about the world?  Do you think it would fare worse than Yeezy's 10 stupidest Tweets, or whatever tf you are foisting on your readers?

As for 9 and 10, if we don't get to the buffet by noon, the lobster tails will all be gone.  See you next year.

[You're fired – Ed.]


Monday, December 17, 2018

Back to the Republican future

By Nellie Bly
Washington Bureau

It's the eternal search: Republicans who don't rape, steal, collude with Russia, incite race war, paint their pates brown, or just plain don't suck.  Washington columnists have been looking for them for years.  Jennifer “Luv U Bibi” Rubin has been pushing some Republican governor who isn't terrible.  David “Complete National Disgrace” Brooks tried to sell us on Dakota Empty Suit Jim Thune.  And now New York magazine's Jonathan Chait, having correctly concluded that no living Republican politician can be taken out in public, has started mooning over a non-existent alternative: the ex-libertarian.

Apparently all it took was a free breakfast at some right-wing think tank in Washington named after some dead grifting libertarian who, having spent his whole life with his snout and trotters in the DC libertarian dark-money trough, came to realize that it was all a crock.  We hope Jon at least got the the full bacon-and-egg breakfast and not the chintzy yogurt and fruit cup that so appalled Empty Barrels Kelly.

Let's let Jon lovingly describe the moment of enlightenment:
Economist William Niskanen worked for the Reagan administration, and then proceeded to chair the Cato Institute, a redoubt of the firm anti-government verities that define conservative economic thought. Toward the end of his life, though, Niskanen began to express some doubts about the efficacy of supply-side economics, the unquestioned foundation of the Republican domestic platform. Cutting taxes without cutting spending, Niskanen observed, simply hadn’t worked. The small-government movement needed to “convince voters to reduce their demand for the services financed by federal spending,” he wrote. “Until that time, some increase in federal taxes appears to be a necessary part of a fiscal policy to balance the budget.”
Wait, you mean that when St. Ronald of Bitburg cut taxes for the rich in an effort to bludgeon Democrats into cutting Social Security and Medicare it was all horse hockey?  Who knew?  Well, those of us who were there at the time remember who knew.  We did.  And we sure as f*** don't recall Niskanen or any other highly-paid supplier of plutocrat-friendly statistics telling us otherwise.  Anyway, Niskanen is dead and can't defend himself so let's hear what his acolytes are saying 40 years after their fiscal fantasy exploded the national debt:
Niskanen’s scholars have criticized the failures of conservative policy you might expect — climate science skepticism [Presumably Chait meant to say denialism – Ed.] , the Republican health-care plan  . . .. But Niskanen has gone beyond point-by-point rebuttals and has developed a broad and deep argument with the movement’s core assumptions. . . . Last year, Will Wilkinson argued . . .  in favor of a social safety net to “increase the public’s tolerance for the dislocations of a dynamic free-market economy,” and identified libertarianism with hostility to democracy, resulting in persistent Republican efforts “to find ways to keep Democrats from voting, and to minimize the electoral impact of the Democratic ballots that are cast.” . .  .These are frontal assaults on the basic orientation of the libertarian political project. By recognizing the value of social transfers as a backstop to a free-market system, and acknowledging that the right’s obsession with the protection of property has made it hostile to democracy itself, they forced themselves to rethink not only the methods but also the goals of libertarian politics.
Let Republicans fight over their own future, we say
Gee, emphasizing the importance of a social safety net to remedy market failures (like racism and hurricanes) in the context of a democratic market economy sure sounds . . . familiar.  You might recognize it as the platform of the Democratic Party since about 1932.

You might also recall the commitment of the Democratic Party to social justice and the remediation of past wrongs done to persons of color, women, and anyone else who doesn't look like Mike Pence.  But to these ex-libertarians climbing out of their anchor holes into the bright light of reality, such a commitment is like the most exciting new idea ever:
Niskanen’s paper concedes that the simple small-government vision fails to capture important facts about political and economic life. Merely ending de jure racial discrimination does not wipe away a racial caste system that permeates multiple institutions in American life. “You can get very strong intergenerational transmission of subordinate status,” the paper importantly allows, “even in the absence of contemporary unjust acts.” The libertarian dream of a meritocratic capitalist system has to account for massive inequality that was originally produced by brute force, which requires “a strong presumption for widespread opportunity and an openness to redistribution.”

Who actually drafted this mother lode of wisdom?  Tony Lip?

Somewhere around paragraph 96, Chait does admit that his recommended future for the Republican Party sounds a lot like a Joe Biden beer blast:
Niskanen’s manifesto contains multiple points of overlap with the prevailing orientation of the Democratic Party, and almost none with the prevailing orientation of the Republican Party. One can imagine a future in which the Democrats move toward socialism, opening a void in the center for the ideas espoused by Niskanen to take hold in something that perhaps shares the name, but otherwise none of the important ideological traits, of today’s Republican Party.
So Chait admits that a party financed by reactionary plutocrats and maintained in power by white bigotry with a helpful assist from Comrade Putin's Internet Playpen might not gravitate toward the revealed wisdom of the Niskanen Center. But someday, when those unnamed horrible Democrats propel their party into the black depths of Socialism by for example offering single-payer health care (the policy faithfully followed by those Stalinist stooges, the UK Conservative Party) or a government-paid transition away from fossil fuels and towards a reliable clean-energy infrastructure (a policy also endorsed by the 161 other Commie puppet regimes attending the latest climate change conference), then maybe the Republicans will, like the highly-paid gasbags of the Niskanen Center, see a bright future based on Hillary Clinton's 2016 election manifesto.

Uh, we don't think so.  David Koch and Sheldon Adelson aren't known for throwing their money away, and we doubt greatly whether they would pony up hundreds of millions to elect nouvelle vague Republicans who want to raise their taxes to repair the social safety net.  Nor do we think that the current intellectual elite of the Republican Party – Louie Gohmert and Steve King – will embrace a future without 20-foot-high walls separating Mexico from the United States and people of color from polling places.  And don't get us started about Lamborghini-driving “Christians” who pontificate about women's duty to obey their husbands and bear their rapist's children, or the anti-U Bum neocons just waiting to invade Iran.

It's pretty to contemplate a Republican future of moderate policies and rainbow unicorns, though, and if the bacon is crisp and the eggs not too dry, there's no harm in letting Chait indulge his fantasies, as long as we don't let his fantasies distract us from the important work of building a strong, diverse Democratic Party that doesn't depend on a bunch of white male nerds suddenly waking up and smelling the coffee.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

From the Public Editor of The New York Times

Editors' Note:  You may recall that two years ago The New York Times fired its Public Editor, the person who was supposed to respond to reader complaints and concerns and determine if they had any merit.  The Times decided that they didn't need such a position because apparently no reader complaint ever had any merit.  As we have reached something of an opposite conclusion, as a public service we have redeployed our versatile Meta-Content Generator to take on the job, without any additional compensation [WTF? – A.J.L.].  If you have any complaints regarding Times coverage, just direct it to him and he'll be glad to look into it.

By A.J. Liebling
New York Times Public Editor, apparently

Coverage of Sen. Warren's DNA test

Readers expressed concern over a front-page article appearing in the Times on December 6, with the online headline of

The story, written by Astead W. Herndon, of the Times Washington bureau, contended that Senator Warren's decision to take a DNA test to prove her mother was not lying about her Native American ancestry despite false charges to the contrary leveled by the President was continuing to weigh down her political fortunes,

Among the few on-the-record sources Ms. Herndon cited was a Democratic operative working for one of Sen. Warren's potential rivals for the 2020 Democratic nomination.  It also quoted a self-styled Native American activist, one Twila Barnes, who has been critical of Sen. Warren in her appearances on Fox News.

Reader Paul W. of Washington, D.C. commented:

Welcome to “But her emails!”, version 2020.

Even if you think Warren shouldn’t have bothered with the DNA test, answer this question: So what? I mean actually answer it. See if you can complete this sentence without sounding ridiculous: Elizabeth Warren’s DNA test is extremely important to the question of what sort of president she would be and deserves endless discussion because ___.
We thought that Paul W. had raised a valid point.  Even if some of her Democratic rivals and other opponents were critical of her decision to rebut the President, why was this worthy of a front-page story, in lieu of considering Sen. Warren's actual policies and positions?

We asked Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet to respond to readers' concerns.  He replied, “Fuck off.  I don't have the time to respond to assholes like you.”

We think Mr. Baquet's comment did not fully reflect the legitimate concerns raised by Paul W. and others.  The story should not have run, and certainly not on page one.

Maureen Dowd's continuing obsession with the Clintons

Many readers were critical of Maureen Dowd's December 1 op-ed column in the Times, in which she criticized Bill and Hillary Clinton because they were not attracting sellout crowds in Toronto, Canada.  They saw it as the most recent installment of her apparently endless feud with the Clintons, based on Bill Clinton's failure to resist the sexual advances of an intern and Hillary's subsequent disinclination to divorce him.

Reader Sarah K. from St. Louis Tweeted in response to complaints about the column:
The gravamen of the column appeared to be Ms. Dowd's complaint that the Clintons have made a lot of money from their speeches and writing, like most former Presidents and Senators (or indeed like newspaper columnists).  Further, Ms. Dowd appeared to believe that the Clintons' interest in remaining a part of the national political conversation was illegitimate, without explaining why that should be for a former President, Senator, and Secretary of State.

We asked New York Times Editorial Page Editor James Bennet to respond to these concerns.  In an email, he said: “Fuck you.  Freddie would kill for columnists like her.  Why shouldn't she comment incessantly about the Clintons?  Who are you?  Nobody.  If you have any future concerns about my Op-Ed Page, eat shit and die.”

At press time, we were unable to ask Freddie Hiatt '76, editorial page editor of The Washington Post, whether in fact he desired Ms. Dowd's column for his page, but appreciated Mr. Bennet's invitation to engage in dialogue in the future.

Was a headline regarding the actions of the Wisconsin legislature misleading?

Last week, the Times reported on an extraordinary session of the Wisconsin legislature devoted to stripping the incoming Democratic Governor and Attorney General of their powers. The story accurately described a series of rushed last-minute moves all of which were aimed at thwarting the will of voters who elected Democrats to these offices.

Reader Jamison F.  Tweeted his dissatisfaction with the headline used by the online edition of the Times:

The reference to bedrock was to a quote by the Republican House speaker, but nonetheless failed to communicate to the reader the substance of what the Republican Legislature had done, as set out in the story itself.

However, by the time the Public Editor began his investigation, the headline had been changed to:

The story as it appears on December 9 does not disclose the change to the headline.  In the opinion of the Public Editor, it should have.

We sought comment from the copy editor in charge of online news and was told that he had been fired ten months ago and that headlines for online stories were written by unpaid interns from the Dalton School.  A source in the Dalton cafeteria told us anonymously that she thought the headline had originally been written by Ethan or Sophie, but was probably changed by Wei-Li because she's such a “Little Miss Perfect but just because she got into Yale Early Action doesn't mean she knows anything and she's so basic she buys her clothes at Target.”

The New York Times Public Editor follows up on reader concerns and complaints.  If you'd like the  Public Editor to follow up on something you read in the Times, just fill out the comment form below!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Advance Good and Dead: Not for Publication

[Luke – The death of George H.W. Bush reminded me that we'd better be sure we have a Trump obituary in the tank because last I looked at the guy, he seemed ready to stroke out at any moment.  What do you have? – Ed.]
[Way ahead of you.  Just be sure the idiot weekend sub-editors don't f**k up and publish this – Luke.]
The obituary page of The Massachusetts Spy

By Luke Reshuss
Obituary Editor

Donald Jay Trump, the disgraced former President and real-estate grifter died [time and place].  He was 7x.
Mr. Trump, the Queens-born son of a crooked tax evading slumlord and racist whose political base was white bigots and men ashamed about their tiny flaccid shvantzes, was a failed developer, casino operator, golf course proprietor, vintner, reality talk show host, educator, and entrepreneur before he embarked on his last, desperate bid to cash in on the Presidency.   His own presidency from 2017 to 20xx was marked by the final collapse of honest government in the United States and the country's international reputation, as well as the beginnings of a progressive voter rebellion at home.

The first criminal sex offender to be elected directly to the White House without any political experience or knowledge, Mr. Trump worked tirelessly at lining his own pockets and those of his relatives while trashing every achievement of his remarkable predecessor Barack Obama for no reason other than racism and spite. He enjoyed remarkable unpopularity — his net public approval never made it out of negative numbers — and he was so loathed by his fellow Americans that no fewer than 74 Democrats challenged him for the Presidency in 2020. 

In his last years, Mr. Trump emerged as a symbol of the bigotry and bankruptcy of the Republican Party built by Richard Nixon and a generation of hatemongers like Newt Gingrich and of the weakness and cruelty of a United States that only a decade earlier had shined brightly as a beacon of hope and freedom under the leadership of his gifted predecessor, Barack Obama.

Memorial services for the dead President
were sparsely attended
He was in constant touch with the most vilest and most bloodthirsty tyrants of his era including Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bone-saw Salman, over whom he constantly fawned while subjecting the leaders of America's vital democratic allies to ceaseless gratuitous abuse.

An unstable leader, utterly lacking in discipline and uninterested in detail, Mr. Trump knew nothing about the world and its leaders other than what he pulled out of his giant sagging ass or whom he thought might line his pockets.  He was clumsy and cowardly in private affairs but constantly harsh and shrill in his crude public persona.

As his body and mind decayed ever more rapidly, he shrank in the nation’s eyes to a pitiable if still hated figure, as did his third wife, a former “model” and chain migrant who barely concealed her disdain for her husband.

The son of a crooked racist slumlord, Mr. Trump was the last of the American privileged white men whose perspectives were rooted in their wealthy upbringings and their belief in their inherent superiority, a belief not based on any observable achievement or moral leadership. 
Mr. Trump said he was a Republican and a conservative, but his ideology really was avarice, combined with a degraded appetite for forcing himself sexually on powerless women.

He was embroiled in scandal  his entire life, yet managed to steal the Presidency thanks to Russian election interference and a national news media that felt compelled to balance reporting of his many crimes with an equal number of attacks on his opponent for keeping unclassified email on a private server, as expressly permitted by then-applicable regulations.

He preached loyalty but never practiced it, turning his back on those who stuck by him, from leprous Roy Cohn to his coldly ignored children from his second and third marriages.

His trademark was his churlishness and his impulse toward cruelty, never so brilliantly on display as when he ordered small immigrant children to be wrested from the mothers'  breasts so that he could enjoy the spectacle of families tormented by his grotesque inhumanity.

Despite his effort to create a sophisticated public image, Mr. Trump was a coarse illiterate son of the outer boroughs of New York.  His father's money allowed him to sail through a tenth-rate military school and bought him a questionable transfer to Wharton, from which he managed to graduate with a major in cocaine.  He traced his louche sexual escapades to his grandfather who ran a brothel somewhere in the back woods of Canada.

A consistent, almost pathological strain of dereliction of duty ran through Mr. Trump, evident as early as second grade when he punched out his teacher for no particular reason other than he could get away with it.

While brave young men like Al Gore, John Kerry,
and Bob Mueller served their country, the future 45th
President conducted nightly patrols in NYC discos
This cowardly shirking of adult responsibility continued during the Vietnam War, when his father paid a series of doctors to concoct a story about bone spurs that won him five medical deferments.  He could hardly restrain his excitement as he contemplated avoiding the draft in favor of rogering Slavic “models” he picked up in New York discos.

Even as President, he was too afraid to visit troops on duty in Afghanistan or other combat zones and too lazy to honor dead American soldiers on the 100th Anniversary of the end World War I. 

For his lack of service in war and peace, he was awarded absolutely no decorations or honors of any sort.

As might be expected from someone as lazy, ignorant, and bent as he, his Presidency was a flaming rolling clown car of disasters and his staff a revolving door of incompetents and contemptibles.  He had an almost unique ability to degrade others and bring them down to his level.  His own Chief of Staff, Gen. John Kelly, after a lifetime of honorable service, left the White House in disgrace after participating in false racist attacks on Democratic congresswomen of color.

Asked just before he died what he was proudest of, he replied, “My children.  I did a beautiful job getting Saudi Arabia to take Donny, Jr., Ivanka, and Jared just a few hours before Mueller had signed warrants for their arrests.”

[Where did  you steal this from? – Ed.]

Saturday, November 24, 2018

News from Zontar: Coalition of the willing to fight global warming

Editors' Note: Every so often the Spy's Deep Space Bureau receives transmissions from the alien civilization on the planet Zontar, in the distant Remulac galaxy.  Because of the principles of electromagnetic wave theory (so much more complicated than good old steam!) these transmissions often take years to travel through the vastness of interstellar space.  For example, this dispatch was beamed from Zontar in 2002 but just reached us Earthlings yesterday.

By Zudith Miller
The New Zork Times

President George Z. Bush astounded official Washington, D.Z. yesterday when, in a major policy about face, he announced that he would divert resources away from a planned war on Zaddam Hussein to combating global warming, which he described as the “the number one threat facing the country and the world.”

The decision represents the culmination of a thorough interagency review of all threats facing the nation headed by National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.  Sources close to the review praise her for insisting on a rigorous fact-based inquiry over the objections of Defense Secretary Donald Rumzfeld and Vice President Dick Zheney.  The two old whackjobs had been urging what they called a “brief and glorious war” against Zaddam's regime, which they said would lead to quick, bloodless victory that would transform the Middle East.

The President was shocked to see a simulation of
what could happen to Houston in the next 15 years
However, in a lengthy White Man Paper released today by the White House, the President said that “the intelligence showed that the threat from Zaddam was negligible and could be easily contained by the current regime of international inspections and sanctions, while the threat of global catastrophe due to human-caused global warming was obvious to the even the meanest intelligence, like mine.”

The President was shocked to learn that the estimated cost of removing Zaddam from power and restructuring his country as a stable democracy could reach or exceed $2,000,000,000,000, when all costs, including caring for hundreds of thousands of wounded and crippled veterans for the rest of their lives, were factored in.

Asked what the same $2 trillion could do if earmarked to the battle against climate change, the President was told that it would make a decisive difference in achieving a transition to carbon-free energy, focused on solar, wind, other renewables and most crucially improved battery technology that would enable electric cars to travel over 200 miles on a single charge by 2018.

In a gesture of bipartisan unity, sources close to the President admitted that he had had several private meetings with the man he defeated for the Presidency in 2000, former Vice President Zal Gore.  “The President understands that he did not win the popular vote and therefore should take careful note of the views of the man who did,” explained Presidential flack Nicolle Z. Wallace.

Although former campaign manager Steve Szhmidt warned the President that moving away from carbon-based fuels like coal might harm the ZOP in mining states such as Wezt Virginia and Wyomingz, the President was said to have been so alarmed by his sessions with Zal Gore that he brushed aside partisan political considerations.

The White House released shocking science-based estimates
of sea level increases
The President was said to have been especially stricken by Gore's depictions of likely future climate catastrophes if the current rate of global warming continued.  Gore was said to have warned the President that great cities like New Orleans could be devastated by hurricanes whose power was magnified by warming Gulf waters.  He even warned the President that climate change could bring a drought in California so severe that Kim Kardazhian would lose her house in a wildfire.

“Not Kim Kardazhian,” the President was said to have responded, adding “We need a whole new strategery to save our nation!”

The President is expected to lay out his ambitious war on global warming in his upcoming State of the Union Address.  He plans to refer to coal-generated power, gasoline engines, and deforestation as the new “Axis of Evil,” according to Presidential speechwriter and proud Torontonian David Frumz.

The ZOP conservative base has generally been supportive of the new policy.  “Any intellectually honest review of the facts would prove that Zaddam is not nearly the threat that global warming is,” said former Dan Quayle coatholder Billy Kristolz.

But the broader American electorate has not traditionally been engaged by the threat of global warming.  For that reason, aides to the President plan a “shock-and-awe” campaign to educate the public about the imminent threat of human-caused climate change.

They may have their work cut out of them.  Asked for his view about global warming, busto casino owner and reality TV star Donald Z. Trumpf, reached at a golf course in the Zierra Nevada Mountains while his wife was giving birth to their son back in New Zork, said, “You bet it's going to get warm tonight.  I've lined up a beautiful squad of porn stars to f***.   All tens.  Maybe there's an eleven in there, I don't know.  Tell me what's hotter than that?”

Monday, November 19, 2018

Jsut when you thought it was safe to cross Independence Avenue again

By Isaiah Thomas
Chair, Editorial Board

When the weather is right and the wind blows from the northeast, you can hear in the streets of this forlorn occupied city the sounds of distant gunfire.  The immiserated inhabitants of Washington City sense that the hour of their liberation is at hand, whether from the new House of Representatives or a juicy stack of sealed indictments filed by the Special Counsel's office.

Like Paris in August 1944, Washington is stirring, and the various factions of the Opposition are already at each other, eager to take credit for the glorious hour when President Tiny Toadstool's Reign of Terror is no more.

The anti-U Bum Republicans are coming back, and they still want your brains
But some of the most preposterous claims are coming from those that had the least to do with the coming liberation: the anti-U Bum Republican conservatives who are ready to demand for themselves the rewards coming to those who resisted.

Yep, like zombies in an AMC series that's gone on about three years too long, the Republicans are baaaack, and they're just as horrifying and lifeless as they ever were.

So before we admit zombies like Billy Kristol, Max Boot, Toronto's Own Davey Frum, Nicole “Stop the Recount” Wallace, Ana Navarro, Steve Schmidt, and the rest of the gang of Republican gunslingers who brought us forty years of stagnation, not to mention war crimes, back into the corridors of power, let's stop to consider what they have done to earn their Persilschein.

First, can anyone name a single winner on Election Night who owes his or her victory to the tireless efforts of anti-U Bum Republicans?  One?  If the past three years have taught us anything, it's that the Republican Party is as close to to the Tangerine-Faced Grifter as his cheeseburger.

Not a single living Republican office-holder has broken with him, no matter what the outrage.  Not one of the very fine white bigots talking to credulous reporters in diners in East Bumf**k, Pennsylvania has been persuaded by the stirring Tweets of Billy Kristol or the impassioned rumblings of Steve Schmidt.  Not a f***in' one.

And what exactly did they do in the war?  Did they oppose huge tax cuts for rich?  Appointing a sex criminal to the Supreme Court?  Gutting the Affordable Car Act?  Adding more coal to the fires of climate change?  Of course they didn't.

Why should they?  They've worked for decades flacking for Republican schmucks whose policies are indistinguishable from those of the Grifter-in-Chief whom they claim to loathe with all their tiny hearts.

Denying climate change and promoting the wasteful use of fossil fuels?  Anyone besides us remember St. Ronald of Bitburg's condemnation of “killer trees” or George W.'s refusal to enter into meaningful international agreements to address global warming?

Appealing to white racists and mouth-breathing bigots?  That's as Republican as tax cuts for the rich.

Doing nothing while America's schools, concert venues, and houses of worship are turned into killing zones?  Hey whatever happened to that assault weapons ban that ol' W. was supposedly ready to sign?  We're asking you, Nicolle, stop smirking.

Showing callous indifference to their concerns of women, especially those who have suffered sexual abuse and harassment?  Come on down, Justice Long Dong Thomas, appointed by beloved former President David Cop-a-feel Bush.

Supporting affordable health care for all Americans, even those not rich enough to buy a Presidential Medal of Freedom or a Harvard education for their unpromising offspring?  Right.

And speaking of corruption and abuse of power, does it get much worse than firing U.S. Attorneys because they refused to file false voter suppression cases, and then erasing the e-mails that would have inculpated lovable Karl Rove?  I guess the answer is it does a little, but the difference is more a matter of tone.

We could, like Mr. D. Glass and others, go on, but no matter where you look, the animated corpses of past Republicans sinners, no matter how lifelike they seem on the op-ed page of The Washington Post, are intent on only one thing: gobbling our brains and returning us to the Republican glory days of needless war, torture, plutocracy, and corruption.

Former Iraq warmonger Max Boot, who has shown some recognition of past sins, is out seeking redemption by peddling a book with the ridiculous title The Corrosion of Conservatism.  An accurate title would be The Culmination of Conservatism.

So before you let the zombie Republicans back into American political life to promote God knows what  – war in Iran?  the bold leadership of Wilfred M. Romney?  cutting Social Security?  arming the Contras?  – best look into their cold dead eyes and ask yourself if they represent a more plausible future for what's left of our democracy than Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressly?

Then drive a stake right through their Twitter feeds.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Maureen discovers that Republicans are hypocrites, but you read it first in the Spy

By A.J. Liebling
Meta-Content Generator

All of Georgetown was abuzz this morning, wondering if Maureen Dowd had been kidnapped and replaced by a newly-discovered good twin.

The speculation was sparked by her column in the Sunday New York Times.  Not only was there a complete absence of snarky putdowns of Hillary Clinton and crypto-racist ones aimed at real President Barack Obama, but she actually took on an important issue and got it right.

I know, we can't come up with any other explanation either.

Her topic was the enduring fatuity of loyal apologists for the war crimes of Bush and Cheney reinventing themselves as U Bum scolds who suddenly have discovered a hitherto-unknown fealty to truth and the rule of law.  What the hell, we'll let Maureen kick ass and name names:
The architects and enablers of the Iraq war and Abu Ghraib are still being listened to on foreign policy, both inside the administration (John Bolton and Gina Haspel) and out. NeverTrumper Eliot Cohen wrote the Washington Post op-ed after the election telling conservatives not to work for Trump; Max Boot, who urged an invasion of Iraq whether or not Saddam was involved in 9/11, is now a CNN analyst, Post columnist and the author of a new book bashing Trump; John Yoo, who wrote the unconstitutional torture memo, is suddenly concerned that Trump’s appointment of his ghastly acting attorney general is unconstitutional.
She missed a few of the leading suspects like Nicolle “Shut Down the Recount” Wallace and Sarah Palin campaign manager Steve Schmidt, but now that they are earning a living as bloviating gasbags, maybe it was just a matter of professional courtesy.

Of course, she didn't come up with this all by herself; she had to have it explained to her by some alt-Hollywood filmmaker who might be in a position to finally produce her great script about a smart, sexy Irish Catholic girl from Annandale, Virginia who takes Washington by storm in the 80's.  But she finally gets the point:
After a screening of “Vice” Thursday, I asked McKay [the Hollywood guy] which of our two right-wing Dementors was worse, Cheney or Trump.
“Here’s the question,” he said. “Would you rather have a professional assassin after you or a frothing maniac with a meat cleaver? I’d rather have a maniac with a meat cleaver after me, so I think Cheney is way worse. And also, if you look at the body count, more than 600,000 people died in Iraq. It’s not even close, right?”
Leaving aside the moderately hilarious irony of our staunch feminist ceding her column to a mansplainer, we wonder why it took a Hollywood medium-shot to explain the truth to Maureen when she could have read it a long time ago in – you guessed it – the Spy.

While we can't green-light her script we can note that the hypocrisy of Never U Bum Republicans and the continuity between the lies and crimes of W. and Cheney and those of the Tangerine-Faced Grifter has been an increasingly tedious staple of these pages.

We made the point as long ago as last month regarding war criminal apologist and former CIA Director John Brennan:

Has Maureen Dowd been replaced by her good twin?
To those eager to canonize Brennan because of his recent criticism of the Grifter-in-Chief, exhuming the broken bodies of various unlucky detainees may seem like whataboutism: an effort to change the subject to an unrelated topic.

But is it unrelated?  The Republican culture of destroying democratic norms didn't begin in 2017; it goes back at least to the glory days of Bill Buckley's man crush, Joe McCarthy. Sometimes the American system manages to rid itself of these evildoers, like McCarthy or Nixon.

And sometimes it doesn't.  Bush Republicans stole the 2000 election by a vote of 5 to 4 and never paid a price for it.  Indeed the recount rioters now pose as concerned citizens, right, Nicolle?  Then those same Republicans lied us into needless war and engaged in grotesque tortures and war crimes, and again never paid the price, unless you count being relegated to the daytime lineup.

When outrages are buried and unpunished on spurious grounds like national security, the tears in the fabric of the Republic become normalized and accepted, both weakening America and providing a model for those who would rip new holes in it, like President U Bum.  When such subversion is overtly supported by majorities in the House and Senate, the web of norms that supports our democracy become ever more tenuous, until, as is the case today, it appears ready to collapse into threads.

Those who now properly sound the alarm about obstructing justice and accountability when a critic like John Brennan is mugged by a corrupt President might be asked where they were when justice was waterboarded at CIA black sites, and accountability frustrated by the man who now claims it as his birthright.

Or June:

One conclusion leaps out: as long as conservative “intellectuals” flap their gums about their past glories and current indignities, we'll never lack for material.

Former George W. Bush flack and coatholder David Frum, come on down!

Instead of starting as he should have by apologizing for lying this country into a bloody war of choice and the commission of heinous war crimes, he deploys one classic strategy of conservatives unable to defend their past or present views: whataboutism.

There's no difference between the Grifter-in-Chief and Jeremy Corbyn or Bernie Sanders because all three have a dangerously “messianic” appeal?  Of course, the same smear was deployed against Barack Obama in 2008, to no avail.

We wonder if David Frum would admit that there is a difference between politicians who seek to inspire their followers and those who seek to inflame the racism, bigotry, and unjustified sense of grievance of their hate-filled mobs while undermining democracy with graft and authoritarianism.

 Or one of our favorites, a where-we-they-then piece (on gun control) from March:

David Frum was a little closer to the action at a Washington think tank, but he seemed to be too busy with his mission with the Hot Air Force promoting the endless disaster of the Iraq War to notice the real danger to Americans on the shelves of Wal-Mart.

We heard Steve Schmidt on the cable raging about the failure to control assault weapons, so naturally we inquired as to his whereabouts in 2004.  It turns out he was a high-level flack and henchman in the Bush re-election campaign, in the course of which he lauded W. as a “steady and principled leader.”  We guess it's a case of those who can, do, and those who can't, flack.  We would have said teach, but the teachers are dead.

Speaking of overexposed on cable, what about long-time gasbag Joe Scarborough?  Incredibly enough, he was already blathering on cable news in 2004.  One month before the assault weapons ban lapsed he was observed “standing and applauding numerous times during the president's speech.”  That's President George W. Bush.

Due to pressures of time and increasing nausea, we can only cover one more stalwart post-massacres opponent of assault weapons.  Come on down, former Florida recount rioter Nicolle Wallace!  By incredible coincidence, she was the Communications Director for the often tongue-tied Texan under her former name, Nicolle Devenish.  In 2004, in that senior policy-level position, she communicated her deep concern for human life by slamming John Kerry for refusing to support a bill making harming a pregnant woman a crime against the fetus.

Of course, that legislation, unlike renewal of the federal assault weapons ban, wouldn't have protected the massacred children of Sandy Hook, because in 2004, they hadn't even been conceived, much less born.

On the plus side, though, she has her own daily cable news show. 

We could go on but you get the point.  And at long last, apparently Maureen (or at least her good twin) does too.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The post-midterm column you'll never read

The lesson of the 2018 midterms:
Republicans must move to the center

By ChuckDavidJoeTom Toddbrooksboraw
Political Editor, [insert name of media outlet]

Despite their luck with a favorable red-state Senate map, there's no doubt that the Republicans have lost the midterm election.  The voters have sent their message and the losing party should take heed: it is time for Republicans to move to the center and seek common ground with their political adversaries for the good of the nation.

In the months ahead, the Republicans will no doubt be tempted to leverage their increased Senate majority and hold on the White House to advance their agenda.  But this would be a mistake.  The past two years have showed us that the public is sick of Republican extremism in all its forms, from cozying up to white supremacists and wannabe Nazis to borrowing from our children to give the richest Americans (including the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue) a tax cut they did not need or deserve.

ChuckDavidJoeTom Toddbrooksboraw
They should temper their partisan urges and find common cause with the Democrats.  For example, Republicans should work with Democrats on a real infrastructure bill, not a fake bill that auctions off our public patrimony to the highest bidder.  They should collaborate with Democrats on responsible oversight of Executive Branch officers, fulfilling the historic oversight role of Congress.  They should show respect for the rule of law by supporting an orderly completion of Mueller's Russia probe and by nominating and voting for mainstream judges who exhibit a nonpartisan judicial temperament and consistently treat potential romantic partners with respect or at least not feloniously.

If the Republicans refuse to abandon their hyperpartisan extremist approach, they will only give ammunition to Democrats who claim that Republicans are too extreme to govern or even that Republicans don't share broadly-accepted American values.

Republicans would do well to remember that this nation was founded on, and has pursued, bedrock principles such as respect for the dignity of every human being regardless of their background or parentage, the rule of law, the value of honest, responsible government, and the belief that the rewards of a market economy should be enjoyed broadly rather than pocketed by a wealthy few.

When Republicans pursue their radical agenda of insulting and demonizing members of a particular religion or ethnic group, proposing wildly bigoted constitutional revisions to treasured fundamental laws like the 14th Amendment, or even subverting a core Constitutional provision like the Census, they appeal to their angry hard-core base but at the cost of imperiling our precious nation itself.

A Republican Party willing to work collaboratively with Democrats on vital national priorities such as ensuring affordable health care to all, providing a long-term path to citizenship for those brought to this country as children, and protecting our planet from the coming scourge of unchecked global warming would do much to ease the current climate of polarization and gridlock that has prevented sensible bipartisan action.

It is time for Republicans to put country above party and reach across the aisle.  If Republicans are willing to put their extremist past behind them and work on issues that I myself care about then they will show that they have truly taken on the lessons of the midterm elections and are ready to unify our nation.

ChuckDavidJoeTom Toddbrooksboraw's latest book, “The Greatness of American Greatness” is available in remainder bins everywhere.  His podcast “An Inside Look at the 2020 Elections” begins tomorrow.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Grand Old Pogrom

Editors' Note:  Due to breaking news, we are unable to bring you today's planned feature: “I Knew It All Along” by legendary Spy Sports Columnist Shill Shamelessly.  We'll try to bring you his peerless insights soon!

By A. Cahan
Jewish Affairs Editor

Shabbat morning in America.  Jews everywhere are heading toward shul, late of course.  Perhaps it's a bar mitzvah, a bris, a yahrzeit, or they simply want to remind Bob Feldman to pay his damn pledge to the Building Fund already.

Instead, on Saturday,  October 27, 2018, in the comfortable suburb of Squirrel Hill, what they got was a pogrom.

And what all surviving American Jews got was a wake-up call.  In the wake of the massacre and the responses of Republican politicians and their apologists, running from the lame to the incredible, it has become clear that any Jew who votes Republican is putting his people at grave risk.

The leading candidate for Republican
Speaker of the House published

then deleted this Tweet
The lone gunman, a white male loser who was able without any serious difficulty to amass a 21-gun military-grade lethal arsenal, decided that he had enough of the international Jewish conspiracy to overrun America with Honduran terrorists disguised as hungry, wretched women and children.

From whence could he have gotten this crackpot idea?  After 0.05 seconds of searching, we found out: from the alternative white supremacist Republican media machine.  A representative sample appears above but we could afflict you with an infinite number of like examples.

Now Jew haters have always been with us.  But only since the Bigot-in-Chief stole the Presidency with his toxic brew of hatred, bias, stupidity, and anger, have they felt emboldened to stroll into synagogues and open fire.   As the Editor of the Forward, Jane Eisner, summed up:

But very worst of all, we are a nation with a president who stokes this anger — against immigrants, against minorities, against anyone who disagrees with him at any moment — and then, when violence and death stain the landscape, blames the victims for not protecting themselves enough, as if that were the reason for the bloodshed.
It’s time for the Jewish community in all its many facets to confront the complicity of the man in the White House, and all who support him — with money, votes, political expertise and moral cover.

Let us savor the full bitterness of the response of the U Bum Administration to this appalling disaster.  By selling their soul (not a particularly valuable commodity at this point to be sure) to gun nuts, the entire Republican Party has endorsed the idea that any hate-addled nut should be able to stroll into any gun lover convention and walk out with an unlimited amount of military-grade weaponry that can kill 30 innocents a minute and overpower any defender armed with only a handgun.

The price for that insanity has been paid by high school students, people of color, concert goers in Las Vegas, and now the Jews.  Who knows who will get the butcher's bill tomorrow?

We know it won't be the Grifter-in-Chief.  With his now-legendary response to any tragedy – half-assed off-the-cuff ignorant hateful bullshit – he blamed the Jews for not posting armed guards at every U.S. synagogue.  Leaving aside the obscenity of blaming victims at a time of crushing loss, there's no doubt, as was the case with innumerable school shootings, that a guard with a handgun is no match for a white maniac with an array of heavy semi-automatic weaponry.

And by the way, who's supposed to pay for all of this round-the-clock security?  We know it won't be President Tiny Toadstool.  Or his hidden genius son-in-law Jared.  Will it be the Jews themselves, taxed to provide their own security as in the medieval ghetto?

Here's an idea: the $25 billion that the Groper-in-Chief wants to spend on a wall to guard against a nonexistent threat at the southern border could buy plenty of security for religious institutions currently being targeted by white male extremists.  

This is how a Jewish journalist is treated
in U Bum's America
But surrender to gun maniacs, while bad for the Jews, isn't necessarily anti-Semitic.  It's the rest of the Republican party prescription that sends our co-religionists to the real estate listings in Montreal and Toronto.

Let's consider the oafish response of brain-dead extremist and ghoul in waiting Mike Pence who said that anyone who shoots up a temple or a church should pay the “ultimate price.”  Leaving aside that the death penalty is already available for terror attacks (ask the Marathon Bomber), isn't something missing from this list?  Are there any other religious institutions in America?  If not, where do America's 3,000,000 Muslims congregate?  So it's OK according to Mama's Boy Pence to leave mosques off the list because it's OK to ban, if not shoot, Muslims?  And who thinks that anti-Islam bigotry is good for the Jews?  (Actually, we'll get to that.)

As Julia Ioffe – who has been smeared with unspeakable anti-Semitic abuse for the crime of truthful reporting – said in today's Washington Post:
In the two and a half years that followed, Trump’s tune has become a deafening roar. The closing ad of his campaign reprised the kind of anti-Semitic tropes that populated “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”: “It’s a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities,” Trump’s voice said, as pictures appeared of then-Federal Reserve Board chair Janet Yellen (a Jew), billionaire progressive donor George Soros (a Jew), and then-Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein (also a Jew). The ad was called “Donald Trump’s Argument for America.”  In fact, Trump had so much to say about the Jews that his Jewish son-in-law has had to publicly defend him as “not an anti-Semite.” 

Bigotry wasn't some incidental aspect of the the Republican argument for political power.  It was the core, and anti-Semitism was right in there with racism and anti-immigrant animus.

Speaking of people whose concern for American Jews we're having trouble stomaching, according to the The New York Times:
Leaders in the United States and across the world condemned the attack. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said he was “heartbroken and appalled” and that the “the entire people of Israel grieve with the families of the dead.”
Is he now?  It's nice that Netanyahu evinces such tender concern for Conservative (that is, mainstream) Jews, having denied them the right to pray as they see fit at the Western Wall in Jerusalem to protect his frail extremist coalition.

More fundamentally, Netanyahu and the entire Likud apparatus, from Las Vegas to the meanest illegal settlement in the hills of the West Bank, have done their level best to demean and marginalize liberal Jews, especially those who have the temerity to question the wisdom of paving the West Bank with settlements to deny Palestinians any hope of a real state in the region.

For that reason, the Likud has enthusiastically backed U.S. extremists and the Tangerine-Faced Golem, all the while undermining Democrats who have dared to express support for a two-state solution.  We are told in ways subtle and otherwise that only Republicans, who support the extirpation of legitimate Palestinian aspirations (whether as part of the end of the world and the Rapture or otherwise), are good for the Jews.

Yesterday's massacre demonstrates just how ludicrous that position was.  The blood of our brothers and sisters in Squirrel Hill cries out to us from the floor of their violated sanctuary: No one who cares about their fellow Jews can even think about voting Republican.

Friday, October 26, 2018

24 Minutes in the Life of America

24 Minutes in the 

Life of America

Editors' Note: The Spy is not just your comprehensive source for hard news and trenchant opinion.  It's so much more, like a showcase for the finest in writing and photography featuring the talents of our far-flung network of stringers and freelancers.  That's why we decided, what with all the scary news about bombs being sent to critics of the Grifter-in-Chief (which bombs he places in quotation marks to demonstrate he doesn't think they're real), to step back for a minute and fill a few pages with a reflective moody impressionistic pastiche of America at this moment – not just the rich and powerful but the little people, the common clay of our land, your fellow Americans, you know – [We get the setup. – Ed.]

6:42 a.m. New York City.

Dawn is just breaking over the skyscrapers of Sixth Avenue as Alison Porchnik, 28 [Our records say 33 – Fact Checker], an assistant producer, takes a sip of her lukewarm coffee and grimaces at the bank of monitors in front of her at Fox News World Headquarters.  Her mind is filled with questions.  What did that f***in' idiot Brian just say?  Why can't he just read from the prompter in front of him?  Is this what I spent four years at New York University for?  Why can't I find a decent apartment in Williamsburg for less than $3,000 a month?  Would it really be so bad to marry Sidney Feigenbaum, DDS?  He's boring and bald and lives in Mineola, but at least his income would pay off her student loans.

Not only that, she has a segment to fill up for Cruella de Vil at 10 tonight and she has nothing.  Democratic mobs?  Last week.  Leftist intolerance on campus?  Last night.  Planned Parenthood's plot to murder millions of babies?  Alison remembers the memo from Bill that said no more pro-life stories; it's not helping in the suburban swing districts.

What then?  She scans the monitors and sees a bunch of people walking, mostly women and small children.  They're not white.  They're aliens.  They are only 1,200 miles away from the U.S. border!  Perfect – by the time Alison is finished, the tape will look like a Honduran blitzkrieg.

3:44 a.m. Las Vegas, Nevada

The old man sleeps badly.  Despite his billions, he is racked by worries.  Finally, he gives up, rings the bell for his night attendant and flips on the light.  Far below his 48th floor penthouse the lights of the Strip blaze, luring a never-ending stream of suckers and lushes into his casino, where they will be only too happy to turn over their life savings to him.

His night attendant Yossi and two women whose names he can no longer remember wrestle him into his robe and onto his scooter.  He maneuvers his way into the living room, with its bank of monitors and secure phones.  He sees one of his underlings in Tokyo and barks, “Do we have that Tokyo casino license yet?”  The stricken look on his minion's face tells him everything he needs to know.  The old man spits out, “F*** this.”

5:46 a.m. Memphis, Tennessee

Inside the battered RV, the lights are already on.  Nathan Forrest, 72, finishes his first Winston as he helps his wife change her oxygen tank.  He has to hurry because his 12-hour warehouse shift begins at 7 a.m. and he must walk four miles to get there.  There's no retirement for Nathan: he needs the $7.25 an hour to make ends meet.  He took lower Social Security payments beginning at 62 because his former employer had gone broke and stopped paying his pension.  Some days his back hurts so much from lugging 45 pound boxes that he wonders if he'll survive until his shift ends.  He bids his wife farewell, and leaves his trailer, proudly wearing his Make America Great Again hat.

6:48 a.m. Rockville, Maryland

The sun hits the driver right in the eyes as he turns off the Beltway.  Back in Iran, he was a doctor, but here he drives a Toyota Camry for ride hailing apps.   As he hoped, it's a lucrative downtown run.  For an hour battling traffic on Connecticut Avenue he'll gross $15 after gas and lease payments.  If he can get a decent fare downtown, so much the better, although the $3.25 he gets for the run from Farragut to Capital Hill won't pay too many overdue hospital bills.  He stops in front of a raised rambler with a dying lawn.  The house looks familiar.  He sees his passenger flying out of the house, trying vainly to get into his jacket while cradling his cell phone.  Not this asshole again.  This guy is a reporter for some newspaper or something and will spend the entire ride whining into his phone.  What he won't ever do is tip.

Sure enough, the passenger climbs into the back seat with nary a word of greeting.  Into his phone he whines, “He said what?  An invasion?  ISIS terrorists? . . . Yes, I'll see if I can get any clarification from the Press Office.”

5:52 a.m. Liberal, Kansas

Maria Fernandez, 23, has been at work for almost an hour, making sure that the chickens hanging upside down from the chain are dead and pulling off their heads as they speed by, 50 a minute.  Her gloves and smock are already covered with blood and feathers  but at $10 an hour it's the best she can do with the Social Security Number she bought from Manuel behind the grocery store.  Her supervisor tells her than she is taking too many bathroom breaks and that if she can't manage the work while pregnant she should quit.  Her supervisor also told her that she should have kept her legs together and welcomed Jesus into her life instead.  As he walks away, he tells her to take pride in her work, because one of her chickens could end up eaten by the President of the United States.  She spits at a chicken, hoping she's gotten the right one.

6:59 a.m.  Greenwich, Connecticut

The CEO of the hedge fund that owns the warehouse in Memphis and the slaughterhouse in Liberal cycles away on his Peloton, watching a financial news channel.  The quarterly numbers look good.  The cut in the corporate tax rate has increased his after-tax profits by 40%.  Therefore the stock price is up 40%.  Therefore his net worth increased from $2 to $2.8 billion since January 1.  Finally, he thinks, he can afford to dump his second wife and maybe trade up to a hot youngish actress, like Steve-o.  Life is good, he thinks.

7:01 a.m.  Malone, New York

Inside a vast cold warehouse sit thousands of computer servers and storage units, handling billions of  bytes of data each second for Twitter.  Although the facility sprawls over 10 acres and receives a $24,000,000 of subsidized electricity each year, it employs only 30 people.  In Aisle 255, six servers blink on.   A Tweet from the President of the United States warning of an imminent invasion by Honduran and Iranian terrorists has been sent to 65,000,000 accounts and retweeted by 4.3 million bots.

7:06 p.m. U.S. Embassy, Tokyo

The NIACT alarm goes off in the Embassy's com center.  A cable authorized by the President is to be delivered at once to the Ambassador.  But the Ambassador is taking his weekly visit to the baths and so the message goes to the DCM.  It reads simply: WHERE THE FUCK IS THE CASINO LICENSE?

5:22 p.m., Old Sludgebury, Mass.

The Spy's Special Projects Editor looks at the assembled pointless drivel his team has put in front of him for a big feature about 24 Minutes in the Life of America, which is supposed to cover 8 pages on Sunday.  “This is all you got?” he rails. “You're all fired!”