Saturday, March 18, 2017

Wanting and Having

These guys...

...really miss this guy.

After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true.--Mr. Spock, "Amok Time," Star Trek, 1967.

They've wanted this a very long time: single-party control of Washington, the chance to open the floodgates and release volumes of pent-up legislation that's been stymied by a stubbornly thoughtful, responsible President. For all that time, they've been able to deflect criticism of their utter ineffectiveness as lawmakers, with their Senate majority too small to overcome a veto. Give us a President we can work with, they've said, and watch how much we accomplish.

And it came to pass that, through a Constitutional quirk that gives more a voice to rural states than urban states, the election did miraculously go the way in which the Republicans had hoped it would, and there was great rejoicing, for lo, there would be a new King in Washington who knew the harsh and miserly God of Mitch and Paul and would act righteously in their eyes by advancing their agenda.

So at last, the right-wingers got what they wanted, as with great joy they anointed King Donald I. He marched into the Oval Office and began signing whatever executive order his Grand Vizier handed to him. It was everything the legislators had hoped for, longed for, prayed for, and more, because he did it with panache, proudly displaying every one of those orders for the cameras. Those pictures were salt in the wound and sand in the eye to the many Democrats who had just voted, as an overall majority, for their candidate rather than this pretender, as the pictures captured the Trumpy smirk, while conveying the sense that the new President was flaunting his power, proudly holding up his handiwork like a Cub Scout showing off his Pinewood Derby car.

His day's signing work completed, he went home to the residence, watched a lot of Fox News, and, in the middle of the night, tweeted abhorrent things for all the world to read.

Soon the news cycle shifted from covering the content of the executive orders--most of which had been hastily drafted, inadequately vetted, and were crammed with legal errors, easily challenged in court--to the spectacle that was the President's very public personality. His Twitter feed teemed with reactionary attacks on his detractors, exaggerations and lies about the margin of his victory, appeals for support from his populist voter base even as the orders he signed began to strip them of entitlements and to endanger their fledgling access to affordable health care.

The pandering, carnival-barking nature of many of the tweets could be easily dismissed. Not so the attacks on individuals, institutions, and entire sovereign nations, reaching a climax (for now) with unfounded accusations that his predecessor had illegally tapped his phone.

From any other citizen, however famous, such tweets would be easily ignored by all but the most celebrity-driven of news media, and be greeted on Capitol Hill with shrugs of indifference. This was no longer any other citizen, though: it was the President of the United States, a man with more real power than any other human being in existence. Nothing he said could be ignored. Congress had to deal with these words, investigating their credence just as seriously as if they had been leveled by the director of the FBI or CIA. Both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees did just that, demanding the Justice Department hand over any evidence supporting the claims. None was forthcoming. Sean Spicer, the President's press secretary, has, on various occasions, sought to spin, deny, downplay, or justify the President's words, as has every other member of the White House staff except the President.

It's no use: the man will not back down.

All this has left the House and Senate leadership in an extremely uncomfortable position: at a time when they would like to be pushing their agenda, they are instead on cleanup detail, sweeping up the huge piles of excrement left behind by the elephant leading the parade.

It's been suggested that all of this was planned to distract the media and public from the most virulent aspects of the Republican agenda: rather than getting worked up over the draconian cuts to health care, social programs, environmental protections, diplomacy, and everything else being sacrificed on the altar of building a useless wall and inflating a military budget already far bigger than it needs to be while simultaneously cutting the taxes of a tiny sliver of obscenely wealthy Americans, people are talking about the drunken clown show that is the President's personality. If that were the case--if this really was just Donald Trump being crazy like a (satanically evil) fox to cover all the damage he was getting away with behind his back--then, in fact, that agenda would be making rapid progress. Instead, Paul Ryan's signature health care plan has been pronounced dead on arrival by legislators on both sides of the aisle in both chambers of Congress, as has the President's misanthropic budget outline; judges are putting stops on his latest attempt at a Muslim travel ban before it can even take effect; and the flimsy majority of white voters who put Trump in office are finally beginning to see through the flimflam of his campaign.

Which leads me to speculate that, like the amoral, if logical, couple Spock lectured in "Amok Time," Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan are realizing that having this thing is not nearly as pleasing as wanting it. As long as they were the opposition, they could rail against the intractability of the Democratic President, pass weekly ACA repeals they knew they would never have to implement, and satisfy themselves that, while they could not turn back the advance of progressivism, they could at least slow it down.

Instead, they now find themselves owning this mess. As their President endangers alliances throughout the Western world and threatens war with parts of the Eastern world that have not been a threat since the 1950s, as his rabid paranoia calls into question every decision he makes and renders him useless as a promoter of any part of his, or their, agenda, they must be wondering if things really would have been all that bad had Hillary Clinton won the election.

And I am absolutely certain they miss the days when the most infuriating thing they heard from the White House was a dignified, thoughtful "No" from Barack Obama.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

When Believing Is Seeing

Proof: Some people gonna call you up
Tell you something that you already know
Proof: Sane people go crazy on you
Say ''No man, that was not the deal we made
I got to, I got to go''
Faith: Faith is an island in the setting sun
But proof, yes proof is the bottom line for everyone
--Paul Simon, "Proof," from Rhythm of the Saints, 1990.

I wonder: when Donald Trump looks in the mirror, does he tell himself the same words he's used on audiences longing for someone, something, anything they can rely on to improve their lives: "Believe me!" And when he sees that huckster expression on his face, hears those words bouncing back off the glass, does he, in fact, believe whatever thoughts are bouncing around under his expensive meta-combover?

Judging from the fallout of Saturday's Trumped-up "Obama wiretapped me" tweets, the answer to that rhetorical question is a very solid "yes." Here's White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders, being interviewed Sunday morning by Martha Raddatz on ABC's This Week:

Look, I think there have been quite a few reports. I know ... others earlier in the program mentioned that it was all conservative media, but that's frankly not true. The New York Times, BBC have also talked about it and reported on the potential of this having had happened....I think the bigger thing is, let's find out. Let's have an investigation. If they're going to investigation Russia ties, let's include this as part of it. And so that's what we're asking....[Y]ou guys are always telling us to take the media seriously. Well, we are today. We're taking the reports that places like The New York Times, FOX News, BBC, multiple outlets have reported this. All we're saying is let's take a closer look. Let's look into this. If this happened, if this is accurate, this is the biggest overreach and the biggest scandal....I think he's going off of information that he's seen that has led him to believe that this is a very real potential. And if it is, this is the greatest overreach and the greatest abuse of power that I think we have ever seen and a huge attack on democracy itself. And the American people have a right to know if this took place.
As Raddatz observed, these statements are rife with "ifs" and circular references to mainstream media reports on the specious speculations in the conservative media that Trump was apparently channeling into his tweets. The BBC reporting that Breitbart spread a conspiracy lie about wiretaps does not reverse the veracity of that lie. It shouldn't take graduate studies in logic to make this case, but week after week, interview after interview, serious journalists from across the spectrum are coming up against the studied illogic of the Trump regime. These people will not be trapped into admitting that speculation is not proven theory, that fantasies are not news reports, that lies are not proven facts. In citing the quotation of lies in reliable journals that are fact-checking (and finding false) those very lies, they are playing the authority card, a fundamental rhetorical error that, nevertheless, is mother's milk to religious fundamentalists the world over.

That, I am realizing, is how he would should be handling the President's falsehood ejaculations: the man has no interest in objective reality. His public image, his campaign, and now the policies of his regime have all been faith-based, rather than fact-based. As a pre-political celebrity, Trump believed himself to be powerful, desirable, influential, clever; and because he weaponized his wealth, people let him believe those things. Being the owner of an international pageant gave him the clout to walk in on dressing rooms, ogling women young enough to be his granddaughter. It kept many a sexual assault victim from publicly fighting back. It beat down plenty of contractors who found themselves, and their workers, stiffed out of wages they had honestly earned building Trump properties.

As a candidate, Trump's narcissism rose to new levels, as he rode the waves of adulation from the self-selected crowds he drew, however many of them might have been onlookers eager to witness a talking train wreck. The lies he told so sincerely, bulleted with the words "Believe me!" and "Trust me!" carried a ring of conviction. People responded emotionally to the show of the put on by the wealthy vulgarian who had deep faith in what he was saying. Trump's skills as a huckster, a barker, a confidence man are undeniable: it's Tony Robbins coupling self-actualization with a check, Herbalife and Amway sticking poor shills at the bottom of the pyramid with thousands of dollars of worthless merchandise, for-profit colleges collecting federal loan money from students incapable of finishing degree programs.

The scary thing, of course, is that Trump hasn't just been conning his voters: apparently he pulled one over on himself. As President, he's come up against the harsh reality of Washington bureaucracy which may, ironically, be one of the best protections we have against a power-grabbing madman. The insane policies he seeks to implement by fiat still must pass through Congress, the judiciary, and most importantly, all the levels of civil servants who were working their jobs years before Trump arrived, and will be there long after he's gone. They are a bulwark against faith-based policy making, the polar opposite of an executive that seeks to govern in the same way a born-again evangelical starts a new life today.

Frustrated with these barriers to the eschaton he's long envisioned, most recently in the snowballing scandal of Russian influence on his campaign and regime, Trump turned Saturday morning into a Twitter tantrum, attacking President Obama with accusations of wire-tapping which he apparently did not realize would have been so illegal as to place his predecessor at risk of impeachment. He'd read something on Breitbart, heard something from one of his favorite radio ranters, and it confirmed in his mind the sense that something demonic must be at work defeating his Messianic plan. His final tweet was a dig at a different irritant, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who'd had the gall to 1) be a celebrity with a far more successful turn as a politician; 2) be an immigrant with an accent; 3) be unfortunate enough to take charge of Trump's beloved Apprentice reality show, long past its prime, and preside over its swan song; and 4) post forceful, progressive videos critical of the new regime's destructive policies on immigration and the environment. Schwarzenegger is, in many ways, worse than Obama, who has always been the enemy in Trump's eyes (he is, after all, Black, intellectual, careful in his choice of words, and has that scary Muslim name): Arnold is a traitor to the cause, not so much of the Republican party (which Trump could take or leave) as of the Trump name, abandoning The Apprentice after just one season.

We are actually fortunate that Trump refuses to abandon Twitter. When his handlers take charge of him--as has really only happened twice since he took office (the nomination ceremony for Neil Gorsuch and last week's teleprompted address to Congress)--he is reined in, a mouthpiece for the establishment Republicans who will be around long after he's hung himself by his own red necktie. But when he Tweets, we get pure, undiluted Trumpism, the fanatical narcissism that has kept him at the forefront of American wealth even as so many of his signature projects and properties have proven miserable failures. He is the quintessence of the Baby Boom/Yuppie self-actualization movement, a man whose spiritually has no basis in objective reality, and is grounded ultimately in belief in himself. There is no God but Donald, and if you want to work for him, you'd better be his Prophet. Any hint of heresy, of drifting even an iota from the faith, even if it happened long before you were converted to the cause, places you before his judgment seat, where there is no mercy, just the worst judgment he can imagine anyone hearing from his mouth: "You're fired." These are not what many Christians consider to be "Old Testament" judgments, either (harsh but just): they're more like the judgments that came from mythological Greek and Norse gods, capricious, fallible, whimsical. One never knows what will trigger the ejection into the outer darkness, so one had best always have one's affairs in order.

The problem for narcissistic id-Gods like Donaldus Rex is that they cannot hold the faith of their fanatical masses forever. For one thing, unlike the Greek and Norse pantheon, they're human. Trump is 70, and despite the letter from his doctor, cannot be in as robust health as he claims. I'm an almost-56-year-old man with a good diet who exercises regularly, and I still find myself needing earlier bedtimes, not to mention daily naps. Even with the most expensive health care money can buy, the bell of aging and death tolls for every human being. For another thing, there just are not enough competent Trump believers in Washington to get any but a fraction of his agenda off the ground. As powerful as the Presidency is, that power is expressed and exerted through the million-headed hydra of the federal government; and as I said above, they may just be the most powerful buffer we have against knee-jerk hegemonism.

In the end, even the gods of the pantheon came crashing down. In the final scene of Wagner's Ring Cycle, Asgard is in flames, the gods cast out, and humans must now take responsibility for earth. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings ends similarly: with the demonic Sauron defeated, the immortal elves and wizards depart Middle Earth, leaving it in the hands of the mortal races. As long as the last six weeks has felt, I take comfort in the sense that everything about this regime is accelerated, and the hope that that includes its downfall. I doubt if this will be a second-term Nixon collapse, taking three years to arrive at convictions. There have already been resignations and abandoned nominations; Jeff Sessions' final turn in office seems at risk; Republicans in both Houses of Congress are finding it harder and harder to ignore the strident compassion of their more progressive constituents; the Russians are backing away from the President they preferred over Hillary Clinton; not an A-list celebrity on either side of the country will have anything to do with Trumpenstein; diplomatic surrogates for the regime are constantly having to backpedal their leader's pronouncements when they meet with foreign counterparts; the regime's mouthpieces are finding themselves and their slippery lies unwelcome on the Sunday news shows that are their bread and butter (not boding well for future careers); it is proving impossible to recruit bureaucrats who both possess the necessary skills for the position they will occupy and pass the Trump loyalty test; and mainstream news outlets are abandoning their false equivocation to label the falsehoods in official statements of the regime, even in front page headlines. This is not the comforting purr of a well-oiled machine; it's the death rattle of a mad science experiment, flailing about in agony that none of its appendages are compatible with the body they've been sewn onto.

One might conclude from the above meditation that I have something against faith. One would be partially right: faith has not served me well, at least, not as long as it was grounded in belief. But there my apparent atheism ends: true faith is not in believing, but in being. The most spiritually happy people I know live not for some coveted apocalyptic future, but for the grace present in every moment of every day. When I realize that both the rain and the sun are gifts, I have no need to lash out in anger that I'm getting waterlogged or sunburned. When I realize that twenty of my first graders are deeply invested in the lesson, and that the two who are disrupting it are acting out of their own learning disabilities, I have no need to personalize my frustration, but can seek a solution that honors both their neediness and the ultimate goal of the lesson. Every meal can be a Eucharist when it is appreciated for what it is; every bath, shower, or swim a Baptism. I have no need in these moments to actualize myself, to make myself greater than those around me, to insist that you believe in me as much as I believe in myself. It's not faith, but belief, that is the real culprit here, the adversary ultimately brought down by proof. Faith, that island in the setting sun, will take us much farther, much happier, than belief in any reality TV huckster ever can.

Lucky Me

Lucky me: I got to have the same root canal twice in one week.

You may sense some irony in that statement, and you wouldn't be entirely wrong. Last Monday, I endured one of the most painful dental procedures I've ever been through, and that's really saying something. All four of my first molars and cuspids--one in each quadrant--have been crowned, and all but one of them root canaled multiple times. I noticed in October that there was a lump on the gum below my right cuspid. I tried to get an emergency appointment before flying to Atlantic City for the AOSA National Conference, but wasn't able, and had to wait until after that horrible election. Then I was supposed to get a phone call from an endodontist. I waited another two months before finally calling myself. That means I was living with an abscess for three months. It didn't hurt, but I was worried about what it might be doing to my jaw, not to mention my breath.

So last Monday, I got to have the canal on that tooth redone. It wasn't an overly painful procedure, but highly unpleasant: aggressive filing of the canal that seemed deeper than any I can remember, and it went on far longer than I'd expected. I went home numb, went to school the next day, and by lunchtime, knew I needed something stronger than the Ibuprofen I'd been taking. I took the rest of the day off, got a prescription for Vicodin, and took another full day so as not to drive while drugged up. The rest of the week was reasonably tolerable, but by the weekend, I was experiencing increasing pain in the afternoon, leading me to get an emergency refill on the Vicodin on Saturday. Yesterday, with the pain again reappearing in the afternoon, I went through an after-school cluster cuss trying to get one of my endodontist's assistants on the phone to tell me if this pain was normal, and finally concluded I just needed to walk into the clinic for a face-to-face. That turned into me being back in the chair, undergoing a repeat of last Monday's procedure, only this time, it took more of everything: more anaesthetic, more numbing, more filing, more packing of medicated cotton into the canal, and most of all, more pain. There was a point toward the end where what he was doing inside the tooth felt like a direct stab to a very awake nerve. He closed it up, apologized for the additional pain, and told me the one thing that would make it go away would be an extraction--which I'm not contemplating. Yet.

What I was thinking about during that trip down Pain Street, and all the way to the pharmacy to home where I was finally able to knock back some more Vicodin, was how lucky I am to be suffering these procedures. And now I'm not being ironic at all: I am incredibly fortunate to be a public school teacher with dental insurance.

It's true that my HMO (Kaiser Permanente) really dropped the ball. Part of what makes Kaiser so affordable is their high volume operation: so many patients, so many entities paying in, and so much work on efficiency, that going to Kaiser for anything often feels to me like being on National Health, back when I was living in England. It's a huge bureaucracy, but it's dedicated to keeping costs down, and it works well. As with any bureaucracy, some of its procedures are byzantine, and patients sometimes have to advocate for themselves to get the care they're owed. But by and large, it's worked far better for me than any "traditional" health insurance I've had in the past.

And here's the biggie: as frustrating as my long wait for enhanced interrogation procedures may have been, I'm deeply grateful to my union, my school district, and my state for providing me with health benefits that are the envy of every other working person I meet. It could be worse, so much worse. In fact, it has been, for me. During my years of ministry, I had a decent health benefit, but it didn't include dental insurance. When I left ministry and went on a much smaller fixed income, I could no longer afford the dental insurance I'd been purchasing for myself. I found an alternative that provided me with discounts at a single provider: a dentist in Beaverton who badly botched my first root canal. It had to be redone multiple times due to his ineptitude, and didn't really get fixed properly until, two years later, I was able to get an appointment at the Dental College, where a Navy dentist working to become an endodontist went in, found the roots the discount plan guys had missed, and sent me away relieved. All my subsequent root canals and crowns came courtesy of teacher insurance.

So I had a few years there of having to cover myself with a cheap and inadequate discounted program. But that still puts me in a better position than millions of other Americans. The soon-to-be-GOP-eviscerated Affordable Care Act mandated dental insurance for children, not adults. Some state-level Medicaid programs (Oregon included) covered dental as well. But in general, one of the ways Congress put "Affordable" in the ACA was by continuing the peculiar American practice of treating dental insurance as a luxury separate from essential health care coverage.

Which consigns many of the people who most need it--those living near or the poverty line whose diets are higher in the simple sugars that lead to decay--to lives of drilling, filling, and extraction, when they're lucky enough to be able to see a dentist at all. The procedures for which I pay a $20 copay would be out of range for me if I had to pay full price. I'd have no more first molars or cuspids, and I'm sure other teeth would follow: thanks to growing up in areas without fluoridated water, my mouth is a patchwork of fillings.

As the endodontist worked on me yesterday, I couldn't help thinking of the two most painful dentistry scenes in cinema history, scenes so vivid I only needed to see the movies they came from once: Marathon Man, in which a former Nazi dentist uses his drill and pick as instruments of torture to extract information; and Castaway, in which the titular character, stranded on a desert island, must perform dental surgery on himself using a rock.

And that's when I realized how lucky I am: not just because I don't have a Nazi dentist chasing me with a drill; nor just because I'm not stuck on an island without a toothbrush; but because, as agonizing as getting root canals can be, I can still get them.

Congress is about to strip the Affordable Care Act of many of the provisions that make it work, turning mandates into suggestions and tax credits, and inducing the death spiral they used to like to make hay over. Without mandates for younger, healthier individuals, the ACA's requirements for covering pre-existing conditions become too expensive for private insurance companies. The ACA is the best thing Congress could come up with that expanded health care within our insanely complicated private market. Short of turning it into a genuine national health service, there's no way they can make it cheaper without kicking a lot of people off the rolls.

Millions of people are about to find out how unlucky they are, not just in losing dental care for themselves or their children, but affordable coverage of general medical care. They're going to be avoiding trips to the doctor for all but the most severe of concerns. That's going to drive many of them back to emergency rooms, the one place the poor can be sure of, eventually, getting some attention from an overworked staff.

And as so many commentators have pointed out, the people who are going to suffer the worst are disproportionately in the pro-Trump camp. That's right, they voted for the guy who's going to make it possible for them to become even less lucky than they already were.

So go ahead, crazy Kaiser bureaucracy: forget to call me with an appointment. Put me on hold for 45 minutes. Make me go on a treasure hunt to find the direct number of a clinic. Have different registration procedures in every department. Go on being your nutty, patchwork, jury-rigged selves. You're just doing what you have to do until something better comes along; and if the President and his lackeys have anything to say about it (which they do), that will be a very long time.

And while you're going about things in your eccentric Kaiser way, I will count my blessings. Things could be--and may someday be--so much worse.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Theme Park President

Coming soon to the Disneyland: the Scariest Animatronic President yet.

First the disclaimer: I did not watch Donald Trump's Congressional address. I had better things to do: moan and groan over the previous day's root canal and, 24 hours after the damage was done, finally feel the Vicodin kicking in. Then I watched some TV with Amy (Jane the Virgin and an extremely disturbing episode of Girls), before retiring to the bedroom to write yesterday's blog post. Everything I know about the speech I gleaned from Slate and the New York Times.

And here's what I learned: Trump stuck to the teleprompter, dutifully reciting the words he had paid someone to write for him, only straying once or twice from looking and sounding presidential. Although the content of the speech was boilerplate Trump (vague promises about replacing the ACA with something that covers everybody just as well, but for less money; nonspecific admission that racist and anti-semitic incidents are a problem; and a menacing con job about establishing an agency dedicated to prosecuting immigrant crimes against citizens (although statistics demonstrate it is immigrants, far more than American citizens, who are much more likely to be the victims in criminal encounters with each other).

This single performance--following a month of blunders, Twitter rampages, declaring war on the press, scandals both domestic and foreign, resignations by nominees and appointees, a staffing process slowed to a crawl by loyalty tests, briefings that favor slanted right-wing media over mainstream balanced reporting, lies upon lies upon lies, a constantly mutating foreign policy that has world leaders hiding under their desks, and so much more that I could fill pages with it--was enough to convince Van Jones of CNN that here, at last, was a President.

By that criterion, of course, there are 44 robots in Disneyland's Hall of Presidents who could do just as well. Better, actually: none of them has a Twitter account. And soon to join them, this terrifying creature:
Image result for animatronic trump

Mind you, there's a petition gathering signatures requesting Disney to refrain from adding robo-Trump to the show. I think that would be a mistake: if ever there was a President who belonged in a theme park, it's Donald Trump.

As I read about his performance before Congress, I couldn't help thinking about Avonlea Village, a theme park on Prince Edward Island that seeks to replicate the world of Anne of Green Gables. The park is a Disneyesque representation of Victorian Canada. I visited with my parents and children in 2003, and was at first amused by the wandering reenactors, most of them obviously older than the characters they were portraying. Soon I realized that their performances were missing something: the heart so evident in the filmed versions of the story (and, I assume, even more so in the books, which I must admit I have never read). Mind you, one cannot expect stage quality performances from college students working a summer job, but still, everything I saw fell more into the category of caricature than drama. The only authenticity I felt that day was in a spirited performance of Acadian music--though it led me to wonder if the genre was accurate to the time and setting of the Anne books.

This came a day after we had visited Sherbrooke Village, a historically accurate reenactment site where 19th century crafts are performed, and visitors can stroll without fear of being accosted by rowdy characters. The contrast was striking: here were people, many of whom lived on site, working as their predecessors had 150 years earlier. 

Three guesses which of those tourist activities reminds me most of our President.

Donald Trump is a cartoon of a President, a character out of a satirical political thriller. It's hard for me to imagine a Secret Service agent taking a bullet for this man who treats every appearance like a scene from a reality show. I'm reminded of how, in Back to the Future, Doc Brown of 1955 reacts to learning that Ronald Reagan is President in 1985: "The actor? Then who's the Vice President? Jerry Lewis?"

But yes, it has come to this: a White House more ludicrous than the Reagan/Lewis administration. Trump is praised for acting presidential for an hour, all the abuse he has dished at CNN forgiven for his ability to read a speech, no matter how duplicitous and sinister that speech might be. His advisers made sure the address had all the trappings of previous Presidential addresses: invited guests in the balcony, mostly dignified presentation, actually rehearsed words. All that window dressing disguised the identity of those guests: the grieving widow of a Navy SEAL whose death has led his father to demand an investigation; and the carefully selected families of victims of crimes committed by immigrants, providing Trump the platform to establish yet another bulwark against the arrival of people who actually want to live and work in this increasingly inhospitable nation.

But that's all beside the point: last night, for an hour, we had our animatronic President. It must have been agony for him to keep his egomania in check for that long (witness the improvised line about the dead Navy SEAL looking down from heaven and approving of the ratings): once it was over, he wasted little time looking up positive reviews, which then unleashed a Twitter storm of gratitude to the pundits who were taken in by the sales pitch.

Yours truly not included; but then, the 30 or so of you reading this should not be surprised by that. 

I hope Disneyland goes ahead and adds the animatronic Trump to the Hall of Presidents. I'd love to see what reactions it gets.

On the other hand, they don't really need him: the Matterhorn ride already has an abominable snowman, and one scary monster is plenty for the Happiest Place on Earth.