Tuesday, October 23, 2018


Historically speaking, the Republican Party and Donald Trump should be trounced in the midterm elections.  If there's anything resembling a free and fair electoral system in the United States -- and with all that gerrymandering, that's not really the case -- then the party of the most noxious, venal, dishonest, and idiotic entity to ever occupy the White House should take an absolute beating.   Only a moron could lose against Trump, right?

Yet I fear the moron is sitting right there on the other side of the aisle.  Simply put, this thing is about to slip through the Democrats' hands.  Contrary to popular thought and logic, not only are they unable to annihilate the most corrupt Congress and unqualified President in the nation's history, they might not even be able to flip the House two years after a Presidential win, a relatively commonplace fate that befell Clinton, Obama, Bush, Eisenhower, Truman,  et al.

Part of the problem might be that Trump is so awful it's inconceivable that he wouldn't be punished for simply being... Trump.  There seems to be an attitude endemic amongst progressives of, "But who could possibly support that man?"

This is head-up-your-ass thinking, the same kind that anointed Hillary Clinton, ran that awful campaign, allowed the gerrymandered map to take root in the first place, and left the Democratic Party rudderless, cash-less, and leaderless.   Instead of fighting for the country, Democrats have spent precious resources fighting among themselves against the Berners, arguing about gender rights and #meToo, bathrooms and flags and soft issues that have no bearing on getting rid of Trump and his trolls in Congress or his Gringotts on Wall Street.

For far too long, Democrats have believed that they will win the House because, well, they should.  When you press for details as to how this is going to accomplished, however, you only get murmurings about what the Mueller report is going to reveal, or what effect further news of Trump's corporate shenanigans will have on good wholesome people.

This fills one with distress.  In fact, the Mueller Report is far past its Best Buy date. Most Americans don't care about the Mueller report.  I'll wager most of them think it's already been issued.  You might get a shrug of the shoulders when you let folks know the report is still to be released.  As for Trump's corporate shenanigans: he's a crook, everyone knows he's a crook, and even the New York Times' extensive and well reported piece about his entire financial life being a lie -- in fact, his life itself being a lie -- had zero effect on his popularity.

His numbers have gone up since.  Dangerously.  And there's still two long long weeks before the election.  Those numbers have plenty of room to go higher.  It is simply the wrong time for Trump to be rising.

So do the Democrats really believe that voters are going to be so horrified by things like the President calling the porn star sex partner "horse-faced" that votes are going to change?  That  replaying the "Access Hollywood" tape is going to mobilize voters?    I don't even believe that just grinding the axe about healthcare is enough to do it.

What most amazes me is that the Democrats can't even be found on the Sunday shows or nightly cable news making the case for themselves.  The Democratic pundits are there, but actual elected Democratic leaders are in short supply, whereas Trump clearly understands the core fact of life for the last one hundred years.  It's something I honestly believed everyone knew.  Here it is:

Johnny Carson was the most famous and powerful figure in American show business when I was a kid.  That's because Johnny was on TV for 90 minutes every weekday night for  thirty years.  A generation before, it was Arthur Godfrey, who had a radio show and a couple of TV shows and seemed to be everywhere all at the same time.  Before that, it was probably Bing Crosby, who was the #1 movie star, radio star, recording star, and live act.

Exposure matters.

And every night -- every single night -- I see Trump at some rally in some blood red state throwing meat at the crowd and everyone gobbling it up.  I see him hugging Ted Cruz.  I see him ranting about caravans of brown people coming to rape and pillage white America, about Democratic mobs who are out of control and storming the gates (I wish).  I see him literally making shit up on the fly and people screaming in delight to "lock her up", whoever she is.  This tribal pitchfork act, I note by checking Trump's schedule, is to continue  right up to the Monday night prior to the Midterms.

Stupefyingly, the Democrats seem to believe this is good for them.  That somehow this will reveal Trump to be a bad guy.  As if he hadn't won The Asshole of the Planet Award already.  Worse, they pick up the dog turd thinking they're holding steak.  A perfect example of this is the White House rather cagily putting it out there that they might repeal gender parity rights for transgender folks across the country.  Democrats seem to be taking the bait:  rising up in righteous indignation, pumping their fists for a segment of the population most of America is dubious about at best, and certainly dubious about compared to being able to afford your co-pay when you take your kid to the emergency room for a broken arm (it's $100).

The Democratic Party needs voices, loud voices, and it needs them now in these crucial two weeks.  It needs people who make the case nationally and talk about things that actually matter to the greatest number of Americans.

But there's a forest for the trees situation here.  When we talk about voices, let us not forget that this is the same party that got rid of Al Franken, one of the most outspoken and progressive voices in the party, on the charge of dubious behavior that took place before he was a Senator -- when he was, actually, a professional comedian -- on the basis of  standing up for women.  This is utter lunacy.  If you cared anything about women's rights you would have kept a Senator who consistently voted for access to healthcare, assisted education, and pay equity and, if you you needed to, send him to Sensitivity Counseling on the weekend.  But don't give up such a powerful force on issues that matter to real working women -- not women in the U.S. Senate -- and certainly don't be so stupid as to give up a safe seat in Minnesota when the Senate is 51-49 against you.

This is the Democratic Party in a nutshell.  No cohesion.  No strategy.  No structure.  It's a polyglot of good intentions signifying nothing.

There is a way to turn this thing around, however.  Be simple.  Be clear.  Be harsh.  Talk about healthcare.  Scare people. Show them what's going to happen to retired mom and dad when they can't afford their medication.  Show the eleven-year-old who will die in a living room.  Show the border.  Show pictures of children being ripped from their parents.  Make Trump the villain.  The thing is, he actually is a villain, an actual monster, so what are you waiting for?  Just focus on those two issues relentlessly.  They would.

But the Dems won't do it.  They still think he's a joke.  They still think all you have to do is make fun of him and point out how ridiculous he is and people will come flocking to your non-message.

The truth is, I'm not sure Democrats deserve to win.  Not just because they don't understand what Trump is,  but because they don't understand what -- and how serious -- their responsibility is.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018


Every few days now, President Donald Trump gets up at some rally somewhere, bathes in the glory of his disciples, steps to the microphone, and opens his mouth.  A switch inside his head clicks to "GO!", a cog turns, the gears catch, and out of that tiny mouth spout torrents of insanity: unscripted, unplanned, grade-A nuttiness that, often as not, relates to no earthly time-line the rest of us are following.  He lashes out against his opponent Hillary Clinton, whom he fought in an election campaign two years ago  and who has retired since, berates the New York Times of the 1970's, lapses into reveries about the wonders of the coal industry (gone now lo these many decades), and nails home a salient point about Justice Kavanaugh, who was confirmed to the Supreme Court last week.  For ninety minutes, he says anything and everything that comes into his mind, clearly unscripted and clearly invented on the fly.  Even in mid-sentence, thoughts get rewritten and revised with a kind of contortional glee that you have to admire.  "I am -- I think -- it's possible -- some say --you know, the more I think about it -- what the hell -- I'm not!"

In response, the Democrats snap into action and do absolutely nothing.

Nobody from the Democratic Party elects to speak as the voice of reason.  There are little carpy self-servings kitten mews from the halls of Congress or a few town halls, but for the most part, the great Democratic Party is letting Trump hold a love-in on live broadcast three times a week, emitted at  Springsteenian decibel levels, which goes out to the nation to say, "Don't worry, I've got this."

And more people believe than you think.  And more people across this country are going to vote for the GOP than you think.  So be prepared for a big surprise on November 6.

It might be different if there were a Democratic Titan up there to shout back, someone CNN could cover.  But without a Congressional leadership or a Presidential Inevitable (a la Teddy Kennedy in the 1970's) or a Senior Emeritus (which Bill Clinton should be but for his general creepiness), there's nothing.  So Trump gets the stage to himself, and folks watch.

Let's be clear: not everyone who is going to vote GOP watch.  A lot turn way, because they don't want to be reminded that the source of their economic joy and judicial satisfaction is a babbling asshole.  They like a booming economy and they like hitting back at all those standards of tolerance and statesmanship that the USA has accepted as Holy Writ since 1945, but they don't want to be reminded that the Deliverer with whom they associate themselves  is this blowhard, racist, embarrassment.  But they're going to vote for him anyway.

(I'm assuming we all accept the fact that mid-term elections are all about Trump.  So when I say "vote for him" I mean "vote for the GOP" candidate, a truth that Trump embraces.)

They are going to vote for him either brazenly or in secret, but a lot more of them in secret than you think.  The Secret Trump Voter is uncountable.  They might not even tell their spouse.  But they are going to vote for him for a whole bunch of reasons, all of which, when you put it together and when you don't look at the broader picture, make sense:

They're going to vote for him because Obamacare was never explained properly and forced Americans to buy a product for the first time in the history of the country and because in general it "felt wrong", and the Democrats didn't recognize that.

They're going to vote for him because the Democrats just force too many regulations on regular people, farmers in particular, and anyone who has tried to build a house, start a business, or pave a road.

The're going to vote for him because he doesn't care about looking foolish asking questions about foreign affairs and economics anyone might ask.

They're going to vote for him because they suspect they will make more money next year than they did this year, and certainly more than the year before.

They're going to vote for him because they don't want to hear about gender equality, safe spaces, and trigger warnings.  It isn't just that they find it absurd, it's that they think all that talk makes their kids and their communities and their towns weaker.

Mostly, they're voting for him because he doesn't make them feel stupid, or ignorant, or less than.  Because he says out loud what they've been thinking for years (why do we send money to these other countries when our communities are falling apart?; why can't we just bully for what we want from the international brotherhood, and what is this brotherhood shit anyway?  And so on...)

These Trump supporters are not the crazies at the rally yelling "Lock her up!"  Those folks are Trump's necessary fringe, or his brownshirts, if you will.  The Trump supporters I'm talking about are rural people or suburbanites.   Rational people who help their neighbors and are all working.  People who feel belittled by the champagne liberalism of the Democratic elite and the ultra-sensitivity of their social agenda, those Democratic smooth talkers who knows what's best for everyone.  Far too many smooth talkers.

This all makes sense to me, and I put the blame one hundred percent at the feet of the Democratic Party, which was overtaken by zealots and social justice warriors and the righteous gang who have no more relation to FDR and the New Deal's social pragmatism than the GOP has anything to do with Lincoln's liberalism.

The crying shame is that this same Democratic Party is the only thing standing between us and the other side of Trumpism, the one we ignore at our peril, which is out-and-out fascism.  Trump is a fascist, and a fascinating one at that; he's a fascist by absolute instinct and not design.  Worse, he has molded the Republican party into a reflection of himself, so it too is now a  fascist entity.  As they talk in lock-step about Democrats being a "mob" and secret conspiracy theories and work to degrade our social safeguards against authoritarianism, Goebbels would smile.

So while there is a lot of reason for a lot of people to embrace Trumpism, in the end the country is going to have to do something that is hard for it to do, which is see beyond griping and "what feeds me" and vote for a party that doesn't deserve anyone's vote.

This greater good philosophy isn't a new thing for America to do.   The country's best moment have almost always been when it rises above "what feeds me."  When American boys went overseas to fight the greatest humanitarian and political threat in modern history, they weren't thinking about "what feeds me", they just did it.   When General George Marshall decided we were going to rebuild the shattered lives of the people of Europe, it wasn't "what feeds me".  Some would argue, but I believe there was 100% core American decency behind it.  The exploration of space, the wonder of its industrial invention, and the incredible amount of humanitarian aid sent by regular folks, community groups, and churches -- this is not America acting only on "what feeds me."

The country is going to have to do this again.  See beyond its instinctive wishes and needs and remember that there are greater issues at hand.  Issues involving justice, reason, and the history of the nation: not necessarily succeeding but at least trying for greatness every time.  Trump and the GOP represent none of this.  They are now a "deal" party rather than "ideal", and they will deal with anyone and anything.

The country seems to have loosened its grip on virtue, or the idea of virtue itself, and it needs to tighten up its grip or it is in mortal peril.  However... However...

The miserable truth is that the only car that will get us out of this moral ditch is so weak and so blinkered and so dismissive of what most of us live that it's hard to hitch your wagon to them.  On November 6, most people won't.  Certainly not happily.   But we're going to have to do it, and then kick their asses to wake up to reality.  I hope the country grasps this idea, but I fear not.

The blowhard TV show that goes on three times a week simply gets too much airtime, and there's nothing to counter-balance it.  How we got to this is kind of amazing.  It's an evolution the history books might marvel at.  I wonder, however, if they will be American or European history books.

Saturday, October 6, 2018


Whether anyone likes to consider the possibility, Thomas Jefferson and more than a handful of the  Founders would say that now is a good time to take up the pitchforks and shovels and burn the place down.

Jefferson, after all, famously suggested that the best way to preserve the republic was to have a revolution, or a mini-revolution, or perhaps even just a dust-up, every twenty years or so.  America, in its slavish devotion to keeping the original document dead,  has not kept to that timetable at all, which may explain why things are where they are.

Let's be clear about the math.  It's not that one half of the country despises the other half.  It's that one quarter of the country despises the other quarter and the other two quarters don't even know what time it is, who Brett Kavanaugh is, and likely can't name fifty states, and certainly they don't vote.  Which also may explain why things are where they are, but it's perhaps wise to keep such people away from the voting booth.

But of the half that can name who is on the nickel, it's absolutely true that one half hates and despises the other half and, clearly, there doesn't seem to be any force, entity, or body that can bring the two together.  Certainly the President of the United States has no intention of doing so, as he thrives on hatred, sort of like the Emperor in Star Wars; he digs conflict and people punching the shit out of each other or cutting each other apart with light sabers.  Makes him feel powerful.  He is not a patriot for Norman Rockwell America, he is simply a degenerate monster.

How about his Vice President?  This religious nut seems to be literally missing half of his frontal lobe; he seems to cruise by on some weird auto-pilot, and for a man in the second position of power in the United States (one bullet away, anyway) he seems strangely unmoved or uninterested in the real pain or upset of real people in the country her purports to love or at least serve.  He seems to view Americans who aren't white and who don't go to his church or sit down to mom serving a Thanksgiving dinner as 'hosts' in "Westworld."

Forget the Congress.  They are, simply, stupid.  They're, at best, either the dupes for each other's chicanery,  or the chicanerous.  Mitch McConnell seems to be the brightest of the lot, which is like saying that Barney Fyfe is now the head of the FBI; in the country of the blind, the one eyed man is king.  The hapless press still fights tooth and nail to convince us that many of these people have some sort of moral underpinning, but  that's simply to keep their own circus going.  I don't see it.   Not only can they not govern effectively -- they are literally not worth the money spent on them -- they seem unable to understand what their constitutents wish and desire, even if they were able to govern effectively, which they aren't.

And the Supreme Court is a bought-and-paid for whorehouse, a partisan joke.  This isn't just because of Kavanaugh.  It headed toward carnival territory with Clarence Thomas, and I'm not talking about Anita Hill. I'm talking about his wife traveling around the country giving speeches on behalf of Tea Party and right wing extremist groups and Clarence standing right beside her.  When we decided we were okay with Supreme Court justices -- any of them -- behaving in such a partisan manner, we lost the game.  For his part, John Roberts' flagrantly partisan behavior, both in favor of conservative legislature and against, makes clear he seems to believe that following the prevailing public winds is the basis of sound law.  Citizens United earned a yes to Obamacare, in other words, which is the equivalent of "one for them, one for me" thinking.  Fair in dividing M and M's, but not judicial thought.

That's it, folks.  Those are the basic foundations of the American structure and they are all compromised.  Every single one.

And they are not just morally compromised.  They simply don't work.   The State Department isn't even staffed and the reason we don't whip in militarily in hot-spots where we might have oncewhipped in  is because the forces aren't equipped to do so.  Mothers send their children serving in combat zones bullet-proof vests, because the country doesn't provide.

Let's admit the country doesn't work.  It's broken.  It's only a matter of time before people get over their politeness and just pick up a knife, or a broken bottle, or a gun, or a flamethrower, and go utterly insane.  And our leaders would have no one to blame but themselves.

We are seeing the beginning of the end of the great American Experiment, and the fault lies with everyone.  As Obama kept telling us that we will always prevail, he helped sow the seeds of Donald Trump; as Trump crowed about getting back at his enemies, the corrupt and dumb Congress set about making it happen so they carry out the wishes of voters who believe that God wants us to torture women and bring unto this earth unwanted children who will never receive or be eligible for adequate healthcare.  The same people believe the earth is 7,000 years old and that Jonah sat in a rowboat inside a big fish.

The press, I'm afraid, has stoked and played this the entire time.  Witness Chuck Todd's pointless tweet the other day, noting that we are a divided body politic. No Chuck, it is a divided nation, and nothing will sew it back together.

The country is missing at sea now, and there isn't a Captain, or a rescue vessel in sight.  Only hatred, and crowing when you win, screaming when you lose, and no one giving a damn about the right thing to do.

The greatest of all ironies may have afflicted America.  It is not longer that small town in Vietnam that must be burned in order to save it, but the United States itself.

"My Captain does not answer,
His lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm,
He has no pulse or will
But I with mournful tread
Walk the deck my captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead."

Wednesday, October 3, 2018


Hillary Clinton almost never gets anything right, not off the cuff.  It’s almost awe-inspiring -- like watching Wayne Gretzy weave his way up the ice through enemy defencemen and not get the goal, or Prince Fielder shattering fastballs  340 feet at every crack, and yet hit the foul pole in Miller Stadium every time.

In an interview yesterday, when asked about the anger the Kavanaugh hearings in particular and the #MeToo movement in general was engendering amongst women and men, Hillary said something along the lines of, “Well, what women are saying is that enough is enough and that the old social models are finished and…”  The poor interviewer persisted.  “And what about men?”  Hillary clearly didn’t have a cartridge for that, but she tried: “Well, the old days of male privilege are over, and a lot of men are having to realize that the patriarchy and the days of older white men…”   In short, the same message.  Men are shit and women are adjusting the social order.

In the New York Times today, Bonnie Mann blithely missed it as well, but she at least gave us the ten cent tour.  "As a philosopher, I am inclined to see this as a war between two epistemic worlds," Bonnie tells us, after explaining to us what ‘epistemic’ means (she gets it wrong), followed by an overuse of the word that kind of marred her cri de coeur against privileged elitism.

Bonnie basically says the battle we are in is white male privilege fighting tooth and nail against its perks being taken away. (The perks she's referring to, which all white men of privilege see as their due, include raping -- or near-raping -- women, getting away with it, and being rewarded with a seat on the Supreme Court).   

Weirdly, on the same day Donald Trump actually came close to nailing what I suspect is going to be the real problem in our future.  In his comic-book boys thinking, he opined that he is worried for the men of his country, who presumably can now be accused of anything and have their lives destroyed.   Well, that’s  idiotic on so many fronts it’s downright juicy, and we are left not knowing which end of the buffet to attack first, but as sometimes happens with Trump, there’s a glimpse of a shadow of a kernel of a truth there.

Leaving aside Hillary’s strange relationship to the entire phenomenon of #MeToo and #TimesUp (her wildly zealous supporter and fund-raiser Harvey Weinstein was a mere road company version of Bill Clinton when it came to getting away with treating women like mail-order blow-up toys, but then poor Harvey didn’t have a wife who trucked in quashing claims and pillorying the claimants) I suspect she represents a pretty popular if narrow focus of thought.

Same with Bonnie Mann and her two track argument: men are white and pigs and women are right and asserting themselves. 

The problem is, fighting serious issues in this way has opened us up to something much darker and even more debilitating in the long run than white male privilege, if you can imagine such a thing.  But because we are a population which prefers simplistic and linear plots (Flintstones, not King Lear),  our social analysts are only able to address what’s happening and not what it’s doing to us.  Besides, one makes headlines and good cable news, and the other doesn’t.

It’s beyond easy to recognize that Judge Kavanaugh is a strange man who probably needs more time curing in the smokehouse before he’s ready for consumption.  Say, a lifetime.  Perhaps he can never be cured.   The real question is, does anyone really want to hang around and find out?   Why don’t we just give up on him and move on?  My own view is that we all  recognize that the man is clearly unfit to be a Supreme Court Justice, whether we admit it or not, and most of us have good reasons, sexual assault being primo uno.  But personally, I am hung up on the guy’s  basic intelligence.  Simply put, I think he’s too stupid to be a Supreme Court Justice, and that’s saying something.

To wit, how dumb do you have to be to adopt the Andy of Mayberry stance Kavanaugh chose for his Fox interview?  How about opting for Fox interview at all?  (Everyone in America knows that if you’re really in trouble, you do your lying to Lester Holt, Scott Pelley, or Anderson Cooper, not the Disney robotomata of Fox).  And how dumb do you have to be to accept public speaking advice from Donald Trump, of all people, and storm into your Judiciary Committee session like a WWF fighter who has just done a serious amount of coke?  He didn’t even do it well.  Forget the attempted rape of which he’s almost surely guilty, I think the guy should be disqualified for poor choices in acting.  Simply put, he’s not equipped for this gig.

The fall-out we’re not addressing is the chasm being created between men and women who aren’t vying for a seat on the Supreme Court or thinking about running for President again.  This chasm is massive, and I suspect it’s growing bigger every day, and worse, I suspect a lot of women don’t even know it’s there.

In short, I suspect that while all decent folks are militantly applauding #MeToo and #TimesUp and shouting that women have had enough, there’s a reaction taking place in the background, not among white privileged racists like Kavanaugh or Trump, but by men – white, brown, black, pick a color, privileged or not -- who in fact have never attempted to rape anyone and who have never been particularly interested in stepping on anyone’s social achievements or progress.    Decent men, in other words, who weren’t raised by wolves, or at least are missing the enzyme which finds appeal in locking women in rooms or administering date rape drugs or excessive alcohol.

I believe these men are starting to live secret emotional lives.  These are lives where they nod and agree with everything their mate Sally says, march in the Women's March and administer mailers for Elizabeth Warren, but also quietly sit alone in traffic and wonder who and what they are now.  Has Bob himself done something wrong?  And if he hasn’t, how has he become an appendage to Sally’s rage and righteous?  (Sally, for her part, might not notice that boyfriend/husband Bob hasn’t talked to her about anything for… weeks?  Years?  She’s busy fighting the fight and getting, quite rightly, what has been denied her all these millennia).

Is this good?  Is this bad?  Or is it just the next evolutionary stage in male-female relationships?  Who knows.  One thing’s for sure, though, it’s Bob and Sally are no longer a couple as we’ve come to define the term over our lifetimes; Sally and Bob are now just two entities who inhabit the same house and are perpetuating something called a relationship.

In other words, the state of our gender politics is already cleaving us in two, but Bonnie Mann couldn’t, or wouldn’t, look at that possibility, and Hillary Clinton missed it entirely.   (Trump, of course, is out in the woods wandering around in circles).  My guess is that most of us, in our personal relationships, are in the same boat: we don’t want to talk about it, not in the great new era, but we suspect it’s there.

Bob and Sally’s relationship is never again going to be about sharing with one another that which you can share with no one else.  Bob is going to second-guess everything he says to Sally, and rewrite before he speaks, if not question himself entirely and his own guilt and complicity in the evil old ways.  Sally is emboldened, particularly when she sees panels of women on cable news say things like, “We’re now in the age of women, where women are taking charge of our most powerful institutions, we’re throwing off the patriarchy, asserting ourselves, and not letting men exploit us or demean us.”  Almost everyone with traditional liberal tendencies has to applaud this statement.  However, Sally might wonder, what do we see if we flip the statement back? 

What if it were a group of men on a panel saying, “We’re now in the age of men, where men are taking charge of our most powerful institutions, we’re throwing off the power of women, asserting ourselves, and not letting women exploit or demean us?”  It would be taken as the most outrageous extremism, and utterly misogynistic.  Certainly women might feel mighty funny about who they’re sharing their quarters with.

As usually happens in the race to social justice and the business of righting wrongs, the release of grievance brings collateral damage.  The civil rights movement, to name one such example, led to some of the worst inner city violence in American history (“burn baby burn”) , and in general we still haven’t cured the setbacks in that community which voter registration didn’t even begin to address  (70% of African-American households are still headed by a single parent with one income, versus 25% for whites).

In the great #MeToo and #TimesUp movement my guess is that the real damage is going to be to the interpersonal relationships between utterly decent people who will never quite connect the fall-out in their own lives with the social hypocrisy of people like Hillary Clinton, Brett Kavanagh and yes, the neo-liberal leaders marching us into this great new future.  Militancy is a cheaper fuel than compassion and understanding, and right now there seems to be a lust for cheap fuel.  The price we’re going to pay in the long run, however, will be epic, and that price is going to be paid in the living rooms and bedrooms of the nation, as we all wonder how to even begin to talk to one another with honesty again. 


  Sometimes Trump accidentally gives us real, hardcore truth. I don’t mean about himself – in fact, he is remarkably transparent about his o...