Ooh, that smell! Can”€™t you smell that smell? Pew! It’s the latest report from the Pew Center on the States, and it concludes that America’s voter-registration system stinks.

Released on Tuesday, Pew’s report, titled Inaccurate, Costly, and Inefficient: Evidence That America’s Voter Registration System Needs an Upgrade, arrived at these nostril-searing statistics:

“€¢ Approximately 24 million”€”one of every eight”€”active voter registrations in the United States are no longer valid or are significantly inaccurate.
“€¢ More than 1.8 million deceased individuals are listed as active voters.
“€¢ Approximately 2.75 million people have active registrations in more than one state.

A possible contributor to the problem is the fact that only six states currently require voters to present photo ID at the polling place. In addition to those six, South Carolina and Texas have passed laws requiring photo ID from voters, but their petitions are being stonewalled by Eric Holder’s sleazy mustache. In South Carolina‘s case, Holder’s goons have alleged that requiring photo ID would place an unfair and discriminatory burden upon the state’s black voters, who are presumably too lazy or stupid to learn how to acquire photo ID.

“€œWhen has Eric Holder shown anything but contempt for the majority of Americans?”€

In many other states, you can register to vote without photo ID. But in nineteen states plus the District of Columbia, no ID whatsoever is required of registered voters at polling places.

What could possibly go wrong?

It’s not like you need photo ID to cash checks, open bank accounts, or buy Sudafed. Or board an airplane or drive a car. Or apply for welfare and food stamps.

It’s not like 70% of likely American voters recently said they see nothing wrong with requiring photo ID at polling places. But when has Eric Holder shown anything but contempt for the majority of Americans?

Although this will shock, awe, surprise, and flabbergast you, Democrats are making this a racial issue. Claiming a mystical soothsaying ability to peer inside the dark evil hearts of Republicans, they claim it has nothing to do with making elections honest and is merely a cynical move to “€œdisenfranchise”€ the poor, the elderly, the poor blacks, the poor elderly, and the poor black elderly.

Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who’s apparently dumber than a plastic lawn flamingo, said that requiring voter ID really means that Republicans “€œwant to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws.”€ Bill Clinton and his allegedly coke-perforated septum have also raised Jim Crow from the dead for this occasion.

Why would they ever do something so insane as to let facts get in the way? Georgia passed a law requiring photo ID in 2008. It was obviously intended to disenfranchise the poor, because it allows for residents to apply for a free voter ID card. The law devastated, discriminated against, and disenfranchised Georgia’s black voters so thoroughly that at least ten percent more of them are allegedly now registered since it passed. Georgia’s black electorate was so thoroughly intimidated and frightened away from the polls that their participation in midterm elections reportedly increased 17% from 2006 to 2010.

Starting shortly before noon last Wednesday, the curly-haired and elfin-faced Kentucky Senator Rand Paul spent thirteen hours filibusterin’ Barack Obama and Eric Holder’s balls about whether the federal government claimed the right to kill American citizens on US soil without trial. His performance earned both praise and scorn from both left and right, which suggests that the country’s prefab and punchably tiresome blue/red divisions may be undergoing a tectonic realignment.

Or maybe not. Despite the tremendous publicity his marathon speech generated, Paul did not appear on the usual Sunday-morning round of political TV programs, which chose instead to interview the puffy-cheeked and criminally unexceptional Jeb Bush, who’s sort of the Carl Wilson of the Bush family dynasty.

Still, the tremendous reaction to Paul’s speech suggests that while he may not be as principled as his father Ron, he might be a far shrewder politician. The fact that a Republican can deliver a 13-hour speech that draws praise from Bill Maher and Jon Stewart while angering John McCain and Lindsey Graham hints that Paul may have some sort of strange and unprecedented cross-platform appeal.

“For now he remains a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma swaddled in the Constitution.”

The filibuster was technically aimed to delay the nomination of new CIA Chief William Brennan, but it focused specifically on a leaked Department of Justice white paper that raised the question of “imminence” and whether the feds had the right to use drones to kill American citizens within US borders if they felt someone posed an imminent threat to national security. Paul said that Barack Obama had made comments suggesting such a right existed. Paul said he’d also hectored Attorney General Eric Holder and his egregiously obnoxious mustache whether such a right existed but that Holder’s responses were evasive.

Paul said that just as the feds have continually expanded their definition of what exactly constitutes a “terrorist,” he expressed concern that they would expand the neocon illusion that America is engaged in a “perpetual war” against terrorism to the point where the battlefield extended into American soil:

I think our rights are gradually eroding. I think they are gradually slipping away from us….The problem is, they don’t see an end to the war. They”€”they see perpetual war, perpetual war without geographic limits, and they see the battlefield here. So they want the laws of war to apply not only there but to apply here. Another way of saying the laws of war is martial law. These are the laws of war, these are the laws that are accepted in war. We accept a lot of things on the battlefield that we don’t want to accept here. I acknowledge, we accept it, you don’t get Miranda rights on the battlefield. You don’t get due process. You don’t get an attorney.

During the course of his 13-hour exposition he cited Friedrich Hayek and the mighty Lysander Spooner as well as sundry modern bloggers and pundits. He was careful to praise Martin Luther King while condemning Jim Crow laws and calling Adolf Hitler a bad, bad, bad, bad, evil man. After thirteen hours he could maintain bladder control no longer, which astounds me since I can rarely last thirteen minutes.

Twitter exploded with over a million Tweets during Paul’s marathon, leading to the creation of the hashtag #StandWithRand. His performance earned the expected praise from Tea Party and libertarian types as well as mainstream right-wing stalwarts such as Matt Drudge, Michelle Malkin, Rush Limbaugh, and breitbart.com.

It is so easy to gull the pack, the herd. It just takes a bit of theater. A brass band on the Fourth of July, flags whipping in the wind, young soldiers marching down Main Street, rhythmic thump-thump-thump of boots. There comes that glorious sense of common purpose, the adrenal thrill of collective power, thump-thump-thump. Martial ceremony is heady stuff, appealing to things deep and limbic. When Johnny comes marching home again, hurrah, hurrah. We are all together now, made whole, no petty divisions. The fanged herd.

Always the herd. It is in the genes. The herd. Basketball championship night, in a rural high school: Bright lights, electrified crowd, cheerleaders twirling, skirts riding high. “€œJohnny, Johnny, he’s our man, if he can”€™t do it, nobody can!”€ Wild applause. Striplings dash onto the court, swirl into smooth fast layups, cocky, confident. Long jump shots, swish!

Yaayyyy! Common purpose, unity.

For the seniors, next year is Afghanistan. Johnny comes rolling home again, hurrah, hurrah, minus his legs. From this we avert our eyes.

“€œPeople are squeamish these days, so we hide the horror of what we do. The public might gag and say, “€˜No. No more.”€™ Besides, we do not want to discourage recruiting.”€

The herd. In a thousand American Legion halls across the nation, veterans gather on Memorial Day to make patriotic speeches. There are clichés about the ultimate sacrifice, defending our freedoms, God, duty, and country, our American way of life. Legionnaires are friendly, decent people, well-meaning”€”now, anyway. If there were an earthquake, they would pull the wounded from the rubble until they dropped from fatigue. They are not complex. They listen to the patriotic speeches with a sense of being a band of brothers. And if you told them they were suckers, conned by experts, used, they would erupt in fury, because somewhere inside many have suspected it.

The herd. The pack. Whip “€™em up. It’s for God, for democracy, onward, Christian soldiers. We are a light to the world, a shining city on a hill, what all the earth would like to be if only they shared our values. We, knights in armor in a savage land, we fight fascism, Nazis, terror, Islam, it doesn”€™t matter what, as we can always find something to fight, some sanctifying evil.

We are very like our enemies. We do not notice this. Carefully, we do not notice. Guernica, the Warsaw ghetto, Fallujah, Nanjing, Dresden”€”they are all the same. Soldiers are all the same, wars the same. All are fought on the most irreproachable moral grounds. We fight for peace, for freedom, for Allah, for the Fatherland, the Motherland, for the homeland, for white Christian motherhood. We do not fight for Lockheed Martin, or for oil. Oh no. Even the suckers might revolt at dying for low-sulfur crude, or Caspian pipelines.

People are squeamish these days, so we hide the horror of what we do. The public might gag and say, “€œNo. No more.”€ Besides, we do not want to discourage recruiting. In our Fallujahs we do not show the rotting corpses, or footage of the disemboweled as they try to crawl, god knows to where, while they bleed to death.

And we do not show Johnny with his new colostomy bag, or blind, or with three stumps and one partial arm, or paraplegic, or, never, ever, the quads, paralyzed below the neck, lying on slabs, turned over from time to time to avoid bedsores. The public does not see”€”though I have seen”€”the 17-year-old sweetheart of the young Marine from Memphis, when she first sees her betrothed irremediably blind with half his face a hideous mass of mangled flesh”€”and her obvious thought: Oh Jesus, Johnny, oh Johnny, how can I do this? Onward, Christian soldiers.

In my day we girded our loins against the Soviet Union, the Evil Empire, that spied on its citizens, tortured people it didn”€™t like, and committed atrocities in Afghanistan, where it had no business being. We loved the Afghans. We wanted to save them from the godless communist invaders.

To protect people from communism, we killed millions of them, only incidentally making McDonnell Douglas rich. Today we spread a swath of destruction across the planet, this time protecting people from terror by murdering them with drones.

NEW YORK”€”There’s some guy at the world headquarters of CVS drugstores screwing with me.

I don”€™t know who he is yet, but he lives in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. This is where CVS Health, the largest drugstore chainin the history of drugstores, has its main offices, and where a designated marketing jerk chews on the nub of a pencil and thinks all day about how many coupons he can string onto the bottom of my sales receipt.

I was thinking about this recently while having three hot dogs and a Dr. Pepper during the time it took to print out my receipt for two 6-ounce cans of Gillette Fusion ProGlide Two-in-One Shave Gel and Alpine Clean Skin Care. Why two cans of shave gel when one can is likely to last six months? And why the shave gel that has skin-care ingredients for a man who’s more likely to stick his head into a bowling-ball polisher than apply moisturizer to his face?

Because I had a coupon!

It was one of those faded, crinkly, jagged-edge coupons from a previous receipt, the kind that looks like a Peruvian lottery ticket that’s been laundered in your jeans pocket, but it clearly stated that if I purchased the Gillette Fusion ProGlide Two-in-One Shave Gel and Alpine Clean Skin Care instead of the more plebeian Gillette Foamy Original Shaving Cream (the word “€œoriginal”€ inserted into the name to indicate that the only thing it does is make it possible to shave hair off your face), I would end up with a 25 percent discount since, if you did the math, the lower price of the GFOSC would be offset by the half-off-on-the-second-can of GFPTIOSGAACSC.

And so, of course, I did the math. I spent, probably, a full minute doing the math and staring at the truly baffling array of “€œMen’s Skin Care”€ products on a four-tiered shelving platform about fifteen yards long. There were, in fact, at least 40 different kinds of shaving cream, about half of them designated for “€œsensitive skin”€ (is the nation going through a psoriasis epidemic or something?) and many of them sounding so gay that I realized I must be shopping in one of the LGBTQ branches of CVS. Honeybee Gardens Herbal Aftershave for Men, anyone? How about Moon Maid Botanical ProAndro Men’s Wild Yam Cream? I don”€™t know what it is, or where you put it on your body, but I”€™m guessing it’s similar to smearing sweet potatoes on your private parts.

The reason it now takes four days to check out at CVS involves two recent drugstore developments. The first is that a guy in Woonsocket is profiling my purchasing behavior in order to figure out the last time I bought Mucinex, factor into that an algorithm that predicts the average number of cough, cold, and flu days for a man who also regularly buys the bargain-size bag of Jack Link’s Teriyaki Beef Jerky, then combine it with seasonal factors like the usual late-summer outbreak of canker sores in the Greater New York metropolitan area due to barbecue spices applied to undercooked beef at party houses on Fire Island. At some point during the computer analysis of my erratic micro-behavior and the macroeconomic presumptions about my demographic group (White Guys Who Never Buy Greeting Cards), a little digitized Electronic Midget (I picture him wearing a fedora, like an FBI agent from the “€™30s) suddenly erupts and says, “€œGet a load of this!”€

“€œI don”€™t think anyone enjoys security.”€

The get-a-load-of-this moment comes when the computer has discovered some counterintuitive knowledge about consumer purchasing behavior that only CVS knows. Since CVS is a $154 billion company”€”bigger than AT&T, to use one convenient example”€”they know that (a) my shaving-cream can has just sputtered and died, (b) I”€™m a sucker for multi-can shaving-cream deals, and (c) I”€™m a candidate for earwax removal. See, it’s this third thing that CVS knows and nobody else does. Because my Big Data file is being regularly reviewed by 28-year-old marketing girls from the Wharton School of Finance who keep their Hermès purses in a home safe, and then my future buying choices are printed out in the form of paper receipts so long they have to be wound onto wooden dowels like the Dead Sea Scrolls. I look at the receipt and”€”bingo!“€”I think, “€œWow, I wonder if I have earwax buildup. I think I”€™ll check out this Eustachian-tube cleanser over in the aisle where they sell back braces and geriatric meal-replacement fruit drinks.”€

In other words, CVS has invaded my brain.

But it gets worse. The second reason it takes four days to check out at CVS is because they”€™re now forcing us to use that little computer chip on the credit card.

Once you stick the card into the card reader, you get this stern DO NOT REMOVE CARD message, as though, if you were stupid enough to pull the card out, there would be explosions at the National Security Agency and people would die.

I don”€™t use the NSA reference lightly”€”because, look, we”€™ve all been there, we”€™ve all stood there waiting for the computer chip to finish its business, and I”€™ll say it if no one else will:

Who is it talking to and what is it talking about that it needs that much time?

Come on, we”€™re not stupid. We read the first 27 of Edward Snowden’s 348 news releases.

You know what they call that thing?

An “€œencrypted biometric data device.”€

Hello! “€œEncrypted,”€ the favorite word of the Pentagon, combined with “€œbiometric,”€ the favorite word of corporate research labs inside secret fortresses in the Canary Islands.

I went to eight or ten websites, including the website of my own bank, looking for an explanation of exactly which computer the EMV chip hooks up to and what kind of information goes back and forth during the digital conversation. What I wanted to know was, how come swiping a traditional credit card takes, like, two seconds, but sticking it in the checkout device results in terminal-to-terminal conversations worthy of teenage girls talking about Justin Bieber on a junior-varsity-cheerleader conference call?

All I was able to find out is that the card uses “€œdynamic authentication”€ as opposed to what we had before, “€œstatic identification.”€

There are “€œdynamic values existing within the chip itself that, when verified by the point-of-sale device, ensure the authenticity of the card.”€

Thank you so much, I”€™ll shut up now because you”€™ve used seventeen words and nine concepts impossible for the actual card user to understand.

When you drill down into why we need this, the answer is always “€œsecurity.”€ “€œYou”€™ll enjoy greater security,”€ they say. Really? I don”€™t think anyone enjoys security. They need to add a few vocabulary-building classes at the Wharton School.

But what they”€™re saying is that they”€™ll protect my card. No one can steal my money. But this is kind of beside the point, because my card is already protected. When those hackers stole 40 million cards from Target in 2013, nobody had to pay anything. (And by the way, nobody talks about this, but the hackers were never caught, making them probably the most successful credit-card hackers in history.)

So the first thing the banks should admit is that this is not about protecting us from the thief. We”€™re already protected. That’s our deal with the bank and the retailer, both of which want us to use the card. This is about the bank and the store saying, “€œWe”€™ll make the guy stand there for two minutes so we don”€™t get hacked again.”€

And it was definitely Target that wanted this more than anyone else. Target is the original Big Data marketer, with a system even more sophisticated than CVS because they sell everything CVS sells but they also sell clothing, furniture, and electronics. This means that if you get profiled as a repeat buyer of plus-size jeggings, they”€™ll eventually sell you a La-Z-Boy recliner. (Pardon the digression, but plus-size jeggings is a product that should be eradicated from the face of the earth. Nobody needs plus-size jeggings. That’s just rude.)

I still wanna know why the chip “€œauthentication”€ takes so long and, more to the point, what it could be used for in the future that they maybe don”€™t use it for now.

My grandfather, a Texan who worked for the Katy Railroad and the Dallas troubleshooting division of International Telephone & Telegraph, was 30 years old when Franklin Roosevelt got the Social Security Act passed in 1935″€”and he refused to register. My grandmother begged him to go down to the post-office building on Bryan Street like everyone else and get his Social Security number, but he always said, “€œI”€™m not letting the government number me.”€

“€œIt’s just so they can keep track of your retirement money,”€ she would say.

“€œThat’s what they say it’s for now,”€ he said, “€œbut you know they”€™ll use it for something else.”€

And, of course, 81 years later, the Social Security number is such a universal means of profiling that, if you die before the age of 65, it’s never been used even once to send you money but used several thousand times for other things, most of which fall into the category of Keeping Tabs on This Guy.

That’s why I”€™m not entirely unsympathetic to the lunatic-fringe Christian websites that say the EMV chip is the Mark of the Beast.

NEW YORK”€”Stop saying dystopian.

The next person who uses this word gets a Billy Jack leg whop to the right side of his face.

Donald Trump is not dystopian. There’s nothing dystopian happening.

Who started this?

Dystopian would require a mastermind. There’s no mastermind.

Dystopian would require, at the very least, a plan. There’s no plan.

Stop saying The Handmaid’s Tale is “€œa dystopian parable for the Trump era.”€ The Handmaid’s Tale is about a totalitarian theocracy. Donald Trump is (a) too lazy to be a dictator, and (b) too fond of golf to go to church. You would have to recruit somebody much more fiery-eyed and committed to that particular nightmare”€”Warren Jeffs, maybe, or that Scientology guy. In The Handmaid’s Tale traditional marriage is compulsory”€”tell that to Marla Maples.

And while we”€™re on the subject, who picks up the paper in the morning and turns to the family over breakfast and says, “€œWell, obviously he’s moving this nation toward the same sort of glassy-eyed obedience that led to HITLER!“€

Hitler? Mussolini? Big Brother?

REALLY? If Leni Riefenstahl were hired to film the Trump brownshirts”€”the Trumpstaffel?“€”she would have to constantly yell at the Waffen Grenadiers to remain in formation and not wander across the South Lawn playing mumblety-peg. If you look up the word “€œmotley”€ in the dictionary, there’s a picture of the people surrounding Trump.

I”€™ve been living here in the capital of East Coast hysteria for quite a few years now, but I”€™ve never seen anything quite like this. They used to say wild things about George Bush, too, many of them framed in aspersions toward my native Texas. Well, people, what state did Donald Trump come from?

Recently all the indie movie theaters, including three in New York, had a “€œnational screening day”€ for 1984, the rather uninspired Michael Radford adaptation of George Orwell’s novel that came out in 1984. All the proceeds were donated to the American Civil Liberties Union because, you know, they”€™ll need the money when the jackbooted thugs come to kill the babies. Meanwhile, a stage version of 1984 opened on Broadway, featuring a climactic torture scene so bloody and vivid that it caused audiences to throw up.

In other words, some ham-handed points were being made by actual hams.

The first of which is that Trump is Orwellian.

“€œI have trouble imagining Donald Trump presiding over anything more complicated than the breakfast menu at Dunkin”€™ Donuts.”€

I”€™m not sure whether Orwellian is better or worse than dystopian, but the idea is that the totalitarian state of Oceania with its Thought Police is George Orwell’s uncanny premonition of a world run by Donald Trump. It involves a world of official deception and secret surveillance and”€”let’s not forget Sean Spicer”€”the Ministry of Truth.

And then there are the concentration camps. Concentration camps are in our future, all of the artistes are telling us. There are concentration camps in The Handmaid’s Tale and concentration camps in 1984, and there’s even a brand-new play that’s all about concentration camps: Building the Wall, by Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Schenkkan. In this, yes, dystopian scenario, a commandant is being interviewed in prison in the year 2019 after being sentenced for atrocities committed against immigrants rounded up by Trump and placed in his facility. Building the Wall is so on the nose that it would embarrass the director of High School Musical, but apparently that doesn”€™t matter to New York audiences who believe that, yeah, Donald Trump might seem harmless, but haven”€™t you read Hannah Arendt?

The banality of evil.

This is another bromide that I”€™m calling a moratorium on. Anybody starting out a sentence with “€œAs Hannah Arendt once said about the banality of evil…”€ will be immediately sentenced to the Joe Bob Briggs Concentration Camp for Felonious Punditry, where we require you to read H.L. Mencken until you”€™re rehabilitated.

First of all, there’s already a concentration camp, and it’s called Guantanamo. Trump inherited it from two prior presidents, one of whom vowed to close it and then decided he kind of liked concentration camps. The only other president who opened concentration camps was the author of the New Deal. George Takei, who played Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the USS Enterprise in the original Star Trek, is writing a book about the one he grew up in. It was in Arkansas.

There aren”€™t gonna be any concentration camps. And if you wanna talk about dystopian miniseries, the most popular one is The Walking Dead, which came out in 2010, one year after Barack Obama’s self-imposed deadline for closing our concentration camp. So the whole dystopian/Orwellian/zombie-apocalypse thing predates anything going on here.

I have trouble imagining Donald Trump presiding over anything more complicated than the breakfast menu at Dunkin”€™ Donuts, so “€œBig Brother”€ doesn”€™t make as much sense to me as “€œScary Uncle.”€ “€œBig Brother,”€ in fact, sounds much more like one of the nineteen titles used by Kim Jong-un, a list that includes Dear Leader, Supreme Leader, Bright Sun of Juche, Peerless Leader, Fate of the Nation, and Shining Star of Paektu Mountain. Now, that is some serious dystopian nomenclature. Likewise, all the censorship and surveillance stuff in 1984 sounds like Putin’s Russia and Central Asian countries like Turkmenistan where the secret police are likely to walk into the internet café and start handcuffing people. All the puritanical authoritarianism in The Handmaid’s Tale sounds a lot more like Iran, where women aren”€™t allowed to divorce their husbands, and Saudi Arabia, where you can get a prison sentence for wearing a miniskirt. There are several dozen countries where they should be staging 1984 and watching The Handmaid’s Tale, but this is not one of them. (Clitoridectomies, anyone? Wrong continent!)

Meanwhile, we have Trump turning up in every art show, dance festival, and rock concert of the summer, usually out of context and framed so as to make no particular political point beyond”€”as they used to say in threepenny melodramas”€””€œhe’s dastardly”€:

* Opera Saratoga, in upstate New York, revives the obscure Marc Blitzstein opera The Cradle Will Rock, best known for being censored by the Works Progress Administration in 1937 as union propaganda. The Donald Trump figure is the evil steel baron who runs the company town. (They could at least change it to “€œevil golf-course architect.”€)

* Dozens of self-published books appear, with titles like The Murder of Donald Trump and The Amazing Story of Steve Bannon: A Positive and Fun Book for Kids! and Clovenhoof and the Trump of Doom and Donald Trump, P.I.: The Case of the Missing Mexican Wall and”€”yes, it’s dystopian”€”Day of the Donald.

* The Washington Post puts a new motto on its masthead”€””€œDemocracy Dies in Darkness”€”€”because, of course, the advent of Trump has brought us so close to the madness of Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon.

* Timothy Snyder, a Yale historian, tells us to get ready for the show trials that Trump will use to consolidate power after a terrorist attack, leading to a one-party state, and he advises us to scrub our computers, make sure everyone in our families has a valid passport, and “€œbe prepared to die for freedom.”€ Oh wait, I forgot, that’s not a novel or a play, that’s just a Yale professor.

* Bookstores start promoting It Can”€™t Happen Here, the Sinclair Lewis novel intended to prevent the presidency of Huey Long during the 1936 campaign season. Buzz Windrip, the protagonist, is a populist American Hitler who wins the presidency and then eliminates statehood, sends people to”€”of course”€”concentration camps, and ends up exiled to France, but only after America has been damaged beyond repair.

* Holland Cotter, New York Times art critic, pronounces this year’s Venice Biennale irrelevant because “€œit feels almost perversely out of sync with the political moment.”€ (In other words, there were no Trump voodoo dolls on display. Where’s Kathy Griffin when you need her?)

* Hartford Stage revives Shaw’s Heartbreak House and dresses the actor playing Boss Mangan (once again, evil businessman) in a bright yellow comb-over.

* Anthony Tommasini, writing about the Metropolitan Opera’s production of The Barber of Seville in the Times, tells us that Don Basilio is “€œeerily contemporary”€ in his use of fake news to ruin the reputations of rivals. (In other words, the villainous Bartolo is Trump and Don Basilio is Steve Bannon.)

* Most famously, the director of Julius Caesar in this year’s Central Park production turns Caesar into a blond businessman in a blue suit and loud tie who owns a golden bathtub and has a Slavic wife. Like all the other attempts at artistic relevance, it creates a “€œWhat did we just see?”€ moment that reveals nothing about Caesar, Brutus, Shakespeare, or Trump. Despite praise from critics and outrage from pundits, I”€™m still not sure what point was being made other than “€œI guess we can”€™t kill him, because look what happens.”€

The assumption behind all these dystopian/Orwellian/Hitlerian scenarios is that Trump’s secret purpose is to build an oppressive superstate. Fortunately, anyone with a fourth-grade education who lives in the Midwest”€”unlike the cultural Brahmins at Lincoln Center”€”can see that he’s doing the opposite. He’s tearing stuff up. He’s castrating the EPA, hollowing out the Department of Education, carving up HUD, firing people for disloyalty to him personally, deciding that we don”€™t need foreign ambassadors anymore. If you”€™re looking for entertainment-related metaphors, you don”€™t need Shakespeare. Use any Monster Truck Show.

But if you absolutely can”€™t live without a Trumpian theater experience, the play they should all be reviving is Ionesco’s Exit the King.

At the beginning of Exit the King, the king is told by his first wife (because this king has two queens, the original one and a younger, more beautiful one) that he’s going to die.

Of course I”€™m going to die, he says, we”€™re all going to die.

No, she tells him, “€œyou”€™re going to die in an hour and a half, you”€™re going to die at the end of the show.”€

And then the king spends an hour and a half trying not to die.

Remember on the first day of the Trump presidency when everybody told him, “€œNobody showed up for the inauguration except protesters”€”€”and then he spent the next two weeks saying it was the greatest crowd in inauguration history?

Trying not to die. On the first day.

There are only five other characters in the play”€”the two wives, a nurse/housekeeper, a doctor, and a guard with a halberd whose job is to stand by the door and proclaim the greatness of the king.