Game of Thrones = Lost?

No, it doesn’t.  But this past week’s episode was absurd in so many ways (here’s 27 of them in a nice Vox piece).  What I especially hate is that the “plan” is so dumb and so transparently an ill-conceived excuse for more North of the Wall, undead conflict stuff (which I find utterly boring, but which many seem to love).  Vox:

Who truly believes that seeing a wight will actually convince Cersei to join Jon and Daenerys in battling the White Walkers?…

And last but definitely not least: Why did no one, out of everyone in this entire all-star war council, realize how dumb the whole “capture a wight” plan was from the start?

And Megan Garber brings in some disturbing Lost (a show I totally loved and also felt very much let down by, in the end) in a nice Atlantic post:

As my colleague Spencer Kornhaber put it, “The fuzziness with time just adds to the impression that this is a story driven by coincidence and expedience rather than logic.” And it suggests a certain sloppiness in a show that has otherwise been so precise in its world-building—a sloppiness that asks other questions: Will Game of Thrones keep jumping sharks? Will it nuke fridges? Will it take the good faith it has built up over nearly seven seasons and squander it? Could it, in the end, go the way of Lost, its myths busted, its key questions unresolved?

Also, I’ll go back to one of my themes I first hit years ago.  The Lord of Light is awesome!  Why would anybody stick with the old gods when the Lord of Light can slay your enemies, resurrect you, and give you awesome fire swords?!

As I said to my wife, “bad Game of Thrones is still better than most other TV,” but I’d strongly prefer a return to good Game of Thrones.  And, sure, it’s fantasy, some suspension of disbelief is okay, but in expecting such a ridiculous amount of suspension of disbelief it really is an insult to viewers.

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The non-president president

Listened to a terrific podcast discussion between Ezra Klein and Chris Hayes (a really, really smart guy who I haven’t respected enough earlier because he hosts a TV show).  Ezra followed that up with this post about Trump which, I think, makes a lot of sense:

In a recent interview on my podcast, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes outlined a theory as to why. He argued that it’s wrong to see this as the government defying the president. This, he thinks, is exactly how Trump wants it:

I don’t think the president wants to be in charge. I think he wants to sit on his couch and yell at his TV screen and tweet things, but he’s almost happy to be able to kind of get it out of his system and not have anyone listen to him. I think his optimal equilibrium is hectoring Jeff Sessions but Jeff Sessions not quitting, or tweeting out the thing about transgender service members and the military ignoring him, or tweeting out threats to North Korea and not actually changing American posture. [emphases mine]

I think that that we have arrived at a new equilibrium in which both the interior members of his staff, the actual federal bureaucracy, the US Congress, the US public, the global public, and global leaders all basically understand the president is fundamentally a bullshit artist and you just shouldn’t listen to what he says…

The presidency Trump wants is one in which he can say whatever he likes but other people do the work and ignore him when necessary. Chief of Staff John Kelly seems to understand that:

As the new White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly routes all calls to and from President Trump through the White House switchboard, where he can sign off on them. He stanches the flow of information reaching the president’s desk. And he requires that all staff members — including Trump’s relatives — go through him to reach the president.

American politics is hurtling toward a very strange place. The president of the United States is clearly unfit for the job, but the good news, to the extent that there is good news, is that everyone around him knows it, and he is willing to be sidelined as long as no one takes away his phone. Whether he is being marginalized by his own administration or choosing to marginalize himself I don’t know, but Bannon’s ouster is another piece of evidence that Trump is interested in Twitter, not Trumpism.

Frank Bruni hit some similar points in his latest:

This is a question of more than competence. It’s a question of basic interest, and when I look back through the lens of the present wreckage at all that’s happened since Trump descended that escalator in Trump Tower in June 2015, I see clearly that he never in fact wanted or set out to be president, not as the position is conventionally or correctly defined.

He revealed that repeatedly as he rejected the traditional rules and usual etiquette, refusing to release his tax returns, bragging about his penis size, feuding with the Muslim father of a fallen American soldier and electing puerility over poetry at nearly every meaningful moment.

Because of his victories in the Republican primary and then the general election, his campaign was hailed for its tactical genius. But it was driven by, and tailored to, his emotional cravings. All that time on Twitter wasn’t principally about a direct connection to voters. It was a way to stare at an odometer of approval and monitor, in real time, how broadly his sentiments were being liked and shared.

Applause. Greater brand exposure. A new layer of perks atop an existence already lavish with them. Utter saturation of Americans’ consciousness. These were his foremost goals. Governing wasn’t, and that was obvious in his haziness and dishonesty before Election Day and in his laziness and defiance after.

Yep.  As horrible as Trump is, I do think we should be glad that he’s horrible and incompetent rather than horrible and competent.

Who Trump hates the most?

Why the media, of course.  Frank Luntz (I know!) nails it:

Of course, in his crazy Arizona speech, Trump was pathetically complaining that he mentioned the Neo-Nazis and KKK by name in his lame, pre-written speech on Monday and didn’t get fair credit.  Of course, to anybody who understands how humans actually work, its the difference between a genuine heartfelt apology and the “apologize to your sister for hitting her before you can have some ice cream” sort of apology.  And we all know what Trump really wanted to say (many sides!!) about the Neo-Nazi’s and racists.

Photo of the day

Enjoyed this Audubon gallery of birds looking right into the camera:


 Red-tailed Hawk.  Kimberley Caruso/Audubon Photography Awards

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