Revelations From Bob Woodward’s Donald Trump Book (Part Six)

41. Despite publicly predicting a future victory in Afghanistan, the Trump Administration’s private position is that it’s a lost cause.

From Chapter 31:

A “60-page strategy memo” was put together by the Defense Department in mid-August 2017.

“Buried in the 19-page section on integrated strategy was an admission:  ‘Stalemate likely to persist in Afghanistan’ and ‘Taliban likely to continue to gain ground.’

In the tradition of concealing the real story in a memo, ‘Win is unattainable’ was the conclusion signed by [National Security Advisor H.R.] McMaster.”

Then-CIA-chief Mike Pompeo:

“Are you going to take responsibility for Afghanistan?  Because we’re not going to win.  You understand we’re not going to win!”

From Chapter 27:

“‘Mr. President,’ [General] Dunford [Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman] said, very polite, very soft-spoken, ‘there’s not a mandate to win…’ Under Obama, who had pulled out most of the troops–down to 8,400, from a high of 100,000—the strategy was effectively to achieve a stalemate.”

42. The Secretary of State let slip the reality of Afghanistan during a press briefing.

From Chapter 31:

“…Tillerson found another way to declare that a win was not attainable.  He addressed the Taliban at a press briefing:  ‘You will not win a battlefield victory.  We may not win one, but neither will you.’

Stalemate.”

43. Trump didn’t believe the American car industry was doing well or that the US government won most of its trade disputes with the WTO even though Gary Cohn had data evidence.

From Chapter 33:

“Cohn assembled the best statistics that could be compiled.  Trump would not read, so Cohn brought charts to the Oval Office.  The numbers showed that the American auto industry was fine.  One big chart showed Detroit’s Big Three were producing 3.6 million fewer cars and light trucks since 1994, but the rest of the U.S., mostly in the Southeast, was up the same 3.6 millon.

The entire BMW 3 series in the world were made in South Carolina, Cohn said.  The Mercedes SUVs were all made in the United States.  The millions of auto jobs lost in Detroit had moved to South Carolina and North Carolina because of right-to-work laws.”

[snip]

“Cohn had put another document, ‘U.S. Record in WTO Disputes,’ in the daily book that [Staff Secretary Rob] Porter compiled for the president at night.”

Trump “rarely if ever cracked it open.”  He claimed, “The World Trade Organization is the worst organization every created!…We lose more cases than anything.”

According to the aforementioned daily book, “The document showed that the United States won 85.7 percent of its WTO cases, more than average.”

Trump’s response:  “This is bullshit…This is wrong.”

Cohen’s rebuttal:  “This is the factual data.  There’s no one that’s going to disagree with this data.  Data is data.”

44. Lindsey Graham wanted China to assassinate Kim Jong Un.

From Chapter 34:

“Graham made a dramatic proposal to [Chief of Staff John] Kelly and McMaster. ‘China needs to kill him and replace him with a North Korean general they control,’…China had at least enough control so the North would not attack.  ‘I think the Chinese are clearly the key here and they need to take him out.  Not us, them.  And control the nuclear inventory there.  And wind this thing down.  Or control him.”

45. Chief of Staff John Kelly threatened to quit on at least two occasions.

The first involved an argument with ICE union leader Chris Crane.   According to Woodward, they “had an intense dislike for each other” because Kelly “blocked ICE agents from a hard-line crackdown on some immigration violations.”

Trump was livid that Kelly, who developed a controversial internal reputation for keeping certain officials away from the President, would not let Crane visit him in the Oval Office.  Trump watched Crane complain about this on Fox News.

That led to a confrontation after Trump invited Crane over “without informing Kelly.”

“Kelly heard Crane was in the Oval Office and strode in.  Soon Crane and Kelly were cursing each other.

‘I can’t believe you’d let some fucking guy like this into the Oval Office,’ Kelly told Trump.  If this was the way it was going to work, he said, ‘then I quit!’  And he stormed out.

Trump later told others that he thought Kelly and Crane were going to get into a fistfight.”

When Kelly “urged the president to select Kirstjen Nielsen” to be the next Homeland Security Secretary, Trump complained, “She’s a Bushie.  Everybody hates her.”  As Kelly’s defense of her went nowhere, Trump threatened to cancel her nomination.  (She was eventually confirmed.)

“Kelly threw up his hands.  ‘Maybe I’m just going to have to resign.’  And he stormed out.”

The hotheaded Kelly remains Chief of Staff as of this writing.

46. Trump proposed a more honest name for his awful tax bill.

According to Woodward, he wanted to “[c]all it the ‘Cut, Cut, Cut Bill’.”  Congressional Republicans went with “The Tax Cut And Jobs Act”.  But curiously, in the end, “it was finalized as ‘An Act to Provide for Reconciliation Pursuant to Titles II and V of the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2018.'”

Yeah, that’s much better.

47. Bannon understood Trump’s enormous vulnerability as a philandering, rapey misogynist.

From Chapter 36:

“The #TimesUp And #MeToo movements of women and feminists would create an alternative to end the male-dominated patriarchy, Bannon believed.

‘Trump is the perfect foil…He’s the bad father, the terrible first husband, the boyfriend that fucked you over and wasted all those years, and [you] gave up your youth for, and then dumped you.  And the terrible boss that grabbed you by the pussy all the time and demeaned you.”

48. Afghanistan may reach the point of no return sometime early next year.

From Chapter 38:

“The DNI intelligence expert briefed Trump on Afghanistan in early 2018:  No gains by the U.S. in territory.  Nothing clawed back.  No improvement from last year; actually, some areas were getting worse.”

[snip]

“The coalition probably only had until the spring of 2019 to keep the status quo [a stalemate with The Taliban].  The political fabric seemed to be coming apart.  A perfect storm was coming, and a practical problem like weather might be the tipping point…A drought was coming, and with it a crisis of food insecurity…Some two million [Afghani refugees] had lived in Pakistan in decades [after their families fled during the 1979 Soviet invasion], never in their native Afghanistan, but they would be coming.”

49. Despite his constant, incessant ass-kissing, Trump’s new golf buddy Lindsey Graham wasn’t loyal enough in the eyes of the President.

At the end of 2017, the shameless South Carolina Senator played a round of golf with Trump at his International Golf Club in Florida.

After calling Trump’s course “spectacular” and telling Trump, “You’re a very good commander in chief,” Graham continued to brown nose:

“You’re cleaning up the mess that Obama left you.  You’re doing a damn good job of cleaning it up.  You’re rebuilding the military.  You’re taking a wet blanket off the economy.  You’re really unshackling the military and the economy.  God bless you for undoing the damage done in the last eight years.”

But Trump wanted more loyalty:

“You’re a middle-of-the-road guy.  I want you to be 100 percent for Trump.”

“‘Okay, what’s the issue?’ Graham asked, ‘and I’ll tell you whether I’m 100 percent for you or not.'”

“You’re like 82 percent…”

“Well, some days I’m 100 percent.  Some days I may be zero.”

That wasn’t good enough:

“I want you to be a 100 percent guy.”

50. John Dowd quit representing Trump because he knows he’ll be a terrible witness for Mueller.  Once he resigned, Trump informed the press.

After realizing during a test run, a preview of a potential Q&A with Robert Mueller, that Trump would be an awful advocate for himself in the Russia investigation (he blew up, continually insisting he was innocent and the victim of a “hoax”), attorney John Dowd pleaded with his client to remain silent:

“Mr. President, that’s why you can’t testify…When you’re a fact witness, you try to provide facts.  If you don’t know the facts, I’d just prefer you to say, Bob [Mueller], I just don’t remember.  I got too much going on here.  Instead of sort of guessing and making all kinds of wild conclusions.”

In the final chapter of Fear: Trump In The White House, Dowd reached his breaking point:

“I’m not happy, Mr. President.  This is a goddamn heartbreak…I’ve failed as your lawyer.  I’ve been unable to persuade you to take my advice…I wish I could persuade you…Don’t testify.  It’s either that or an orange jump suit.  If it’s decision time, you’re going to go forward, I can’t be with you.”

As soon as Dowd resigned in a morning phone call, the attorney presumed Trump immediately called the press.  Because “[t]wo minutes later”, he got calls from the Washington Post and The New York Times asking for comment.

As Woodward notes, “Trump always liked to be the first to deliver the news.”

51. Another Trump attorney Ty Cobb could be called as a witness, if he hasn’t already.

Dowd deeply regretted pushing Trump to hire the mustachioed attorney who went out on TV insisting that the President “was not afraid to testify.”

“‘He should have declined.  He’s a government employee.  And by the way, they can call him as a witness.  He has no [attorney/client] privilege with you.’

‘Jesus,’ Trump said, sounding worried.  ‘I’ve talked a lot with him.”

52. Dowd doesn’t think Trump will be impeached.

From Chapter 42:

“They’re not going to impeach you.  Are you shitting me?  They’re a bunch of cowards, the whole town. The media, the Congress.  They’re gutless.  What’s the impeachment going to be, for exercising Article II [of the US Constitution]?  Huh?  Hello?  Hello, I want to hear Speaker Ryan take that one up before the Rules Committee and the Judiciary Committee…We ought to tell them to go fuck themselves.

According to Woodward, “Dowd remained convinced that Mueller never had a Russian case or an obstruction case.  He was looking for the perjury trap.”  Which is why Dowd was insistent that Trump not submit to questioning.

53. The newest member of the Supreme Court recommended another abusive misogynist to work in the White House.

In the footnotes for Chapter 17, Woodward reveals that one of the many people who recommended Staff Secretary Rob Porter, who eventually resigned after revelations that he abused women he was romantically involved with, was none other than Brett Kavanaugh, who has faced his own accusations of harassment and assault.

54. A letter sent to Robert Mueller claimed Trump could fire him.  It also claimed he could free his criminalized staffers nabbed by the investigation.

Shortly before he quit, Trump attorney John Dowd convinced Special Counsel Robert Mueller to send him a list of topics he was pursuing to give The President’s legal team a head’s up.  If Trump had to answer any questions at all, Dowd preferred it be done on paper, not in person.

“The subject read ‘Request for Testimony on Alleged Obstruction of Justice.’

A raw assertion of presidential power was printed in boldface:  ‘He could, if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired.'”

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, October 7, 2018
8:37 p.m.

Advertisements
Published in: on October 7, 2018 at 8:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Revelations From Bob Woodward’s Donald Trump Book (Part Five)

25. Steve Bannon got into a screaming match with Ivanka Trump about her role in the White House.

From Chapter 18:

“During a meeting in Priebus’s corner office Bannon and Ivanka got into an altercation.”

“‘You’re a goddamn staffer!’ Bannon finally screamed at Ivanka.  ‘You’re nothing but a fucking staffer!’…’You walk around this place and act like you’re in charge, and you’re not.  You’re on staff!’

‘I’m not a staffer!’ she shouted. ‘I’ll never be a staffer.  I’m the first daughter’–she really used the title–‘and I’m never going to be a staffer!'”

26. Bannon and Jared Kushner both believed they leaked negative stories about each other to the press.

Meanwhile, the exasperated white supremacist accused Ivanka’s husband of telling the UK paper the Daily Mail, anonymously of course, “about Trump blowing up at him and Priebus and blocking them from traveling on Air Force One to Florida.  It wasn’t true they had been kicked off the trip.  Both declined to travel that day.  ‘You fucking set me up,’…You trashed Reince in this story.  And I know you did it.’

Kushner vehemently denied it, and seemed offended at the accusation.”

In turn, Ivanka’s husband accused Bannon of being the source for a 2016 New York Times story about Kushner’s “December 2016 meeting with the Russian ambassador, adding fuel to the allegations that the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia.”

Curiously, Woodward doesn’t mention a denial on Bannon’s part.

27. Maybe it was Trump’s Commerce Secretary who wrote that anonymous “I’m Part Of The Resistance” NYT op-ed.

From Chapter 19:

“Several days later Wilbur Ross laid out the reasoning on the importance of trade deficits.  Echoing the president, Ross said trade deficits are the lodestar and were a mark of our economic instability and weakness.”

28. Trump showed his appreciation for Ross, who saved his ass nearly 30 years ago, by tearing into him over a new trade deal with China.

“In the spring of 2017, Ross negotiated a deal with China for the U.S. to import Chinese chicken and export beef.  He called it ‘a herculean accomplishment.’  But there was some criticism of the deal.”

“In a meeting at the White House, the president tore into Ross. ‘I can’t believe you made this deal.  Why didn’t you tell anybody?  You didn’t tell me about this.  You just went off and did it on your own.  And it’s a terrible deal.  We got screwed.  Wilbur, maybe you used to have it.’  As an investment banker representing casino bondholders angry at Trump in 1990, Ross had struck a deal with Trump that acknowledged the value of his famous name and allowed him to avoid bankruptcy.”

“‘I thought you were a killer…When you were on Wall Street, you made some of these deals.  But you’re past your prime.  You’re not a good negotiator anymore.  I don’t know what it is, but you’ve lost it.  I don’t trust you.  I don’t want you doing any more negotiations.'”

29. Steve Bannon warned Trump that firing Comey was a mistake and would not end the Russia investigation.

According to Woodward at the start of Chapter 20, Trump wanted then-FBI Director James Comey fired “at the beginning of” his first term.  As he planned to finally terminate him in May 2017, his soon-to-exit advisor Steve Bannon issued this prescient warning about such a move.

“The moment you fire him he’s J. fucking Edgar Hoover.  The day you fire him, he’s the greatest martyr in American history.  A weapon to come and get you.  They’re going to name a special fucking counsel.  You can fire Comey.  You can’t fire the FBI.  The minute you fire him, the FBI as an institution, they have to destroy you and they will destroy you.”

Despite being told that “a special counsel” has “sweeping powers…to investigate everything a president touched,” Trump had already made up his mind:

“Don’t try to talk me out of it…because I’ve made my decision, so don’t even try.”

30. Rod Rosenstein wasn’t a Comey fan, either.

“Rosenstein told Trump that he thought Comey should be fired.  He had no problem writing a memo outlining his reasoning.”  It was a 3-page document entitled “RESTORING PUBLIC CONFIDENCE IN THE FBI.”

Rosenstein opposed the way Comey handled the Hillary Clinton private server investigation.  In the memo, “He quoted five former attorneys general or deputy attorneys general agreeing that Comey had violated the rules,” announcing his own conclusions about the case “pre-empting the decision of the prosecutor”.

Trump now had the cover to do what he had already planned to do anyway before Rosenstein even walked into the Oval Office.

31. Bannon thought Trump fired Comey because he was concerned about his son-in-law.

“Bannon believed, ‘100 percent,’ that the reason for firing Comey was because the FBI was seeking financial records from Jared.  It was pure speculation.  Ivanka had complained to her father about the FBI.”

32. Trump lawyer John Dowd had previously investigated Pete Rose and defended John McCain.

“In the 1980s, he was special counsel to the commissioner of baseball.  He ran several investigations, the most prominent leading to the banning of Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds for betting on baseball games.  After that, as a defense attorney, Dowd represented Wall Street and political figures, including Senator John McCain in the Keating Five ethics investigation.”

33. Trump told an unnamed friend his personal philosophy on responding to accusations of philandering, harassment and assault.

From Chapter 21:

“Trump gave some private advice to a friend who had acknowledged some bad behaviour toward women.  Real power is fear.  It’s all about strength.  Never show weakness.  You’ve always got to be strong.  Don’t be bullied.  There is no choice.

‘You’ve got to deny, deny, deny and push back on these women…If you admit to anything and any culpability, then you’re dead.  That was a big mistake you made.  You didn’t come out guns blazing and just challenge them.  You showed weakness.  You’ve got to be strong.  You’ve got to be aggressive.  You’ve got to push back hard.  You’re got to deny anything that’s said about you.  Never admit.”

34. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner played a major role in Steve Bannon’s departure.

From Chapter 23:

“Ivanka and Jared gave a newspaper story to the president with highlighted quotes from an unnamed White House source.  You know who this is?  This is Steve Bannon, they said.  In a West Wing filled with leakers, these tactics slowly but surely planted a distrust of Bannon with the president.”

35. Trump attorney John Dowd pretty much gave Special Counsel Robert Mueller anything he wanted with no objection from the President:

From Chapter 24:

“Mueller received 1.4 million pages of documents from the Trump campaign and 20,000 pages from the White House.  Dowd believed no documents had been destroyed.  In all, 37 witnesses gave interviews to Mueller’s team voluntarily.”

There was also a “six-page White House summary of the entire Flynn matter from contemporaneous recollections.  Dowd considered it the Bible on Flynn…”

36. The 2017 federal budget would not pass unless Trump instituted anti-trans military policies.

“In July, the Freedom Caucus, a bloc of 30 strong conservatives in the House, threatened not to vote for the budget unless President Trump instituted some prohibition on paying for gender reassignment surgeries and hormone treatments for transgender people serving in the military.”

37. Trump made a private transphobic remark.

“During the campaign, Trump had proclaimed himself a supporter of LGBT rights.  Now he told Bannon, ‘What the fuck?  They’re coming in here, they’re getting clipped’–a crude reference to gender reassignment surgery.”

38. Trump studied his own tweets to determine which ones were the most popular.

From Chapter 25:

“He ordered printouts of his recent tweets that had received a high number of likes, 200,000 or more.  He studied them to find the common themes in the most successful.  He seemed to want to become more strategic, find out whether success was tied to the subject, the language or simply the surprise that the president was weighing in.  The most effective tweets were often the most shocking.”

39. Trump is a deep thinker.

“Coming back from the [2017] G20 summit, Trump was editing an upcoming speech with Porter.  Scribbling his thoughts in neat, clean penmanship, the president wrote, “TRADE IS BAD.”

40. Why economic advisor Gary Cohn initially tried to quit before being convinced to stay on until a terrible tax bill was passed.

From Chapter 30:

“On Friday, August 18, [2017,] Gary Cohn flew by helicopter from East Hampton, Long Island, to Morristown, New Jersey, where it was raining heavily.  He had to wait on the tarmac to get clearance to Bedminster.  He was carrying a resignation letter.  This was too much.  Someone had put a swastika on his daughter’s college dorm room.”

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, October 7, 2018
8:01 p.m.

Published in: on October 7, 2018 at 8:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Revelations From Bob Woodward’s Donald Trump Book (Part Four)

20. Barack Obama seriously contemplated bombing North Korea’s nukes and missiles.

Near the end of his Presidency, Barack Obama wondered whether a “surgical strike” against North Korea’s nuclear capabilities would be successful.  (There were no legal considerations, apparently.)  In September 2016, the Kim Jong Un regime resumed underground testing of its nuclear weapons.  Endlessly worried about the resumption of the still active Korean War (and with good reason), the North Korean leader wasn’t taking any chances even if his threats of striking America (if they attack his country first) with long range supposedly nuke-tipped ICBMs is highly unlikely.  (They would definitely reach the South and Japan, if they struck first, however.)

Obama was hoping to make his successor’s life a lot easier by finally dealing with this issue.

“From the outset President Obama had authorized several Special Access Programs (SAP), the most classified and compartmented operations conducted by the military and intelligence, to deter North Korean missiles.  One program pinpointed cyber attacks on the command, control, telemetry, and guidance systems before or during a North Korean missile test launch.  These high-risk cyber attacks had begun in his first year as president.  Their success rate was mixed.

Another highly secret operation focused on obtaining North Korean missiles.  And a third enabled the United States to detect a North Korean missile launch in seven seconds.  Officials have asked that I not describe the details in order to protect national security operations deemed vital to the United States.”

Obama asked his National Security Council if bombing North Korea’s nukes and missiles was doable.  In short, no.  It wasn’t clear if their ICBM’s were even nuclear.  (“Current intelligence assessments could not answer definitively.”)

“The intelligence assessment also showed that a U.S. attack could not wipe out everything the North had.  There would be lost targets because they did not know about them, and partial destruction of other targets.”  What about the deleterious effect on North Korean civilians?  That curiously goes unmentioned.

There were numerous other problems with the unwarranted attack.  But this was the biggest one:

“A single North Korean nuclear weapon detonated in response could mean tens of thousands of casualties in South Korea.”

The Pentagon noted the obvious.  There would have to be “a ground invasion” on top of the bombing which of course would justify North Korea retaliating “likely with a nuclear weapon”.

“Frustrated and exasperated, he rejected a preemptive strike.  It was folly.”

Too bad Obama didn’t feel the same way about drones.

21. James Clapper warned Obama that North Korea would not go for denuclearization and they want a peace treaty with South Korea.

The then-Director of National Intelligence made a trip to North Korea in late 2014 “to retrieve two U.S. citizens who had been taken prisoner.  From his discussions with North Korean officials he was convinced that North Korea would not give up their nuclear weapons.  Why would they?  In exchange for what?  North Korea had effectively bought a deterrent.  It was real and powerful in its ambiguity.”

Clapper “argued to Obama and the NSC that for the United States to say that denuclearization was a condition for negotiations was not working, and would not work.”

“Also, Clapper said, he understood the North Korean desire for a peace treaty to end the Korean War, which had been formally resolved with an armistice in 1953–a truce between the commanders of the militaries involved, not the nations at war.

The United States needed to understand how North Korea looked at the situation:  The U.S. and South Korea seemed permanently poised, dramatically at times, to attack and to do away with the Kim regime.”

Clapper noted that the North Koreans told him that America “has no permanent enemies” which gave him hope that it would be possible “to set up an interest section in Pyongyang” in order to establish “an informal” diplomatic “channel in which another government with an embassy in the North Korean capital would act as intermediary.”  There “would be less than full diplomatic relations, but it would give the U.S. a base, a place…they could obtain information and also get information into North Korea.”

Clapper’s view was a lonely one on the National Security Council:

“No one agreed.  Obama was hard-line:  North Korea would have to agree to give up its nuclear weapons,” a policy that has been stubbornly maintained by the Trump Administration.

22. Obama also thought about increasing cyber attacks against North Korea.

“Some” in the Obama Administration “viewed cyber [attacks] as the below-the-radar magic wand that might mitigate the North Korean threat.”

But there were two major problems, besides the clearly illegal and unwarranted plan of attack itself.

One:

“To launch broader cyber attacks effectively, the [NSA] would have to go through servers that North Korea had in China.  The Chinese would detect such an attack and could conclude it was directed at them, potentially unleashing a cataclysmic cyber war.”

Two:

“The use of cyber could trigger escalation and set off a round of attacks and counterattacks that could cripple the Internet, financial systems like banking and credit cards, power grids, news and other communications systems, potentially bringing the American or even the world economy to its knees.”

The foolish plan was thankfully abandoned.

23. Lindsey Graham urged Trump to bomb North Korea even if it meant killing a whole lot of South Korean civilians.  He also mended fences with John McCain during a private dinner.

Despite being humiliated by Trump during the 2016 primaries, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham was urged by then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to forge a relationship with the new President.  (“You’re a lot of fun.  He needs fun people around him.”)

They ultimately bonded over North Korea, one of Graham’s pet issues.  At the same time, Trump was trying to make peace with another infamous warmonger John McCain who he derided for being captured in Vietnam (instead of committing war crimes by bombing civilians before that happened).

He invited McCain and his wife Cindy to a private dinner at The White House where he offered a “teared up” Cindy a job being “my ambassador at large for human trafficking”.

Trump than proceeded to kiss up to John who was “visibly touched” by the offer to his wife:

“I just want to get to know you…I admire you.  You’re a very tough man.  You’re a good man.”

“McCain again seemed touched…’We want to help you.'”

That led to a discussion with Graham about North Korea.  When Trump asked McCain’s opinion on what to do, he replied:

“Very complicated…They can kill a million people in Seoul [South Korea] with conventional artillery.  That’s what makes it so hard.”

To which Graham responded:

“If a million people are going to die, they’re going to die over there, not here.”

Even Trump was taken aback:

“That’s pretty cold.”

24. America is deliberating fighting a stalemate in Afghanistan to avoid conceding the rest of the country back to The Taliban.

Throughout Fear: Trump In The White House, the Republican President expresses outrage over the disastrous Afghanistan invasion.  (“We’ve got to figure out how to get the fuck out of there.”)  Launched a month after 9/11 with significant public support, the unpopular occupation has since faded into the background.  Almost 20 years old now, it is America’s longest ever war with no end in sight.

In Chapter 15, Woodward lays out the big problems with the current strategy.  The Taliban remain resilient and continue to rule over “significant” parts of the country.  The thoroughly corrupt puppet regime has no legitimacy.  The opium trade and illegal mining make up much of the otherwise struggling economy.  Having a permanent US military presence won’t solve anything.  There are numerous tribes at war with each other.

“A larger question loomed:  Should the United States be playing to win in Afghanistan, or merely not to lose?”

Despite protests from the soon to be departing Steve Bannon, Trump reluctantly agreed with a request to add more troops (just a few thousand) even though everybody in the government, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, sees the occupation as a failure that needs to draw to a close.

Everybody except the perennially war hungry Lindsey Graham who tried to scaremonger Trump into keeping the ongoing quagmire going:

“Do you want on your resume that you allowed Afghanistan to go back into the darkness and the second 9/11 came from the very same place the first 9/11 did?”  15 of the 9/11 attackers were Saudi Arabian but I digress.

When Trump asked Graham, “Well…how does it end?”

“‘It never ends,’ Graham said. ‘It’s good versus evil.  Good versus evil never ends.  It’s just like the Nazis.  It’s now radical Islam.  It will be something else one day.'”

When Pence urged Graham to tell Trump “how this ends,” Graham would not budge.

“It would never end, Graham repeated.”

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, October 7, 2018
3:23 a.m.

Published in: on October 7, 2018 at 3:23 am  Leave a Comment  

Revelations From Bob Woodward’s Donald Trump Book (Part Three)

12. Trump thought preparing for a transition would jinx him.

“Money questions ignited Trump.  When he learned that [Chris] Christie, who would be the head of his transition team, was raising money for the operation, he summoned him and Bannon to Trump Tower.”

A paranoid Trump believed he was being robbed.  (“I’m putting money in my campaign, and you’re fucking stealing from me.”)  Christie tried to reassure him that he wasn’t a thief, he was preparing “for the required transition organization in case Trump won,” even though the then-New Jersey Governor thought he had already blown the election.

“Trump said that Mitt Romney had spent too much time on transition meetings as the nominee in 2012, and not enough time on campaign events.  ‘That’s why he lost.  You’re jinxing me,’ he told Christie.  ‘I don’t want a transition.  I’m shutting down the transition…You’re jinxing me.  I’m not going to spend a second on it.”

When Bannon tried to back up Christie who he otherwise despised, Trump was inflexible:

“It’s jinxing me…I can’t have one.”

A compromise would eventually be reached.

“Trump agreed, finally and reluctantly, to a slimmed-down, skeletal version of the transition.  Christie would cease fundraising.

‘He can have his transition,’ Trump said, ‘but I don’t want anything to do with it.'”

13. During a corporate speech, Bob Woodward learned firsthand about the hidden Trump voter.

“Two weeks before the election, October 25, 2016, I was in Fort Worth, Texas, giving a speech to about 400 executives from a firm called KEY2ACT that provides construction and field service management software.  My topic was ‘The Age of the American Presidency.  What Will 2016 Bring?’  The group was mostly white and was from all over the country.

I asked for a show of hands.  How many expected to vote for Hillary?  As best as I could tell there were only about 10.  How many expected to vote for Trump?  Half the room raised their hands–approximately 200.  Wow, I thought, that seemed like a lot of Trump voters.”

Woodward had “no explanation” and neither did the “flabbergasted” CEO of KEY2ACT.

14. The real, petty reason Trump hired those Russian sex workers to piss on his hotel bed.

One of Trump’s biggest ongoing pet peeves is the Steele Dossier, the secretly compiled document that isn’t entirely corroborated and yet still managed to leak into the media.  Originally funded by Democrats but later financially supported by Republicans, British spy Christopher Steele was hired to compile potentially embarrassing information that the Russians, who preferred Trump over Clinton, had supposedly acquired of their favoured candidate.

The most infamous story involved Trump hiring a couple of local sex workers in Russia to urinate on his hotel room bed during a trip in 2013 and that it was surreptitiously captured on tape by the Russians.  When the story came out, comedians had a field day.  Trump denied it ever happened, saying he’s a well-known germophobe.

But in Chapter Eight of Fear:  Trump In The White House, there was a very specific reason why this all happened:

“On the second page it said:  ‘According to Source D, where s/he had been present, TRUMP’s (perverted conduct in Moscow included hiring the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where he knew President and Mrs OBAMA (whom he hated) had stayed on one of their official trips to Russia, and defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him.  The hotel was known to be under FSB control with microphones and concealed cameras in all the main rooms to record anything they wanted to.”

15. Hope Hicks’ description of the press sounds more like President Trump.

During the campaign, Trump had hired Hope Hicks to do PR for him.  During the transition, he hired her to run the communications department which would allow her to avoid directly dealing with the media, her preference.

According to Woodward, Hicks “felt that he had lost some of his leverage with the media by being overexposed during the campaign.”

“Hicks was convinced the media had ‘oppositional defiance syndrome’, which is a term from clinical psychology most often applied to rebellious children.  ‘Oppositional defiance syndrome” is characterized by excessive anger against authority, vindictiveness and temper tantrums.  As far as she was concerned, that described the press.”

She was really describing Trump.

16. Trump worried that the pee tape story would piss off Melania and admitted to one of his lawyers he was a philanderer.

The 45th US President has a long history of womanizing which already cost him two marriages.  Clearly worried about losing a third, especially after his famous private encounter with then-FBI Director James Comey who he later fired:

“Trump later told his attorney that he felt shaken down by Comey with the presentation about the alleged prostitutes in Moscow.  ‘I’ve got enough problems with Melania and girlfriends and all that.  I don’t need any more.  I can’t have Melania hearing about that.”

17. Trump’s Secretary of Defense James Mattis is an Islamophobe.

In Chapter Ten, Woodward recounts a classified meeting on February 25, 2017 regarding the military’s battle plan against ISIS, a plan that essentially remained Obama’s “but with bombing and other authorities granted to the local commanders.”  Conducted by Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis, at some point there was a discussion about Iran:

“Mattis was worried about Iranian expansion,” a recurring paranoid unfounded obsession with the Trump Administration.  “At one point he later referred to ‘those idiot raghead mullahs.'”

18. FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe told Priebus a New York Times story was “bullshit” and “grossly overstated”.  But he refused to say so publicly.

On Valentine’s Day 2017, The New York Times published this story about Trump campaign officials contacting the Russians the year before the 2016 campaign.

The FBI’s deputy director Andrew McCabe called Trump’s then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to insist the reporting was wrong:

“‘It’s total bullshit,’ McCabe said. ‘It’s not true, and we want you to know that.  It’s grossly overstated.'”

Woodward doesn’t report any actual inaccuracies, if there were in fact any to be found.

When Priebus pleaded with the FBI’s number two to publicly discredit the story:

“‘Call me in a couple of hours,’ McCabe said.  ‘I will ask around and I’ll let you know.  I’ll see what I can do.'”

After waiting impatiently for two hours, the freaked out Chief of Staff called him again.

“‘I’m sorry, I can’t…There’s nothing I can do about it.  I tried, but if we start issuing comments on individual stories, we’ll be doing statements every three days.’  The FBI could not become a clearinghouse for the accuracy of news stories.  If the FBI tried to debunk certain stories, a failure to comment could be seen as a confirmation.”

McCabe asked for more time (“Give me a couple more hours.”).

“Nothing happened.  No call from the FBI.  Priebus tried to explain to Trump, who was waiting for a recanting.  It was another reason for Trump to distrust and hate the FBI…”

CNN reported this inside wrangling a week later.  (“Priebus was cast as trying to manipulate the FBI for political purposes.”)

“The White House tried and failed to correct the story and show that McCabe had initiated the matter.”

Again, it’s not made clear what was supposedly erroneous about the NYT story.

During his sworn testimony on June 8 that same year, in a moment of bitter irony, the now fired Comey finally did what McCabe wouldn’t do.  He asserted that the Times’ story “in the main was not true.”

19. Steve Bannon prepped soon-to-be National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster on how to deal with Trump during his job interview which didn’t go well.

“Don’t lecture Trump.  He doesn’t like professors.  He doesn’t like intellectuals.”  McMaster wrote a critical book about the botched Vietnam War.  “Trump was a guy who ‘never went to class.  Never got the syllabus.  Never took a note.  Never went to a lecture.  The night before the final, he comes in at midnight from the fraternity house, puts on a pot of coffee, takes your notes, memorizes as much as he can, walks in at 8 in the morning and gets a C.  And that’s good enough…Show up in your uniform.’

McMaster wore a suit.”

The planned two-hour interview was much shorter.  According to Bannon, “McMaster ran his fucking mouth for all of 20 minutes giving his theories of the world.”

Trump said, “He’s dressed like a beer salesman.”  He still gave McMaster the job.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, October 7, 2018
12:50 a.m.

Published in: on October 7, 2018 at 12:50 am  Leave a Comment  

Revelations From Bob Woodward’s Donald Trump Book (Part Two)

8. Kellyanne Conway attended the Democratic National Convention and knew the Clinton campaign was in trouble.

Trump replaced the doomed Paul Manafort with longtime Republican operative Kellyanne Conway.  In July 2016, she attended the DNC event to see what the Democrats were offering their supporters.  According to Woodward, she came away unimpressed:

“Their message is Donald Trump is bad, and we’re not Donald Trump.  The rest of the message was race, gender, LGBT…She doesn’t seem to have a message.  Now if I’m her, I’m going to find a message.  I’m going to buy a message.  And it’s going to be very positive and uplifting and optimistic.  All I can see from her so far is not optimism.”

An odd assertion to make when Clinton was foolishly arguing that “America was already great” (one of the many dumb things she said during the campaign) and when Trump’s own address during the GOP convention was so relentlessly dark and negative.  (“The American Dream is dead.”)

At any event, Conway would go on to talk about “the hidden Trump voter” which was met with much cynical snickering from the media.  Undeterred, Trump’s new campaign manager observed, “There’s not a single hidden Hillary voter in the entire country.  They’re all out and about.”

Besides her message, Clinton had another big problem.  With regards to pre-election polling, she “had not cracked 50 percent in eight key states that Obama won twice with over 50 percent” in the 2008 election.  The Trump camp, led by Conway and Bannon, realized that as long as they focused on Clinton’s weaknesses, “they would win with those hidden Trump voters.  If the race stayed about Trump, ‘we’ll probably lose.'”

9. After the release of the infamous Access Hollywood tape, the RNC threatened to pull their funding and demanded Trump drop out of the race. They wanted Mike Pence paired with Condoleezza Rice instead.

Every Presidential candidate fears The October Surprise.  And sure enough, Donald Trump got a doozy in 2016.

On October 7th, an unreleased clip from a 2005 Access Hollywood shoot was released.  Trump was bantering with host Billy Bush on an AH bus headed to the set of Days Of Our Lives.  There was lots of talk about women and how Trump can’t resist them.  Then, the moment of infamy:

“…Trump [was] bragging crudely about his sexual prowess.  He said he could grope and kiss women at will.  ‘When you’re a star, they let you do it,’ Trump said.  ‘You can do anything.  Grab them by the pussy.'”

The very next morning, according to Woodward, there was an emergency meeting in Trump’s Trump Tower penthouse:

“Priebus told Bannon, ‘The donors are all out.  Everybody’s dropped.  Paul Ryan’s going to drop this afternoon.’  The loss of the money people and the Republican house speaker signaled the end.  ‘It’s over,’ Priebus said.

“Everybody’s pulling their endorsements.  I don’t even know if Pence is going to be on this thing.’  The fastidiously loyal Mike Pence, Trump’s running mate, was doubting.”

After Trump arrived, Priebus read Trump the riot act:

“You have two choices…You either drop out right now or you’re going to lose in the biggest landslide in American history and be humiliated for life.”

Priebus revealed that “every leader, every congressman, every senator” even members of the RNC were “telling me you’re either going to lose big, in a massive way, or you need to drop out of the race.  I can’t make it any better.”

To salvage what he believed was a sinking ship, Priebus proposed an alternative ticket:

“Pence is prepared to step up, and Condi Rice will come in as his VP.”

Bannon protested.  “That’s never going to happen…That’s ridiculous.  Fucking absurd.”

As Woodward notes of Bannon’s efforts, “In less than two months as campaign CEO they had cut the polling gap in half with endless rallies.”  Dropping out now would’ve been the real disaster.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie appealed to Trump’s business sense:

“This is not about the campaign…That’s over. This is about your brand.”

Regarding Donald Trump Jr. and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, “You need to save the brand for them or the brand’s finished.”

Rudy Guiliani claimed Trump “had less than a 50 percent chance of winning. ‘Basically you’ve got 40 percent.'”

Once again, only Steve Bannon was convinced Trump wasn’t going to lose.

“‘One hundred percent, metaphysical certitude you’re going to win’…Your supporters will still be with you. ‘They are worried about saving their country.'”

But Priebus was insistent:

“You guys don’t know what you’re doing.  You’re going to go down.”

According to Woodward, “Prominent Republicans began to call for Trump to step aside for Mike Pence” who had “gone to ground when the news broke about the Access Hollywood tape.”  After putting out a statement condemning Trump’s remarks (“I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them.”):

“Stories circulated that Pence had given Bannon a sealed letter urging Trump to drop off the ticket.”

When the meeting adjourned, Christie started scolding Bannon in private:

“You’re the fucking problem…You’ve been the problem since the beginning…You’re the enabler.  You play to every one of his worst instincts.  This thing’s over and you’re going to be blamed.  Every time he’s got terrible instincts for these things, and all you do is get him all worked up.  This is going to be humiliating.”

“Christie was in Bannon’s face, looming large.  Bannon half-wanted to say, You fat fuck, let’s throw down right here.”

No fists were thrown.  With a trip to the second Presidential debate looming in Missouri the next day, Bannon simply gave the then-New Jersey Governor an ultimatum:

“Governor…the plane leaves tomorrow…If you’re on the plane, you’re on the team.”

Christie was a no-show.

“‘Fuck this guy,’ Bannon said, and the plane took off.”

In the end, Trump refused to quit and proved Bannon right.

10. Trump almost did an ABC interview to do damage control after Melania dismissed the idea of appearing on 60 Minutes with him and Ivanka.

While everybody but Bannon was urging Trump to quit in that emergency Trump Tower meeting, there was also a spontaneous plan to save face.  Kellyanne Conway suggested a joint appearance with daughter Ivanka and wife Melania on the long running CBS News program 60 Minutes which was immediately dismissed by Melania.  (“Not doing that…No, no, no.  No way.”) After Bannon’s proposal to do an impromptu rally with supporters to cut a harsh promo on the media was rejected despite Trump’s enthusiasm for the idea, Conway had another proposal:

“Conway would call ABC and arrange for David Muir, the ABC anchor, to helicopter in.  Guiliani and Christie would write an introduction for Trump and Muir could do a 10-minue interview.

Political suicide, thought Bannon.  This would make the campaign over for sure, and Trump would lose by 20 points.”

When Trump was handed his prepared remarks, he balked:

“‘I can’t do this,’ he said.  ‘This is bullshit.  This is weak.  You guys are weak.'”

A quick revision was made.  It made no difference:

“I’m not doing this.”

Ultimately, Trump ended up not doing the interview.  Instead, the GOP candidate went downstairs and outside Trump Tower to greet a “roaring crowd of Trump supporters in the street”.  When a reporter asked if he was going to continue campaigning, he replied:

“One hundred percent.”

11. Despite being the only campaign official to defend him on all the Sunday political talk shows, Rudy Guiliani was brutally admonished by Trump in front of colleagues for doing a terrible job.

“Everyone on the Trump campaign refused to appear on the Sunday morning talk shows except Rudy Guiliani.  Priebus, Christie, even the reliable, thick-armored, never-say-no Conway had scheduled.  All cancelled.”

“Guiliani gave, or tried to give, the same spiel on each show:  Trump’s words had been ‘reprehensible and terrible and awful,’ and he had apologized.” Trump was “changed” because of his “transformational” campaign.  Let’s talk about Hillary Clinton’s problems instead, her no longer suppressed Goldman Sachs speeches, her “private coziness with Wall Street that clashed with her liberal public positions.”

Surely by accident because he didn’t think Trump would win, Guiliani nonetheless astutely predicted, “The country would view that much more harshly.”

When he arrived on the campaign plane “seeming punch-drunk” because of the exhausting TV apology tour he just completed, Trump wasn’t pleased:

“‘Rudy, you’re a baby!’  Trump said loudly.  ‘I’ve never seen a worse defense of me in my life.  They took your diaper off right there.  You’re like a little baby that needed to be changed.  When are you going to be a man?'”

“He can’t defend me.  I need somebody to defend me.  Where are my people?”

“It was a mistake.  He shouldn’t have gone on.  He’s weak.  You’re weak, Rudy.  You’ve lost it.”

According to Woodward, “Guiliani just looked up, his face blank.”

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, October 6, 2018
10:52 p.m.

Published in: on October 6, 2018 at 10:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Revelations From Bob Woodward’s Donald Trump Book (Part One)

Last month, legendary Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward released his latest insider account of a sitting US President.  Fear: Trump In The White House tells the story of how the fraudulent New York hustler conned the electorate into voting him into the White House.

Those expecting a brilliant account of Trump’s long journey to his highest level of incompetence will be sadly disappointed.  The book feels premature (Trump’s not even halfway through his first term), it leaves out a lot of potentially interesting details (there’s next to nothing about Trump’s embattled communications team or the child separation border policy among other inexcusable omissions) and too much of it is the overly dry “he said this, he said that” pro-imperialist insider access accounting that is often taken as Gospel instead of being routinely scrutinized for the self-serving bullshit it is.

Regardless, there are still some revealing passages worth highlighting:

1. Donald Trump doesn’t think The New York Times is “fake news”.

In Chapter Two, Bob Woodward recounts an encounter in August 2016 between the GOP Presidential candidate and his then-campaign manager Paul Manafort at the Trump National Golf Club. Trump was pissed about this New York Times article which noted the failed collective effort to keep the orange one’s worst public impulses in check:

“Citing the New York Times story about the failure to tame his tongue, Trump asked Manafort how such an article could appear.  It was one of Trump’s paradoxes:  He attacked the mainstream media with relish, especially the Times–but despite the full-takedown language, he considered the Times the paper of record and largely believed its stories.”

When Steve Bannon attempted to discredit the report (“the story had a lot of these unnamed sources, we don’t know the veracity.”), Trump was adamant:

“No, I can tell…They’re leakers.”

As Woodword notes, “He knew the quotes were true.”  And so did Bannon despite his repeated attempts to calm Trump down:

“Bannon continued his full-body, opposition party pitch, though he knew the story was true.”

“Trump wasn’t buying it.  The story was gospel, and the campaign was full of leakers.”

2. Like the left, Steve Bannon knew two of Hillary Clinton’s biggest vulnerabilities: wars and free trade.

In that same meeting, a frustrated Trump, who was on the verge of firing Manafort (“He’s not really running the campaign.  I only brought him in to get me through the convention.”), listened intently to Bannon’s thematic pitch for his struggling campaign:

“Number one…we’re going to stop mass illegal immigration and start to limit legal immigration to get our sovereignty back.  Number two, you are going to bring manufacturing jobs back to the country.  And number three, we’re going to get out of these pointless foreign wars.”

Bannon argued persuasively that the Democratic Presidential nominee was extremely vulnerable on two of these issues (“…she’s part of the thing that cut the bad trade deals…and she’s the neocon….She’s supported every war out there.”).

Indeed, Clinton was a major champion of her husband’s soon-to-be-defunct NAFTA deal and the abandoned TPP which were both vehemently opposed by labour and leftists including her primary opponent Bernie Sanders.  And one of the reasons she didn’t get the Democratic nomination in 2008 was because she voted for the doomed Iraq invasion, a position that cost her big time in five crucial battleground states where numerous anti-war military families live.  She also supported the war against The Taliban in Afghanistan and was one of the chief architects of the Libya debacle.

3. Bannon urged Trump to continue being as off-the-cuff as possible to distinguish himself from Clinton.

At the end of his August 2016 pitch at the Trump National Golf Club, the then-Breitbart head made one last suggestion to the future President:

“Bannon added that Trump had another advantage.  He spoke in a voice that did not sound political. This was what Barack Obama had in 2008 in the primary contest against Clinton, who spoke like the trained politician she was.  Her tempo was overly practiced.  Even when telling the truth, she sounded like she was lying to you.

Politicians like Hillary can’t talk naturally, Bannon said.  It was a mechanical way of speaking, right out of the polling and focus groups, answering the questions in political speak.  It was soothing, not jarring, not from the heart or from deep conviction, but from some highly paid consultant’s talking points–not angry.”

Trump immediately hired Bannon to help run his campaign.

4. Paul Manafort showed Bannon an advanced copy of a New York Times article that marked the beginning of his downfall.

In Chapter Three, shortly after the meeting at the golf club, Trump’s then-campaign manager invited his new advisor to visit him in his Trump Tower apartment:

“‘I need you to look at something for me,’ Manafort said, handing him a copy of a draft story coming in from The New York Times headlined:  ‘Secret Ledger in Ukraine Lists Cash for Donald Trump’s Campaign Chief.’

Bannon read, ‘Handwritten ledgers show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort’ from the pro-Russian political party.”

A startled Bannon wondered if Trump knew this was coming (“Manafort said no.”) and asked how long Manafort himself was aware of the Times’ investigation (“Two months…”).

“Bannon read about 10 paragraphs in.  It was a kill shot.  It was over for Manafort.

‘My lawyer told me not to cooperate,’ Manafort said.  ‘It was just a hit piece.'”

Manafort protested his innocence (“It’s all lies…I had expenses.”) but Bannon wasn’t buying it and knew that Trump would flip his lid once he read the story.  Despite being advised by Bannon to warn the Republican candidate of his coming shitstorm, Manafort never told Trump about what he was up to in Ukraine.  He was later convicted on multiple felonies.

5. Anthony Scaramucci was right about Bannon.

From Chapter Three:

“As Bannon later remarked with his trademark profanity, ‘I reached out and sucked Reince Preibus’ dick on August 15 and told the establishment, we can’t win without you.'”

6. Trump wouldn’t have won without the RNC’s Obama-inspired big data operation.

Also from Chapter Three:

“Priebus had spent the last years overseeing a massive effort to rebuild the RNC into a data-driven operation.  Borrowing from Obama’s winning campaign strategy, the RNC started pouring vast sums–eventually more than $175 million–into analytics and big data, tracking individual primary voters, and using that information in areas divided into neighbourhood ‘turfs’ staffed with armies of volunteers.

All along, the expectation had been that once the Republican nominee was selected, the RNC would hitch this massive shiny new wagon to an already fairly robust and large campaign apparatus.”

Despite candidate Trump’s constant bashing of the RNC during the primaries (“a ‘disgrace'”, “a scam”, “Priebus ‘should be ashamed of himself'”), “the RNC was effectively the Trump campaign staff.”

From there, the RNC targeted the most likely Republican voters.  Top of the list were those who “scored a 90 or above on a scale of 0 to 100 in the national database.”

“In Ohio,” one of the important battleground states, “out of perhaps 6 million voters, approximately 1 million would score 90 or above.  Those 1 million would be targeted for early voting ballots, and the field staff and volunteers would hound each one until the ballot was sent in.”

“Next, the field staff would move to persuade those who scored 60 or 70, trying to convince them to vote for Trump.  The system was designed to reduce the randomness of voter contact, to make sure the volunteers and field staff concentrated their efforts on those most likely to vote for Trump.”

How specific were the details on individual Republican voters in the RNC database?  It gave the GOP “insight into almost everything about every likely voter–what beer they drank, the make and color of the car they drove, the age and school of their kids, their mortgage status, the cigarettes they smoked.  Did they get a hunting license every year?  Did they subscribe to gun magazines, or liberal magazines like The New Republic.”

7. Bannon was the only Trump campaign member that believed he would win.

Throughout Fear: Trump In The White House, Steve Bannon is stubbornly steadfast in his staunch support for the GOP nominee, despite everybody else in the campaign openly espousing significant doubts especially after receiving bad press.  In Chapter Three, after reviewing their campaign strategy:

“Bannon assured Trump, I have ‘metaphysical certitude you will win here if you stick to this script and compare and contrast’ with Hillary Clinton. ‘Every underlying number is with us.'”

“Bannon said he had seen data suggesting that Ohio and Iowa could be winnable.  Also they had to win Florida and North Carolina.  Then Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota could come back to the Republicans.  It all seemed like a giant fantasy.”

For the most part, he was proven right on election day.  Trump carried every one of those states except for Minnesota.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, October 6, 2018
10:33 p.m.

Published in: on October 6, 2018 at 10:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

50 Things I Loved About 2014

1. Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt at the Royal Rumble.  Two stellar talents putting on a clinic in the first match of a pay-per-view that easily bested the disappointing WrestleMania 30.

2. Jake “The Snake” Roberts’ WWE Hall of Fame induction speech.  Poignant, cathartic, painfully honest & even funny.  A much deserved honour for a superior ring psychologist.  Thanks for “masturbating our emotions”.

3. Coldplay’s Ghost Stories.  Who knew a “conscious uncoupling” would lead to a lovely set of tunes?

4. Rob Ford is no longer the Mayor of Toronto & Doug Ford is no longer on Toronto City Council.

5. Dylan Farrow’s powerful statement on the New York Times website against her estranged father & childhood abuser, Woody Allen.  It opened up a wide ranging public conversation about sexual assault & the celebrity assailants who often get away with it.

6. The executive summary of the CIA torture report was finally released after multiple delays.  Despite excessive redactions, its shocking revelations should inspire worldwide pressure to prosecute all guilty parties, past and present, even though the Obama Administration is very reluctant to do so themselves, the fucking depraved cowards.

7. Bruce Springsteen’s long awaited studio recording of American Skin (41 Shots).  His timing couldn’t have better.  The song of the year.

8. Germany won the World Cup for the 4th time while defending 2010 champions Spain didn’t even get out of their own group.

9. Jian Ghomeshi & Bill Cosby were finally exposed for the serial predators they’ve secretly always been for decades.  More proof that “nice guy” images are powerfully deceptive.  May their many victims finally get justice after all these decades.

10. Glenn Greenwald’s thoroughly frightening No Place To Hide.  The book of the year.

11. The ending of the final Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson.  Very funny homages to The Drew Carey Show, Newhart & The Sopranos.

12. “We’ll Meet Again”, the charming, strangely moving celebrity sing-a-long from the last Colbert Report.  The fake conservative pundit character might be resting in a coffin somewhere but the lid isn’t sealed.

13. Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H at WrestleMania 30.  The match of the year.  The post-match steel chair beatdown by H on Bryan’s arm was brutality at its finest.

14. Daniel Bryan winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, his 4th such title, at that same event.  Despite a slow start, the Triple Threat match with Randy Orton & Batista ultimately evolved into an entertaining main event featuring the pinnacle of the most unlikely babyface superstar of all time.  The right guy went over that night.

15. Interpol’s El Pintor.  Still plumbing the darkness for sexual release, this time without Carlos D.  Let’s not take another four years for album number six, ok guys?

16. Being asked to become a Huffington Post Contributor.  Seven posted pieces, thus far, with hopefully many more to come.  Talk about a big career break.  If only it was a paying gig.

17. Robyn Doolittle’s Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story.  Just a small, fascinating taste of the insanity that is the Ford Family, plus a revealing look at how a difficult series of stories came together at The Toronto Star.  I’d love to see a sequel.  God knows there’s more than enough material for one.

18. Canada’s performance at the Winter Olympics.  Winning 25 medals four years after winning a record-setting 26 in Vancouver is pretty god damn impressive.

19. The eruption sequence in Pompeii.  Too bad the rest of the film isn’t as fun to watch.

20. U2’s Songs Of Innocence, the two-disc version.  There’s still plenty of vitality flowing through these middle aged bodies.

21. Weezer’s Everything Will Be Alright In The End.  The record Blue Album fans have been waiting 20 years to hear.  Rivers Cuomo’s voice hasn’t aged a day & he still has a trunkful of catchy melodies to share with the world.

22. Green Day is going into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame next year.  Fuck you, Johnny Rotten.

23. The astonishing fall of former LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling.  What took so long?

24. Invisible Children is on the verge of extinction.  You won’t be missed, phony White Savours.  Kony 2012 was an absolute fucking failure.

25. The #BlackLivesMatter movement.  The spirit of Martin Luther King lives on in a peaceful yet rightfully pissed off community tired of systemic mistreatment & disrespect by governments & law enforcement.  May they succeed in their ongoing quest for real change.  A tip of the hat as well to protesting fast food workers, Canada’s native community for demanding an inquiry into missing women & girls as well as fighting against the construction of new gas & oil pipelines and Palestinians for fighting their evil Israeli occupiers.  Righteous, moral courage is contagious.  May we all catch it.

26. Sloan’s Commonwealth.  More melodic elegance from The Canadian Beatles.

27. Belle Knox.  Smart, honest, defiant, ballsy & incredibly sexy.  After being outed by an asshole schoolmate at Duke University, she made the absolute most of a scary situation.  An excellent writer whose young voice will only grow stronger & smarter over time.  She’s also very sweet.

28. Mr. T’s hilarious yet completely sincere WWE Hall of Fame speech, an incredible tribute to his mom.  He shouldn’t have been cut off, though.  Let the man get all his thoughts out, for Christ’s sake.

29. CNN’s explosive reports on Veteran Affairs hospitals in the US shamefully covering up long waiting lists for patients, an uncomfortable reminder that governments still don’t give a shit about the damaged people who implement their heartless & failed foreign policies.  Drew Griffin deserves much praise for his dogged work.

30. Edward Snowden’s prime time interview with NBC’s Brian Williams.  He is the strongest, living reason to impeach President Obama.

31. The continuing bombshell reports on the NSA’s illegal, immoral mass surveillance programs.  Snowden’s whistleblowing continues to reverberate around the world.  Keep sweating, President Obama.

32. Recreational marijuana became legally available for sale in Oregon & Washington State.  The beginning of the end of the war on pot.  How much longer before everyone wants a piece of this lucrative action?

33. Michael Sam became the first openly gay player to be drafted by the NFL.  If only he had beaten up little kids & grown women, he’d be on a team right now.

34. The Intercept.  Finally rolling with regular updates, it’s the best new news site out there right now.  Fiercely adversarial & consistently revelatory.  Glenn Greenwald was absolutely right to leave The Guardian for this venture.

35. Kim Kardashian’s beautiful bare ass.  I like big butts & I cannot lie.

36. Damien Mizdow, The Miz’ stunt double.  Hilarious, despite being somewhat of a comedown from “The Intellectual Saviour of the Masses” gimmick.  On the plus side, however, he’s finally gotten a title push.

37. Big Wreck’s Ghosts.  Yes, Ian Thornley can scream like Chris Cornell but that’s part of the appeal.  Nearly 20 years after In Loving Memory Of…, they can still bring the rock.

38. Lana Del Rey’s inescapably dreamy West Coast.  I finally get it.

39. Police in Holland arrested a man they believed shamed & tormented Amanda Todd online to the point of suicide.  As CBC’s The Fifth Estate revealed, there are dozens more victims in multiple countries including Canada.  It is such a shame his arrest couldn’t have happened much sooner.  Todd may very well still be alive.  God knows it was possible.  But in a story full of so much tragedy, this very positive development may finally get us closer to understanding the full truth.

40. Antonio Cesaro bodyslamming The Big Show over the top rope to win the first ever Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 30.  Also, the handshake at the end was classy.  The Swiss Superman should’ve turned ‘face that night, one of the many fuck-ups the WWE made in 2014.

41. Barack Obama apologist Sophia Bush is still blocking me on Twitter, 18 months and counting.  My second proudest writing achievement next to becoming a Huffington Post Contributor.

42. Edward Snowden was given permission to stay in Russia for three more years, far away from the corrupt tentacles of Obama’s evil National Security State.  Plus, his girlfriend is now living with him.  Suck on that, Michael Hayden, you lying, spying, torturing, bald piece of shit.

43. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s numerous, growing political scandals including the now infamous George Washington Bridge closing.  May his political reputation continue to take the critical beating that it deserves.

44. Eric Cantor surprisingly lost a primary and resigned from Congress.  Now he can enjoy all the Britney Spears concerts he wants.

45. Eric Holder announced his forthcoming resignation as Attorney General.  His legacy will be decidedly mixed.  His constant hounding of whistleblowers & journalists, James Risen in particular, should not be forgotten or forgiven.

46. Egypt’s sham “justice system” which punishes critics, members of the Muslim Brotherhood & journalists doing their jobs like the Al Jazeera Three, & Obama’s continued financing of it.  Disgraceful on so many levels.

47. Lenny Kravitz’ Strut, which features some of his sexiest & most soulful arrangements.  Glad he’s still rocking out.  It’s not fair that he’s better looking than me, though.

48. Rachel Nichols’ welcome, adversarial grilling of serial woman beater Floyd Mayweather on CNN.  I wish every journalist treated him like the disgusting misogynist that he is.  Iron Mike Gallego’s stinging round-up of his criminal acts on DeadSpin deserves high praise, as well.

49. Sheldon Cooper telling his girlfriend Amy Farrah Fowler that he loves her for the first time, then kicking her out of his bedroom because girls aren’t allowed in there on The Big Bang Theory.  Perfect.

50. Eugenie Bouchard & Milos Raonic’s grand slam breakthroughs.  How long before either of them take home a major championship for Canada?

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, December 29, 2014
3:06 a.m.

Overlooked Quotes From Jian Ghomeshi’s 1982 (Part Three)

35. “I was too nervous to actually be aroused by the occasional lurid activity happening onscreen.  [Ghomeshi & some high school pals snuck in to see the R-rated Cat People in a Toronto multiplex after paying tickets to see something else.]  But I saw this as an opportunity for education.  It was all about sex.  I was committed to discovering more about sex.  And I wanted to be old enough to watch Cat People [You had to be 18 & over to see it in Canada.  Ghomeshi was 15 at the time of its theatrical release.]…And I had increasingly become preoccupied with girls.”
(Chapter 11, p.234)

36. “The truth is, seeing Wendy with another guy was strangely liberating.  It sanctioned a whole new world of carnal possibilities for me.  It allowed me to follow my libido with no reservations…Wendy had been a tremendous romantic aspiration for me…But Wendy had never really been a sexual fantasy.  Not once.  I really didn’t want to have sex with Wendy.  I wanted to be with Wendy.  And in my early teens, those were two very different desires.

Sometimes you could have a dream girl and not want to have sex with her.”
(Chapter 11, p.238)

37. “If there was one thing I was definitely interested in by the time I hit Grade 9, it was sex.  And girls.  Any girls.  And now my heart had some sort of free pass.”
(Chapter 11, p.239)

38. “Kim Inglewood and I had stripped naked at her house [when we were Grade 8 students], and I had pursued a forensic fascination with her chest.  I stared at her breasts with a mixture of excitement and curiosity and then tried to caress them in a seductive way that would turn her on.  I had no idea what I was doing.  I remember looking up to see a befuddled expression on Kim Inglewood’s face as she stared at me staring at her naked breasts…I’m not really sure she really enjoyed it.  Kim Inglewood and I never really said that much to each other.  But I liked her.  Or at least, I liked her breasts…Part of the problem was that I didn’t have the benefit of pornography.  That might have helped.”
(Chapter 11, p.239)

39. “…we had pornography, it existed, but it was virtually inaccessible to kids.  This was a real liability.  Without porn, how were we supposed to learn how sex was done?  Of course, pornography was often sexist, exploitative, patriarchal, and full of the wrong messages about human relationships and intimacy.”
(Chapter 11, p.240)

40. “Benny was a thirteen-year-old reading this stuff [used Penthouse books purchased from a neighbour’s garage sale] to a bunch of eleven-year-olds [including Ghomeshi].  I never quite understood what I was supposed to be experiencing when I listened to Benny read tales from Sex Takes A Holiday, but I know it was exciting.  It was also illicit and somehow very wrong.  That made it more exciting.”
(Chapter 11, pgs.243-4)

41. “Starting in 1980, I would host sleepovers at my place on Friday nights…we would turn on our console TV with the volume very low and quietly watch the [softcore Baby Blue] movies on channel 79 [Citytv] in our sleeping bags.  Sometimes there was snickering.  Sometimes there was silence.  Sometimes there were other sounds.”
(Chapter 11, p.244)

42. “Paula Silverman helped me learn the ropes when it came to some mutual sexual exploration in Grade 9.  By ‘learn the ropes’, I mean she allowed me to grope her.  And she groped back…”
(Chapter 11, p.251)

43. “You see, the good news about high school is that, for the most part, over the course of your time there, things get better.  That is, you get older.  And as you get older and move into the higher grades, there are waves of young new recruits who enter the school and struggle to build their courage and get their bearings the way you once did.  So you can look at the younger students and laugh at them, and then you feel better about yourself.  That is what high school is ultimately designed for:  laughing at others to feel better.”
(Chapter 12, pgs.260-1)

44. “My crush on Janelle felt strangely mature.  I felt little of the nervousness and insecurity that had come with Wendy.  On one of our first occasions alone in the hallways of Thornlea, I had spontaneously kissed Janelle on the lips outside the photography room.  I remember her looking quite shocked and commenting on how I had some gall to do such a thing…soon we were seeing each other regularly.”
(Chapter 12, p.262)

45. “Janelle…was what others would see as an ideal partner.  But we didn’t actually become boyfriend and girlfriend…At least, I never fully acknowledged us that way.  She asked me on a couple of occasions if I was her boyfriend, and I changed the subject.  Maybe Janelle was just too good for what I was ready for.  She was not my sexual fantasy girl or ersatz New Wave role model.  She was solid and real.  That probably scared me.”
(Chapter 12, pgs.262-3)

46. “By early December [1982], my countdown [high school] dance event at Thornlea was set to become a reality…Voting to choose the most popular songs was held with good intentions each year, but the results would somehow end up mirroring my interests.  I accept that this looks suspicious.”
(Chapter 12, p.268)

47. “Janelle and I agreed that if we weren’t too preoccupied running the event, we should dance the final dance together…’You better save ‘In The Air Tonight’ for me,’ she said.”
(Chapter 12, p.270)

48. “As promised, we heard the opening keyboard notes and drum machine sample of ‘In The Air Tonight.’…I suddenly wasn’t sure what to do.  Wendy was standing in front of me…At the same moment I realized I had totally forgotten about Janelle…I could see Janelle approaching.  This was the song she loved.  This was the song we’d talked about dancing to.  I didn’t look at her.  I didn’t want to look at her…I turned fully towards Wendy.  She looked up at me and extended her right hand.

‘So…you want to dance to this?’

I took her hand.

Wendy and I started slow dancing.  I soon had my arms around her waist and was pulling her closer to me…This was all happening as it should.”
(Chapter 12, pgs.276-7)

49. “I was ready to take the initiative…The new confidence I felt inspired physical action.  I pulled Wendy closer to me and looked straight down into her eyes.  The look on Wendy’s face was curious.  It seemed to suggest some confusion or hesitance or excitement.  I couldn’t tell which, but I sensed it was excitement.  It must have been excitement.  I pushed my lips into Wendy’s and gave her a long kiss.  I could feel her kissing me back…The song [Phil Collins’ In The Air Tonight] was over.  Wendy pulled away a little and pretended to fan herself with her right hand.  ‘Well, I didn’t really expect that!’ she said with a laugh.  She had a strange sparkle in her eye.

‘There’s a lot you don’t know about me, Wendy.’

[snip]

The dance was officially over.  Wendy shifted away from me slightly, but I kept my arm around her.  She didn’t move it.

[snip]

[Wendy said] ‘I just have to get my coat.  I’ll be back in a minute, okay?'”
(Chapter 12, pgs.277-8)

50. “Wendy walked towards the back of the gym and into the hallway beyond, where everyone had left their coats.  I turned and spotted Janelle by the exit.  I looked directly at her….I wasn’t entirely sure what to do.  I gave a little wave of my hand but got no response.  She had an expression on her face that I’d never seen.  It was devoid of emotion.  No familiarity, no engagement, but no sadness, either.  Nothing.  The characteristic warmth I’d grown to depend on in Janelle was absent.  There was no acknowledgement.  I’m quite sure she saw me, but she hurried towards the doors.

I turned away.  I thought about my kiss with Wendy.  I could still taste her lips.

[snip]

The coat check was probably backed up.  It had been more than 10 minutes…I saw the students in charge of the coat check putting away the tables in the hallway.  The doors were now closed.

I waited.”
(Chapter 12, p.278-9)

51. “To my fluffy, dutiful traveling companion, Big Ears.”
(Acknowledgements, p.284)

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, December 6, 2014
3:14 p.m.

Published in: on December 6, 2014 at 3:14 pm  Comments (1)  

Overlooked Quotes From Jian Ghomeshi’s 1982 (Part Two)

19. “After one of our performances [Ghomeshi played Tom Snout in a high school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream wearing make-up & “a shirt that looked like a dress”. (p.194)], Mike Farnell’s friend saw me in the communal changing area & bluntly asked me if I was gay.  I wasn’t sure if it would be a good thing or not to tell this guy I was gay.  Maybe he was gay.  Maybe he would like it if I were gay, too.  I said no.  But I wasn’t entirely sure.  And nor would I have thought it a bad thing to be gay.  Maybe the make-up and the mauve dress I had to wear as Tom Snout were a message sent from above.  I certainly liked Bowie.  He was a man who sometimes dressed like a woman.  And I was smitten with Wendy partly because she was like Bowie.  I was obsessing over a girl who reminded me of a man who dressed like a girl.  These were confusing times.”
(Chapter 9, p.195)

20. “On the subway ride home [from the 1982 Police Picnic CNE concert], Wendy and I didn’t say much to each other…After Eglinton station, the crowded subway car emptied enough for us to share seats next to each other facing the direction of home.  Wendy and I were both looking straight ahead. I was tired…I suddenly became very intimidated by the thought of doing anything that Wendy might consider uncool.”
(Chapter 9, pgs.203-4)

21. “I’d certainly deduced that girls fancied rock singers.”
(Chapter 10, p.207)

22. “The morning announcements were a thankless endeavour but a big step into prominence by my standards…Somehow, I took the place of our vice-principal…The vice-principal…had been holding down the morning announcements duty for the first few months of my Grade 9 year.  He had a temper that could spring up like burnt toast…Some students later claimed they overheard the vice-principal…curtly say ‘Oh, fuck it.’ over the PA system [Ghomeshi claims the VP was having trouble properly cuing up to the beginning of a cassette version of O Canada one fateful morning.  It “proved to be his breaking point” which is why Ghomeshi took over for him “every morning” in “early 1982″.]…It wouldn’t be something a vice-principal was supposed to say to an audience of students.”
(Chapter 10, pgs.208-9)

23. “Once [while doing the morning announcements], I used a Bowie quote from the song ‘What In The World’ on the album Low about being out of control and in the mood for love…’What in the world can you do, I’m in the mood for your love’ would later become my graduating quote in the Thornlea yearbook in 1986.”
(Chapter 10, p. 210)

24. “No popularity came from being the kid who informed everyone that schoolwork had to begin.  And it’s not as if girls would like a guy because he did the morning announcements.  Not even the nerdy girls…But I was good at it.  And one time, when Paula Silverman found out I was the voice, she told me I sounded ‘sexy.’  And she wore short shorts.  And her compliment made me feel good, because I figured I was like a broadcaster — a ‘sexy’ broadcaster.  And being a broadcaster seemed cool.”
(Chapter 10, p. 211)

25. “…I was confused in Grade 9…there were times when I couldn’t quiet the voices in my head.  The voices would remind me I was a fake.  An imposter…the voices in my head were a reminder of my ongoing life as an imposter.  The voices would also point out that I wasn’t who I was made out to be in song…It wasn’t about how I sang.  My singing didn’t really suck.  The point was, the quality of my singing was not the point if I wasn’t sure who I was.  I was confused.”
(Chapter 10, pgs.211-2)

26. “If only I could sing the lyrics [to Ebony & Ivory during a concert] like I meant them.  If only I could really believe I wasn’t a fraud.”
(Chapter 10, p. 214)

27. “It was positive being in the presence of Bob [Ghomeshi’s high school music teacher who insisted students call him by his first name.].  He seemed to exist in a perennially jovial state.  I only once saw Bob get angry and lose his temper…I could see that Bob was getting angry at the [off-beat] tapping [by a “rhythmically challenged” singer].  Midway through [Toto’s] ‘Africa’, Bob suddenly stopped playing and slammed the piano cover down over the keys.

‘If you’re going to tap along, make sure you do it in time!’

Bob was steaming mad…I’d never seen him like that.  And it didn’t make sense that a normal person would become so bothered by a rhythmic transgression.  That’s when I knew he was a real drummer.  He was badass about rhythm.  That’s when I knew Bob was one of us.”
(Chapter 10, p.217)

28. “Singers aren’t always filled with glee.  They can be quite morose.”
(Chapter 10, p.218)

29. “Kim [Richardson, daughter of singer Jackie Richardson; Ghomeshi “would later become very close friends” with her “and know her mom as Auntie Jackie.” (p.221)] was tall & had really, really big breasts.  When she wore her tight Van Halen T-shirts, her breasts were emphasized, and it was hard not to look at them, even though it was not right to be looking at them.”
(Chapter 10, p.222)

30. “Kim was one of the best singers around…She was a dear friend and had distractingly large breasts.”
(Chapter 10, p.227)

31. “Maybe this [concert where he sang Ebony & Ivory with Kim as a duet] was another colourful example of the paradox that was me in 1982 and beyond.  I was a terribly sensitive and insecure soul who wanted to be accepted.  I wanted to fade into the woodwork.  And yet I never shied away from putting myself out there in some form of potentially masochistic public adventure.  It’s like I needed to keep proving to myself as much as to others that I wouldn’t succumb to judgment.  So, as much as I feared being disliked, I created the conditions where I might polarize reaction…I would soldier on and pursue my passions–sometimes recklessly toying with the implications.  Maybe not all that much has changed as I’ve gotten older.  For most of my life, people have assumed I’m a confident guy with a Teflon exterior.  That you could say anything about me–or to me–and it will just wash away because of the strength of my ego or character.  That’s pretty much the opposite of the truth.  But criticism has never fully prevented me from pursuing my goals or what I believed in.  I somehow wouldn’t let it.”
(Chapter 10, pgs.228-9)

32. “Kim and I stood at the front, singing along and doing a tw0-step dance the way Sonny and Cher would have done, if Cher had been a tall black woman with giant breasts and Sonny had been a skinny Middle Eastern kid.”
(Chapter 10, p.230)

33. “…a confused ethnic kid with New Wave clothing and brownish skin earned applause for playing the role of Ivory at my biggest concert to date.  I started to think of it as a character that I was playing.  That’s right.  Maybe I was increasingly just a character.  That’s what Bowie had done for most of his career.  Maybe it was okay.”
(Chapter 10, p.231)

34. “There were some messed-up sides of me that I decided Wendy simply didn’t need to see.”
(Chapter 10, p.231)

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, December 6, 2014
2:44 p.m.

Published in: on December 6, 2014 at 2:44 pm  Comments (1)  

Overlooked Quotes From Jian Ghomeshi’s 1982 (Part One)

Two years ago, then-CBC broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi published a memoir.  Entitled 1982, it mostly focuses on his first year of high school.  It’s not a very good book.  Ok, there’s a sweet chapter about him & a friend meeting two members of Rush outside a recording studio, an amusing Gowan observation, some welcome Persian insight & occasionally charming parental anecdotes, but overall, it’s unamusingly repetitive, self-indulgent, often asskissy and remarkably patronizing.  Ghomeshi often explains things based on the faulty presumption that his readers are all complete idiots.  (We know what a tape deck is, jackass.)

But in the aftermath of damning media reports (mostly from the Toronto Star & indie journo Jesse Brown) that led to his recent arrest on multiple sexual assault charges, the book can’t help but be read in a whole different context today, particularly the following 51 quotes:

1. “Can you even remember a time before you were creeping photos of ‘hot’ people on Facebook?  Barely.”
(Prologue, p. xiv)

2. “I knew what a whorehouse was.  I knew it was a place were hookers worked.  It was probably a house full of sexy whores.  I knew this because I had seen something similar on the Friday-night Baby Blue Movies on Citytv when my parents were upstairs.”
(Chapter 1, p. 14)

3. “There were no ‘crack-whore’ streets or red-light districts…I wish I could say that Thornhill[, Ontario] has since devolved into a dangerous ‘hood filled with hookers & crime-ridden back alleys.  I wish I could tell you that my old stomping grounds have become bloodied and busted.  That would be cred.  But I can’t.”
(Chapter 1, p.19)

4. “[My mother] seemed to overlook the minor detail that my name was Jian and I was the only ethnic kid on the street, other than the Olsons.  And the Olsons were black.  And black wasn’t really ethnic.”
(Chapter 2, p.26)

5. “You probably know that song [Dan Hill’s Sometimes When We Touch] and that end part [“I wanna hold you till I die/Till we both break down and cry/I want to hold you till the fear in me subsides”].  And that sentiment would strike a very poignant chord in therapy sessions a couple of decades later.”
(Chapter 2, p.33)

6. “We didn’t have text messages or Facebook or IM-ing or DM-ing or BBM-ing in the 80s.  Communicating with someone you liked involved high-stakes exposure and risk.”
(Chapter 3, p.49)

7. “Forbes was probably about six feet tall, but he seemed even taller because he had a spiked mohawk hairdo atop his six feet.  He had army pants on & a white tank top.  In later years, this kind of shirt would be referred to as a ‘wife beater’.  But at the time it was just a tank top. Or ‘white shirt with no sleeves’.”
(Chapter 3, p.56)

8. “…I was a different kind of unique…I didn’t really fit in…My search for appropriate role models often came up empty.  And being myself didn’t seem a very appealing option.”
(Chapter 4, p.68)

9. “Mitch Toker carried a knife & had a reputation for being ‘wild’.  I had secretly hoped that Mitch would hook up with my older sister, Jila, when I was in Grade 7.  That way, he would have to like me so my sister wouldn’t break up with him.  I tried to get them together on at least 3 occasions.  But one day, when Jila came to meet me at Toke’s house on our way to the mall, Mitch made the wrong move.  Seems that as Jila was waiting outside, Mitch called down to her while hanging out of one of the upper windows with no clothing on.  Jila did not witness his whole naked body, but she could certainly see his bare chest…She [later] explained that she had not been impressed with Mitch’s insistence upon ‘dangling from the window & displaying his naked torso’… Things didn’t look too positive after that for a Mitch & Jila romance.”
(Chapter 6, pgs.121-2)

10. “John Ruttle wanted to ask Valerie Tiberius to go to the Journey concert, but he didn’t want her to feel like it was too much of a date.  He wanted her to think it wasn’t a date, even though he wanted it to be a date.  You see, if it felt too much like a date, she might say no.  I learned that this was often the case with girls.  They wanted to be taken out, but if it seemed like it was a date, it might create too much pressure and ‘expectations’.”
(Chapter 7, p.133)

11.  “Mothers are natural arbiters of people you want to date.  Or people you think you want to date.  Or people you want to take on a date but are trying to do it in a way that won’t be considered a date so they won’t say no.”
(Chapter 7, p.135)

12. “Experiencing a loss can make you forget about putting on airs.  Maybe that’s what happened after I lost my Adidas bag.  [Forbes threw it at Joan Jett during her set with The Blackhearts at the 1982 Police Picnic concert at the CNE.]  Or maybe it was a genetic predisposition to react calmly to catastrophe.  My father had a knack for bringing calm to a storm.  He could react with impressive composure when truly horrible things went down…My father could be calm when we needed him to be.  Maybe that had rubbed off on me.”
(Chapter 8, pgs.163-4)

13. “I should explain that by ‘a drink’, I mean a Coca-Cola.  Actually, I mean 2 Cokes…I know that ‘a drink’ sounds like alcohol.  That’s why I said it.  That would be cool.  But this wasn’t alcohol.  And whether it was alcohol or not, I liked the idea of taking care of Wendy and showing her I could assume control.”
(Chapter 8, p.165)

14. “…that was the image I had of goth guys in the summer of ’82.  Non-eaters.  Maybe I thought real goths would have some rule confining them to consume only cool & gross things like human blood or imitation human blood.”
(Chapter 8, p.166)

15. “[The Talking Heads] were like Bowie.  Especially David Byrne  Just like Bowie, David Byrne would have had trouble fitting in on any given day in Thornhill.  He was artsy & odd.  And Bowie was odd.  And knowing this gave me confidence.  Their existence meant I wasn’t weird.  Or rather, that I might be weird, but that it was okay.  Or that it was acceptable to want to be weird.”
(Chapter 9, p.180)

16. “One other essential tenet of the Theatre Troupe experience was sex.  That came with the territory, too.  Sexual cross-pollination seemed to be part of the burden of being a dedicated theatre student in [Room] 213 [of Ghomeshi’s Thornhill high school].  This was not mandated by the teachers, of course, but developed quite naturally amongst those enrolled in the program.  Almost all of the students dutifully obliged in the sex part.  I was a novice in this area, but eager to learn.  The truth was, I was generally too intimidated to act on anything with the older Troupe members.  Not yet.  That was all way beyond me at this point.”
(Chapter 9, p.183)

17. “My replies [to my father] were generally delivered in a patronizing tone.  That was important.  It demonstrated that I was ridiculing his mistaken ideas.”
(Chapter 9, p.184)

18. “To tell you the truth, notwithstanding some silly moments, it was in Theatre Troupe that I got much of my greatest high school education.  It was in Troupe that I truly learned to question everything.  The news.  History.  Ideas.  Traditions.  Laws.  And this questioning came in very handy.  I would later learn that questioning everything is called ‘critical thinking.'”
(Chapter 9, p.187)

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, December 6, 2014
2:03 p.m.

Published in: on December 6, 2014 at 2:04 pm  Comments (1)