Manufactured Goods

Nobody Knows Anything

So, it’s been a week.

What do we know?

Nothing, really.

We know that William Barr issued a tightly worded letter claiming Robert Mueller found no evidence to support the Trump campaign conspiring with the Russian government, and punting on the question whether Donald Trump’s actions regarding the investigation amount to a legal case for obstruction of justice.

We know that Barr himself is someone a courtroom drama would call a hostile witness, someone whose word is not to be trusted.

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American Bullshit

George Bush died Friday.

We remember him now as George H.W. Bush, mainly to distinguish him from the George Bush who fucked the shit out of America and its future, but he was just George Bush: George Bush, former CIA director, supposed man of principle who sold himself as quick as he could to the man he had effectively called a voodoo dingbat months earlier, a man who kicked Geraldine Ferraro’s ass because he was a wimp trying to pass as macho, a man whom nobody loved nor admired and casually used a black man to scare white people into voting for him.

Oh, and a war hero.

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Crock the Vote

The pretense of government legitimacy in America rests, ultimately, on our right to vote — that as citizens of our republic, we collectively determine who governs us. An election lost can be deeply disheartening — our first presidential ballot was cast in 1980 — but if the loss is fair and square, so be it. Don’t blame us, we voted for the lesser scoundrel.

In many ways, the efficacy of voting, its guarantee of the consent of the governed, is an illusion: A President can achieve office while losing the popular vote. Half the American population is represented by only eighteen senators. House districts can be gerrymandered beyond recognition. The pretense of legitimacy is maintained — people voted! — but the results are engineered to thwart the popular will.

And even voting isn’t left to chance.

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Dance of the Scorpions

Here’s how this plays out:

Nothing changes.

The Memo has been Released, it’s being used as toilet paper by anyone not in the Treason Tank, and none of that matters. It might as well be a blank Doctor Who psychic card, open to whatever interpretation an enterprising traitor wishes to give it. Does it provide grounds to fire Rod Rosenstein and get at Robert Mueller? Sure, why not? Nobody ever took it seriously, starting with its authors. The Memo exists as a propaganda tool.

But you already knew this. A year in, we have achieved Groundhog Day, and we know how this plays out. It already has. Many times.

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The Cult of Persona

Even rats laugh.

If our life has been about anything, it has been comedy. Laugh-In may have been stuffed with rehashed vaudeville routines, but they were all new to our eight-year-old eyes and ears, and we tortured our father with recitations as soon as each episode was over. Mad magazine remains an enduring influence, down to our use of “department heads” on this website. The Seventies Sitcom Renaissance was ours to binge upon, capped by SNL debuting just when we were ready for it.

But our deepest love was stand-up, and we hit the sweet spot for that too, led by Cosby (sorry) and Carlin: One a master storyteller, the other a master of language itself. We didn’t listen to pop music in our teens; we bought comedy albums.

Which is why we were deeply intrigued this week when the chatter went around that Donald Trump never laughs in public.

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How I Met Your Conductor

Hallelujah!

True story: A few years ago, Silent Creative Partner mocked up a silly matching-tile game app. (Think “Concentration”, if you’re old enough to think that.) Some time later, when we were looking for an excuse to learn iPhone programming, we glommed onto his mockups as a starter project: How the hell would be make this work?

Turned out, it wasn’t that hard — at least for an Obsessive Latent Geek. iPhone programming has an enormous learning curve, but once you reach the summit, it’s easy enough. Only took a couple weeks, and then we had a beta we could show off to clients. Look! We can do this! Pay us to do something else!

But one of our clients wanted that — the matching game. Only with client-specific graphics. “Reskinned”, as we say in the Geek Trade.

Oh, and could we add a virtual bobblehead?

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Oregon Congressman Explains How to Run Up Expenses on a Budget

Our guest columnist lives in Idaho, as far as we’re concerned.

THE DALLES, Ore. – U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) today announced plans to introduce a bill to stop a proposal to mint high-value platinum coins to pay the federal government’s bills.

“Some people are in denial about the need to reduce spending and balance the budget. This scheme to mint trillion dollar platinum coins is absurd and dangerous, and would be laughable if the proponents weren’t so serious about it as a solution. I’m introducing a bill to stop it in its tracks,” Rep. Walden said.

“My wife and I have owned and operated a small business since 1986. When it came time to pay the bills, we couldn’t just mint a coin to create more money out of thin air. We sat down and figured out how to balance the books. That’s what Washington needs to do as well. My bill will take the coin scheme off the table by disallowing the Treasury to mint platinum coins as a way to pay down the debt. We must reduce spending and get our fiscal house in order,” Rep. Walden said.

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