Thursday, June 27, 2024

Chess With A Pigeon


A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.
-- Hillary Clinton

Has Donald Trump pulled out yet?

That's a Stormy Daniels reference. 

Ba dump bump!

Huh? Huh?

Okay. Sorry, to start out with a dick joke, but I'm jacked up on espresso this morning. 

But, seriously, has Trump pulled out of the debate yet? 

It's fascinating watching Republicans frantically opening an escape route for Trump to bail out of the confrontation that Trump himself demanded.

“Ready and Willing to Debate Crooked Joe”

“I would strongly recommend more than two debates and, for excitement purposes, a very large venue, although Biden is supposedly afraid of crowds. That’s only because he doesn’t get them!”

“Just tell me when, I’ll be there. ‘Let’s get ready to Rumble!!!'”

That was Trump, a month ago on his Truth Social platform, full of the usual piss and vinegar and greasy bravado. Anytime! Anywhere! 

Let's get ready to ruuuuummmble!

But a funny thing happened on the way to the debates.

Joe Biden accepted the challenge. 

Careful what you wish for, I guess. 

At first, Trump and his advisors were practically drooling at the idea of Trump and Biden facing off again in front of America. 

And why wouldn't they, right? 

Trump would be in his element. Loud. Off script and off the leash. Overbearing. Bullying. Full of bravado and mean little insults. 

The crowd loves that. 

I mean, no one watches racing to see cars go around in a circle. It's the crashes, the flaming death, the tires flying into the crowd, that's what we're waiting for. Otherwise you might just as well set up a lawn chair next to the highway. 

That's why Americans watch debates.

Spectacle. Death. Destruction. 

That's Trump. You can't shut him up. He won't follow the rules. He won't stay on his side of the stage. You're not watching him for the statesmanship!

Hell, Trump himself referenced professional wrestling in his challenge. Let’s get ready to Rumble!!! That's what the MAGAs want to see, Trump coming after Biden, verbally, physically, mentally. Bam! Bam! Socko! And give him the chair! Give him the chair! 


Show! Spectacle! Bread and circuses. 


Except then Trump's inner circle started remembering how Biden has been doing this for 40 years. And maybe he's lost a step or two, but he's a professional. 

And Trump sure as hell isn't. 

Biden's got a pretty thick skin. 

And Trump? Well, like the lady said "A man you can bait with a tweet..." 

And then guys like Steve Bannon and Ronny Jackson started thinking about what's going to happen when Joe Biden, who's been doing this for 40 years, baits Trump into going off on some unhinged rant about, oh, say, pants?

"...a lot of people say to me today the toughest business people, people that you know about, could I ask you a question, how do you do it? I say do what? How do you get up in the morning and put your pants on? Why do you put those pants on, I'll explain it to you some day. How do you do it, how do you get up, how do you do it?"

Or this

"They say, oh, he's talking about, he's talking about Silence of the Lambs. And I say the late Great Hannibal Lecter. Oh, he likes Hannibal Lecter. No, they're crazy. I walk into a wall purposely. I look at that wall. Oh, that's, that's perfect. Sometimes they don't have a wall. You're free standing. It doesn't. But I imitate him and I, I, you know, walk into a wall and the next day they write, Donald Trump could not find his way off the stage. So I don't even do it anymore"

Or this

“How about George Washington high school? ‘Oh we want the name removed from that high school.’ They don’t know why. You know, they thought he had slaves. Actually I think he probably didn’t.’”

 Or this

"I said, 'Dana, I have an idea. Why don't you set up a migrant league of fighters! And have your regular league of fighters. And then you have the champion of your league, these are the greatest fighters in the world, fight the champion of the migrants?!'"

Or imagine what happens if Biden brings up this Trump idea?

"What I will do is this: you graduate from a college, I think you should get automatically, as part of your diploma, a green card to be able to stay in this country, and that includes junior colleges.”

And that was Trump just this week. 

Biden, he might be slowing down, but nobody needs to worry about him going off into crazyland, ranting about sharks and batteries and handing out free green cards. 

Now, sure, Trump's cultish supporters love him even harder the more insane he gets. They don't understand most of the world anyway. They don't understand science or geopolitics or even how to manage a 4-way stop without killing themselves. When experts talk, they don't understand anything, the words mean nothing, they don't have the education or the intelligence to comprehend and they don't have the intellectual curiosity to find out. So, when Trump doesn't make sense, it sounds the same and they assume he must be a genius too. 

They resent the experts for making them feel stupid. 

They love Trump because he hates the experts just like they do. 

He connects to them on an emotional level. He makes it okay for them to be stupid and hateful and proudly ignorant. They don't see some ridiculous story about sharks and batteries, instead they feel a mean little sense of belonging because Trump is up there mocking the things they don't understand,. They're toadies to the bully and it makes them feel good about themselves. 

But, that only works if Trump is allowed to ignore the rules, dominate the microphone, and bully his opponent by repeatedly interrupting and pandering to a live audience for mean little laughs and spiteful cheers. 

That's Trump's only strength. 

Trump can't win on policy, he doesn't have any. 

Trump can't win on his record, and certainly not on his party's record, and the less said about that the better.

Trump can't win on the issues, he has no idea what they are and doesn't care. 

Trump can only win if he's a bully. And that's what his supporters want. That show. It makes them feel good about themselves. 

Trump doesn't know any other way, because that's the only thing that's worked for him his entire life, from sexual partners to business partners. He's a bully, that's his only trick. 

Then the rules for the debate came out.

Rules that Trump's own people agreed to. Just like that trial in New York, the one that convicted Trump of 34 felonies, Trump's own lawyers agreed to the jury.

Just like Trump's campaign agreed to muted microphones. No live studio audience. No notes. No sitting. Just a pen, paper, and a water bottle on the stage. That's it. 

Trump only agreed to those rules because he has absolutely no intention of adhering to them. I doubt he even listened when CNN was laying it out, just like he slept through jury selection. 

Trump has never adhered to the rules. And why should he? His entire life, America has repeatedly made it pretty damn obvious that the rules don't apply to Donald J. Trump. Trump has never, ever, not once been held to account. Sexual assault? Fraud? Treason? Sedition? He gets out of it all. Why would he even consider following the rules this time? 

Except, well, maybe he's going to have to and that's when Republicans started to get scared.

That's when Trump's campaign started looking for the exit. 

That's when they started lining up their excuses.

It's obvious Trump supporters have absolutely no confidence in their flabby ill-prepared addlepated fly-haired messiah. 

Republicans are so convinced of Trump's weakness when he has to follow the rules, that they are literally terrified of an old man with a can of Mountain Dew. 

And they should be. 

So, I won't be entirely surprised if Trump bails out at the last minute. 

I'm sure that's what his inner circle is telling him to do. 

Get out. Cut and run while you can. Claim the whole thing is rigged, his dipshit supporters will buy that, of course. Accuse Biden of cheating. Declare victory. It'll work. 

I'm sure that's what they're telling him right now. 

But he won't. 

Trump will show up. Confident that he can ignore the rules and do what he always does. All bluster and bombast, insults and zingers, and the swaggering bully. Trump has never in his entire life been able to walk away from a TV camera or a microphone. He doesn't have the intellect or the self-control. 

He's not going to fake a heart attack. No, he'll be there. 

He can't help it. 

He's not going to listen to his advisors. They'd have to shoot him with a tranquilizing dart and throw a net over him to keep him from that stage. 

Let's get ready to rumble! 

Show. Spectacle. Entertainment for the masses. 

That's how Trump sees everything

That's how his supporters see it. 

That's how far too many Americans see it. 

Debates are not about the issues. It's not about facts and knowledge. It's not about competence or ability. 

It's not a job interview. 

It's spectacle. 

And that's what Donald Trump is good at. It's the only thing he's good at. That's why he's going to "win" the debate, or thinks he will anyway. 

(Note: win is in quote marks)

It doesn't matter how goddamn insane he is. How stupid. How bizarre. How incoherent. How obnoxious. How much he contradicts himself or how much he lies. He could pull down his diaper and shit on the stage. 

No matter what happens on that stage tonight, Trump will declare victory and The Press will go along with it. 

Because it's just spectacle. It won't change anyone's mind. You all know who you're voting for.

Oh, I see you. 

In the back, waving your hand, red in the face. 

What about the undecideds?! I hear you shout. What about them? Huh?

What about them?

Who told you there was some huge pool of undecided voters left in America? Was it the people selling debates for profit? Was it them? Was it the press who interviews a thousand people firm in their decision until they get to Cat Piss Guy and that's who they put on TV?

If you're undecided at this point, the odds are pretty damn good you're not going to show up anyway. If you don't care enough to have picked a side by now, you're not going to be watching the debate anyway. 

I asked my audience on social media: At this point in any election, has a debate ever changed your mind?

At this point in the process have you ever been undecided?

Have you really?

Across my social media platforms I got thousands of responses. 

Every single one of them: no. 

Five thousand people told me: At this point in the election, no debate has ever changed my mind. 

Now, I will admit that's hardly a scientific poll. Those people follow me, most of them. They're engaged. They've chosen a side long ago, that's likely why they follow me -- it sure ain't for my charming personality. 

Still, I have to wonder why we all think others are any less committed to their beliefs? 

Or lack of belief?

The armies are arrayed, the battlelines are drawn, and everyone who plans on fighting has chosen sides. 

Tonight the next president of the United States will take the stage and if you haven't already figured out what kind of future you're voting for, well, I doubt this spectacle will make much of a difference. 

Unless you're running a high school debating team, debates are a lousy way to choose a leader. 

But they're a great way to keep the population entertained.

The people who once upon a time bestowed military commands, high civil offices, legions, and everything else, now restrains itself, and instead, eagerly hopes for just two things: bread and circuses
-- Juvenal, Poet of Ancient Rome


  1. Excellent commentary as always!

  2. "He connects to them on an emotional level. He makes it okay for them to be stupid and hateful and proudly ignorant." Great insight, Jim

  3. The "Chess with a Pigeon" analogy is entirely apt, even if you didn't spell it out. If you know, you know. And that has been Trump's modus operandi since he was a young real-estate conman in New York. How dearly I wish that these words of yours could penetrate deeply into the hearts and minds of the MAGA set, but the GOP cultists have stuffed their ears and addled their minds with dezinformatsiya for decades, and probably not even a daisy-cutter could break through the concrete bunker of their deliberate ignorance. Nice writing.

  4. As Beau put it today, our choice of futures is Star Trek, or Mad Max. I know where I stand.

  5. Good work as usual, Jim (grammar naz: typo at 'water bottle'); I also enjoy your photos and snark on Threads (bookmarked, not a member of Meta). Fellow Floridian, and USAF brat here.
    I quoted you in my Americana - July 2024 and Hot Air '24.

  6. This just might be your best essay ever, and that's saying a lot. Just yesterday I was talking to my husband about the debate. He thinks there are a lot of undecided voters. I say, the only undecideds are whether they will vote at all, but almost nobody is undecided on who. As always, thanks for your words. And for the record, I like your personality!

  7. As always, excellent essay! Just one small nitpick: "But, that only works if Trump is allowed to *flaunt* the rules, dominate the microphone, and bully his opponent by repeatedly interrupting and pandering to a live audience for mean little laughs and spiteful cheers."

    Do you really mean "flout the rules"? Or he could flaunt the way he breaks the rules...

    1. Flout - to openly disregard. It works.

    2. Flaunt means to ostentatiously display, so flout is correct.

    3. That malapropism is so common I expect the definition of "flaunt" to change in the dictionary within our lifetime.

  8. MAGA folks clearly don't favor intelligent speech on policy, or they'd never vote for the people they do. Dark Brandon will be out to play I think, and that's fun. I can't watch directly because You Know Who's face and voice make me ill.

  9. On your main point, you have buried us in logic and no one with even half a brain can reasonably disagree. However, on your second point, the matter of your charm, I could not disagree more. Some of us find no BS, in ones face, often irreverent humorous honesty utterly charming. And then throw in a handful of exquisite wildlife photos and there you are, a prince!

  10. I guess the onus is on the debate moderators to control the manbaby when/if he goes off the rails? Have they a strategy prepared? What are their tactics going to be? Are there men in white coats standing by to hustle him off stage in a straightjacket to a padded cell? Whatever they do he will hysterically declare victimhood and the rubes will believe him. Why do politicians even bother with these "debates"? They are part of the bread and circuses cycle; nothing more.

  11. Addlepated. My new favorite word!

  12. Excellent essay. Agree with you all the way but I do hold out a faint hope that the Press will not go along with it. Delusional? Probably. But I have to keep hoping. The consequences are just too depressing.

  13. Seeing all of Trump’s rambling all together make it even more clear that he needs the net and the tranq dart and a padded room besides! If anyone has a relative speaking like that, we’d get them some help, not push them into public office! Well said!

  14. This:
    “They resent the experts for making them feel stupid.
    “They love Trump because he hates the experts just like they do.”


    Thanks, Jim!

  15. I didn't answer that question the other day but after thinking about it- a debate didn't change my mind, but one DID make up my mind. As a card-carrying independent who almost always votes blue, was really on the fence in 2008. The debate made up my mind to vote for Obama. I did like McCain tho. Of course this was before Rs started worshipping Satan

  16. Love this piece. But then, I look forward to all your writings. I follow you because of your knowledge, your commitment to truth, your honesty, your biting wit and sarcasm, and of course, your pleasant personality. Rock on, Jim!

  17. Nicely done as usual Jim. I particularly agreed liked:

    "They're toadies to the bully and it makes them feel good about themselves."

    P.S. Like older days of your posts & feedback...Note a typo in next to last sentence "chose a leader" instead of "choose a leader".

  18. Kind of hoped for the flaming pile of weasels to make an appearance in your latest. Hope springs eternal.

  19. I think the espresso makes you even more expressive than normal. You nailed all of this again. The Trump supporters get to get all ginned up with hate, Trump gets his spectacle and the rest of us are appalled by the whole damned thing. I think the Biden Team made a calculated risk when they accepted the debate. I suspect they thought there was at least a 50% chance of the Supreme Orange Buffoon would find a way to back out. Trump will be Trump. Biden will be Biden and then the Spin Masters get busy. Shampoo, rinse, repeat and no minds will be changed. I think I'm going skip the espresso and go straight to Irish Coffee. See you on the flip side. Thanks for dong another essay. They are always thought provoking and frequently hilarious.

  20. Me, I've been mulling over the bizarre coincidence that the square root of 2025 is 45. It's been kind of freaking me out.

    Anyway, another fine essay, thank you, Jim. Looking forward to the fireworks this evening, and your eventual response.

  21. You said "They've chosen a side long ago, that's likely why they follow me -- it sure ain't for my charming personality."

    As one of those who responded to your survey question :) as well as being a follower .. I do find your personality and writing intelligent and VERY charmingly honest. Thank you for the honesty and integrity in your work!!!

  22. You make excellent points. I have extended family members who have voted for POtuS45 in the past (and at least one who states he will do so again, no doubt egged on by his own steady diet of extreme right-wing "news" sources and his church pastor who praised a law-breaking county official from the pulpit a few weeks ago).

    I have watched debates in the past for the purpose of hearing the same question, set in the same circumstances, being asked of candidates; it allowed me to more easily parse out policy differences. As you have pointed out, there is no policy for the tribble-headed bully except to continue bullying and greedily grab for whatever he desires at the time.
    I wasn't planning on watching the so-called debate tonight, but after reading your post here, I am intrigued by how it will play out. I can't imagine him being forced to "play by the rules" because he's never truly been forced to do so, but *IF* that indeed happens, I want to see it because it will be historical. As a kid, I watched members of Congress debate Nixon's future, and later on, I watched him leave office; I suppose I will watch tonight on the off-chance this televised event has historical significance. And if it all goes down as it has in previous "debates"? Well, then, I'll be filled with self-loathing for participating in the crass event.

  23. Thanks for this, Jim. I admit I've been feeling fretful today, wondering what the evening will bring. I feel better after reading your piece.

  24. Thanks for your always incisive perspective. Totally agree. I would add, if anyone will be on drugs, it'll be the Orange Antichrist.

  25. Why of course I follow you for your charming personality, Chief !! That and your excellent insights such as this one. In fact I hope to meet you when you come up this way to visit with Dave, if that's still in your plans and you don't mind meeting an admirer.

  26. "Give him the chair!"

    Kinda wish we could, but i don't think he's committed a capital offense- yet.

  27. “….flabby ill-prepared addlepated fly-haired messiah.”
    I wish I’d said that.


  28. From the Kennedy/Nixon debate, all we remember is Nixon sweating. Bush/Gore left us with Gore characterized as wooden.

  29. Sorry Jim, a significant part of my following of your work is due to your charming personality. I do not say that sarcastically or satirically.

    Charm ("the power or quality of delighting, attracting, or fascinating others"-Oxford) doesn't have to be sugar and honey, sometimes it's salty and surly and deployed with the intent to cut through the bovine droppings. Consider me delighted, attracted and fascinating with your work!

  30. Thank you for this. There are a few voices that offer some sanity. Yours is one, and dependably so.

    What worries (and infuriates) me is the media bobbleheads and armchair pundits that say Biden should drop out. Not only no, but Hell, No.

    First of all, there is no one that can out-bullshit TFG. Don't bother trying to find someone.

    Second, there's nothing that expresses weakness more than not supporting your candidate. "Typical democRATs". The headlines write themselves.

    Biden has accomplished the near-impossible, with the economy, with an incompetent congress, with foreign relations, with national health.

    One candidate is capable, effective, compassionate, and yes, human. The other is none of that. The choice is pretty clear.


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