2018 Trump Goal, Second YELP Star

Donald Trump has the lowest Yelp rating of any president since
 Warren G. Harding
With a stalled legislative agenda and an investigation by a special counsel heating up, the Trump Administration has revealed its single goal for 2018 - to get two stars on Yelp. Even with a 36% approval rating, Trump tops out at one Yelp star. Low ratings are accompanied by harsh reviews, including "I wish I could give this president zero stars" and "I do not recommend this president." 

Grinch caught trying to steal Thanksgiving, drugs found

The Grinch was back in court early Monday after being arrested by Whoville police for conspiracy to steal Thanksgiving. Police raided the Grinch's home in the early hours of Monday, finding a cache of drugs, weapons, and red velvet sacks. Police also took the Grinch's computer as evidence. According to Whoville Police Department spokesperson Captain Sue Who, the Grinch kept specific plans for the heist in a computer journal. 

"He was obviously planning to steal our Who stuffing, steal our Who pies, steal our Who turkey and cakes of all size," said Who, who was two the last time Christmas was stolen by you know who.

Grinch attorney Sam-I-am expressed confidence in his client's innocence.

"You can try him on a boat, you can try him on a goat. No jury could possibly find my client guilty," said I-am. 

Try These Little-Known Turkey Cuts For Thanksgiving

There is something iconic if not religious about the Thanksgiving turkey. Not since ancient Egyptian royalty has anything dead required so much attention. And even after all the maintenance demanded by this burly bird, we still need to cast 50 or so side dishes alongside it in supporting roles. The problem is that we have let tradition keep us from enjoying all there is to love about turkey. AOTL spoke with renowned turkey historian and chef Scut Hannah about our limited notion of turkey and how we take so much of out Thanksgiving centerpiece for granted. As it turns out, there is more to turkey than just light meat and dark meat. Chef Hannah arrogantly points out how much of the turkey we are missing out on.

As it turns out, when we buy our turkeys plucked, we are ignoring some of the best eating the turkey has to offer. Hannah says nothing makes her more irate than the waste of turkey feathers every year.

"It's a tragedy. I'm glad my grandmother isn't around to see this," she says. 

"Granny Mim used to make the most succulent sautéed turkey feathers. It was like eating slow cooked catfish gills only nuttier and richer . Sautéed turkey feathers were always the first thing to go at our holiday meals." 

As it turns out, gravity is not just for toilets anymore. "It's just like with people. A turkey's flavor is concentrated in the feet," explains Hannah."

Indeed, early Americans only ate the turkey foot, believing that consuming all other parts was a surefire way of contracting turkeypox. With demand so high for just the feet, turkeys nearly went extinct by the late 19th century in America. They would only make their comeback after Spain ceded all of it's turkeys to the U.S. following the Spanish-American War. 

Thanks to a man named Ruben Wilson, Americans would begin to appreciate more of the turkey than just the foot. 

"Wilson was an amateur physician who, in the 1920s set out to prove that turkeypox was not caused by turkey meat," says Hannah. "In public demonstrations Wilson would devour plates of turkey to the amazement of the crowd." 

"In fact, Wilson simply liked his turkey prepared well done, whereas many meats of the day were enjoyed rare if not completely raw. What people thought was turkeypox was actually salmonella from eating raw turkey."

"I'm a caruncle freak" declares Chef Hannah. Caruncles are the colorful knobbed droops of flesh that  dangle deliciously from the heads of birds such as turkeys. Caruncles are actually a collection of  several structures of the turkey head  including the wattle, snood, and beard.

"My absolute favorite are the snoods" Hannah says boastfully. "You cook them like you would bacon, but they taste more like a cross between tofu and okra. The texture is what you would expect. It's warty with a chew like toad skin. Absolutely delicious. Needless to say, caruncles didn't last very long in my house at Thanksgiving."

"Once you've eaten a turkey eyeball, you'll swear off legs and wings for the rest of your life" Hannah vows. "Turkey eyeballs didn't stand a chance in my house on holidays."

Dense with iron, manganese, and pupils, turkey eyeballs are credited with many health benefits including promoting a robust appendix and maintaining a firm buttocks.

"They're just like dark meat" Hannah says. "They're hard to overcook. They're really liquid-rich due to the gelatinous vitreous humor. My mouth is watering right now."  

Though we have come to enjoy more than just the foot of the turkey, Chef Hannah and others like her are on a mission to raise awareness of the tastiness of the entire turkey for the sake of both economics and enjoyment. Yet if it seems like there's no part of the turkey Hannah would rather not gobble down her own gullet, guess again.

"I'm not a real turkey lung gal" she says. "I know it sounds crazy. I don't mind them so much braised, but why? By the time I'm full of feathers, feet, and eyeballs, I just don't have any more room for lungs."

GOP: "I'm Tearing Me Apart!"

People are mistaking the turmoil and division going on in the Republican party as a divide in America. There was a point where American politics was about crossing divides, but that ended with the conservative culture war, which is now turning on the GOP itself.

Rebutting the Protest to the NFL Protest

There are several counterarguments to the protest by NFL players against police misconduct. To be frank, those arguments all coincide with the perfunctory cookie-cutter arguments spewed out in conservative media. Here is a courteous response to those questions and claims raised by conservative media consumers.

Jeff Sessions And His Native Tongue

When Jeff Sessions announced the rescinding of DACA he was speaking a second language. Here is what that same announcement would have sounded like if he delivered it in his native tongue, Alabama circa 1900.

AOTL Series On Race - "How Can Racism Still Be A Problem When..."

In this video from the AOTL series on race, I concoct a letter from a viewer who asks how racism can still be a problem when black applicants are chosen for jobs over white applicants. Great question. Even better answer. 

Washington V Lee - Please, Whitesplain Me

I recently created the video below in which I earnestly ask what the difference is between George Washington and Robert E. Lee. It came about during the debate over removing Confederate monuments and statues. Defenders of Confederate monuments including our president have asked why we should not then tear down statues and monuments to such men as George Washington who also owned slaves. I've asked myself that same question, though with more depth and investigation than Trump, I am sure. At the heart of my curiosity was the question of how different Washington and Lee really were. The question stems from the abundance of moderate to liberal pundits who are finding flowery ways to extoll Washington. They believe the only thing Washington and Lee had in common was that they owned slaves.

Oh. Is that all?

My point is not to defend Robert E. Lee in his attempt to lead an insurrection against the U.S. I am only trying to dig deeper than the license people give Washington out of a feeling of patriotic obligation. So in the video I asked someone to prove me wrong, that if Lee was born 75 years earlier and Washington was born 75 years later, Lee could have been the Father of our country while Washington could have ended up a defeated Civil War general.

I posted the video on Democratic Underground (click here for discussion) where I got lots of whitesplaining (I assume), but no real answers to the questions. All I want is the truth, folks. 

Charlottesville: A GOP Turning Point(?)

Having spent so much time and effort pointing out Republican hypocrisy and falsehoods, it's refreshing to be encouraged by some of their rhetoric in light of the events in Charlottesville, VA. Though that enthusiasm is still tempered with some skepticism.

GOP: "Got Guns?"

The GOP loves its Second Amendment Solutions. Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas suggested as a guest on a radio show, that gun violence is a good way to solve the health care debate. He began by blaming Republican women for the Trumpcare impasse.

Assuredly, he will be girded with the "he was only talking in jest" defense. It's no defense and gun violence is no joke.

The problem is that casual violence as a political solution is way too commonplace in GOP parlance. There's this guy, this guy, this guy, and this woman to name a few. These aren't fringe loners taking pot shots. These are elected officials or people who made these comments in the process of seeking elected office. The former should not be accepted as representative of where a party stands. The latter does, yet where is the outrage for GOP sponsorship of all of this violence against their fellow citizens?

Just over a month ago, Republicans tried to link the "tone of Democrats" to the shooting of GOP Rep. Steve Scalise and others on a Virginia baseball field. No Democrat called for any Republican to be shot in recent history, yet here we are and weeks later, a GOP representative from Texas is brandishing gun threats over the air.

There is your GOP standard of decency.

GOP Rep. Blake Farenthold wants health care debate
fought out with guns.

Tweeting Trump's Future

In all fairness, not even Princess Donald thought he would win the election so I don't feel bad for not correctly making that call. I only feel bad about the result. The silver lining is that Donald Trump's predictability makes it easy for me to get my forecast groove back. It's not rocket surgery. The guy who branded himself as unpredictable is actually a slave to a limited number of patterns. That is why I was compelled to generate a series of tweets (below) that predicted the small range of possible responses we were likely to see from Trump on his favorite digital megaphone following James Comey's testimony in front of the Senate Intel Committee. First are my six tweets posted June 5, followed by the actual Trump tweet. I was pretty close.

Boxing In a President Pence

As things look right now, if Pence scooted into the Oval Office upon the removal of Trump, he would likely preside over a Democratic Congress, preventing him from getting anything extreme done. Then there is his role in the Flynn/Russiagate/Comey/etc. affair which he currently claims innocence on the grounds that he was kept in the dark. There is conflicting information that suggests that Pence was fully aware of the problems presented by appointing Michael Flynn to the top national security position. Either way, there's no flattering look for Pence. If you believe his story, he was ineffective as the head of the Trump Transition for his ignorance of information that was being widely shared. If you don't believe Pence, then he is a liar. It would be a tough question to have to answer again and again. But then, people also voted for the candidates who ran on taking away their health care in 2016. No predictions here. 

Russians Hosting Trump in the Oval Office

It was not a secret that this would happen. It was covered in the news. it was brought up in the debates between the two candidates. There was no U.S. intelligence agency that did not agree that the Russians had interfered in the U.S. election process and that they supported Donald Trump in order to hurt Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump was flattered and covered for the Russians by saying the U.S. intelligence community was wrong and that no one really knew who was responsible for the hacks at the center of the intrusion. So conspicuous  were connections between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, the FBI began an investigation into the Trump campaign months before the election. The investigation would continue into the presidency of Donald Trump, who would fire the FBI head in charge of that counterintelligence inquiry. A day after that jaw-dropping firing, Trump meets in the Oval Office with top Russian diplomats. The only photographers aloud were those with Russian government media who rushed the photos out around the world to show off their trained American who was elected by people who didn't believe he was a conman and who didn't believe he could be so easily had. 

Bernie Sanders: Product Spokesperson

Trump Screws up Movie Quotes

Trump Won't Peter Out, He'll Palin Out

Looking at Sarah Palin and Donald Trump, we would not say that they were separated at birth. They share no physical resemblance, but under the surface, they may very well be clones. Sarah Palin and Donald Trump are so much alike in personality, someone should hire Maury Povich to find the matching DNA sequence on their political gene.

During the cringeworthy rollout of Sarah Palin as a vice presidential  candidate during the 2008 election, she was interviewed by Katie Couric. Palin served up an incomprehensible word salad in response to questions ranging from government regulation to Russia. Then Couric asked the Alaska governor where she got her news. Out of context, it would have been a condescending question, but after listening to Palin repeatedly mask her ignorance with gibberish, Couric was obliged to find a nice way to ask “What the fuck do you read?” The best answer Palin could come up with for such an easy question was “um, all of ‘em, any of ‘em that um, have, have been in front of me over all these years.”

Some twins are known to develop their own special language. Comparing statements from Palin and Trump makes a strong case that these two taught each other how to speak. While making comments about Black History Month during a February photo op, Trump said “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who has done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice.”

It is as easy to imagine Trump giving the answer to Couric’s newspaper question as it is to hear Palin make that confoundingly vague remark on Frederick Douglass. Palin and Trump are walking blooper reels. Just run a camera in front of either one of them and blooper magic will happen, but there are no outtakes in politics. When you go on a riff about Paul Revere “ringing those bells and making sure he was riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that were going to be secure and we were going to be free,” it goes directly from your mouth to the Internet. Palin and Trump blame the press for as little as just being present when the fault is their’s for being willfully amateur. Palin regularly lashed out at the “lamestream media” while Trump barks at the “dishonest press” and “fake media.”

Late night TV writers have harvested the bountiful incompetence of the “Tralin” Twins to ratings success, helping to cement the notion that these two were and are out of their league in upper levels government work. The Tralin response to the lampooning is to become bitter, not smarter. Palin harangued anyone who was critical of her shallow grasp of the issues as an elite, not the best word choice considering what the real definition of “elite” is. Her intention was to call liberals snobs, but what she ended up doing was likening them to the Green Berets and the Navy SEALS. Trump as a candidate railed against the Establishment while proclaiming his love for the “poorly educated,” and not in a Jesus-Love sort of way. Trump was just showing his appreciation for people he suspected he could easily con.

While Palin’s ticket went on to lose the 2008 election, she cashed in on her demographic appeal. Following the lead of her long lost political twin, she parlayed her political fame into a showbiz gig, getting her own reality show, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.” She also became a Fox News personality. Trump followed the lead of his long lost political twin sister parlaying his reality TV fame into a political jaunt by taking an existing right-wing conspiracy theory and anointing himself as its media conductor. Trump insisted he had people in Hawaii looking for Barack Obama’s birth certificate who supposedly couldn’t believe what they were finding. Spoiler Alert: there was never any follow up on that claim.

In 2012, there was anticipation for a Republican primary race for the ages. Speculation swirled around the Tralin Twins making separate presidential runs. It would be a showdown over who would win the hearts and minds of the non-elite, poorly educated. Would America get its first female president or its second Warren G. Harding? We never got our answer as neither decided to run that year.

In the meantime, the Twins embarked down divergent paths. Even identical twins have subtle features that distinguish one from the other like a crooked tooth or a third underdeveloped nipple. The trait that distinguished one Tralin from the other was ambition. Sarah assumed her relevance was now a given, seeing as how there was nowhere in Tea Party circles where she was not wanted. But not being unwanted and being sought after were two different things. She was still the folksy crowd pleaser, reading rage points from the notes written on her hand, but she was no longer seen as any sort of agent for victory because she really hadn’t really done anything. Now she was less of a contender and more of a mascot. In 2015, she was dropped from Fox News.

As an astute capitalist, Trump realized his political options were to either compete with Twin Sarah for Most Favoritist Tea Party Mascot, or to step it up. He would either have to go big or go back to one of his totally tacky homes.

Trump’s election win was a legitimate upset because the majority of voters were upset with the results, having cast their votes for Hillary Clinton.  It was upsetting that someone whose entire campaign was spent in constant turmoil^, could eke out a win in the electoral college. Because of his unpopularity, Donald Trump took office with the lowest approval rating of any president in the era of polling. He began his first hundred days with prebattered prestige. Due to a combination of his lack of respect for procedure and his injured, items on his agenda quickly bottlenecked which further eroded his effectiveness. Trump is in the danger zone on a scale we will call DRP or Dornell’s Redemption Potential.

DRP (pronounced “derp”) measures the likelihood that a public figure can regain the confidence of the People after suffering a setback or setbacks. It is based on several factors including:
-Past and current controversies
-Ability to grow from mistakes
-Portrayal in pop culture (negative value for negative portrayal)
-Current rank, status, or title as a public official
-Engagement on issues

Among the DRP factors, Trump has one thing going for him. As the current sitting president, he has the highest possible title for a public official. This prevents him from the risk of sinking into obscurity as he scrambles to reverse the death spiral of his presidency, if he so chooses. The other edge of the sword is that Trump stays in full view if he continues to fail. Given his prolific authorship of his own scandals, his inability to grow, the relentless hammering of Trump in pop culture, his known lack of engagement on issues, and now being the subject of an FBI investigation, Trump is as close to irredeemable as any president has ever been. And in under 100 days.

By comparison, his political twin actually holds a higher DRP value. Most of her high-profile failures occurred while she was a private citizen or a candidate. She has not really failed in office. The status of former governor carries some heft, even if she quit in the middle of her term. Otherwise, she has never demonstrated a potential for growth. She has yet to show depth of knowledge on any particular issue besides wanting to protect liberty and freedom. Palin is in the zone of perhaps being appointed to a specially created symbolic post like Special Envoy to U.S. Armed Forces Overseas or Ambassador for Republican Unity. She may even be able to pull off running for a congressional seat in a super conservative rural district… hypothetically.

Although Twin Trump calls the press all kinds of names, media personalities across the spectrum have shown a peculiar faith in his ability to turn his presidency around. They have opined that IF he can execute any of his most important election promises within his first 100 days, it would change the trajectory of his troubled tenure. They do not take into account the volume of issues still weighing on his Administration including his prolific lying and the extended problems caused by that habit alone.

In a his first annual address to a joint session of Congress, Trump pulled off a perfunctory performance in a ceremonial speech that never has any lasting impact on the person giving it. Rarely does anyone refer back to a president’s address to Congress (unless an attending bigot screams out “you lie” in the middle of it). Yet commentators glowed after Trump stood and read from a teleprompter for an hour. The praise was not for any extraordinary use of rhetoric  of which there was none, nor was it for any groundbreaking insights of which there were none. The only marked characteristic to this speech was that it was not a mess, considering the orator. For the longest period since January 19, the news out of the White House was not about ethics violations, incompetence, Yemen, suspected Russian ties, or lies. Twenty–four hours later, news broke that new Attorney General Jeff Sessions may have lied to Congress about having met Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign. Since then, no one but Trump has mentioned that speech to Congress.

The longer it takes Trump to move his DRP rating in a positive direction, the bigger his accomplishments will have to be in order to achieve anything close to full redemption. His performance as a businessman and a politician have been marked by callous recklessness followed up by attempts by his staff to put out perpetual fires. This won’t change. his temperament won’t improve. He will never be presidential. He won’t stop lying. Ever. As his approval ratings continue to drop, he is not on any path to winning over any converts.

Everyone knows the fortune cookie game where you add the words “in bed” to the end of each fortune. Most people play a similar game, subconsciously or not, when we see a headline heralding an event featuring Sarah Palin. Somewhere in our brain we add the words “with embarrassing results” e.g. “Sarah Palin to Endorse Iowa Congressional Candidate… with embarrassing results.” Donald Trump is very close to that same point. He can always find acceptance by appealing solely to his base, but even among that eternally supportive piece of pie they will eventually stop having any expectations of him as president. At that point he will be their mascot, a lame duck mascot.

Thanks to Peggy Levenstein