The Trump Watch: Late April 2017

This isn’t as easy as it looks.  It seems like almost every day someone associated with the Trump administration says or does something that reasonable people might consider…well, idiotic.  So how to decide what belongs in The Trump Watch and what doesn’t?

This is probably a moving target, but for now, The Curmudgeon intends to try to reserve The Trump Watch for Agent Orange himself and comment elsewhere on the actions of the Trump administration when the intentions, words, or deeds of those who lead it scream out for special attention.  As he has written in the past, The Curmudgeon hopes not to do the latter so often that it sends readers screaming for other internet entertainment (because The Curmudgeon understands there’s a whole word of entertainment at people’s fingertips on this internet thingamabob).  If you think he’s going in that direction, by all means, please let him know.

Wagging the Dog

On March 29 The Curmudgeon wrote a note to himself about a potential Trump Watch item.  It said:

In light of how he uses tweets to use little issues to distract people from bigger challenges, doesn’t he seem likely to get into a Wag the Dog situation?

Wag the Dog, you will recall, was a movie about a president who, while running for election, fabricates a war to distract voters from his sex scandal.

Color The Curmudgeon clairvoyant:  just a week after deciding this might be something worth writing about, Agent Orange went ahead and wagged the dog with his bombing of Syria.  That bombing had nothing to do with Syria and nothing to do with the kids who were gassed and everything to do with:  a) trying to look “presidential,” whatever that means; b) doing something popular – Americans love nothing more than using their military to beat the crap out of third-world countries; and c) distracting attention from Trump’s failure at almost everything he’s tried since he took the oath of office.

Wagging the Dog, Part Deux

But Trump the Terrible wasn’t done:  next came his use of the so-called “mother of all bombs” on a target in Afghanistan.  If you’re trying to kill people, the big bomb isn’t the weapon to use; smaller, easier-to-target munitions do the job better and more efficiently.  No, the purpose of the big bomb is to blast a really big crater, which, in the case of a target like Afghanistan, ideally would collapse the caves in which ISIS fighters live and operate and pursue their evil-doing.  That, and that alone, is the purpose of using a bigger, more concussive bomb; in fact, that’s why such bombs are often referred to as “bunker-busters.”

So when you read that only thirty-six ISIS fighters were killed and not a word about caves destroyed, you can be pretty sure it was a very big blast that produced very small results.

Unless all you’re really trying to do is look tough and pretend you’re doing something about ISIS.

It Never Ends

Comrade Trump is reportedly jealous of all the attention that Satan, er, Steve Bannon, is receiving from the press and public.  Bannon’s actually being a pretty good soldier in the sense that he does nothing to take attention away from his boss.  He barely speaks to the press and keeps a very low profile.

Role model and idol

But Trump reads newspapers periodically and watches television voraciously (“What do you mean they’re preempting Gilligan’s Island to show the Australian Open?  We want America First programming”) and he sees all the attention Bannon receives and can’t stand the thought that Bannon is receiving credit for what he has deceived himself into believing are his own ideas.  So he went on a mini-offensive recently in which he told the New York Post – because in Comrade Trump’s world that’s considered a real newspaper – that Bannon didn’t play nearly as big a role in his successful campaign as people say he did.

But when talking about that campaign, Trump once again had to pick at an old scab, saying

I’m my own strategist, and it wasn’t like I was going to change strategies because I was facing crooked Hillary.

The campaign’s over and he won, but he just can’t resist resorting to name-calling and casting aspersions every time he opens his mouth.  It’s the kind of behavior you expect from a third-grader, not the leader of the free world.

Who Knew?

In the last Trump Watch we presented a Trumpian “who knew” moment when the president declared that

“Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.”

Well, Agent Orange hasn’t had his last “duuuuh” moment.  He recently went into a meeting with China’s president, Xi Jinping, with a long-held belief that China has what he described as “tremendous power over North Korea.”

But Xi disabused the president of that notion – and did so quickly.

After listening for 10 minutes, I realized it’s not so easy.  I felt pretty strongly that [China] had a tremendous power over North Korea.  But it’s not what you would think.

No, Comrade, it’s not as easy as you thought, but people who do this kind of thing for a living know this – if only he would have asked them.

But oh, that’s right, his team is purging the State Department of people who understand diplomacy.

In the past, Trump has said he has read extensively about China over the years – something almost everyone suspected, if for no other reason than because it’s pretty widely known that Trump isn’t much of a reader.  In this situation, though, it took all of ten minutes for him to learn that everything he believed on the subject of China’s influence on North Korea wasn’t true.

Ten whole minutes.

So close, so close and yet so fa-ar…

But that’s not the end of the story.  Trump revealed that part of his rationale for his perception that China would have considerable influence over China is that Korea was once part of China.

Except it wasn’t.

Never was.

Didn’t happen.

This is what happens when amateurs try to run things.

Once Again, With Feeling

Remember during the presidential campaign when Trump the candidate declared NATO obsolete?

Trump the president, however, announced that “I said it was obsolete.  It’s no longer obsolete.”

Surely he doesn’t expect anyone to believe that the enormous, highly bureaucratic NATO organization completely changed in three months.  So what’s the story?  The story is that Trump knew as much about NATO as the average person on the street, which is to say, very little.

Well, he finally learned.

Ignorance is a candidate’s bliss, a president’s challenge, and a country’s worst nightmare.

Back to China

While running for office, Comrade Trump repeatedly accused China of manipulating currency.  Damn near no one knows what that actually means but it played well with audiences that were looking for bad guys to blame for…well, no one’s entirely sure what his voters were so angry about.

But now that China’s agreed to work with him to try to stop North Korea’s nuclear ambitions?

“They’re not currency manipulators,” he says.

Why not?  What changed?

“Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem?” Trump tweeted.

That’s an attitude that can only make pretty much everyone suspicious of pretty much everything he says or does.  How can foreign leaders – or anyone who deals with him, for that matter – trust a guy who’s so completely two-faced in his dealings with people?  It’s just like last month, when he raved about what a great meeting he had with Germany’s Angela Merkel and then, before you could even say “Colonel Klink,” blistered her and her country over what he believes is Germany’s inadequate financial support for NATO (even though at the time NATO was still on his “obsolete” list).

This Behavior is Not New

A January edition of the New Yorker offered this gem in an article about the potential effects of nuclear weapons on the environment:

“This morning, Trump has a new idea,” Lois Romano wrote in a Washington Post profile of Donald Trump in November, 1984, the week after Reagan defeated Mondale. “He wants to talk about the threat of nuclear war. He wants to talk about how the United States should negotiate with the Soviets. He wants to be the negotiator.” He knew just how to do it. “It would take an hour-and-a-half to learn everything there is to learn about missiles,” Trump told Romano. “I think I know most of it anyway.”

Yes, he thought he knew most of it anyway.

He’d unravel any riddle
For any individd-el
In trouble or in pain
With the thoughts he’d be thinkin’
He could be another Lincoln
If he only had a brain

Like he knew about health care.

And about China’s influence on Korea.

And about the role of NATO.

And about so many, many, many other things.

There’s an old expression that goes “If he had a brain, he’d be dangerous.”

That may be true, but it appears that a president of the United States not having a brain is even a greater danger.

Hey, Benito, Way to Get Those Trains to Run on Time

In Turkey, voters narrowly decided to turn their democracy into a dictatorship, giving their president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, unprecedented power.  The referendum, which barely passed despite considerable intimidation of voters and possibly even vote fraud, dissolves the position of prime minister and vests all executive powers in the president – Erdogan – and gives him power to assume virtually complete control over the country’s government:  he’ll be able to pick cabinet ministers and judges, dismiss parliament  – a parliament stripped of most of its powers – declare states of emergency, push the country toward a more religious state, and more.

So what does the president of the United States do when something like this happens?  Well, since it’s President Trump we’re talking about, he gets on the phone and – congratulates Erdogan.

He called the leader of a democratic country to congratulate him for seizing power and turning that democracy into a virtual dictatorship.

Seriously.  He did that.

Let us hope this doesn’t give Trump any ideas.  He already shows every interest in being some kind of political strongman without precedent in this country and the last thing we need is someone running ahead and marking the trail for him.

Maybe He Thinks They Don’t Get the News in Wisconsin

How else do you explain Agent Orange telling a Kenosha audience that

No administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days.  That includes on military, on the border, on trade, on regulation, on law enforcement — we love our law enforcement — and on government reform.

Forgive The Curmudgeon, but he’s not aware of any accomplishments in these areas.  There have been proposals, ideas have been discussed, things have been put into motion that could certainly come to fruition eventually, but accomplishments?   Has the Trump administration actually accomplished anything yet?  The Curmudgeon thinks not.

About Those “Accomplishments”

That’s twice now The Curmudgeon has pointed to a lack of accomplishments for the new Trump administration.  The truth is that he doesn’t find that particularly alarming; governing is hard work and it’s just not reasonable to expect anyone newly elected to office to achieve his entire agenda in such a short period of time.  What he does find alarming, though, is the deceit in claiming non-existent accomplishments.

Last week the Washington Post decided to dig into the question of those accomplishments.  It found that Agent Orange hasn’t yet even acted on 60 percent of his campaign promises; a respectable quantity of bills passed but none of them significant; plenty of executive orders but two – the Muslim bans – rejected by the courts; the failure of his health care bill; a so-called “skinny budget” that no one took seriously; slower-than-normal filling of cabinet seats; and zero – zero – U.S. attorneys appointed after he fired all of the ones he inherited.

By contrast, FDR’s first 100 days were extraordinary; George W. Bush laid the foundation for a major tax cut; Obama got his stimulus bill passed; and LBJ launched an effort that resulted in the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

So when Trump says he’s accomplished great things in his first 100 days, he not only has no real accomplishments to point to but his performance also has paled in comparison to those who came before him.

Ted Nugent, Sarah Palin, and Kid Rock: the Clampetts visit the White House

White House Visitors Logs

Many people were disappointed when the Trump administration announced that it would no longer share logs of visitors to the White House.  It cloaked this decision in the garb of confidentiality and even “national security.”

The Curmudgeon has another theory, and it has to do with the photo to the right:  would you want to tell the world that these people visited your home?

Then It Looks Like Nobody Can

The New Yorker reports that at a pre-inaugural event, Trump said to son in-law Jared Kushner, “If you can’t produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can.”

Yet another reason we’re in deeeeeep shit.

 

Cause for Embarrassment?

The supermarket at which The Curmudgeon shops plays classic rock over its speakers and recently The Curmudgeon came home in a good mood and turned to Mrs. Curmudgeon – actually, the least curmudgeonly person you may ever meet – and announced “They were playing my favorite Bee Gees song as I was leaving.”

And then he stopped in his tracks and, as she gave him her sweetest “what the hell?” look, wondered:  which is worse – having a favorite Bee Gees song or publicly admitting you have a favorite Bee Gees song?

Some People Never Learn

Jameis Winston is a professional football player with a troubled past.

In November of 2012, police on the Florida State University campus responded to a call about gunfire and encountered Winston and a teammate with their guns literally smoking.  The young men said they had been shooting at squirrels with a pellet gun and were released.

There were no repercussions for Winston’s actions.  After all, he’s a star football player.

Emboldened, the two players went home and engaged in a BB and pellet gun battle in the apartment building where they lived, causing about $4000 worth of damage.  The owner of the building agreed not to press charges when the university said it would pay for the damages.

There were no repercussions for Winston’s actions.  After all, he’s a star football player.

Two weeks later a woman told police she’d been raped and then five weeks later saw Winston in a class and told police he’s the man who raped her.  Police dropped the investigation, only to resume it nine months later at the direction of the state’s attorney.  The new investigation went nowhere and no charges were filed.  By all accounts, the investigation was half-hearted and incompetent – Winston wasn’t even interviewed by the police – because of Winston’s status as a star football player. Even a DNA match of Winston’s semen to that on the assaulted woman did not result in charges. (The woman later sued, and both Winston and the Florida State University paid her a great deal of money to go away.)

There were no repercussions for Winston’s alleged actions.  After all, he’s a star football player.

When the U.S. Department of Education launched an investigation of the manner in which the university handled the complaint – there are federal laws governing how such matters need to be investigated – the university belatedly launched its own investigation.

In July of 2013 Winston was accused of helping himself to a soda at Burger King.  No charges were filed.

There were no repercussions for Winston’s actions.  After all, he’s a star football player.

In April of 2014 Winston was accused of stealing crab legs from a supermarket.  Winston said he forgot to pay for the crab legs, was given a civil citation and directed to perform community service, and was suspended from the university’s baseball team – not from the football team, for which he was the star player.

There were relatively minor repercussions for Winston’s actions.  After all, he’s a star football player.

The following month, Winston failed to appear at a code of conduct hearing for two of his football teammates who had been accused of witnessing the alleged rape reported the previous year.

There were no repercussions for Winston’s actions.  After all, he’s a star football player.

In the summer of 2014 Winston told participants at a summer football camp that one of the perks of being a star quarterback is that you get possession of “all the women.”

There were no repercussions for Winston’s actions.  After all, he’s a star football player.

In September of 2014 Winston jumped onto a table and started screaming a sexually charged, expletive-laced phrase that was popular at the time on the internet.  The school’s football coach suspended him for one half of one football game while the school said it would address the matter through its conduct code.

There were only minor repercussions for Winston’s actions. After all, he’s a star football player.

Naturally, the university wasn’t terribly interested in any of this.  Winston was an outstanding player:  he won the Heisman Trophy as the best player in college football, he led his team to college football’s national championship for the 2013 season, and he was selected the most valuable player in that game.

As good a player as Winston is, it was not considered a foregone conclusion that he would be the first player chosen in the 2015 draft of college players into the National Football League.  Many professional football experts were concerned about his “character issues,” which are relevant for all players but especially for quarterbacks because in addition to needing to perform their job well ­– quarterback is the most important position in football, and probably in all of team sports – quarterbacks are also expected to be leaders, and based on his flawed judgment, there were serious questions about Winston’s fitness for such a role.  Football is all about winning and about money, though, so Winston was the first player selected in the draft despite his apparent shortcomings in judgment.

One would think Winston might’ve learned something from his past experiences.

One would think.

But alas…

Last month Winston visited an elementary school in St. Petersburg, Florida and was attempting to inspire the third-,fourth-, and fifth-graders he was addressing when his remarks wandered a little off message:

All my young boys, stand up. The ladies, sit down,” Winston said. “But all my boys, stand up. We strong, right? We strong! We strong, right? All my boys, tell me one time: I can do anything I put my mind to. Now a lot of boys aren’t supposed to be soft-spoken. You know what I’m saying? One day y’all are going to have a very deep voice like this (in deep voice). One day, you’ll have a very, very deep voice.

 But the ladies, they’re supposed to be silent, polite, gentle. My men, my men (are) supposed to be strong. I want y’all to tell me what the third rule of life is: I can do anything I put my mind to. Scream it!

After all, he’s a star football player

It took several hours for someone to catch up to Winston and suggest that his words might’ve been just a tad inappropriate, and of course he had an excuse – just as he always had:  we were just shooting squirrels, the sex was consensual, the guy at the supermarket always let me take whatever I want.  This time, he said he had zeroed in on one inattentive little boy and was just trying to reach him.

Will there be repercussions for Winston’s actions?  It’s doesn’t seem likely.  After all, he’s a star football player.

 

How to Become Even More Hated

Comcast is a company people love to hate.  Between its virtual monopoly in most of its markets, its high and constantly escalating prices, its abysmal customer service, and its attempts to take over the cable, broadcasting and entertainment worlds, how can you not hate Comcast?

The Curmudgeon has written about various Comcastic shenanigans on several occasions (including here, here, here, and here) and we all remember that now-legendary exchange between a guy trying to terminate his Comcast service and a Comcast customer service representative who just refused to provide that particular customer service.

Just a few weeks ago The Curmudgeon had his own little Comcast drama.  When his internet service died during the workday, the most a telephone customer service representative could do was permit The Curmudgeon to go to a Comcast store and swap his modem for a new one – and install it himself.  (Actually, the customer service representative didn’t know what to do, didn’t even suggest that, so The Curmudgeon, who has been down this road with Comcast many, many times, had to suggest it himself.)  When the new modem didn’t work, the best Comcast could do was offer a service technician house call – two days later.  After two more calls The Curmudgeon managed to wrangle a same-day service technician visit.

When that technician couldn’t immediately fix the problem he traced The Curmudgeon’s line to “the box” – The Curmudgeon has no idea what or where that is – and came back with an explanation:  someone had unplugged The Curmudgeon’s line in the box.  And who can that have been?  Well, since the box is locked, the only person who could have done it was…

You guessed it:  another Comcast service technician.

After that it still took an hour to restore The Curmudgeon’s service because the new modem turned out to be defective.  The technician said that’s not uncommon because the inferior modems Comcast rents its customers are so cheap.  (In fact, he said he went through a whole carton of defective modems the previous week.)  The technician also blew a half-hour fussing over the lack of speed of The Curmudgeon’s internet connection because he misread his service call’s specifications and thought he was shooting for a much greater speed than the account stipulated.

Comcast knows it’s the company people hate, too.  How else to explain why it’s trying to erase its name from the public consciousness and become known as “Xfinity” instead even though Xfinity isn’t even a word?  (Maybe they hope all our head-scratching over the strange word will distract us from remembering that it’s related to Comcast.)

But just lately The Curmudgeon has observed that Comcast continues to show a real knack for doing things that will make even more people – even non-customers – hate it.

In all the time The Curmudgeon has looked for art expressing dislike for a company he’s writing about he has never encountered so many such images as he did when he searched for material about Comcast – and as you can see, he couldn’t choose just one

The latest:  the home page for The Curmudgeon’s web browser is philly.com, home of Philadelphia’s two major daily newspapers, the Inquirer and the Daily News.  He visits this web site numerous times every day, and when he does, and even though he employs a powerful ad blocker that had virtually eliminated the annoying problem of pop-ups, every time he visits, up pops – an ad, strangely, for Comcast and not for Xfinity.

And not just once when you visit the site, either:  it pops up on every second or third article you view.  You have to wait while it sloooooooooowly scrolls down to cover virtually the entire screen before you can remove it.  It is incredibly irritating and it’s hard to believe that anyone who visits that site to read more than an article or two doesn’t start swearing about Comcast and its employees’ relationships with their female parents.

The really amazing thing is when you realize that a reasonably high-level executive at the company, based on the recommendation of a committee of people whose work is highly respected, decided that this was a good way to reach customers with a new message, would appeal to people, and would not in any way alienate those who encountered both the ad and its constant repetition.

When it comes to having a knack for doing things that will make people who don’t even know you hate you and people who already hate you hate you even more, nobody – nobody – does it better than the tone-deaf folks at Comcast.

New Viagra “To Go” Packs

For when a guy’s heading out for the evening with amorous intent and wants that bulge in his pocket to be something other than a revealing bottle of pills.

If You Have Nothing Nice to Say…

By now most of us are familiar with the scandal at Penn State University in which a football coach, both as an employee of the university and then after he left his position, had free run of the campus and used that freedom to unleash his inner pedophile and molest young boys with whom he crossed paths. As he did, the university’s leaders, including its president and famous football coach, looked the other way even though they were aware of the unspeakable acts taking place before their very eyes.

The university has suffered horribly for this:  a good school consisting mostly of good people with good intentions shamed before a nation, the horrible skeleton in its closet casting aspersions on all, both good and bad.  The university has paid in money, has paid in reputation, and has paid in shame and a loss of self-respect.

Recently the president of the university at the time of this indifference to the suffering of innocent children was convicted of one measly count of child endangerment, a punishment in no way commensurate with his crime but the best our system of justice could apparently muster.  When that was announced and yet another end was declared to the circumstances that shamed the university, Penn State University trustee Al Lord told a publication that he was “running out of sympathy” for…

…the university officials whose actions led to the school’s shame?

No.

The repeated denials by the pedophile that he had committed any crimes?

Nope.

The alumni who wanted to pretend that nothing had happened and that the university officials they respected and the legendary football coach they revered had done no wrong?

Not at all.

No, this trustee was “running out of sympathy” for the victims of the crimes:  those who had been molested.

Out of sympathy for little boys and teenagers who had grown into unhappy, scarred young men because of the actions of the pedophile and the complicity of those who knew what was happening to them but chose to look the other way rather than intercede on the children’s behalf.

The trustee is running out of sympathy for the victims of these horrible crimes.

For the victims.

What a horrible person he must be.

Colleges

One of the unexpected pleasures of marriage for The Curmudgeon has been an absolutely delightful sixteen-year-old stepson he shall refer to as “J” because, well, use your imagination, folks.  J is a sophomore in high school and a good student who probably works harder at his schoolwork than his stepfather did – and The Curmudgeon was a serious grind at that age.

Earlier in the school year J took his PSATs – can you think back on your PSATs without hyperventilating? – and ever since then the house has been inundated with letters and brochures from colleges.  All have invited him to visit and a few have even created dedicated web sites with his name (first and last) in the URL as part of their sales pitch.  At this point J’s not focused on which schools interest him – his attention leans more toward next week’s chemistry test and some new game coming out on PlayStation – and doesn’t even look at the materials, but that doesn’t stop his mother from looking at them (and scheduling a couple of visits) and The Curmudgeon from collecting them.

So far – and while the deluge has slowed, sales pitches are still trickling in – J has heard from the following schools (since The Curmudgeon got the bright idea to collect the materials):

  • Adelphia University
  • Arcadia University
  • Bard College
  • Brandeis University (twice)
  • Brown University
  • Bucknell University
  • Case Western Reserve University
  • Champlain College
  • Elizabethtown College
  • Flagler College
  • Fordham University
  • Furman University
  • Hofstra University
  • Kenyon College (twice)
  • Lafayette College
  • Marymount University
  • Miami University
  • Monmouth University
  • Mount St. Mary’s University
  • Quinnipiac University
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Roanoke College
  • Robert Morris University
  • Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Salisbury University
  • Seton Hall University
  • Olaf College
  • Stevens Institute of Technology
  • Stevenson University (twice)
  • Stony Brook University
  • The College of Saint Rose
  • University of Alabama
  • University of Delaware
  • University of Denver
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of Richmond
  • University of South Carolina
  • University of Vermont
  • Ursinus College
  • Washington and Lee University
  • Western Carolina University
  • Widener University

The Curmudgeon definitely remembers hearing from a lot of schools but nothing on this scale.

No wonder college tuition is so outrageous these days:  they’re blowing tons of money on marketing!

Zero Integrity

That’s the only way to describe the Republican members of the U.S. Senate and their repulsive leader, Mitch McConnell, after the manner in which they’ve handled Supreme Court nominations.

As you will recall, when there was a vacancy on the high court a year ago and President Obama did his job and nominated a replacement, Republican members of the Senate, led by the repugnant McConnell, refused to do their job and even consider the nomination.  Wouldn’t even hold a hearing on the nomination.  Some Senate Republicans even refused to meet privately with the nominee.  Obama’s guy wasn’t their guy and they had no intention of considering his credentials or qualifications for the court.

The sum total of the integrity of U.S. Senate Republicans

Flash forward a year and now a Republican president gets to nominate someone to fill that vacancy but now it’s the Democrats who are resisting, using a means – the filibuster – that the anti-democratic McConnell has transformed from a rarely invoked tool employed only under extraordinary circumstances into something used in almost all circumstances, essentially undermined democracy as we know it in this country because for almost any bill to pass in the Senate these days it now needs 60 votes rather than a simple majority of 51 – as intended by the very founders of our country whom these same Republicans so often invoke with such solemnity.

So when the despicable McConnell and his team of America-hating Republican senators can’t get the 60 votes they need to put Agent Orange’s dime-a-dozen nominee on the Supreme Court, what do they do?

They change the rules to make it so they only need 51 votes.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Republican members of our U.S. Senate, who among them share one very obvious quality:  zero integrity.

Overblown Controversy?

What’s the difference?

Other than the lack of a catchy tune  – no one really does catchy tunes anymore, do they? – is there any real difference between the 1971 Coca-Cola “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” commercial and the Pepsi/Kendall Jenner ad that’s been on the receiving end of so much criticism in recent weeks?

Kicking a Company When It’s Down: United Airlines

By now you’ve probably read the story about how United Airlines, too cheap to give enough passengers enough money to make skipping their flight worth their while, physically removed a passenger who was already seated and refused to surrender the seat he paid for.  There’s good video, too, including of the passenger bloodied by his encounter with the airline’s goons.

Invoking “I’m a doctor” tells us that the passenger in question is a bit of a schmuck, but that in no way excuses United.  For reasons that make no sense at all unless you own or run such a company, airlines are permitted – by law! – to sell more seats than they have and then, if they cannot find “volunteers” willing to take underwhelming bribes to surrender their seat, to bar passengers from boarding the flight for which they have already paid their fare.  We all know United handled this poorly not only by sending goons to physically eject the passenger in question but also because it boarded passengers for the flight and let four of them take seats from which they were about to be ejected.  Obviously, the airline should have addressed this matter before anyone was permitted to board the flight – but that’s United, utterly stupid.

As for the schmucky passenger, The Curmudgeon is with him.  The Curmudgeon would have to be dragged kicking and screaming out of that seat once he occupied it, too.  He may have even evoked “Finders keepers, losers weepers” before they tried to knock out his teeth.

The Curmudgeon saw this on the Facebook feed of loyal reader S.W., laughed, and decided to “borrow” it. Thanks, S!

But one aspect of this situation has been underplayed amid all the attention to the very fine video and the photos of the passenger’s bloodied face:  the reason United needed to remove four passengers from this flight was that it decided to compound its poor business practice of selling more seats than it has on an airplane by also deciding to kick off four paying passengers because it wanted those four seats to transport its own employees.  Those employees, it said, were needed for other flights in Louisville, the flight’s destination.

Because United’s employees are apparently more important to the people who run United than paying customers.

And because United’s convenience, and its need to fix a staffing mistake 100 percent of its own making, is also apparently more important to the people who run United than paying customers.

Over the years the airlines have been among The Curmudgeon’s favorite whipping boys – with good reason.  For examples, go here, here, here, here, here, and here (and there are others).  But this one really takes the cake:  United’s customer service is awful and it absolutely screams that if you have a choice of airlines, United should probably be your last choice.

Last choice like a loan shark when you need cash.  Like an urgent care center when you’re sick.  Like the kid next door when your car is making a funny sound.  Like Elio’s when you’re jonesing for pizza.  Like Sears for any reason.

Even now we see every sign that United hasn’t learned its lesson:  as of this writing it’s still defending its response to this situation.

Which only makes it easier for the rest of us to defend a decision not to fly United if we have any reasonable alternative.