I’ve been watching the Republicans trying to convince themselves and the world, yet again, that 2 + 2 = 5. An overtly political Republican Congressional memo was released recently that clearly states “A”. However, it is being touted as proof that “A” is false. Most of the country has not been taken in, but a majority of Republicans have been.

Republican Congressional Memo released to the public

This is just the most recent example of a Republican misinformation campaign. This one is designed to prove that the entire intelligence community, all 17 agencies in the government, are all biased, corrupt and working together to overthrow the Trump government. This is a ludicrous, far-fetched and dangerous idea.

But so was the popular right-wing conspiracy theory about the Newtown School massacre. The conpiracists claimed that the massacre never really happened. Actors were hired to make it look real. It was faked to make Second Amendment gun advocates look bad. Hard to believe that people actually bought into this craziness. But many Republicans did.

Whatever happened to the rubric, ‘When you hear hooves, assume horses, not zebras’? What kind of person is willing, if not eager, to believe the convoluted conspiracy theory rather than the simple reality? Do you have to be somewhat paranoid yourself to believe this shit? Can you just be a low information person who never goes anywhere near critical thought?

I think you have to believe that people are horribly nefarious and at least a little bit out to get you. But you also have to so desperately want to cling to your beliefs that you will buy into anything that allows you to keep them, untarnished.

I strongly believe what I believe. But I critically evaluate the information I’m given both for and against my positions. I would get no comfort from a flimsy, outlandish theory that could not be verified, just because it bolstered my world view. I would analyze it and reject it as false or unsubstantiated. And move on.

So we’re back to what makes me reject the ridiculous theory and others embrace it. Maybe it’s that my most fervent belief is in the existence of absolute facts. I believe that there is a way to determine, definitively, what is real and what isn’t. Maybe others have a looser definition of ‘truth’ than I do. Maybe others don’t care if something is true once they choose to believe it.

Have you ever watched “America’s Got Talent”, or any other talent show? There are people out there who genuinely think they are great singers or dancers, or whatever. And they are, in fact, horrible. So horrible that they get booed by a huge audience and eviscerated by a panel of judges. Yet most of these performers leave the stage believing that everyone is wrong about them. That nobody sees or ‘gets’ their true talent.

That may be the answer to my question. People have a great capacity for self-deception. Particularly when there is a deep seeded need to perpetuate that deception.

People don’t want to be bothered informing themselves and finding actual facts to back up their beliefs. They just want to ‘feel’ that they know what they’re talking about, that they understand the world around them. Most important, people want to ‘believe’ that they are 100% right about their beliefs.

Everyone wants to think they are smart and have a good sense of humor. So they just ‘believe’ it. And they live happily ever after.


They are at it again, the annual group of “Let’s make EVERYONE SAY MERRY CHRISTMAS.” Not that anyone was ever prevented from saying it, mind you. Nor does everyone celebrate Christmas — and those who do not celebrate do not care what you say about it as long as you don’t make them celebrate your holiday.

I’m amazed that anyone takes this nonsense seriously. I’m barely ready for Thanksgiving. Give it a rest.

And guess who are the perps of this mini fiasco? It’s Bill O’Reilly, the sleazy sex-offender previously of Fox news, who is sniveling about Christmas. If he snivels and whines about the holidays, maybe no one will remember that he’s a sex offender. I’m pretty sure that’s what is really going on.

According to O’Reilly (who lied about violating the rights of the women in his workplace) we are being forced — FORCED!!! — to not say “Merry Christmas?” Amazingly, this has never happened to me or anyone else I know. No one has ever prevented me from saying Merry Christmas. Or, for that matter, forced me to say anything at all about the holidays. It has always been a matter of good matters and personal whimsy.

That’s right, world. No one has ever cared what I said about any holiday. Other than responding with a smile and a returned greeting, I’ve never met a anyone who gave a rat’s ass whether I said Merry Christmas, happy holiday, or “have a great time whatever you happen to celebrate” — which I occasionally say when I don’t know what holiday you celebrate or even if you celebrate anything.

Basically, I’m a nice person and I want you to enjoy your holidays, whatever they may be. So, I say Merry Christmas, assuming I’m reasonably sure you really celebrate Christmas. If I’m not sure, I go with “Have a great holiday!” If I know for sure you celebrate something else, I’ll try to remember what and greet you with that … and if I know you don’t celebrate anything, I just shut up and ask you “How’s it going?”

If I happen to say “Happy Holiday” and it turns out, you are gung-ho for Christmas — are you going to spit in my eye because I greeted you incorrectly? Using the wrong words and thereby stepping on your self-righteousness?

The cops aren’t going to pick me up for my accidental failure to greet you the way you want to be greeted.

There are no “political correctness” police.

Anyone can say whatever he or she wants including nothing. At all. So you can be friendly, or you can be a jerk. It’s not about religion or beliefs. It’s about being civil to other people who may or may not share your background. The whole little spiel about how I can leave if I don’t celebrate your customs? Since when did your customs become mine? Talk about offensive … you’ve got a lot of nerve! What’s next, forced conversion?

I am tired of oppressed “Christians” whose idea of oppression is not getting everything exactly the way they want it — and who grouse about oppression because they might have to move their crèche to the church around the corner.

When you live in a country where you can have a church — have a dozen churches — and attend all of them, any time? That is freedom. What you want is spiritual tyranny. The laws to which you refer do not exist. The police don’t care. Basically, neither do I. I’m just being polite. To you.

I’m going to make a suggestion: No matter what anyone says? Smile and say “thank you.” That’s a win-win for everyone.

Don’t be a jerk. Let everyone enjoy their holidays their own way.


On a day when my “lead” story is ARE PEOPLE REALLY THAT STUPID?, it figures the Daily Post would have “genius” as the word of the day.

There are some very smart people in my world. Geniuses even. 

Why aren’t they running the world instead of the morons who actually ARE running it? If anyone has a sensible answer for that, please let me know. Otherwise, please see my lead story of the day.

The flat earth — according to Terry Pratchett

The world is not flat.

Vaccinations prevent plagues, the pox, and infantile paralysis — and much more.

9/11 was not a conspiracy.

We really did land on the moon.

We are not creating hurricanes using laser beams with the intent to “gain control” of “The People.”

Climate change is real and has been scientifically proven (repeatedly).

Drilling into the core of the earth to get some more combustible gas is stupid. And dangerous.

Guns DO kill people when in the hands of PEOPLE. Who own guns.

The first amendment allows you to say anything. It doesn’t force you to be a moron.

Not liking something doesn’t mean you should automatically reject it. A failure to fit into your idea of the way things ought to be is not a failure of science. It’s a failure of your brain.

If you believe any of these things, please, let’s not talk. If you can’t be convinced by any existing evidence, there’s nothing to talk about.


It’s not the first or the last time Garry and I will have this conversation. Really, we started having it a few years ago when we realized how many people were convinced there is no global weather change in progress. When Trump hit the ground running for office, we had a lot of trouble believing other Americans could be stupid enough to really vote for someone so obviously unqualified for the position.

When he was elected, I had to accept how many Americans are far more stupid than I imagined possible. Even all these months later, I still can’t fathom the depth of their dumbness.

Last night, on Facebook — I swear this is true — there was an article announcing all the hurricanes are man-made with laser beams. Proof? A Chinese guy with glasses said so. I got through perhaps three paragraphs before I clicked off. I’m sure millions of American morons already believe this. Somewhere, men and women are discussing how “They’ve proved it! The government is creating hurricanes so they can take over the world.”

Nothing anyone tells them will convince them otherwise.

You think I’m making it up?

Geo-engineering theorists and researchers say that Hurricane Harvey is a pretext to impose martial law  © Neon Nettle

Hurricane Harvey Exposed As ‘Man Made Weapon’ Used To Impose Martial Law   © Neon Nettle

And if that’s not enough, check out: PUTIN HAS PROOF US MADE HURRICANES WITH MACHINES.  Feel free to put your brain in cold storage and believe. You saw it on Facebook, so it must be true.

Garry commented he sees total stupidity in the vacant eyes of Trump supporters at the last rally — wherever it was. “Maybe Alabama?” he asks me.

“I think so,” I admit.

It is so hard to keep track of this stuff. Why is the president holding rallies anyway? He was already elected. How many times does he need to be elected? Isn’t once usually enough?

Garry thinks the empty-eyed, slack-jawed followers must have eaten something. Maybe they weren’t always that stupid, but something came along and stupefied them. I said I think it is because we have allowed and encouraged the mythologizing of history. A war to promote slavery becomes a sentimental cause célèbre. A battle to eliminate our Natives is suddenly a rational battle to create a “real country” as if it wasn’t “before.”

All countries do it. It isn’t just us. After some appalling event has occur, before the last blood is dry, there’s a rosy wash splashed over the occurrence. It wasn’t so bad. It doesn’t take long, either. Ten years, tops — and suddenly, everyone is saying “Oh, it wasn’t all that bad.”

An older person … a gray-haired elder stands and says “NO, no, it was terrible. I was there.” We pat him or her on the head because obviously, she or he must be senile. We know we are right because it says — right here, in this book or on the silver screen — it wasn’t bad. It was noble. It was just. It was good.

The years have marched on. As my interest in history has deepened, I have lost all patience with glorious tales of rulers and their battles. All monarchs are tyrants. All are corrupt despots. The people who follow them are no better than their rulers. They either have lost — or never knew — that when you dispose of intelligence to mindlessly follow evil, you are equally evil.

Don’t forget: somewhere today, groups of people are talking about how hurricanes are made by secret government agencies … because there are no climate changes here! When you can’t believe science, you might as well believe any deranged idea someone promotes online.


Stupid is as stupid does.

It’s an old line, probably used by everybody’s mother. Most memorably, it came from the movie Forrest Gump. It’s what Forest’s mother always told him when people made fun of him for being … well … Forrest Gump.

The thing is, I never really understood what the phrase actually means. It sounds very profound, but what is it actually saying?

I only think of this because stupid has become a word that’s popping up more and more these days. The current “so-called administration”, has been labeled “ignorant,” “immoral” and “inept.” But lately a new word is emerging to describe our “so-called government.”


Also the word “idiot” is cropping up. The headline of a recent NY Post editorial was “Donald Trump Jr. is an idiot.”

Why? When he discovered the New York Times was about to publish a story exposing emails which proved he was meeting with Russian agents to acquire damaging information about Hillary Clinton from high level Russian government sources — because they wanted to help Trump win the election — what did he do?

He released the actual emails. Proving he wanted to collude with Russian agents to get damaging information on Hillary Clinton and didn’t care that the Russian government was involved. He actually wrote back “I love it!”


His defense was that he didn’t get any damaging info, so it didn’t count.


It’s like saying “I went to rob a bank but when I got there they were all out of money,” so it doesn’t count.

And we all thought Eric was the dumb one.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  Cheesy McCheese head, the actual President of the United States, recently stated — publicly — that the Mexican wall must be transparent.

Why you ask?  Because Mexicans will be throwing large bags of drugs over the wall. He didn’t want unsuspecting Americans on our side to get hit on the head by large bags of drugs.

No, I’m not making that up. Absorb that for a few minutes.

Everybody has role models.  Trumpy’s role models seem to be Governor LePetomaine from Blazing Saddles. “Work, work, work, work. Hello boys!”

And the rebel leader from Woody Allen’s Bananas.

REBEL LEADER: From this point forward, underwear will be changed every half hour. Underwear will be worn on the outside. So we can check. Every child under 16 years old, is now 16 years old.”

Previously, we learned how utterly incompetent this administration is. But now, we are also getting a handle on just how incredibly stupid they are. Although I still don’t know precisely what “Stupid is as stupid does” means, it seems to explain our current administration.


It’s been fun since the election watching the right-wing press, mostly lead by Fox News, bend themselves into evermore twisty and convoluted pretzels as they try to explain the latest gaffe/scandal/complete act of idiocy coming out of the White House. It’s remarkable how the specific issues change, but the bottom line — stupidity! — remains in place.

For those (increasingly few) of us who thought behind the stupidity might be some bizarrely complex plot? Nope. Just more stupidity — and probably paranoia, dementia, narcissism … and maybe he hears voices in his head.

The Dunderhead-In-Chief keeps admitting he does things, like, I don’t know. Like, give up code word “intel” to the Russians. In the Oval Office. Admitting that he fired an FBI Director because he was being investigated by the FBI over his connections to Russia … to the same Russians!  You know, stuff like that.

Hey guys, the CIA just told me some really cool stuff. Wanna hear it?

His defenses all boil down to: “He can do that if he wants to, so there” and “It’s Obama’s fault!”

This is nothing new. If we’ve learned anything in the last four months it’s that no matter how crazy we think things will be, they’ll be even crazier. We also know that the SCROTUS M.O. is to distract today’s scandal with a worse scandal tomorrow.

So, the question becomes, where does he have left to go? What scandal could be worse than today’s? Wait, I got it. He actually shoots somebody on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan to prove he wouldn’t lose any of his supporters.

SEAN HANNITYBreaking news. President Trump just shot a man on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Secret service agents immediately pounced on the man and wrestled him to the ground.

SEAN HANNITY: Here to discuss this breaking story we have Senior White House Adviser Kellyanne Conway and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Kellyanne, let’s start with you.

KELLYANNE CONWAY: Well first off I think it’s very unfair the way the fake news media have been saying the President shot a man on Fifth Avenue.

BERNIE SANDERS: But he did! He shot a guy! On Fifth Avenue! On live TV!

What the hell?

KELLYANNE CONWAY: That’s one way of looking at it. I didn’t see the President shoot a man on Fifth Avenue. I saw the President save a man on Fifth Avenue.

BERNIE SANDERS: Save him?? From what?!

KELLYANNE CONWAY: Radical Islāmic Terrorism.


KELLYANNE CONWAY: And besides, the President was elected in the largest landslide in the history of the world. So, he has the right to shoot anybody he wants.


KELLYANNE CONWAY: Well, he can order drone strikes. He can send troops into war. He can launch missiles. In every case, he’s killing somebody. So why can’t he just take out a gun and shoot a man?

SEAN HANNITY: Hmmm. That makes sense. Executive privilege.

BERNIE SANDERS: NO IT DOESN’T!! Well, actually, it makes a little sense … No! What am I saying??! This is still crazy! He shot a guy to prove that none of his supporters would leave him!

KELLYANNE CONWAY: That’s ridiculous. He was saving a man from Radical Islam. Every White House aide agrees with me.

SEAN HANNITY: This just in: President Trump told Lester Holt of NBC News that he shot the man to prove none of his supporters would leave him.


SEAN HANNITY: This also just in. A recent CBS/NY Times Poll says that President Trump has not lost any of his supporters. 85 percent said, “The guy had it coming.” The other 15 percent said “The guy probably had it coming.”

And so it would go. Full confession. This idea is not new. Google “George Bush ate a baby” and “George Bush Saves a baby”.

Everything old is new again. Just dumber.


When I lived in Israel, there was a true story, heavily publicized in local papers, about a family who sold their house and used the proceeds to buy lottery tickets. They reasoned they had to win. Win big. After which they would buy a new house. It didn’t work out as planned. They ended up with a giant pile of worthless lottery tickets — and no house. It was a living example of “what could possibly go wrong” logic.

No people, no country, no place on earth is exempt from an unyielding belief that something great will happen in the middle of what is obviously a truly bad plan. It’s a people thing.

Watching television gives me many opportunities to ponder “what could possibly go wrong?” For example, last night, we saw an old CSI episode with Ted Danson in charge. He was using his lovely daughter as bait for a serial killer.

Really. What could possibly go wrong with that?

It took all the creativity of a team of writers to come up with a happy ending. It was unbelievable in the sense that I didn’t believe it. Garry didn’t believe it. I bet even the guys who wrote it didn’t believe it.

I try not to take this sort of thing personally. Can it be that the producers of television series think we are quite that stupid? I suppose these days, they may have a point … but they’ve been writing stupid scripts for a long time. Probably as long as there has been television.

When I worked at Doubleday, we wrote about books because, you know, Doubleday is a publisher. There were very few rules about how to write. We were allowed a great deal of creative freedom. But there was one big warning: never write “down” to your readers. As the editor in charge of the Doubleday Romance Library, I got to read surveys on who actually reads romance novels, an oft-maligned genre of literature.

These light, fluffy stories — all pretty much the same plot — always sold extremely well. It seemed that fans of the genre could not get enough of them. Yet survey after survey showed that the readers of romance novels were, of all of our reader groups, the best educated.

How could that be? Well, it turns out that many people in high-pressure professions don’t necessarily want a steady diet of serious books. They wanted books without ugly deaths or torture. They liked knowing there would be a happy ending and if they forgot to finish the book, it didn’t matter. It didn’t mean they didn’t read other stuff, but this was the marshmallow cream of literature.

Whoever is in charge of the story lines and scripts for television series have forgotten about not talking down to us. They think we are stupid. Okay, may some people are — but not everyone and not all the time. When the show gets sufficiently stupid, I stop watching. When the stories get ridiculous and the “what could possibly go wrong?” factor outweighs other entertainment values, I move on.

For me to accept a story, to suspend my disbelief, you need to give me a hook. Something that lets me accept whatever is happening as “possible.” Like, there you are on planet Alphabetazoid in the far away galaxy of ZYX900042 and everyone speaks colloquial 21st century American English. You want me to believe it? Tell me they are using their “Universal Translator.” Or they have babel fish in their ears. I want to believe, but you have to offer me a little help.

Of course, that’s useless when confronted by the vast real life ocean  of human stupidity. People who really do sell their homes to buy lottery tickets and vote for people who will destroy their lives. People who live an entire life composed of “what could possibly go wrong with that” scenarios.

In real life, I will trudge on dealing with stupidity because that’s life … but at least on television, give me a break. Help me believe. Because I may be naïve and unaware … but usually, not too stupid.

Life is stupid enough. I don’t need extra help.