January 3, 2017
The results are in from our runoff poll! Our incoming president has his proper moniker:
2,469 votes for “President Twitterman”
1,389 votes for “President Pootinesca”
That’s an overwhelming margin—one might say a mandate—for Twitterman. Henceforth the orange fellow in the White House shall be known by that name.
However, some members of the Gridleyville Board were disturbed by anomalies in the voting.
For one thing, this blog has a known readership of 11 souls. Even though individuals were allowed to vote multiple times, it’s a bit surprising that 3,858 ballots were cast.
Second, Twitterman’s total amounted to 64%—eerily similar to the percentage won by Vladimir Putin in 2012.
Third, more than 3,000 of the votes have been traced to keyboards using the Cyrillic alphabet. We do have Russian speakers in the USA, but the sheer volume of Cyrillic-flavored votes has raised suspicion.
Finally, our agents have confirmed that one of the Cyrillic keyboards was connected to a monitor with the following sentence on its screensaver:
Умереть, капиталистические собак!
which, loosely translated, means “Die, capitalist dogs!”
Although the evidence is merely circumstantial, we can say with high confidence that certain high-ranking officials in the Kremlin deliberately intervened to sway the election. Apparently they conceived a deep hatred for the name Pootinesca. Perhaps they objected to the conflation of Vladimir Putin’s surname with the noise typically made by old fat men after a heavy meal. Or, if they themselves are fine diners, they may have recognized the similarity to puttanesca, the popular pasta sauce whose designation literally means “in the style of a prostitute.” Whatever the motive, they programmed their system to cast thousands of ballots for Twitterman and approximately half as many (as a cheap cover-up) for Pootinesca.
After deep deliberation, the Gridleyville Board has therefore approved sanctions against the Kremlin. Once each day for the next month, we will send the following stern message to Moscow:
Плохие русские, плохие русские, пло-o-o-o-хо!
which, loosely translated, means “Bad Russians, bad Russians, ba-a-a-a-d!”
Yet—it should go without saying—as true Americans we must honor our democratic process, however corrupted it may be.
Therefore, long live Twitterman!
With dedication and good luck, he may well become the greatest Twit ever to occupy the White House.
January 2, 2017
Results are in for the presidential name poll posted on December 30!
In an effort to find a proper moniker for the incoming U.S. president, some voters chose among the options offered, some proposed alternatives. A total of six votes were cast, and since this blog has eleven total readers, including bots, the percentage who bothered to vote was nearly identical to that in the November election itself. We find that encouraging.
The vote resulted in a tie, with two names collecting two votes apiece. This calls for a runoff—also encouraging, because it prolongs the excitement!
Now, the original poll asked participants to vote by comment, which was a bit difficult. To register a vote, you first needed to have a sign-in recorded and recognized by the system. Then you had to go through the elaborate motions of typing a name on your keyboard. The setup deliberately mirrored the two-step process of regular voting, in which you first have to register and then, on the day of the vote, you have to show up, sign in, push some buttons and pull a lever.
In fact, five of our six voters circumvented the standard process, casting their ballots by Twitter, Facebook or, in one case, vocally. We Americans just can’t seem to follow the rules, can we? Nevertheless, in a true spirit of liberality, we decided to count those votes without penalty.
Perhaps the laborious effort required to cast a ballot is what discourages so many American voters. Therefore, for this runoff, we’re experimenting with a simpler poll format, in which you merely have to move your index finger twice. The two remaining candidates are listed below. Remember, the point is to choose a surname that, when combined with the title “President,” won’t make us hyperventilate or curse uncontrollably.
Click the circle next to the name you prefer, then click the Vote button. It’s easy!
Besides its simplicity, you’ll note that our runoff format has other important characteristics:
- It’s like a sports poll in that you can vote as many times as you like. Hence it gives an advantage to fanatics and those with nothing better to do with their time, kind of like a primary election between no-names running for Register of Wills.
- It resembles a Russian election in that, after you vote, the information disappears into the cyberether until the authorities (in this case, the Gridleyville Board of Directors) announce the official results, which may or may not reflect actual votes cast.
- It reflects the typical democratic process in that it makes not one iota of difference for the long decline of Western civilization.
So hurry up and vote now! The polls will be open for an unpredictable amount of time.
We wish the best of luck to both candidates.
December 30, 2016
In the spirit of public service, I’ve been working on the proper way to refer to our incoming president, the man gifted to us by the deep wisdom of American nonvoters. Among the great majority of liberals, it seems that his surname can’t be combined with the word president without inducing profound metaphysical shudders as well as clinical symptoms such as hyperventilation and coprolalia. That’s a lot of people who will be getting sick. If you believe the opinion polls (have they ever failed us?), liberals in the broad sense now constitute the mainstream of the U.S. population. Most people won’t accept the dreaded L-word as a label, but they are tolerant and broadminded enough to qualify for it, and hence they may soon display the signs of existential illness.
To avoid traumatizing so many people, we need to find another name for the individual in question, one that will prove appropriate for at least four years.
So far, the principal solutions have come from rhyming slang, to wit, President Drumpf, Dump, Rump, Rumpffff, etc. Even to my 14-year-old mind (a characteristic I share with many of his supporters), this has begun to seem childish. We need a more thoughtful substitute relating to the man’s character, or lack of same.
Along those lines, here are a few possibilities:
- President Biglywiggly
- President Goldilux
- President Nukem
- President Pompadour
- President Pootinesca
- President Twitterman
Let me know your thoughts. Can you suggest any names to add to the list?
Perhaps we should take a vote. If the November pattern prevails, 45 percent of us won’t bother to cast a ballot, but a small, committed minority is all we need to declare a mandate.
As another option, we could use an icon or emoji in place of a name. If Garry Trudeau stays true to his tradition, he’ll come up with a clever one for Doonesbury. In the meantime, my initial graphic suggestion appears at the head of this post. Again, other ideas are welcome. Should we vote on an icon, or fail to vote and let mine win by default?
October 15, 2016
After national events of the past couple of weeks, I feel I must step forward. I’ve been silent far too long about this. It’s difficult to confess, and I’m deeply ashamed, but the truth must be told:
I am one of those people who are not attractive enough for Donald Trump to molest.
If I could do it over, I would. I’d go back and be born again, at a much later date, in a different gender and a much sexier body. Then I’d maneuver to sit next to him on an airplane or in a bar, and when he put his hand on my whatever, I’d turn and beam a big smile at him. Then I’d kick him in the balls and knock his teeth down his throat.
Which is not to say the women he’s groped should have done that themselves. It’s just a fantasy. But wait, Caitlyn Jenner’s pretty attractive and still, no doubt, has plenty of muscle. Can we arrange for her and Donald to meet in a club?
Probably, though, they’ve already met. I don’t know, I don’t keep up with celebrities.
Seriously, my fantasy illustrates a theme that’s been bothering a lot of people about the presidential race. It’s so vulgar. Did anyone think any candidate for high office in the U.S. would descend to such public crudity?
I have to admit, however—a real confession this time—that I’ve long been appalled at the vulgarity of American culture. I haven’t watched TV sitcoms since I was a kid, but when I happen to catch part of one and every joke is about sex, and stupid to boot, I ask myself: Is this all we Americans can think about? There’s nothing else funny in our country?
And though I have no qualifications as a psychologist, I suppose that so much joking about sex implies that in some ways we’re deeply uneasy about it.
Of course, I’m not a prude. In fact, I’m a child of the 1960s, when sex was invented. As a young man, I rooted for the revolution against the hidebound morality imposed by the antiquated folks past the age of 30. And, if I must say so myself, my novel The Big Happiness has some pretty darn good sex scenes in it.
Still, my distaste for Donald Trump is rooted not just in his policies (ignorant, biased, dangerous) or his fundamental character (selfish, devious, disrespectful, violent) but also in his plain boorishness. And a lot of my friends seem to have the same reaction. As my wife often says with a grimace, Ewwwww.
Confronted with Donaldian muck, the temptation is to respond in kind. For instance, I have to resist the temptation to refer to him as Ronald Rump—and worse, I’ve imagined creating a picture of his face merged with a bare ass. That would be totally juvenile, so I would never, ever do something like that, believe me, folks, never.
My fantasy about being reborn as a sexy woman so I can kick him in the groin is a more elaborate version of the same thing—responding in kind.
Therefore I post these remarks in bad taste to condemn the bad taste of the election season.
Which is an ironic way to say that our issues actually go much deeper than taste. Deeper, too, than (T)Rump’s own character issues. I’m genuinely worried about our national character. If even 40 percent of Americans vote for this guy, can we preserve the tiniest smidgen of self-respect?
July 25, 2016
To kick off the Democratic convention, Michelle Goldberg wrote a long, thoughtful piece in Slate about why so many people hate Hillary. It’s worth reading if you haven’t seen it already.
Studying polls and interviews, Goldberg finds that people’s disdain and distaste for the pantsuited whipping-girl have remained constant for decades even as the reasons for those emotions have changed. For some people, for instance, it’s policy: Hillary was too liberal in the 1990s and she’s too conservative now—and she has never, apparently, passed through a stage of being just right. For others it’s a character issue: because Hillary has changed her positions over the years, we can’t trust her, even though other politicians do the swivel-dance daily.
“In other words,” Goldberg says, “people hated Hillary for being one sort of person, and in response to that she became another sort of person, who people hated for different reasons. But this doesn’t explain why the emotional tenor of the hatred seems so consistent, even as the rationale for it has turned inside out. Perhaps that’s because anti-Hillary animus is only partly about what she does. It’s also driven by some ineffable quality of charisma, or the lack of it.”
As Goldberg goes on to point out, people who meet Hillary in person tend to like her a lot. But in public she fails to convey the warm, mischievous, funny and charming qualities that her acquaintances know and love.
Of course, she’s not the only political figure whose public persona fails to reflect her private attractiveness. But a wooden, artificial Mitt Romney attracts less vitriol (and more bored sighs), so again we’re left wondering, “Why Hillary? What makes her so abhorrent?”
Ultimately, Goldberg decides, the answer is “gendered”: “Americans tend not to like ambitious women with loud voices.” I think that’s true, and I would add the adjective smart—we especially don’t like an ambitious woman who seems to know uncomfortably more than we do on just about every topic except the state of our own toothbrushes.
My explanation, then, expands on Goldberg’s to focus on the aura of superiority Hillary manages to convey. When she ramps up her public persona, trying her best to be cool, authoritative, masterful—to stand up to the alpha politicomales she must challenge—she comes off, to me, as smug. Look at that facial expression, that little smirk. Even if you admire her, isn’t it a bit annoying? Don’t you feel slightly put down?
We Americans, famously, and stupidly, want our president to be someone we can have a beer with. I bet that, in private, Hillary can swill a brew as well as her Bubba—maybe better because her heart is stronger. But she gives the impression of sipping an expensive white wine—one of those Coche-Dury Grand Cru thingies?—whose name we can’t even pronounce.
Admittedly, it’s probably “gendered”—nay, sexist—to care about the way a woman grins. After all, George W. Bush had the stupidest grin ever, and THAT wasn’t what we denounced him for.