Catching Up On the News, Alas

Hey! Hey, Scalzi! It’s me, your imaginary interlocutor!

Oh, you again. I thought I got rid of you.

Only while you were on tour, pal! Now I’m back and here to ask you more leading questions about politics so you can rant!

(sighs) Fine, but I’m keeping my answers short.

Sure you are.

Shut up. What’s the first question?

Trump: The first one hundred days. Your verdict?

I mean, it was an abject shit show of incompetence, and we should be glad for that, yes? Because he (and to be fair, the rest of the GOP) have managed to do nothing but set their own balls on fire and then run around screaming “My balls! They are on fire!”, people still have health insurance and most of our constitutional rights are still more or less intact. If any of these yutzes had any idea what they were doing, we’d be in a lot more trouble. You don’t want authoritarians in power, but if you must have them, and apparently we must, might as well make them fumbling doofuses.

With that said, it’s enervating to have a president who is so willfully ignorant and divorced from actual reality. Trump is the least popular president in history 100 days in, and has accomplished almost nothing — certainly not anything he campaigned on, other than terrorizing innocent brown people and/or Muslims — and yet he and everyone who works for him will maintain they’re just the greatest and the problem is the media, and not, say, the fact he’s an incurious lump of shit who is bitter that he can’t just wave his hands to make things happen, and maybe he’ll actually have to, you know, do work. I’m gonna have to look at his stupid mug for another 1300 days. And he’s embarrassing every damn day.

Also, let’s be clear, his incompetence doesn’t mean he’s not doing damage. He and his pals are merrily wiping out climate change data on government Web sites, attempting to ditch net neutrality and desperately trying to make coal happen again, and aside from that pissing on anything the Obamas did, because a big chunk of Trump’s base hates the Obamas, seeing as they were black Muslim socialists from Africa. It adds up.

Speaking of Trump’s supporters, none of his them seem to be unhappy with him, despite his overall low polling. They did that poll that showed less than 2% of them would change their vote, even now.

Well, but he really hasn’t been able to do anything substantial to them, so why would they be upset with him? None of his blustering nonsense has had any impact on their lives yet. And the only thing that he has been able to do — terrorize innocent brown people and/or Muslims — is just peachy with a fair slice of them. They think he’s still fighting the good fight. They’re not going to turn on him until the jobs don’t come back and they lose their health insurance again because he and the GOP have managed to bring back pre-existing conditions as an excuse to let people go bankrupt or die. And even then some of them won’t abandon him, because in the US we’ve managed to drag down the level of political discourse to “Yay go my sportsball team!” and also because no one likes being wrong.

Which is tragic and sad, because in 100 days Trump has become exactly the sort of person so many Trump supporters thought they were tossing out — or more accurately, has remained the person so many Trump supporters thought they were tossing out, but deluded themselves into thinking otherwise because her emails, man. Everyone who voted for Trump because they thought Clinton was a warmonger too close to Goldman Sachs, and griped that Obama golfed too much, should probably just go crawl into a hole for the duration.

Any thoughts on Trump’s cast of characters? 

Outside of the generals (now that Flynn’s gotten to boot), none of them appear any smarter than Trump, which is a genuine tragedy for everyone. The one atom-thick silver lining in this is that it seems the fascist wing of the White House — people like Bannon and Gorka — seem to be losing to the colorless Randians like Jared Kushner and Mnuchin, and think of where we are in this moment in history where bland Randians are the preferable option to be lurking about near the Oval Office.

Among the yahoos, I feel mildly sorry for Kushner, who is clearly in over his head, but is also the only one Trump seems to trust to do anything, which which is why the lad seems to be running a shadow state department out of an Oval Office broom closet. I’m disappointed in Ivanka Trump, who I had hoped might be the lone sensible Trump, but who at this point seems to be as much a grifter as any of the rest of them, and is willing to flat out lie about her dad’s positions on things (particularly women’s issues) with a straight face. At least that meeting in Europe she was at when she did that had the good sense to boo her for it.

So, basically: Grifters, losers and incompetents, just like the president, and while the outright fascists seem to be on their way out, they’re still hanging on, so don’t discount them until they’ve actually been scraped off the hull of the ship of state.

And the GOP?

Well, bless their hearts, is where I’m at with them at the moment. They want to give me a six figure tax cut and drive my neighbors into the poorhouse with medical bills, so I find it ironic we all vote like we do. That and the fact so many of them are providing material cover for the least competent, most obviously corrupt administration in the history of the presidency means that there are few of them right now I would trust with pocket change or to baby sit a small child.

(Note: My own rep Warren Davidson seems pretty decent, although there’s not a lot he and I see eye to eye on, particularly regarding health care. But he’s good with constituent service as far as I can tell and he seems open to other views. Hell, he follows me on Twitter. That can’t be an easy gig for him.)

But what about Obama! He’s getting paid $400,000 to speak on Wall Street!

You know, given Obama is now a private citizen, I care about this roughly as much as I cared about Bush or Bill Clinton or Reagan getting paid absurd amounts for speeches, which is to say, not a whole lot.

But Wall Street! His mortal enemy!

So we’re saying that Obama battled Wall Street furiously for eight years, and at the end of it, when he has no actual power nor ever will again, they still shower him with money? Just for some bullshit speech no one will remember or care about ten minutes after it’s done? I mean, shit. That’s Obama being motherfucking magnificent there, if you ask me.

But the Obamas are already making, like, $60 million from their memoirs!

And? Unlike some US presidents one could name who live in the White House as we speak, Obama is making his money after he is done with the presidency (as is his wife). I’m certainly not going to tell them how they can or can’t legally make money. I’m not going to tell them how much they can make, either. You want to, then call your representative and try to make a law restricting how much a past president can make in a year, and from whom. Good luck!

But also: He’s the past president. I’m sad he’s not the president any more — he was so manifestly better than the one we have now that it’s a little painful to remember just how good he was at it — but pretty much everything he does at this point is footnote, and immaterial as regards the yutz in the White House now. You focus on Obama if you want. I’m gonna live in the now.

Hmph.

Not here to make you happy, man.

Fine. Lightning round.

Go.

The New York Times hiring climate change denier Bret Stephens as a columnist.

Stupid of them but I’m not going to cancel my subscription over it. They have a lot of columnists saying manifestly stupid things. I ignore the manifestly stupid stuff. What’s left is worth my subscription.

Trump inviting Duterte to the White House.

Dumbasses gonna dumbass. I know a fair number of people who think Trump is being nice to Duterte all of a sudden because he’s got a current real estate concern in the Philippines, but I suspect the answer is simpler than that: A murderous cretin strongman is just plain Trump’s kind of guy.

Bill O’Reilly and Bill Shine getting dumped at Fox.

Nice to see that Fox News only takes a couple of decades to get rid of accused harassers and their enablers! As others have noted, Fox has spent substantially more on severance packages for the accused (and enablers) than it did in paying damages to the harassed. Hey, welcome to 2017!

Brexit!

By all indications not going to end well for the UK (and might end the UK as currently constituted). It does seem May and her pals in government are slightly delusional about the EU sort of just shrugging and going along with everything the UK wants. On the other hand, when all the EU banks and financial services companies abandon London for Frankfurt, real estate prices will finally come down! So, yay?

Gonna buy?

We’ll see. We’ll see.

Oh! And! The Russians!

Oy. I thought this was the lightning round.

May Day Kitten Picture Plus Other Various Things Upon My Return Home

First: Look! Kitten! A very serious kitten, it appears, taking the first of May very seriously.

Second (and so on): So, I’m back home after two weeks on the road and after five weeks of touring in general, which means a lot of catch up — dealing with non-critical emails and business-related things and stuff and junk, including scheduling Big Idea posts. This will all be taken care of in the next couple of days, so if you’re waiting on emails/business stuff/Big Idea posts through June, if you don’t hear from me by Wednesday, uuuuuuhhh, assume you never will, sorry (although I will probably post on Whatever when I fill out all the Big Idea slots so people won’t be left hanging).

For those of you wondering how the tour went, generally: It went very well! I basically filled every space I was in, met a lot of people, sold a lot of books, and saw some good friends who I might not have otherwise gotten a chance to see, and generally had quite a lot of fun. With that said, by the very end I was burnt burnt burnt. I’ll continue being a smidgen burnt for most of the rest of the week. Lots of sleep, and cats, will fix that.

The Whatever will now likely resume a more regular schedule (or, at least, one that will feature something other than pictures out of hotel windows); it’s also likely updates will happen in the afternoon (local to me) because mornings will be assiduously spent avoiding the Internet and writing on books, because the books pay me money and have to come first. I don’t suspect this will be a problem for most of you (and if it is, you know, well, too bad).

For May, I am going nowhere and having no public events. For June, I have three, two at the very beginning (BookCon in NYC and Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley) and one at the very end (Denver Comic Con), but I’m mostly staying home that month too. I have books to write. I have to write them sometime!

Also: Official announcement: I will not be attending either the Nebula Weekend or the Worldcon this year, Nebs because I have to make substantial headway into Head On (no pun intended) and I’m currently so very burnt on traveling, and the Worldcon because my schedule of personal commitments that month (including sending my daughter off to college) makes traveling to Helsinki pretty much impossible. Yes, I’m sad, too — I very much wanted to spend time in Finland and northern Europe. But I just can’t make it work, as much as I wish I could. Have fun without me, folks. I mean, if you can.

And that’s where everything is at the moment.

The Dispatcher: Now Out in Print and eBook!

Look at what gorgeous thing was waiting for me when I came home yesterday: The Subterranean Press hardcover edition of my novella The Dispatcher, complete with fabulous cover and interior art from Vincent Chong. It’s a work of art, it is.

And it can be yours, because it’s now available in print and eBook at all your favorite online and offline retailers! For example:

Amazon|Barnes & Noble|iBooks|Indiebound|Kobo|Powell’s

(And yes, it’s available internationally: I just checked the Amazon stores in UK, Canada and Germany. English edition, however.)

The reviews have been pretty nifty, too: Kirkus calls it “a what-if tale reminiscent of Asimov at his twistiest” and Publishers Weekly notes “This noir novella will be a surprise for Scalzi’s fans, who are used to his relatively sunny Heinleinesque yarns.” Meanwhile, in its original audiobook version, it’s been nominated for three Audie awards, the highest award in the audiobook industry. Plus it was the number one audio book on Audible for two weeks, and in the top ten for four. So that’s pretty nifty too.

So if you’ve been waiting for the print/eBook version: The wait is over! Go get it!