The Insanity of the Snowflake Court

On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump was sworn in as President of the United States, which was a day that will live in infamy. Since then, he and his Republican sycophants have unleashed a series of unfortunate events which have undermined the democratic process, disrespected American values and civil liberties, and ignored the will of the American people. Not surprisingly, Trump has proven to be an incurious and incompetent executive as well as a friend to plutocrats and white supremacists. He has broken democratic norms and brought out the American ugliness that was meant to be buried all those years ago. He has alienated our allies and praised despots known to inflict atrocities on any of their citizens who dare challenge their authority. He has divided the country with his incendiary rhetoric, especially whenever someone publicly says something he doesn’t like. He has tried to delegitimize the media who’ve reported negative stories about him as “fake news.” He has surrounded himself with sycophants and crooks in his administration as well as berated and fired those not willing to put personal loyalty above all else. He has tried to undermine an investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia. And he doesn’t care of the consequences of his actions unless they affect him personally, despite the vast damage he’s inflicted with his cruelty. Nor does he take responsibility for his callous actions. It is impossible to list the scandals, controversies, and incendiary rhetoric coming from this man or his administration.

Since 12:01 on January 20, 2018, the federal government shut down. Republicans and Democrats are still stuck in a struggle to reach an immigration deal. On January 18, House Republicans passed a bill to fund the government for 4 weeks and extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program for 6 years, after Congress had failed to reauthorize the program for the last 4 months. But on a procedural vote late on January 19, which needed 60 votes to advance the House spending bill, 45 Senate Democrats and 5 Senate Republicans rejected it. Democrats are frustrated with Donald Trump’s unwillingness to accept a bipartisan to address the nearly 700,000 immigrants in legal limbo after he pledged to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. And they felt of having no choice or leverage but to reject the House spending bill to force DACA negotiations. Several Republicans working on the DACA fix joined in and are angry over the inability to cut a long-term funding deal for the military. Meanwhile, Republicans have pitted DACA recipients against CHIP despite that their majority failed to extend the program. Yet, Democrats still believe they have a compelling case for DACA after Trump’s latest tirade calling some countries “shitholes” in an immigration meeting with lawmakers. But so far, there has been no easy resolution. Though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has offered Democrats a shorter short-term spending deal keeping the government open until February 8 and promised to open immigration negotiations then. Now the mad scramble to fund and reopen the government begins.

Now a federal government means that a lot of so-called “non-essential” government activities suddenly cease. Federal employees are divided into “essential” and “nonessential” groups. Nonessential employees receive furloughs like an unpaid leave of absence until the shutdown’s resolved. Essential employees also stop getting paid but still have to work. But when a shutdown’s over federal workers usually get the salaries they went without. Likewise, a shutdown usually suspends various government functions. Military, air traffic control, federal prisons, Social Security and other benefit programs aren’t typically affected. However, the Office of Management and Budget estimated that the shutdown resulted in 120,000 fewer jobs and cut economic growth by .2-.6% in the last quarter during the last government shutdown in 2013 whose effects were substantial. Tax refunds totaling $4 billion were delayed. Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program went underfunded. Federal research activities at the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nearly shut down entirely. Environmental Protection Agency inspections halted in 1,200 locations. The Food and Drug Administration delayed approval of drugs and medical devices. National parks shut down, resulting in $500 million lost in consumer spending from tourists. And reviews of veterans’ disability applications slowed to a halt, with nearly 20,000 applications per week not being processed. So it’s a very serious matter.

It’s not unusual for Congress to go on the brink of a shutdown since it happened several times in Trump’s first year of office alone. But failure to actually make the deadline is rare. But since the federal government has shut down, Congress has to pass a spending bill. They have 3 options. First, they can pass the appropriations bills in an omnibus which crams 11 of these together into one spending package. Second, they can pass a “continuing resolution” funding government at its current levels to buy more negotiating time for the actual appropriations bills. Or third, they could pass a “CRomnibus,” which combines the two as well as extends the deadline on certain more contentious appropriations like the Department of Homeland Security and passing a spending bill on the rest. Though McConnell has proposed another CR, Democrats voted one down amid stalled immigration negotiations, which have recently intensified after months of inaction. So it’s unlikely they’d vote without some agreement on DACA’s future. Still, Donald Trump and the Republican leadership keep engaging hardline immigration hawks showing no interest in compromise. And his Orange Hind-Ass has reportedly told Senators Tom Cotton and Mark Meadows that he won’t support a proposal without these hardliners’ blessings. For Democrats, this is a serious red flag since their votes are needed to pass anything on immigration, which Republicans want kept out of the spending talks.

Naturally, both parties have spent the last few days trying to set up the other side to take the blame for the shutdown due to budget impasse. Republicans have made plans to force vulnerable Senate Democrats to take uncomfortable votes. Democrats claim that since Republicans control both houses of Congress and the White House, not keeping the government open is their fault. At the same time, Republicans accuse Democrats of withholding needed Senate votes to press a resolution to the immigration debate impasse, even at CHIP’s expense. Of course, that’s ridiculous since Congress could’ve easily resolved the whole CHIP thing months ago. However, the truth is that Republicans didn’t even have the votes to keep the government open on their own. Yet, Democrats weren’t going to let the government remain open without a DACA deal even if Republicans had the votes. Nonetheless, after Lord Cheetohead blew up the DACA talks in the “shithole” meeting, they felt they had no choice and saw the spending bill as the best leverage. For both parties know that tying a DACA deal to a spending bill was the only way to assure its success. Because immigration hawks want to blow up such a deal from a bipartisan group of senators. So the hardliners and Republicans have dug in while Democrats have decided that now is the time to force the DACA issue. So the government won’t open until one side feels the squeeze and blinks. And it could’ve been avoided had Hamsterhair accepted the bipartisan DACA deal in the first place.

We need to remember that Donald Trump set the current crisis in motion last September when he revoked Barack Obama’s executive order protecting DREAMers from deportation. But he offered no guidance about what he wanted to happen next other than Congress to do something. His lack of clarity has emboldened the GOP immigration hardliners while raising immigration reformers’ hopes for a deal. Unfortunately, Trump’s intervening behavior ruined everything and left everyone feeling he might screw over at any moment. Nobody is exactly sure who’s shutting down the government or what the White House is trying to achieve by rejecting a bipartisan proposal that would’ve averted one. The country has mostly coped with Trump’s inability to do his job through outsourcing governance to congressional GOP leadership. But congressional Republicans are less unified while Trump is more invested in immigration than on most issues. So his actual personal leadership as president is critical for moving the system forward. However, the mere fact that these circumstances require Trump to act like a real president doesn’t change the fact he’s a lazy, ill-informed conspiracy theorist prone to tweeting cryptic statements about delicate issues from Fox & Friends segments.

As a candidate Donald Trump loudly, frequently, and obnoxiously promised to “build a wall” on the US-Mexican border and “make Mexico pay” for it. Of course, these ideas never made any sense since Mexico would never pay for such a thing. But once Trump won the election, turning them to actual policy imperative became important to the overall Republican Party. And the White House got behind the conceit that Congress could reserve funds for it that Trump would assert was some kind of advance on the nonexistent future Mexican repayment. But this left the problem of actually getting the money since congressional appropriations require 60 Senate votes. Not surprisingly, many Republicans were lukewarm on the wall all along. Thus, Trump was considering forcing a government shutdown to try to get his way. In May 2017, he tweeted, “The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and Democrats is that we need 60 votes in the Senate which are not there! We…. either elect more Republican Senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51%. Our country needs a good “shutdown” in September to fix mess!” Obviously, this was a bad idea and other Republicans seemed to have talked Trump out of it. But the problem of getting Democratic votes for the wall remained. One natural way would give Democrats a big legislative win of their own. Yet, since a lot of congressional Republicans weren’t very excited about the wall, they’d revolt over giving away policy concessions of any real value. Then came an idea of canceling DACA allowing Trump to generate new leverage and give concessions on the DREAMers in exchange for wall money and leaving Republicans no worse off than they were before.

Unfortunately, Donald Trump has deeply hawkish views on immigration thanks to his personal and ideological racism as well as deeply ill-informed on all subjects aside from the art of the con. Besides, the basic problem with a DREAMers-for-wall swap is that the wall is a phenomenally stupid idea that wouldn’t accomplish anything to reduce immigration to the United States. Also, walls to keep people out or in have been tried countless times in history and have failed to do so. Not to mention, the billions of dollars spent to maintain and guard it which would make a wall a colossal waste of money. And if legislative DREAMer protections ended up creating a path to citizenship, it might actually result in increasing immigration since the new citizens could sponsor visas for relatives. Thus, better-informed immigration hawks like White House senior adviser Stephen Miller and Sen. Tom Cotton began working with Chief of Staff John Kelly to avoid the kind of deal Trump had repeatedly suggested and even at times explicitly agreed to in general terms. While hawks successfully scuttled a deal by souring Trump on a bipartisan compromise by Sens. Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin, they haven’t introduced any plausible ideas of their own.

However, instead of negotiating positions, immigration hawks have produced a comprehensive wish list for entirely transforming the American immigration system to a tiki torch wielding white supremacist’s delight. They want billions of dollars in new border security along with the full RAISE Act vision of cutting legal immigration in half while ending family and diversity visas in favor of an exclusive focus on job offers and educational attainment. This is what Donald Trump means with his various asides about the perils of “lotteries” and “chain migration.” Consequently, there’s just no way Democrats will agree to these changes as the price for helping the DREAMers. There’s just a total disproportion between these demands’ scale and the DACA issue’s significance. To get sweeping changes in the immigration system enacted, conservatives would need to come to the table with some kind of help for the entire long-settled undocumented immigrant population. Like the kind of comprehensive immigration reform they’ve eschewed for years.

So if Democrats blink and cave into Donald Trump on the shutdown question, Donald Trump will get none of the policy changes he wants. He’ll have no change to diversity visas, no change to family visas, and no wall money. In exchange, he could start deporting DREAMers but the capacity of American courts to do so is already maxed out. Still, losing legal status will harm DREAMers in concrete ways. It’ll force some out of active-military service and others out of legitimate work and education activities. But those who’ve grown up and spent their whole lives in the US aren’t going to “self-deport,” and crowding the deportation pipeline with sympathetic DREAMers won’t help immigration hawks’ case. It’s possible that Trump doesn’t care and thinks hurting DREAMers is its own reward. If that’s so, he at least should admit that and let the country move on. Even if it makes him seem like a horrible person which won’t hurt him much. I mean low approval ratings and mass protests should illustrate that most of American people think he’s a piece of shit anyway.

The current situation’s perversity is that Donald Trump has always publicly maintained that he wants to do something to help the DREAMers when his actions show us that’s not the case. He has repeatedly used the word “love” in this context despite that he was perfectly willing to put 700,000 immigrants in legal limbo just to get money for his stupid, useless wall. Though his supposed willingness to help the DREAMers has raised expectations among Democrats and immigration activists that a deal can be struck. If Trump doesn’t actually want a deal, he may narrowly prevail on the government shutdown. Democrats from red states with low Latino and Asian populations won’t hold out forever in a futile effort to help DACA recipients. Had Trump had signaled opposition months ago, there probably wouldn’t be a standoff today. But if he wants a deal, he needs to seriously engage with the process and lay out some concrete ideas on the table. Instead, by veering from handshake deals with “Chuck and Nancy” to profane ranting about “shithole countries,” he has confused everyone on Capitol Hill and brought the political system to breaking point. And he thinks he’s a master in the art of the deal.

Nevertheless, we must note that Donald Trump’s remarks on immigration from “shithole” countries reflects a larger, more pervasive, and more dangerous viewpoint on the intersection of immigration and race. By referring nations like Haiti and African countries as “shitholes,” he’s not just expressing what some conservatives view as “politically incorrect” sentiments. Rather he and importantly members of his staff are embracing what used to be a fringe theory held by the farthest of the far right. It’s a theory claiming that white people are being systematically “erased” by their inferiors, and thus require an influx of white babies and new white immigrants (at the exclusion of their nonwhite counterparts) to survive. This viewpoint has resulted in the federal government shutdown. We must understand that the current debate at Capitol Hill has little to do with border security concerns. It’s about halting immigration, especially from nonwhite countries. In the final days and hours before the government shutdown, Donald Trump sabotaged a bipartisan compromise that was Congress’s best shot at passing a package that would’ve kept the government open and do something about the DACA program Trump ended last year, but wanted “fixed.” This would’ve given him much of what he wanted out of immigration reform like the border wall and an end to “diversity” visas. Instead, Trump turned toward restrictionists like Sen. Tom Cotton and White House Senior Adviser Stephen Miller who has long influenced his attitudes on immigration policy. Miller’s silent hand on Trump’s DACA views was noteworthy enough that Sen. Lindsey Graham told MSNBC that his approach had, “no viability.” Breitbart fired back at Graham, running a piece which called him, “pro-amnesty” while referring to Cotton as, “the heir to Jeff Sessions’ pro-American immigration reform agenda.” Cotton has said that the “American people” like Trump’s and more importantly, his own “economic nationalist approach” favoring cuts on legal immigration, harsh penalties on DACA recipients and legal immigrants, and criminalizing undocumented immigrants’ status whose presence violates civil law. The language used by sites like Breitbart make it clear that this is all about mythmaking and fearmongering. As John Binder writes describing Cotton’s extremist policy: “By 2023, the Center for Immigration Studies estimates that the legal and illegal immigrant population of the U.S. will make up nearly 15 percent of the entire U.S. population.” The Center for Immigration Studies is an unreliable source for immigration data since its fonder John Tanton of embracing eugenics and reportedly told a friend, “for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.” Now Tanton’s allies are attempting to put these ideas into immigration policy. And they wonder why Democrats aren’t interested despite the obvious white supremacist implications. Judging by Trump’s actions on revoking temporary protected status on DREAMers, Haitians, and El Salvadorans, I’m guessing he’s with the hardliners. Thus, as far as I see it, I don’t see any resolution in sight to this shutdown.

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The Wonderful World of Vintage Valentines (Fifth Edition)

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Now that it’s late January, you’re bound to see plenty of red, pink, and white hearts at the store for Valentine’s Day. Sure it’s a day when people celebrate love and romance within the confines of the unpredictable snowy weather. Well, as far as we see it in the foreseeable future. So naturally, it’s a time when people send valentines to each other to express their love, along with candy and a stuff animal. This wasn’t much different back in the day. And while you might see plenty of cute valentines from that time, you’ll find some that seem rather strange. Some might contain double entendres. Some might be outright racist. Some may be creepy and contain unsettling messages. Some might defy all sense of logical explanation. But whatever the case, sending these old timey cards to your sweetheart might result in an inevitable breakup. However, feel free to look at these for a good laugh, especially if you’re single. So for your reading pleasure, I give you another assortment of crazy vintage valentines from yesterday.

  1. “Valentine! Speaking of spooks and haunts and such-beware! Help! Watch out!”

For one, Halloween has been over for like months. Second, sentiments like “beware,” “help,” and “watch out” don’t have good connotations.

2. You can even say the Devil has a heart on Valentine’s Day.

And here he stabs one with a pitchfork. All the other hearts below him are in a pit of fire. Not sure what to make out of that.

3. “Stop de-baiting and be my valentine.”

Still, we know why fishermen bait a fish. And it’s more along the lines of catch to eat. Nevertheless, the fish kind of reminds me of a Creature of the Black Lagoon winking in makeup.

4. Seems like some Indian wants you in her teepee.

Boy, that’s racist. Not only the speech seems offensive but the Indian looks pretty white.

5. All this guy wants is a girl in the kitchen to cook for him.

Some like light boys. Some like dark boys. But all I want is a guy who can make his own damn sandwich.

6. “Forbidden fruit is sweetest.”

Well, let’s say that this boy is budding pervert looking up that girl’s skirt. Bet this won’t go well.

7. Painting a heart can always do the trick.

I know it’s supposed to be red paint. But it looks like blood. This boy may love but he has a sick way of showing it.

8. “If you’ll be my sweetheart, I will be your beau.”

Sorry, Bobby, but I don’t think she’s interested. She’s still hung up over Pete going with Gretchen.

9. “O, Cupid, Cupid, how could you be so cruel!”

Takes “playing games with my heart” to a whole new level. But in this case, it’s soccer.

10. One always has eyes on their valentine.

Though I don’t take the guy’s stare as a loving embrace. Reminds me of some guy with a sick murder fetish.

11. “I aim to win you. You’re the ‘big shot’ in my life!”

But does she really need to use a cannon? Even if the balls have hearts on them. I’m sure she’d have better luck with the unusually short skirt.

12. Apparently, the Krampus has something to do with Valentine’s Day.

Though sometimes Krampus can get bored waiting until next Christmas to terrorize you. So he spends Valentines roasting hearts on a rotisserie.

13. Sometimes a valentine choice depends on what kind of house one lives.

So Jenny won’t live with Jimmy in a cottage. But she’ll have him in a bungalow. Apparently, she has her preferences.

14. “I feel awful funny whenever I think of you.”

So Bubbles the Clown has two hearts with an arrow stitched on his ass. Then again, his smile sends an uncomfortable vibe.

15. “Don’t be afraid, it’s only me with your Valentine.”

But showing up with a freaking mask doesn’t help matters. Then again, even without the mask, the kid still looks pretty creepy.

16. Love can always be better than money.

Basically, this valentine says, “I may be broke, but I have plenty of love to go around.” Still, he kind of seems a bit all over her. Yet, she doesn’t seem to mind.

17. “I’d like to label you ‘all mine’ and tell the gang you’re my valentine!”

Though putting a heart on her back doesn’t seem to have good implications. This is especially if she’s bewildered by the whole thing.

18. “Don’t keep me in the dog house, my valentine.”

And yes, this boy is literally in the dog house. Still, I’m not sure what would put him in the dog house. Nor do I want to know.

19. “I’ll come clean, be my valentine.”

Unfortunately, this scene sends a lot of Sandusky locker room vibes. Let’s just say, I find this valentine as disturbing as hell.

20. “It beats all how much I like you, Valentine!”

Sorry, but this Black Sambo beating a drum won’t win over that black person you’re trying to impress. Because it’s incredibly racist.

21. “You’re unusual, Valentine. Be mine.”

But saying she’s unusual like a carnival attraction might not go over well. Also, the girl’s in a cannon.

22. “The ‘bare fact’ is I want you for my valentine!”

Note that she’s naked and has a towel over her naughty bits. You can get what she might imply from the intended recipient.

23. Police clown wants you to be his valentine.

Though I wouldn’t want to be caught by this guy. Since he’s the stuff of nightmares. And he’s angry.

24. “Boom goes my heart!”

Note how he has the cannon positioned at his nether region. If you’ve looked at my other posts with boys and cannons, you can probably guess what this implies.

25. “This is no ‘boner,’ you’re my sweetheart.”

Actually, ‘boner’ meant a mistake at the time. But considering it’s a valentine, it might mean what you get from Viagra.

26. “No monkeying- I’m starving for you, my valentine.”

Though the girl’s holding the banana rather suggestively. And, no, that doesn’t look right.

27. “There’s ‘space’ in my heart for you, Valentine!”

Here he hugs onto the rocket. Not sure what that means, but I can guess there’s a phallic implication.

28. “Here is a king size chocolate wish for you!”

For nothing suggests love like the prospect of lung cancer, heart disease, and respiratory problems. Awww.

29. Even in injury, some just don’t know when to quit.

The fact he has a bump and bandage on his head doesn’t seem to get him to come to his senses. Also, if his valentine is a private secretary, then he might be liable for sexual harassment.

30. No guy would be wise to turn down Lixie.

Yet, I’m not sure what the candy she’s selling. Though it seems rather stick like. Oh, wait…

31. Sometimes a heart can be a bait for a trap.

You mean they had rats in valentines? Seriously, this is just so messed up. And yes, I think the heart is a trap.

32. “I’ll never forget/So you can bet/I’ll get you yet!”

Let’s just say the idea of an elephant coming to get you is just frightening. Also, suggests that the giver has no idea how to conduct a healthy relationship.

33. This guy is all tied for his valentine.

For nothing says love like tying oneself to a heart with Cupid’s help. If you and your sweetheart love kinky sex games, this is for you.

34. “I get a ‘bang’ out of you!”

Yes, hammer motifs in valentines are pretty disturbing. And this one pretty much nails it in.

35. “My love is hot by ginger, Valentine!”

Another instance of misplaced holiday icons. Still, the gingerbread man’s face may seem borderline offensive to some viewers. Or creep you out.

36. “You’re really ‘solid,’ let’s start now.”

I think I know where this going. And I’m implying beyond the kissing and hugging stage here.

37. “I have nine lives of love for you, my valentine.”

Nonetheless, Felix the Cat has just been released from Arkham Asylum. And he’ll wreak havoc on Gotham City as we speak since Batman has cat allergies.

38. “I’m ‘crying’ my eyes out for you. Be my Valentine!”

Sure the message may be sweet. But using a freakish yellow onion clown from nightmares doesn’t do any favors.

39. “Gr-r-r. I’ll be angry if you won’t be mine!”

Looking at that tiger, I don’t think this is a healthy way to initiate a relationship. Guess not good rejection.

40. This kitty wants to play a song for you.

Nevertheless, I’m not sure if I want to hear this cat on the piano. Seems a bit angry in the eyes. Like she’ll scratch you up if you reject her.

41. “It’s strictly business, be my valentine!”

I’m sure this girl should report this creep to Human Resources. Also, note how this guy looks at her back.

42. Cupid sends Valentine’s greetings.

And he has a large chest with hearts all over it. Don’t really want to know what he has in there. In fact, I’d rather not dwell on it.

43. Even Superman isn’t immune to love.

Yes, to Superman, love is like Kryptonite. It makes him weak. So I guess the man from Krypton shouldn’t fall in love. Too bad he’s with Lois Lane.

44. “Hope I make a hit with you. This time I’ll put some punch in it. Be my Valentine!”

Okay, this seems to suggest interpersonal violence, which is a relationship no-no. Also, the kid seems a bit angry and can’t take a hint.

45. “Anyone can plainly see/My teacher is O.K. with me. Be my Valentine!”

He’s holding an awfully long ruler. Anyway, I think I know what he’s suggesting. And it’s what we usually don’t talk about in school until the 8th grade.

46. “Dear, don’t see how you can live in such a cold place.”

And I can’t see how Cupid rises from a heart with a fur shawl. Okay, I guess this suggests that the recipient is a cold bitch. That’s kind of insulting.

47. “I’m cooking up a scheme to get you to be my valentine.”

And I see she’s probably cooking something in a cauldron over an open fire. Hope it’s not a love potion since it’s a date rape drug.

48. When it comes to romance, expect some disturbance.

From Viral Wonderz: “Hugging may be romantic, but this guy has got his eyes somewhere else. His Valentine is looking at him lovingly in the eye, but he has his eye on other parts of her body. They may look innocent, but there’s nothing innocent about this guy. The message is even more disturbing. This looks like a crime waiting to happen.”

49. “Why not ‘juice’ me for your valentine?”

From Viral Wonderz: “Read more: “We’re not sure if this card is advertising a juicer for Valentine’s day or has a different meaning altogether? Yes, we love our refreshing lemonades but we think this vintage card wants to juice something else. Just hope that the father of your valentine won’t see this or else you’ll be the one juiced up.”

50. “I have to join two hearts in one/And wish this tender task were done.”

However, she has all those hearts on her dress and just has to have one more. Not surprisingly, she breaks a few.

 

All the Snowflake King’s Men

On Tuesday, January 9, 2018, California US Senator Dianne Feinstein released a full transcript of Fusion GPS Glenn Simpson’s extensive 21-hour testimony before 3 Congressional committees. According to her, “The innuendo and misinformation circulating about the transcript are part of a deeply troubling effort to undermine the investigation into potential collusion and obstruction of justice. The only way to set the record straight is to make the transcript public.” The move follows a decision by Republican Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley and Senator Lindsey Graham, who after months of testimony, issued a criminal referral for Steele, alleging the committee had reason to believe the former spy has lied to the authorities about his conversations with the press regarding the dossier. His spokesman, Taylor Foy called it, “confounding” that Feinstein released the transcript “unilaterally” over the Republican majority’s objections. Well, of course, she did because she knew the Republicans were cover up that testimony to protect Trump’s ass. But according to Foy, “Feinstein’s unilateral decision was made as the committee is still trying to secure testimony from other witnesses, including Jared Kushner. Her action undermines the integrity of the committee’s oversight work and jeopardizes its ability to secure candid voluntary testimony relating to the independent recollections of future witnesses.” By releasing the transcripts against objections from Republican colleagues, Feinstein didn’t cause much harm. She broke no law. Though Simpson testified in a closed session, he wasn’t a government official. Nor did he discuss classified information or anything about anyone’s private life. Besides, Simpson had already called for his testimony’s full release. What Feinstein violated was the normal rules of Senate decorum, which Republicans had been using to cover up a key point that debunks some of their own talking points about this matter.

Simpson’s testimony contains many revelations. He touches upon how the Trump Organization handles taxes saying, Donald Trump’s relationship with gangster Felix Sater, how his country clubs aren’t making any money and that someone might’ve been killed as a result of the dossier. But most importantly, his testimony revealed that the FBI was already investigating potential links between Donald Trump’s campaign and the Russian government before they even heard anything about Christopher Steele’s infamous dossier on the matter. During the hearing, Simpson stated when Steele spoke to the FBI about his findings, the bureau, “believed Chris’s information might be credible because they had other intelligence that indicated the same thing, and one of those pieces of intelligence was a human source from inside the Trump Organization.” That along with a report from the New York Times suggests that Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos who during a night of heavy drinking in May 2016, accidentally kicked off the Trump-Russia investigation by telling an Australian diplomat that Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.

We must not forget that Feinstein released this transcript over her Republican colleagues’ objections. Recently, conservatives had been pushing a theory that the basis for the FBI investigation was an opposition document compiled at the Clinton campaign’s behest. On January 3, key House conservative Rep. Jim Jordan rolled out a tweetstorm of 18 questions about the FBI and Russia, many of which centered on the Steele dossier. Along with another leading House conservative Rep. Mark Meadows, Jordan is calling for Trump to fire Jeff Sessions and put in a new attorney general to oversee and possibly quash the Russia investigation. This is part of a broader effort to discredit the Robert Mueller investigation which in turn is part of the conservative counternarrative on the whole Russian scandal. The dossier plays a key role in this conspiracy theory. By putting the dossier on trial, they have tried to impeach the basic case that people in Trump’s circle may have coordinated with the Russians who attacked the election. Trump allies have also used the dossier to go on offense against the FBI and the Justice Department, charging that “biased” federal investigators used what Republicans call partisan, Democratic-funded propaganda as the basis for the whole Russian investigation. However, the reality is that while intelligence circles hold Steele in high regard, there’s no evidence that the FBI has ever used his work as the basis of its Russia investigation. Besides, the case for collusion goes beyond the dossier and includes outreach by Russian agents to the Trump campaign as well as meetings between Trump associates and Russians.

Now who is this Glenn Simpson and what is Fusion GPS? Simpson is one of the co-founders of Fusion GPS which is a “strategic influence” firm first hired by the conservative publication called the Washington Free Beacon in 2015 to conduct opposition research on Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee contracted the firm once Trump’s Republican nomination became more imminent. In turn, Fusion hired former MI-6 Russian specialist Christopher Steele to specifically look at Trump and Russia. The former British agent used his Russian contacts to compile a dossier describing efforts by Russian President Vladimir Putin to cultivate a relationship with Trump and his entourage and to gather material to blackmail the candidate if necessary. He did not pay sources for the information. His investigation ended with a several allegations including that Russian security services are blackmailing Trump with a recording of him paying prostitutes to pee on his bed at the Moscow Ritz Carlton presidential suite. And that Trump’s campaign was the beneficiary of a multifaceted Kremlin plot to interfere in the 2016 US election. Obviously, Steele felt his findings went beyond political campaign fodder and made him worry that there was a genuine threat to US national security. So he took the info to the FBI who was already getting tips and reports something was going on. Steele’s information just confirmed the seriousness of the situation. Buzzfeed published Steele’s dossier in January 2017 which set off a firestorm of controversy and intrigue which neither man intended to happen. But in recent months, it had taken new life as the centerpiece of a conservative counter-conspiracy theory that Trump’s political enemies cooked up the whole Trump-Russia investigation. Simpson’s testimony primarily debunks the conservative narrative placing the infamous dossier at the center of the story and confirms the Times account of a drunk Papadopoulos kickstarting the Trump-Russian investigation.

But how could a drunk Papadopoulos be the start of the Trump-Russian investigation? Let’s just say that it all boils Papadopoulos having a drunk conversation with Australia’s ambassador to the UK, Alexander Downer about Russia having dirt on Hillary Clinton. Downer, of course, shared the details with other Australian officials who ultimately passed word of it to their American counterparts once the hacking of Democratic email accounts became a big deal. And thus the FBI investigation ensued that July. All because Papadopoulos said the wrong thing to the wrong guy while under the influence. They listened to Steele because they already had an investigation into the Trump-Russia question underway. While the investigation hasn’t yet proven the existence of anything like the vast conspiracy Steele alleges, it certainly has uncovered a real evidence of wrongdoing. This consists of a Papadopoulos guilty plea along with serious criminal charges against former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. We’ve also learned that key Trumpworld figures like Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr. were at least eager to potentially collaborate with the Russian government into revealing anti-Clinton “dirt.” Rather than taking a cue from Downer in alerting the authorities to the existence of the of an active Russian intelligence effort aimed at the United States. There also continues to be an ongoing investigation that might yet reveal other criminal activity. Or it might not. Either way, Simpson’s testimony is more evidence that law enforcement took the Trump-Russian collusion question seriously for reasons that had nothing to do with the Steele dossier.

Steele may have overreacted as well as got things wrong. Yet, fundamentally, it doesn’t matter since the investigation doesn’t rise or fall on his credibility. Even so, he turned the dossier to the FBI for no obvious reason other than his allegiance to our closest ally. Despite what the Republicans think, the Steele dossier was not a purely political document paid for by Democrats to hurt Donald Trump. Else Steele wouldn’t have reported such information to the FBI. In fact, the Democrats hardly made a concerted effort to hit Trump where it hurts during the 2016 election and they didn’t need a dossier suggesting treason to do it. For Trump’s history of corruption of dubious business practices is simply mindboggling. Also, he’s a narcissistic sociopath who has consistently abused any position of power he’s had to enrich himself. Besides, allegations of collusion with a foreign power to interfere in an election are far more serious than the traditional political punches.

While Republicans decry that Feinstein’s decision to make the Simpson testimony public undermines the congressional investigations, it was the their own efforts to obstruct inquiries that prompted to her to release the documents in the first place. Because they’d rather stick with Trump for their own selfish interests despite the damage he’s done to this country, how many norms he’s violated, and how he’s enriching himself. In an op-ed Fritsch and Simpson write, “We suggested investigators look into the bank records of Deutsche Bank and others that were funding Mr. Trump’s businesses. Congress appears uninterested in that tip: Reportedly, ours are the only bank records the House Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed. [We] found widespread evidence that Mr. Trump and his organization had worked with a wide array of dubious Russians in arrangements that often raised questions about money laundering.” The House committee investigating Trump’s Russian connections was an utter joke while led by Rep. Devin Nunes who was on Trump’s transition team! Last year, the California Republican betrayed his oath of office on behalf of a faction within the Trump administration. Hell, he practically went to and from the White House telling Trump and his allies the House committee’s activities. In siding with Trump, Republicans have put their party over nation and principles. In essence, instead of pursuing what Fusion GPS found out about Trump, they’ve become enablers to a possible traitor who has no love for the country he’s supposed to lead, no respect for the democratic values he’s supposed to protect and promote, and no affinity for the rule of law he’s supposed to abide.

Nevertheless, the fact Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans didn’t want the Simpson testimony released to the public speaks volumes about their motives. As Simpson and Fusion GPS co-founder Peter Fritsch wrote in an op-ed that the committees have “known for months” of credible collusion allegations but have chosen instead to “chase rabbits.” And yet, Republicans tried pushing a conspiracy theory that Trump’s political enemies created the dossier to defame him and launch an FBI witch hunt. It’s clear conservatives in Congress have been misleading people about the origins of the FBI investigation into Trump and Russia with hopes in discrediting it. We all know that Republicans want to hold on to their power to enact policy they want no matter how unpopular it is. We know they’re willing to support Donald Trump so they can get their way. It is one thing for a major political party to unite behind a corrupt president. But it’s a very serious concern when the GOP unites behind a campaign of willful disinformation at the country’s expense. As Joshua Marshall wrote in Talking Points Memo, “What’s happened is that we’ve had a year tarnishing the reputation of a man who did right by the United States for no obvious reason other than his allegiance is to our closest ally and creating a comic, degenerate alternate reality in which the people who alerted us to the problems and those who first sought to understand them are the malefactors rather than the people who were at a minimum cozying up to a foreign power. It is actually quite like the cliched story of the whistleblower who speaks up and then becomes the scapegoat in the cover-up of the bad acts he was trying to bring to light. In fact that’s exactly what it is.” Now that Republicans have chosen to protect their Snowflake King, we must remember how their selfishness at Capitol Hill has disgraced the nation.

The Madness of the Snowflake King

In this winter of our discontent, there is a term flying around conservative circles called “snowflake” used to describe liberal extremists who get offended by every statement and/or belief that doesn’t exactly match their own. To them, these individuals think they’re just unique as “snowflakes” when they really just have fragile feelings. To be fair, I do believe there are some liberal snowflakes who do exist. But when it comes to fragile feelings and offense by every statement and/or belief not aligning theirs, I think the “snowflake” label describes conservatives much more. For one, conservatives have an entire media ecosystem to insulate them from uncomfortable mainstream truths and assure them their views are perfectly reasonable. I mean when other networks air rather damning stuff on Donald Trump, Fox News runs stupid shit and peddles conspiracy theories. Secondly, conservatives go absolutely apeshit over race related issues such as Black Lives Matter calling attention to police brutality, NFL players taking a knee, and removing Confederate monuments. Third, those so-called “snowflakes” conservatives refer to have had to deal with all kinds of offenses and systematic injustices against them for perhaps their whole lives.

But in the United States, there is no bigger snowflake in the country than Snowflake King Donald Trump. Even before he ran for president and disastrously ended up in the White House, we all know that this guy has a massively inflated ego and self-delusions of grandeur. He sees himself as a successful and brilliant businessman despite being an outright fraud who’s shamelessly engaged in unethical practices and corruption that have ruined hundreds of people’s lives. His presidency will become legend for his incompetence, his Twitter tantrums, his lack of regard for the law, democratic principles, and norms, and his corrupt administration that’s loaded with sycophants. Still, Trump is known to burst over the slightest insult that he’s referred the mainstream media as “fake news” whenever they run a negative story about him. For a president, to discredit the media over the negative stuff about him whether it be his unethical business practices, his flagrant disregard for democratic norms, his lack of respect of democratic values, openly racist tirades, his Twitter tantrums, his incompetence and mental instability, and pathological dishonesty. Even before he became president, Trump was known to at least threatening to sue those who dare challenge him or at least said stuff about him he didn’t like. Sometimes this has resulted in real life consequences. In 1990, he threatened to sue Janney Montgomery Scott unless they fired their securities analyst Mark Roffman. His crime? Issuing a negative forecast for Trump Taj Mahal which was later proved correct. Nevertheless, Roffman lost his job and spent the next few years in a living hell. A year later, Trump threatened to sue any broadcaster or distributor who’d show an 80 minute documentary about him called Trump: What’s the Deal?, which powerfully and disturbingly portrayed him as the fraud he actually is. His effort to suppress the film proved successful.

Recently, a book has been recently published called Fire and Fury: Inside the White House which has been dominating the political cycle this January. Written by longtime New York columnist Michael Wolff, media outlets have run excerpts from it which has resulted in a furious response from Donald Trump. In fact, his lawyers sent a cease and desist letter to the book’s publisher, demanding to stop publication. Not surprisingly, it has become a bestseller as copies fly off the shelves. Still, while Fire and Fury isn’t the most factually accurate account of Trump in the White House, it nonetheless confirms a lot of the dysfunction and disorganization that has characterized the administration. Specifically, Wolff’s book depicts a deeply unprepared, incurious president surrounded by toadying advisers concerned about his ability to do his job. Knowing how willfully ignorant Trump is about how government works during the 2016 Election campaign, this isn’t surprising at all. His lack of knowledge of the US political system was a source of constant criticism. One big instance of that on display was when he promised to pick a Supreme Court Justice who’d “look very seriously” at Hillary Clinton’s e-mails. However, the Supreme Court tries laws, not people. In a primary debate in Houston, Trump referred to federal judges “signing bills” a task the president does in a federal system. As Wolff recalled in his book on how some of Trump’s closest aides spoke of him behind closed doors: “This—insulting Donald Trump’s intelligence—was both the thing you could not do and the thing—drawing there-but-for-the-grace-of-God guffaws across the senior staff—that everybody was guilty of. Everyone, in his or her own way, struggled to express the baldly obvious fact that the president did not know enough, did not know what he didn’t know, did not particularly care, and, to boot, was confident if not serene in his unquestioned certitudes. There was now a fair amount of back-of-the-classroom giggling about who had called Trump what. For Steve Mnuchin and Reince Priebus, he was an “idiot.” For Gary Cohn, he was “dumb as shit.” For H. R. McMaster he was a “dope.” The list went on.”

Now we all know that Donald Trump doesn’t like to read which is a very terrible sign. Because on any given day, a president is expected to read about as much as a college student cramming for a big exam. Thus, as Cracked reports, intelligence agencies have to keep their reports 25% shorter than Obama’s and allow no space for dissenting opinions. Policy papers are trimmed from 3-6 pages down to a single page with lots of graphics and maps. The National Security Council has taken things a step further by “strategically” including Trump’s name as often as possible since he usually keeps reading if he sees it mentioned. But a bigger problem than these oversimplified briefings is that Trump apparently doesn’t even bother to read them. This can lead Lord Cheetohead to embarrass himself in talks with foreign leaders, drafting woefully inept executive orders, or signing off on documents he doesn’t even understand. As Wolff recalls: “Here was, arguably, the central issue of the Trump presidency, informing every aspect of Trumpian policy and leadership: he didn’t process information in any conventional sense — or, in a way, he didn’t process it at all. Trump didn’t read. He didn’t really even skim. If it was print, it might as well not exist. Some believed that for all practical purposes he was no more than semiliterate.” He even quotes Gary Cohn stating, “It’s worse than you can imagine. An idiot surrounded by clowns. Trump won’t read anything — not one-page memos, not the brief policy papers; nothing. He gets up halfway through meetings with world leaders because he is bored.”

Furthermore, Wolff notes how Donald Trump doesn’t seem to understand the kind of responsibility being a president entails. Most Americans are familiar with the idea as of the president as a political and institutional concept, with an emphasis on ritual and propriety. Well, Trump isn’t most Americans since he’s prone to his ongoing Twitter tantrums over stuff that pisses him off. As Wolff writes, “Here was another peculiar Trump attribute: an inability to see his actions the way most others saw them. Or to fully appreciate how people expected him to behave. The notion of the presidency as an institutional and political concept, with an emphasis on ritual and propriety and semiotic messaging — statesmanship — was quite beyond him.”

Wolff also describes him as anti-intellectual as he noted, “For anything that smacked of a classroom or of being lectured to — “professor” was one of his bad words, and he was proud of never going to class, never buying a textbook, never taking a note — he got up and left the room. This was a problem in multiple respects — indeed, in almost all the prescribed functions of the presidency.” Such conduct is very unbecoming of a vast array of occupations, especially if they require a college degree. But if you’re the President of the United States, it’s incredibly unforgivable. Though we know that Trump’s brand contains a very anti-intellectual streak, eschews the advice of experts, doesn’t sponsor any cultural events, and doesn’t express any form of curiosity in anything. He sees no value in science, history, or education. And his campaign might be responsible for why more Republicans might have more negative opinions about colleges and professors they see as liberal elites in their ivory tower. If Trump should call himself a “stable genius” then he’d probably buckle up in the Oval Office, listen to criticism, and take notes. Despite that academics might seem to be in their own little worlds at times, a politician advocating anti-intellectualism is a very terrible thing since it encourages willful ignorance and disinterest in learning and education. And Trump’s willful ignorance and disinterest in anything but his own vanity and enrichment is rooted into his own narcissism and sociopathy since he worships no god by himself and he has no faith than in the almighty dollar.

Nor does Donald Trump seem to have the proper temperament or understand his role to lead a nation. As Wolff recalls, “What was, to many of the people who knew Trump well, much more confounding was that he had managed to win this election, and arrive at this ultimate accomplishment, wholly lacking what in some obvious sense must be the main requirement of the job, what neuroscientists would call executive function. He had somehow won the race for president, but his brain seemed incapable of performing what would be essential tasks in his new job. He had no ability to plan and organize and pay attention and switch focus; he had never been able to tailor his behavior to what the goals at hand reasonably required. On the most basic level, he simply could not link cause and effect.” Cracked has reported that American agencies are withholding an unusual amount of information from Trump. Though Trump has expressed scorn for the intelligence community (particularly when it comes to Russia). However, a bigger concern for them might be his habit of casually announcing classified information to rival governments. In May 2017, during a meeting with Russian officials, Trump reportedly boasted about the quality of intelligence he received every day. He also revealed details of a terrorist plot he’d recently been informed of. The problem with that is that revealing you know something can let someone guess fairly quickly how much you know it which can compromise the original intelligence source who may not have wanted the Russians to know about it. Though America doesn’t need to be hostile with Russia anymore, we know it has very different goals and ambitions than we do. Meaning that we need to exercise a degree of caution when dealing with them. But Trump’s carelessness with intelligence can be more than a one-time problem since in the wake of this story, an unnamed European country warned that they may stop sharing intelligence with the United States because they don’t like Trump compromising sources while trying to impress people.

Nevertheless, Donald Trump’s bizarre behavior has often compelled about his mental state long before Fire and Fury. Just last week, he unleashed a series of tweets which culminated in a nuclear threat of nuclear war with North Korea. On January 2, 2018, he tweeted, “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!” In fact, the book’s very title came from a Trump speech back in 2017 over North Korea when he said, “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” This at an event that was supposed to focus on opioids. Such statement terrified North Korean experts who worried about Trump provoking a war with another nuclear-armed power. Yet, Wolff noted such words also scared the bejesus out of Trump’s staff as they spent the next week trying to get him to stop talking about it. As Wolff wrote, “North Korea, a situation the president had consistently been advised to downplay, now became the central subject of the rest of the week — with most senior staff occupied not so much by the topic itself but by how to respond to the president, who was threatening to ‘blow’ again. Charlottesville was a mere distraction, and indeed, the staff’s goal was to keep him off North Korea.” To use Charlottesville to distract Trump from North Korea just makes me cringe. This is one of many examples illustrating that Trump is incapable of understanding the consequences of his actions. When Trump does something like fire James Comey, bomb Syria, or threaten North Korea, he does so without any sense of how human beings might be affected. As Wolff writes, “One of Trump’s deficiencies — a constant in the campaign and, so far, in the presidency — was his uncertain grasp of cause and effect. Everyone [in the White House], in his or own way, struggled to express the baldly obvious fact that the president did not know enough, did not know what he didn’t know, did not particularly care and, to boot, was confident if not serene in his unquestioned certitudes.”

But while the White House tries to write off Fire and Fury as “trashy tabloid fiction,” its fallout suggests otherwise. Already, Donald Trump has treated its revelations as gospel truth has launched a blood feud with his former strategist and campaign CEO Steve Bannon. Because on January 3, 2018, the Guardian posted excerpts from Wolff’s quoting Bannon saying some remarkable things about the Trump family. In these excerpts, Bannon called Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower “treasonous,” speculated that Trump might’ve been involved as well, and asserts that Jared Kushner is involved in some “greasy” business that could expose him to money laundering charges. These revelations not only cut into Trump’s denial of wrongdoing in the Russian scandal but also insulted his family members as well. Neither of which will put you in Trump’s good graces. Interestingly, Bannon’s Brietbart website reproduced some quotes sometime later without disputing them, giving a seeming impression of accuracy. Furious at the Bannon revelations, Trump released an infuriating statement reading, “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. Steve doesn’t represent my base — he’s only in it for himself.” Except that Bannon’s Brietbart website is called “the platform of the Alt-Right” who mostly comprise of white supremacists which number among Trump’s most ardent supporters. Anyway, Trump goes on to minimize Bannon’s role in his 2016 victory and complain that he helped cost Republicans a Senate seat in Alabama by endorsing Roy Moore. Look, we all know that Bannon played a pivotal role in the Trump campaign or otherwise the alt-right wouldn’t be a thing. Furthermore, he also accused Bannon of constantly, leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was” since it “is the only thing he does well.” Now Bannon is even out at Brietbart over the Trump book controversy over his comments.

It’s not hard to imagine that Donald Trump’s staff never thought he should be president. Nor is it difficult to think that Trump never wanted to be president in the first place. As Wolff frames it, “The Trump campaign had, perhaps less than inadvertently, replicated the scheme from Mel Brooks’s The Producers. In that classic, Brooks’s larcenous and dopey heroes, Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom, set out to sell more than 100 percent of the ownership stakes in the Broadway show they are producing. Since they will be found out only if the show is a hit, everything about the show is premised on its being a flop. Accordingly, they create a show so outlandish that it actually succeeds, thus dooming our heroes.” Though at least Bialystock and Bloom ended up in prison and didn’t doom a whole country. Still, Wolff believes that the Trump administration’s problems currently lie at the concept that even his staff didn’t think he’d win. Why release your tax returns if he’s going to lose? What’s the harm in sucking up to Russia’s government if he’s likelier to build a hotel in Moscow than occupy the White House? Why bother with educating the candidate on major policy issues or build a real platform when he’ll never govern? Or why worry about conflicts of interests or business entanglements if they’re never going to matter? This might explain so much. Yet, even if he was just running for president, those things will still matter.

Still, Fire and Fury paints a picture of Donald Trump through his own tweets, speeches, comments, and actions as well as the constant on- and off-the record statements from his staff. It’s similar to what reporters have heard from top staff at the White House. And similar to what I and much of the American public have long suspected. Trump is not cognitively up to the job of the presidency. He’s not just someone who doesn’t know much about policy or foreign affairs. It’s that he’s someone who doesn’t want to know about policy or foreign affairs. And he dislikes the methods by which you actually could learn about policy and foreign affairs. Thus, Trump’s ignorance isn’t an absence of knowledge. It’s closer to a personality trait and possibly even an ideology, which is even worse.

Naturally, when a man so unqualified for the presidency that his campaign wants him to lose unexpectedly wins the White House, chaos ensues. Suppose you work for Donald Trump at the White House. How would you please, placate, manage, constrain and inform a raging child king? Though the answer is embarrassing. But it’s one Trump’s staff and any foreign government wanting America’s favor know all too well: flattery and sycophancy. Trump’s staff tries to keep their boss from social media with constant praise and putting lots of media in front of him. Also, his staff worry about leaving him alone for hours at a time because he watches too much TV, gets annoyed with what he sees, and throws a Twitter tantrum. Other techniques for keeping Trump happy include hanging a map displaying his electoral victory in the West Wing, planting supporters and planting supporters in crowds as he gives a speech. One instance of the latter had him being passionately cheered while he gave a speech at the CIA headquarters by non-CIA supporters in the front rows for that specific purpose. This pissed off the CIA who consider themselves apolitical and don’t appreciate being herded into a meeting to listen to someone complain about how hard or unfair their job is. He thinks that no politician has been treated more unfairly than him despite that the TV news media has treated him much better than he deserves to be.

And how do you harness the remarkable opportunity you’ve been given to actually build something of value? The central struggle of Trump’s early months was between chief strategist Steve Bannon, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, and chief son-in-law Jared Kushner. All of them in their proximity to power, saw the potential to build a presidency they could be proud of or at least less disgraced by. As Wolff recalled: “Each man saw the president as something of a blank page — or a scrambled one. And each, Walsh came to appreciate with increasing incredulity, had a radically different idea of how to fill or remake that page. Bannon was the alt-right militant. Kushner was the New York Democrat. And Priebus was the establishment Republican. “Steve wants to force a million people out of the country and repeal the nation’s health law and lay on a bunch of tariffs that will completely decimate how we trade, and Jared wants to deal with human trafficking and protecting Planned Parenthood.” And Priebus wanted Donald Trump to be another kind of Republican altogether … As Walsh saw it, Steve Bannon was running the Steve Bannon White House, Jared Kushner was running the Michael Bloomberg White House, and Reince Priebus was running the Paul Ryan White House.” This struggle was hardly a civil conflict ideal as Wolff records the tree factions’ endless squabbles comprising of leaks, schemes, backbiting, and the outside heavies brought in to change Trump’s mind at the last minute. But the conflict was so immense because Trump is incapable of and uninterested in resolving. Trump never gave a damn about Trumpism since he’s not sufficiently interested in policy, ideology, or ideas to direct his own presidency’s course. Thus, the course will be directed by the most firmly established interests around him like his family the congressional GOP.

Nonetheless, Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury contains a mystery it never resolves. As he wrote, “It was obvious to everyone that if [Trump] had a north star, it was just to be liked. He was ever uncomprehending about why everyone did not like him, or why it should be so difficult to get everyone to like him.” However, it would be easy enough for Donald Trump to run a presidency that left him better-liked. He could work with the Democrats, ease up the culture war, and give some gentler speeches. There has never been a president for whom the bar is lower than for Trump. It would be so easy to clear it and he’d have people around him happily acting as guides and cheerleaders. But he didn’t do any of that and Wolff’s book doesn’t provide a satisfying answer since it’s a portrait of a man undone by the very forces he unleashed. Because Donald Trump doesn’t care about policy, politics, ideology, or coalitions. All he cares about is Trump. He wanted to put his name on buildings and in tabloids. Now he has his name on the most important building on the planet and on the front page of most every newspaper in the world. Yet, outside a few conservative outlets, the coverage he receives is horrible, the worst of any president in memory. He can’t perform his job well enough to be liked or respected. But he only wanted the job in the first place because it would force the whole world to like or respect him (except it people still don’t like or respect him, including me). And he’s driven to rage and paranoia by the resulting dissonance, disappointment, and hurt. Mostly because he doesn’t understand that running for the most powerful office in the land will not get people to like and respect you. You have to do something to earn that adoration and respect. Sure he might be a rich businessman, but his career and life have been marked by unethical business practices, baffling corruption, inflammatory statements, and other dubious deeds. Trump wants the adoration and respect for doing nothing besides being a rich businessman and TV star.

This wasn’t what Donald Trump wanted and it’s not clear whether it’s something he can bear. A more capable, competent, and stable person would by now, have either changed their behavior to receive more of the response they crave or just given up on getting that kind of attention. Yet, Trump exists in an unhappy middle ground, starting his day with morning rage tweets, spending weekends retreating to one of his golf clubs, searching for validation he craves in his Twitter feed and on Fox and Friends but never getting it from the elite taskmasters he’s always sought to impress. The pressures of the presidency are enough to break almost anyone but Trump is less suited for the work and backlash than most. The strain’s already showing as his workday’s reportedly shrunk to 11am to 6pm. Yet, the bulk of his first term remains to the detriment of us all and it can include his financial secrets being revealed to the world, his family being indicted, and a crisis he mishandles exploding into a catastrophe (like that didn’t happen already in Puerto Rico). The question now is whether Trump’s staff can keep governing around him and whether a dysfunctional president can have a semi-functional White House. And so far, I don’t really know if that’s possible with a narcissistic sociopath like Donald Trump. Because he’s a man who cares nothing about America, has no respect for democratic values, and doesn’t think the rule of law applies to him. A man like him only inspires more chaos and internal stripe which won’t end until he’s out.

Make a Wish and Blow Out the Candles with These Birthday Party Cakes (Fourth Edition)

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Next Saturday will be my 28th birthday. So like the few previous years, I usually commemorate the occasion with an assortment of crazy birthday cakes you’d find in a store thanks to Cake Wrecks. When you go to a bakery or store like Wal Mart or Giant Eagle, you usually expect the cakes they make to resemble what you’d see in a book they provide or what you’d specify. However, there are times when it’s not the case. Sometimes customers might see a cake with all kinds of mistakes or unintentional errors. But often they have to make the best of the situation. Since you don’t really want to waste a cake. So for your reading pleasure, I give you yet another assortment of birthday cakes gone wrong. Some of these might not be safe for work by the way. Enjoy.

  1. Perhaps you might want a Shrek cake for your birthday.

Okay, Shrek looks terrifying in this. Like he’d eat children and squeeze the jelly out of your eyes. No, he’s not like that in the movie.

2. Small children will always delight with a Barney cake.

Seems like Barney is giving himself a bikini wax. Nothing to see here, kids.

3. Anyone who enjoys Angry Birds will rave about these cakes.

Well, they hardly look angry and they barely look like birds. More like badly drawn Sesame Street characters.

4. There are plenty of kids who’d like a birthday cake of Sponge Bob Squarepants.

Well, it seems that Sponge Bob’s squarepants are now a speedo. And his legs are unusually long.

5. Elmo always makes a wonderful first birthday cake.

Sure he might be in a diaper. But, yes, his smiley face kind of freaks you out.

6. Sometimes when ordering a cake, it might be better not to specify the punctuation.

Since the word “comma” is written into the cake. Perhaps a grammatically correct cake isn’t all that’s cracked up to be.

7. They say many kids would want a cake of Dora the Explorer.

From Mommy Shorts: “Dora the ‘OMG! There are two giant walruses fighting over my hair!'” Though they don’t seem to have white tusks. But yes, the kind of resemble walruses.

8. Sometimes the instructions may get lost in translation.

No, I don’t think that person wanted a cake that said, “Giant 57.” More like a 57 in a giant font size.

9. Not sure if that person wanted a cake with ramen noodles on their mom’s cake, but there you go.

I think the cake decorator wasn’t supposed to hear “ramen noodles.” But it’s on the cake anyway.

10. Of course, children can’t resist a cake of Mickey Mouse.

Why did does Mickey have Princess Leia buns instead of his large circle ears. And why is he smiling like he’s about to stab me?

11. There are times when a nice birthday cake for a friend can go awry.

Yes, some “f” adjectives can be quite positive. But the word “fat” is usually not one of them. Though being “fit” and “fat” is possible.

12. They say youth comes to die at 40.

And his cake is of a tombstone with white and black roses. Well, you’re only young once I suppose.

13. When your baby’s turning 1, make sure the 1 candle isn’t in an inconvenient location.

Yeah, putting that candle between Winnie the Pooh’s legs make it seem like he’s having a wet dream. Still, isn’t he supposed to be a plush toy anyway? I mean Pooh’s not supposed to have any junk.

14. Uh, I think they just wanted the name “Al” under “Happy Birthday.”

You have people who might take instructions way too literally. You have to wonder why you even get cakes like these.

15. At every place, there is always someone who doesn’t take directions well.

This recipient ordered a cake with a green and yellow inscription. They got neither.

16. Happy Birthday, actually we want you to join a 12 step.

Not sure why they make cakes to get people into rehab. But I suppose it might work for some.

17. A kid named Nemo should naturally get a Finding Nemo birthday cake.

Still, Nemo and Dory don’t seem to be a lively pair on this one. Quite the contrary actually.

18. There are times when a cake can send the wrong message.

Was this a cake meant for Father’s Day for Gomez Addams? Or a birthday cake for Herman Munster? Cause this one seems quite grim.

19. Well, they said Stan enjoyed swimming.

Yet, this boy seems like he’s dead in the water. Think we might need a lifeguard in this case.

20. Happy Birthday Keith and Arianna and don’t worry about anything.

A cake with the saying “He trusts you!” doesn’t seem like a good sign for me. Just a thought.

21. There are some men who might want a fishing cake.

Though they wanted the name “Gary” in white. That didn’t happen.

22. “Happy Birthday, Sprinkles!”

Oh, they wanted sprinkles on the birthday cake. Still, at least they got that. Since it has plenty of sprinkles.

23. This person only wanted a 1 on this cake.

This is definitely for a boy’s first birthday as far as the color’s concerned. Yet, some decorator doesn’t know how to take directions.

24. Often an icing likeness doesn’t go over well.

And it seems like this icing girl doesn’t know how to smile. More confused at what’s going on. Like me looking at this cake.

25. A child would delight in a Scooby Doo cake.

Seems like Scooby Doo has a rather thick neck. Still, kind of freaks me out.

26. Apparently, Linda didn’t get what she wanted on her cake.

Looks like this cake didn’t get the cherry. But it did get the instruction which is barely a consolation.

27. A beach body cake should always have a bit of realism.

Though this is a bit too realistic. Seriously, I’m all for not shaving pubic hair. But that doesn’t mean it should be on a cake.

28. Sometimes people just want their cake to be simple.

Indeed this person, just wanted “Happy Birthday.” And they got in on the cake twice.

29. A monkey is always a wonderful motif for a baby’s first birthday.

Though the banana is unfortunately placed between the legs. Not really sending a family friendly connotation here.

30. A dresser cake is perfect for a young girl.

Though I think her name’s supposed to be “Bobbie.” I’m sure her birthday cake will lead to a lot of teasing in school.

31. A cake of a gorgeous woman would fulfill a man’s dreams.

Though there’s something phallic about this cake. I mean her boobs could be easily seen as balls for some reason.

32. You’re never too old to have a birthday cake with a Disney Princess.

Yet, strangely, Snow White doesn’t seem smiling in this one. Or smiling rather awkwardly.

33. Any Disney girl would love a crown cake for her birthday.

Well, it doesn’t seem to resemble a princess crown. More like a crown passed to a younger sister.

34. A 21st birthday is always seen as a rite of passage.

And this one has a Ken Doll puking into a toilet of sprinkles. Kind of disgusting if you think about it too hard.

35. “Happy Birthday Concentrated Debbie.”

Yeah, I have no idea what it means either. Also, what’s with all the cherries?

36. Someone must complain a lot.

I think it’s supposed to be “Whitney.” Still, this is kind of hilarious.

37. For some a birthday cake should have a festive spin.

Though this is a plain cake that says, “Happy Birthday and Fireworks.” Seems this isn’t what they wanted.

38. Apparently, someone has mixed feelings about their child.

Well, kids can seem like brats sometimes. Though this kid is probably turning 9 from what I can count of the candles. Then again, his name is probably Brad and he’s not an unpleasant child at all.

39. There are occasional cakes that can make flagrant accusations.

Let’s hope this is a misspelling of someone’s name. Because such accusation might put you on a sex offender list later.

40. Perhaps you might want a floral cake?

So who the hell names their kid Stick? Because this just seems kind of weird.

41. A rainbow cake should brighten anyone’s birthday.

I guess they wanted a birthday plaque. Not the word “Plaque.” Too bad they didn’t get what they wanted.

42. Best not mind the chocolate bits in the center.

This one says “Just Happy Birthday.” Still, the chocolate bits might be tasty. But they don’t do wonders on its appearance.

43. An 18th birthday cake should always have a unique design.

Though this cake seems more appropriate for a bachelorette party. Includes some silver decorations on the top.

44. Any young child would adore an Oscar the Grouch cake.

And here’s Oscar in his debut on The Walking Dead. And yes, he’s hungry for your brains.

45. Sometimes a birthday cake can be ordered on the stealth insult side.

Not sure if the “you whores” addition was intentional or not. But it’s kind of funny it’s on a cake with pink flowers.

46. Well, at least they included the clown hat.

Though they didn’t have to write it down on the cake. Just putting a clown hat on there would’ve been fine.

47. A first birthday cake should always have endearing characters.

However, these seem like they’re from some horror show. That figure seems like it’s coming apart.

48. There are some places where a tickling hand is appropriate.

But a birthday cake for a 30 year old man isn’t one of them. Also, it looks kind of creepy if you ask me.

49. Young boys always relish with Star Wars birthday cake.

Still, the message seems a bit odd. Sure he’s unlikely to become a Jedi. But does that mean you should have it on a cake?

50. Seems like they don’t know what to do with this birthday boy.

This could almost be a great birthday cake for Anthony Scaramucci. Since he only lasted in the Trump White House for 11 days.

51. A Harley Davidson cake should look badass.

Yet, the flames on this sheet cake seem rather pathetic. Doesn’t inspire any impressive feats.

52. Anyone with the Force would approve of a lightsaber cake.

Though the lightsaber seems rather erect. Like a Jedi has to show their rod.

53. There are those cake decorators who can’t make up their mind.

They think they should decorate a cake. But they’re not sure if it’s this one. And there’s the script.

54. Even adults couldn’t resist a unicorn.

Seems like this unicorn isn’t too happy. Also, doesn’t seem like it’s well drawn either.

55. A cake like this is only appropriate for an old tortoise.

Still, the turtle doesn’t seem lively on this one. Then again, neither is an average person turning 75.

56. You should always follow directions but not too literally.

These cakes say, “Happy Birthday on Both.” One has flowers. The other has a rainbow.

57. A birthday cake should always sparkle.

But a birthday cake that says, “Sparkle” doesn’t go so well. Though the flowers are pretty.

58. Always pipe the words on a cake after you spray paint it.

Because you can barely see “Happy Birthday” on here. Decorator should’ve waited a little while.

59. Apparently, Kelly is an Auburn fan.

Because it’s written on her cookie cake. Despite that the decorator didn’t really need to.

60. Everything should be in its proper place.

But that doesn’t mean they need a description in icing. Unless these inscriptions were for the decorator.

61. Perhaps a beach birthday cake may suit you.

Yet, this one has pumpkin decorations for some reason. Doesn’t seem to be right.

62. Happy Birthday to whoever’s covered in green.

Evidently someone put on the wrong name. So they blocked out in green. Now it’s a green blob.

63. A birthday cake should have a rather intricate design.

However, this seems to resemble a spiral with some yellow icing. Looks really disgusting.

64. When featuring a photo, always choose wisely.

Yeah, that isn’t a flattering picture. This is probably intentional. But if you’re a parent, would you want your kids to see you in a thong? No.

65. Even an adult could enjoy a cake of Chewbacca.

Thankfully, Chewie has aged better in the newer Star Wars movies than on this cake. Here he just resembles a giant Ewok from your nightmares.

66. A little girl will delight in this Minnie birthday cake.

Actually this is an android Minnie Mouse. She has no life in her. Nor any talents but smiling like a serial killer.

67. Back in the 2000s, young girls would die for a Hanna Montana cake.

Miley Cyrus today would’ve been embarrassed to see her likeness on this cake. Kind of makes her seem a bit cheeky.

68. A bunny cake for a kid’s birthday is always nice.

As long as it’s not the Playboy Bunny. But the parents of this 6-year-old didn’t get the memo. Seriously, Hugh Hefner was a creep and his magazine promoted the objectification of women.

69. Any boy would enjoy an Angry Birds birthday cake.

The contraptions are clearly made out of Kit Kat bars. Still, seems rather sloppy on the icing.

70. Not sure what would stink about a skunk cake.

Kind of says, “well, you’re rather cute but give a foul stench when you’re threatened.” Also, prone to get run over by a car.

71. Any Hawaiian girl would love a Hawaiian Barbie cake.

The grass skirt kind of resembles a broom. Perhaps this isn’t as good an idea as it’s cracked up to be.

72. Young children might enjoy a birthday cake of Bob the Builder.

Is that ground meat? Please don’t say it’s ground mea? Because that’s just plain unsanitary as disgusting.

73. A future free thrower craves for a basketball birthday cake.

The cake is a basketball court while the figures are baseball players. So this is basically a baseketball cake?

74. A Yoda cake, wise choice it is.

But family friendly, it is not. As Yoda show off his lightsaber upwards, he has.

75. Seems like someone getting money from decorating this cake.

Because they have the inscription, “Big tip if it’s there before 12.” Not something you’d want to see on a birthday cake.

76. Nothing brings smiles like a little horse cake.

More like a dead horse cake. Some little kid will be disappointed or traumatized on their birthday.

77. Any girl would want a cake with Belle and Cinderella.

Belle and Cinderella seem like they’re more likely to fit in a horror movie than Disney. Belle’s eyes are especially terrifying.

78. Nobody could hate a duck cake for a baby’s first birthday.

Okay, that duck seems like it’s going to kill someone. Don’t look it in the eye.

79. A clown cake is a smash at any kid’s birthday party.

Hey, I didn’t know they had a cake of Pennywise the Clown. I’m sure Stephen King’s It fans would love to see this.

80. I see this is a cake for Gandalf’s birthday party.

Well, he is incredibly old on Middle Earth. So it’s possible the wizard is 13,000 years old. And yes, they do celebrate birthdays there.

Touchdown with These Super Bowl Sunday Party Treats (Fourth Edition)

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Now that we’re in the first days of 2018, it’s now time for NFL playoff season. During this time, the best NFL teams play each other to determine who will compete in the Super Bowl in February. Now for those who don’t live in the United States, the Super Bowl is an incredibly significant time of year in this country. There is no sporting event that receives more buzz or TV ratings than this game. Though I usually don’t watch the Super Bowl unless the Pittsburgh Steelers are playing in it. Mostly because as a resident of the Greater Pittsburgh area, I basically have to since everyone else mostly does where I live. Though if the Steeler face the New England Patriots, let’s hope a bad ref call doesn’t lead to them losing. Anyway, it’s quite common for people to hold Super Bowl parties with all kinds of food which is where I come in. So for your reading pleasure, I give you yet another assortment of Super Bowl treats. Enjoy.

  1. Nothing makes the New Olreans Saints go marching in like these cookies.

Okay, maybe not. But these are certainly professionally made. Consist of a helmet, jersey, fleur de lis, football field, and football.

2. Your Super Bowl guests will delight in these football brownie bites.

Well, these bites are shaped like a football. Or closest thing you can get to a football via brownie bites.

3. Make your tailgate buffet complete with these football French fries.

Surprised why we don’t serve these during the regular season. Then again, regular french fries are usually a football staple anyway.

4. Nobody can resist a peanut butter football.

It’s even covered with sprinkles with icing for the lines. Comes with vanilla wafers and meant for a dessert platter.

5. Care for some football Oreos?

If you’re not into party planning, these are the perfect Super Bowl treats to make. Just put the stitches on the Oreos.

6. These snackadium has all the goodies.

This was for the 2012 Super Bowl XLVI which had the New York Giants and the New England Patriots. Giants won by the way.

7. This snackadium contains plenty of buns.

Yes, I put a lot of these snackadiums on my Super Bowl treat posts. And yes, the can be quite elaborate.

8. Instead of an appetizer platter, how about snack tray cookies?

There basically tailgate snacks in sugar cookie form. But unlike the real items, they all taste the same.

9. Spice up your big game party with these jalepeno cornbread footballs.

Not sure if I’d want to eat one of these. Might set my mouth on fire.

10. No Packers party can do without some guacamole.

This one has multiple layers. And in true Green Bay fashion, it’s covered with cheese.

11. Celebrate the Carolina Panthers with a Cam Newton cake.

Yes, this was for a birthday. Still, we all know that last time they were in the Super Bowl, the Denver Broncos beat them.

12. Chocolate football pretzels make a great game day treat.

Yes, they’re supposed to resemble little footballs. But they all have a chocolate frame and white stitches.

13. Treat yourself to some Dallas Cowboys strawberries.

Hey, they beat the Steelers in the Super Bowl during the 1990s. And they tend to be contenders in the playoffs. So it’s only fair.

14. Packers fans would surely want a cheese cake on their dessert platter.

Well, a cake that resembles cheese. Since Packers fans call themselves Cheeseheads.

15. You’ll find these brownies on the 50 yard line.

Since they’re 50 Yard Line brownies. And yes, they’re covered in green sprinkles.

16. It’s no New Orleans Saints party without these cookies.

Yes, these are another batch of Saints cookies. But they did win a Super Bowl sometime in the 2000s. So it’s fair.

17. A big Steeler football game should always have a cake like this.

It’s a Steeler football cake. And yes, it’s decked in black and gold.

18. For healthy options, you might want this helmet fruit salad.

The fruit is stored in these watermelon helmets and a tray. Perfect for any Super Bowl party.

19. Perhaps you might want a stadium with sandwiches.

Well, this is a small scale snackadium as you see. Yet, the field is made out of guacamole.

20. You’ll score a touchdown with this fruit salad.

This is a fruit salad with a watermelon field. Consists of a football and goal posts, by the way.

21. There’s no better Super Bowl snack than chocolate football potato chips.

Okay, I think cover potato chips covered in chocolate is disgusting. But, hey, to each his own.

22. Nobody could resist these Rice Krispie treats in Arizona.

Well, these are undoubtedly professionally made. But Cardinals fans will sure chirp for them.

23. This Denver Broncos cake is a Super Bowl sensation.

Well, if Denver does make the Super Bowl. But this cake is quite spectacular.

24. No Super Bowl party is complete without a Pepsi snackadium.

Though I never drink Pepsi or any kind of pop. Still, you’ll find all the goodies in the stands.

25. Use these football buns for your game day burger.

Surprised that you don’t see these buns too often. Then again, regular buns work just as well.

26. This Saints cake makes a fine addition to any New Orleans dessert platter.

And if they don’t make the Super Bowl, you can use this cake for Mardi Gras. Since it’s a huge thing in that area.

27. Help yourself to these football hoagies.

These all have cheese for the stitches on top. But they contain whatever you expect for a sandwich.

28. A San Francisco 49ers snackadium should always contain gummy bears.

Though these contain vodka. so they’re definitely not for anyone under 21. Just warning you.

29. Care for a ref shirt cake on your game day dessert platter?

Not sure if this is a popular choice giving refs’ reputations. But yes, this does exist.

30. No one in Washington state should go without these Seattle Seahawks cookies.

All these depict the green Seahawk eyes. However, we all know the team ripped off their logo from Pacific Northwest Coast Native American totem art.

31. A football crepe cake should always be a seven layer dip.

Though how people eat this, I have no idea. Cause this is between a dip, a cake, and a sandwich.

32. A football snack platter should always include pretzels.

Well, flattened pretzel chips, anyway. But you still have the pepperoni pigskin and cheese.

33. Sit back for the big game with these Atlanta Falcons jello shots.

Because if they contain alcohol, then these will come in handy if your team loses to the Patriots within the final moments of the Super Bowl game. Like last year.

34. Support your Pittsburgh Steelers with this black and gold cake.

This is kind of shaped like a football. But it’s decked in black and gold stripes.

35. Care for some Seattle Seahawks jello shots?

Well, these are in Seahawks colors. Though always ask the host whether they contain alcohol before your kids get a hold of them.

36. You’d have to be mad not to like these football brownies.

The footballs are chocolate while the turf is icing. So I guess the brownie is dirt.

37. These football potatoes come stuffed with guacamole and veggies.

Not necessarily potatoes I’d eat. But they’ll probably be a hit at most Super Bowl parties.

38. Feel free to try some carrots on this football veggie tree.

This one has pea pods for football stitching. Yet, go ahead to try some baby carrots on this pigskin.

39. This snackadium comes with paper plates on the side.

Well, at least they come with stuff you can put the food on and wipe your face. Still, the stands have plenty of food.

40. These football pizzas can always use a bit more pizzazz.

So that’s why they have veggies on them. Make sense. Still, at least the stitching is made of cheese.

41. Might want to know how the game’s going between the baby carrots and cherry tomatoes.

Well, this is a stadium veggie tray. It’s like a snackadium but with healthier food.

42. These football brownies contain a Reese’s pieces surprise.

Not sure how they can be cooked into the brownies intact. But they sure look delicious.

43. Perhaps an empty guacamole field may suit you.

This one mostly consists of a guac dip field and Cheez-Its. Perfect for any platter at the big game.

44. I’m sure no one in San Francisco can resist these cupcakes.

Since these are 49ers football cupcakes. All have red icing and a gold football on top. Though the chocolate ones may take a knee against police brutality(okay, that turned out wrong).

45. These helmet taco treats come bite size.

Not sure how they make these. But if I wanted a taco, I’ll just take a taco.

46. Cowboys fans would adore this Dallas star cake.

Though a Patriot-Cowboy Super Bowl would fill my dad with dread. Since he hates both of these teams the most.

47. You’ll find plenty of cupcakes inside this snackadium.

This one was for the Steelers-Packers game back in 2011. Sure the Steelers lost, but whatever. Wasn’t like they were against Dallas.

48. There are no bad calls from these ref peanut cookies.

Well, at least they’re filled with peanut buttery goodness. So even if they rule out a game winning touchdown, you can eat them.

49. Try these cheeseburger cupcakes on any game day dessert platter.

These contain a chocolate cookie as a burger. The other toppings are pure icing.

50. A Seahawks cake like this can be a Super Bowl spectacle.

Yes, it has the Vince Lombardi trophy on top. Still, save it for the after party if the Seahawks make it that far.

51. Bet you didn’t expect a chocolate surprise from this football cake.

These have egg candies in them since they resemble footballs. Not sure how they pull that off.

52. Perhaps you might want to serve food in a wooden stadium.

Well, at least you can resuse this every year and on multiple occasions. Still, you have to wonder how much of the food gets wasted.

53. You can’t have a Super Bowl party without these pizzas.

These are from DiGiorno by the way. And each has a football theme for your party.

54. Care for some football toast?

This just consists of pumpernickel footballs with cheese and pepper slices on it. Simple as that.

55. You’d find a cheesy pigskin on this snack platter.

These are all arranged on layers in a football with the cheese stitches on top. The goal post is the dip tray, by the way.

56. Check out the plays on these brownies.

Well, they sure look like plays. Yet, you can’t really tell that these are food save by the Hungry Happenings caption.

57. Nothing makes a Super Bowl lunch like these pigskn paninis.

It’s just a sandwich on football shaped pumpernickel bread. Not my cup of tea, but I’m sure someone would enjoy it.

58. No snack tray should be complete without some toasted footballs.

Because they always go well with veggies and ranch dip. And your guests would love them, too.

59. Your guests will be impressed with these small hotdog rolls.

Well, these are rather small rolls with more bread on them than hotdog. But that’s beside the point. Still, the middle has mustard stitching.

60. Feel the Pittsburgh steel with these Steelers lemon bars.

Not a fan of lemon, thank you very much. But these still have the Steeler spirit on them.

61. Get a load of these slider cakes.

Yes, these are cheeseburger cakes. But they nonetheless look as tasty as the real things.

62. Always use green and yellow bell peppers for Green Bay.

I bet this is a supermarket display. But it’s nonetheless quite clever. Someone must be starving for customers.

63. Apparently, this cake doesn’t have much air.

Yes, it’s another deflate cake. Nevertheless, as long as Tom Brady’s a Patriot, I always have to include one of these.

64. Treat yourself to the big game with these football Rice Krispie Treats.

These have chocolate and icing on top to resemble footballs. Guaranteed to melt in your mouth.

65. You can’t go wrong with a Baltimore Ravens cake for the big game.

Though while the Ravens have one 2 Super Bowls, they’re not known for their players’ upstanding conduct. In fact, Ray Lewis has as many Super Bowl rings and murder indictments.

66. A Packers fan would certainly rave about this helmet cake.

Sure it doesn’t exactly resemble a helmet. But if it’s tastes good, it shouldn’t matter much.

67. Your guests would adore these Baltimore Ravens jersey cookies.

Includes jerseys of Ray Rice and Ray Lewis. You know the guy who was caught on camera beating his wife and the guy accused of killing two people.

68. This Dallas Cowboy star cake comes with plenty of football strawberries.

Still, the Dallas Cowboys are as beloved in the US as they are hated. But America’s football team, they are not.

69. You can feel the black and gold with this Steeler snackadium.

Well, this doesn’t seem to take much time and effort. Great a smaller party.

70. These New England Patriot cookies come well stamped.

Well, I had to put the Patriots in somewhere. Still, they’re a bunch of cheaters and shouldn’t have one against the Steelers. I mean it was a touchdown.

A Plea for Saving the Children’s Health Insurance Program

In 1993, the late Governor Robert P. Casey Sr. signed the first Children’s Health Insurance Program into law in Pennsylvania, which later served as a model for the federal program Congress would enact a few years later. Westmoreland County’s then State Senator Allen Kukovich was instrumental in enacting this state program that he’s considered its founding father. Since 1997, the Children’s Health Insurance Program has provided matching funds to states for health insurance to children from families who can’t afford marketplace or employer insurance but earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. Sponsored by the late Senator Ted Kennedy in partnership with Senator Orrin Hatch and supported by then First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, it was the largest expansion of taxpayer-funded health insurance coverage for children in the United States President Lyndon B. Johnson established Medicaid in 1968. Today CHIP is a critical government program providing health insurance for nearly 9 million low-income kids as well as remains one of our nation’s most vitally important and widely supported programs. Thanks to CHIP, the United States enjoys has the highest rate of insured children in our nation’s history at over 95%.

On September 30, 2017, CHIP expired when lawmakers couldn’t agree on a 5-year reauthorization of the program. This puts millions of kids at risk of becoming uninsured, and in some cases, being denied the critical care they need to survive and thrive. Though states have remaining funds to keep their programs running for varying lengths of time, it’s an administrative nightmare for states that can’t plan ahead. But they may have to prepare for a possible shutdown of their CHIP programs well before they run out of money. As Alabama CHIP director noted, “This whole situation is causing chaos. We are causing confusion to families, stress and turmoil.” On December 15, Alabama officials were forced to announce that they’d stop taking new enrollees on New Year’s Day and the 84,000 kids (1/8 of the state’s children) currently in the program could lose coverage February 1. In my home state of Pennsylvania, the families of 174,000 children currently enrolled in CHIP are about to receive notices informing them that their insurance may be canceled while Colorado already has sent a letter back in September that their CHIP coverage will be canceled by the end of January. Utah has already submitted a request to the federal government to freeze their program’s enrollment. Some states such as Nevada, already have laws that force officials to freeze enrollment if federal funds decrease at all. By the start of 2018, more than half the states are projected to have used up their available funding. Across the country, families depending on CHIP are running out of time.

On December 21, 2017, Congress passed short-term legislation to fund CHIP until the end of March, which is said to cover an estimated 1.9 million children across 24 states and Washington D.C. which stood to lose coverage care like doctor visits and hospitalizations in January. But this temporary relief still leaves CHIP and the families who rely on it in uncertainty since as of December of 2017, there is no long-term fix in sight. As George Washington University professor Sara Rosenbaum told Bloomberg, “You can’t run an insurance program this way.” Essentially, lawmakers are forcing health officials running the program, “to go month-to-month.” Still, even with these short-term fixes, “there will be relief that the funding has been extended, but it will be combined with a lot of anxiety,” as Kaiser Family Foundation executive vice president Diane Rowland claimed.

Health coverage is critical for children to get a healthy start in life and high coverage rates mean more children have an opportunity to meet their potential. It is well understood that covering kids is an investment in our future since a child’s health, school performance, and future success are all linked. So it goes without saying that unhealthy children are at higher risk for school problems, failing, or dropping out. Children who have health insurance through CHIP or Medicaid have better access to healthcare and do better in school than their uninsured counterparts. And better school performance provides a foundation for future success in life. Thus, investing in children’s coverage programs means investing in not only children’s health, but also academic success and success later in life. CHIP is especially important to children with special health needs, children of color, children in working families, and children in rural communities. Without CHIP, there would be more uninsured children, increased healthcare costs and less access for kids with insurance, and great financial devastation for families with special needs kids. At any rate, losing CHIP will devastating to millions of families, which will mean uncertainty surrounding their children’s health, much higher healthcare costs and added financial burdens, for some, a complete loss in their children’s coverage.

There is no question that Congress must vote to continue funding CHIP or else coverage for the 9 million kids whose families depend on CHIP will be in jeopardy. Should federal CHIP funding end, states would need to adjust their budgets, either ending or significantly cutting back on existing CHIP programs. Options available to a state may depend on whether it operates a separate CHIP program or has CHIP as an expanded Medicaid one. Either way, children’s health coverage will suffer. Nevertheless, failing to fund CHIP will undo 20 years of progress as well as undermine our nation’s values. If we want our children to live and succeed in this country, then funding CHIP should be a top priority. As Americans, we have a moral, ethical obligation to take care of our children. But if we can’t protect children’s health insurance, what does it say about our values?