New Adventures of the Compassionate Curmudgeon

In which I tend to rant. A lot. But compassionately...

Bruce Bartlett On the Republican Party

Bruce Bartlett served in both the Reagan and Senior Bush administrations, but he has since renounced the Republican Party, although he does not consider himself a Democrat. Today he let loose with a tweetstorm about the current state of the GOP and the president, and I thought I'd gather the tweets together and post them here.

 Bruce Bartlett

Bruce Bartlett

The initial tweet can be found at

Bruce Bartlett's Tweetstorm:  @BruceBartlett: Many on the left view anti-Trump folks on the right with suspicion. Maybe they're right. Any anti-Trump conservative who supports Brett Kavenaugh, who will rubber-stamp EVERY Trump policy, is deserving of suspicion. Makes me think their objections to Trump are purely stylistic.

Personally, I am suspicious of anti-Trump conservatives who insist on remaining members of the Republican Party. In theory, there is a case for remaining inside to guide the party back to sanity. In practice, they are enabling the Trumpsters….

like a parent who give their addict child money for food while knowing that it will almost certainly be used to buy drugs. ANY support for the GOP at this point gives aid and comfort to fascism. The only moral position is to leave the party…

and let it die a decent death. Only then can responsible people work to rebuild a center-right party that does not depend for victory on the votes of racists, radical extremists, bigots, fanatics and the other unsavory characters that Trump caters to and depends upon for power.

As anyone who has dealt with an addicted loved one knows, you cannot help them until they hit rock bottom and sincerely ask for help. Until that happens, any aid you give simply enables their addiction. The GOP must also hit rock bottom before decent people should lend a hand.

There is no danger that the country will be deprived of a center-right party; there will always be one. But it must be one purged of Trumpian insanity, based on classic conservative principle of prudence, intelligence and respect for those on the other side, politically.

The utter stupidity and venality and the Trumpsters has no place anywhere in American politics and more than the Nazi Party does in modern Germany. Unfortunately, I see no way at present the crush the fascist right without a great deal of pain & suffering by innocent people.

The end will come, I fear, with some sort of bang rather than a whimper. Historically, wars and violent revolutions have been the end of immoral, illegitimate regimes. And sometimes those events led to counterrevolutions that were worse (Russia 1917, Napoleonic France etc.).

Not making a prediction. It’s just that presently I see no path back to normalcy that doesn't involve a lot of pain and suffering.



Fresh Air

I appreciate fresh air as much as the next guy, I think, but I fail to understand its current fetishization. By that I mean restaurants that offer outdoor seating on narrow sidewalks on busy streets with buses and trucks adding their own unmufflered obbligatos.

An example of an outdoor seating restaurant where I will not be dining

When I had a house (those were the days!), I used to like sitting out on my deck that faced a wooded valley, and I can certainly enjoy an outdoor meal in a quiet neighborhood with wide sidewalks, but being jostled by pedestrians and inundated by the roar of passing traffic all for the sake of being out in the fresh air—no, I don’t get it.

Anyway I have a neighbor who shares the house across the street with two magnificent black dogs that I see him taking for long walks from time to time.

Yesterday afternoon I glanced out my window and saw he had built a make-shift fence on the sidewalk around his front door, apparently so his dogs could enjoy the fresh air. He had placed mats for his dogs to lie down on, and just to make sure the dogs couldn’t jump over the fence, he had tethered them as well, attaching the tether to something just inside the front door, which he had left wide open.

Why he felt the need to do this, I have no idea, as he has a perfectly serviceable deck on the second floor, where I often see him leave the dogs.

Anyway, it didn’t work out very well, as every time he went inside, the dogs sniffed the air for a moment or two, decided there was nothing requiring their immediate attention outside, and followed him indoors. After a few minutes of this, he got the message, and he took down the fence, took the dogs inside, and closed the door.

Now I’m no expert on dogs, but I think the reason dogs like to go outside is to a) do their business (assuming they’ve been house-broken) and b) run around; I don’t think they fetishize fresh air the way some humans do.

But what do I know?


Travelin' Backwards

This post contains some minor spoilers for the first episode of the Netflix series Travelers.

 Eric McCormack

Eric McCormack

I tried watching the Netflix series Travelers. It's about a group of people from a bleak far future who travel to our present to take over people's bodies at the time of death, magically cure them of whatever killed them (stroke, drug overdose, whatever), and then set out to change events to prevent that bleak far future from occurring.

The series offers no explanation for how these people could come to exist if they are successful in changing the future, so it's a very confused muddle to begin with. And in the initial episode (the only one I managed to sit through) one of the travelers refuses to aid a man having a heart attack because it was "his time to die". I thought the point of the travelers coming back was to change things?

How can anyone turn out this drivel? How can anyone watch it?

I give it four stars out of ten. The production values are good and the acting is fine; it's just the premise that is idiotic and the writing that is lame.

It stars and is produced by Eric McCormack, who probably ought to stick to what he does best. Say, what is that? Oh, actually I saw him on Broadway a few years ago in The Best Man; he was pretty good in that (he didn't play the best man). And I understand he's starring in a revived sitcom that's doing pretty well.



Messin' With the Deaf

If you ever want to mess with a deaf person who reads lips (and who among us hasn’t wanted to mess with a deaf person at one time or another?), go up to him or her and say “Vacuum!”

A lip reader can’t tell the difference between that and “Fuck you!”

Actually, you probably only want to do this with someone you know really well, so as to avoid unexpected consequences.

Actually, you probably shouldn't ever do this. Ever.

The Horror That Is Windows

I've been happily Windows-free ever since I retired a little over ten years ago.

But a few months back I started working at a part time job providing technical support for a software company, and as it turns out many, actually most, of our users are on one flavor or another of Windows.

So I decided that I ought to get a copy of Windows to run in a Virtual Box on my Mac.

The oldest version that Microsoft still supports is Windows 7, so I found a copy for about a hundred bucks on Amazon and ordered it. It arrived on a DVD on Monday, and I installed it without a hitch into a Virtual Box.

But then it came time to enter the Product Key.

I looked all over the packaging but couldn't find it until I realized it was covered with a gray seal, the kind one scratches off lottery tickets. The problem was that in trying to scratch it off, I also scratched off part of the Product Key itself.

I contacted Amazon and they gave me a number to call and said they would let me return it if I couldn't get satisfaction from the manufacturer. Alas, the number they gave was not valid.

So I found a web site for Microsoft technical support. After creating an account, and boy does one have to jump through some hoops to create a Microsoft account, I found myself in a chat with a support person who said he was happy to help me. He asked a lot of questions and when I explained that I couldn't read the Product Key after scratching off the gray, he said he could help me.

But when I said I had installed it in a Virtual Box on my Mac, our connection was broken. Coincidence?

I tried a couple more times on the support site and eventually I found myself on the phone with someone. He seemed pleasant enough, but when I told him that I was unable to read my Product Key because it was damaged when I scratched off the gray, he said he'd have to put me on hold.

When he came back, he said he couldn't help me, that I'd have to go back to the place where I bought it to get a replacement. Although he didn't use the word, he strongly implied that I had a pirated copy.

So I did a Google search on "Windows 7 Product Key", found a site called Product Key Downloader, and bought a $26 license from them. My Product Key arrived within a couple minutes, and I installed it in my copy of Windows without a hitch.

Now my only question is should I return the $100 DVD that I purchased from Amazon?


Frontier Looks Amateurish

I started to watch the Netflix series Frontier, but I was immediately disappointed at the amateurishness of the production.

The first couple titles that serve to provide the viewer with some of the context for the history are in ALL CAPS, making them difficult to read to begin with, and they flash by so quickly, there's barely enough time to read them.

Then there are the place setting titles that appear periodically to let the viewer know where the scene is taking place. Once again they are in ALL CAPS, the font size is way too big, and there are no drop shadows, so they are usually difficult to read. (The screen grab alters the colors a bit, so it doesn't give a true sense of the viewing experience.)

Was the budget so low that they couldn't hire any professional editors to do the job right?

Most Convenient What...?

I do my banking at TD Bank, which likes to bill itself as "America's Most Convenient Bank".

Mostly I use their website, which conveniently lists all my TD Bank accounts in one place, so it's simple to navigate. It even includes the TD Visa Card account that I recently opened.

TD Bank, not necessarily America's most convenient...

One of the benefits that enticed me to sign up for that Visa card was the promise that if I spent $500 in the first few months, I'd get $200 back. Where do I sign?

By adding the card to my Apple Pay account, it didn't take long to rack up the $500 in the first few weeks I had it, since I rarely use cash anymore.

Then the first statement came. It was a paper bill. Via the Post Office. All my other TD accounts are paperless. So I checked online and didn't see any way to switch the account to paperless. Plus, although it showed that I had racked up 20,626 "points", there didn't seem to be anyway to convert those points into cash.

So I called the TD Visa Card help line. The answer turned out to be pretty simple. I couldn't do it at TD Bank's web site. I had to set up a new account at the TD Credit Card Service Online site. It would ask if I'd like to go paperless.

America's Most Convenient Bank was forcing me to create a second account at a different site just so I could get statements online? WTF?

So I went to that site and created an account, and... Oh, but it wasn't that simple. When I tried to create a password, I used LastPass to devise a 12-character, letters-numbers-and-symbols password, as I routinely do.

Uh-uh. America's Most Convenient Bank's Credit Card site didn't want the password to be greater than eight characters and it didn't like those symbols. WTF? Is it still 1995?

So I adjusted LastPass's password parameters and set up the account. And sure enough, the site asked me if I wanted to go paperless. One problem solved.

Now to get that $200 refund. As it turned out, I had to go to yet another site, the TD Cash Rewards site, and set up yet another account there. What. The. Fuck?

Well, I went there. I set up an account and...

But no. America's Most Convenient Bank's Cash Rewards site didn't like the password that LastPass created. Turns out this site requires letters, numbers, and symbols!

So I adjusted the password and tried again. I won't go into all the gory details, but the page kept losing my some of my information every time I hit send. So I had to keep re-entering the credit card number and my email address and the password...

But I did finally get in, and I did finally tell it to credit my account with the $200, at which time it told me it would take five business days to do so. Five business days?

I have a serious problem calling this America's Most Convenient Bank.

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