Donald Trump was better when Steve Bannon was whispering in his ear

In one of the books in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series the character Zaphod Beeblebrox is elected President of the Galaxy. The description (from Wikipedia):

He was briefly the President of the Galaxy (a role that involves no power whatsoever, and merely requires the incumbent to attract attention so no one wonders who’s really in charge, a role for which Zaphod was perfectly suited).


Donald Trump was made for the USA Presidency.

Now, there’s a whole other argument regarding Hillary Clinton as a truly terrible candidate. The mainstream media dearly wanted The Donald to be Hillary’s final opponent, because there was no way that Hillary could lose against Donald effing Trump. That’s worthy of a whole other post. Putting this aside, what else caused Donald Trump to win?

I think it was because Donald Trump knew that his role would involve no power whatsoever, and merely require him to attract attention so no one wonders who’s really in charge. And Donald (or Steve) saw that Twitter was a new form of communication. One so new, so significant, and so free of gatekeeping that they could wield it masterfully before any of the old guard caught on.

I think Donald Trump has been in business long enough to know to surround himself with super competent people. Steve Bannon was that expert in this new field (to Donald) of running a presidential election campaign. Trump listened to him, and the results were great.

Hillary was the weasel government insider, so Steve Bannon and Donald Trump cast Donald as the opposite.

Do government weasels make promises? No. Therefore, Donald would make 100 promises to be carried out in the first 100 days. And immediately after the inauguration, he tried really hard to make those come true. That was while Steve Bannon was still whispering in Donald’s ear.

Do government weasels sell out to corporate interests, and thus become the lackeys of big money? Yes. So Steve and Donald tweeted to high heaven that The Donald is financially independent and beholden to no-one.

Did this particular government weasel happen to be married to the guy who backstabbed all of the Midwest by signing legislation to ship their jobs and careers to Mexico, Canada, and China? Yes. So Steve and Donald tweeted “Let’s Make America Great Again”. Hillary (late in the campaign) had said that by electing Hillary, you’d get Bill, too (she would put him in charge of the economy). So first, Bill outsourced the manufacturing jobs; what was left to outsource? Engineering and tech services? “Make America Great Again” was a good foil to it’s opposite.

Did this particular government weasel call off the rescue team trying to save the Americans in the Benghazi attack? Someone decided that the rescue team should be grounded. That all the weasels involved dodged as many questions as possible was grist for the Trump Campaign mill. Particularly damning was the administration’s blame that the attack was due to a Youtube video. Anyone with a calendar and a brain could identify September 11 as a significant date.

Emailgate was another opportunity for Steve and Donald to highlight the reality that Hillary is a weasel. And they did so.

After Donald Trump was elected and inaugurated, he and Steve Bannon went to work to keep those campaign promises he had made. I remember being in a management meeting where it was announced that the Trump Administration would no longer fund employees who aren’t there. Turns out that some departments have positions to fill, haven’t filled them, but bill for the funding money anyway – and the previous administrations paid it. These unfilled positions became a sort of a slush fund; and some departments had up to 20% of their positions unfilled.

Then there was the new executive order that every new regulation can only be adopted when two other regulations are removed. To me, this is a clever way to trim back some of the cruft that has accumulated over the years. It is neither drastic nor urgent; and, it allows the regulators to figure out on their own how to clean up the worst of the trash still on the books.

One of the themes of the Donald Trump campaign was that Donald was elected to “drain the swamp of corruption” that is Washington, D.C. This was a great message, and one I’m sure Steve and Donald agreed would work well.

And then, someone figured out how to drive a wedge between Steve Bannon and Donald Trump. Steve left. With Steve no longer whispering in Donald’s ear, a power vacuum developed. Who filled it?

The Republicans.

The very alligators Donald was supposed to get rid of.

And the reformation by way of electing an outsider, is dead.

At least Donald is still (somewhat) aware that his role involves almost no power, and merely requires him to wield Twitter to attract attention so no one wonders who’s really in charge; a role for which Zaphod, er, The Donald, is perfectly suited.

iPhone fails at phone calls too much

Around April 1st, T-Mobile and Sprint called the merger done. Also around that time, there was an iPhone update. Since then, my iPhone has a bad time receiving phone calls. Not always, but way more than ought to happen.

I think I’ve seen this four times since the beginning of April. The symptoms are that the iPhone rings, to let me know of an incoming call. I see that it is someone I want to talk with, so I hit the button to accept the call. The call stalls in the not-quite-complete starting phase. One time, I could hear a friend on the other end, saying hello and could I hear him.

The iPhone is just completely stuck. The call cannot be ended. The call cannot be removed from the active list by swiping upward. The only thing I can do, is to power down the phone.

I paid way too much money for this telephone to fail at phone calls.

I’d like to also mention that before that (not much before – maybe a month or two), and still today, sometimes iMessage loses it’s brains too. The symptoms are very similar: non-responsive, and closing does nothing. For iMessage, I have to go into airplane mode, then power down, then power up, and then get out airplane mode. Finally, iMessage recognizes that it didn’t actually have a connection before, so it tries again and this time doesn’t fail.

For as much as this device cost, I expect better. If I wanted a bad device, I could have gone with four different bad devices for the price of this one.

The Helm email server – now blocked by Microsoft

This is an automated email from your Helm Server.

I'm sorry to have to inform you that your message could not
be delivered to one or more recipients. It's attached below.

For information about why this might happen visit our support
article here:

<>: host[]
    said: 550 5.7.1 Unfortunately, messages from [] weren't sent.
    Please contact your Internet service provider since part of their network
    is on our block list (S3140). You can also refer your provider to
    [] (in reply to MAIL
    FROM command)

I don’t know who is at fault here. On the one hand, I’m sympathetic to the problem of spam. I am an email administrator, after all.

And by the way, it used to work. Last time I successfully sent mail to the same guy was on May 7th. So the change has been within the last week.

If Microsoft really is getting spam from then I can’t blame them for blocking it.

On the other hand, the link they provide says essentially “sign up with ReturnPath, Inc, and we won’t piss on your head any more”. I have no idea how much an investment Microsoft has in ReturnPath, nor do I know what ReturnPath’s revenue model is.

I do not know how many IP addresses Helm uses for their outbound mail. It could be just the one. If that’s the case, I’m screwed. If they have multiple, then they need to figure out who the bad actors are, and move them. Bad guys over there, good guys over here.

That assumes that there are bad actors. I don’t know that spammers would actually go to the expense of buying a Helm email server. It wasn’t inexpensive. To just send spam, I could hire a cloud mail server far cheaper. But if someone is stupid enough to think they can make money sending spam, then maybe they are stupid enough to think that the Helm service would give them a pass. And if they did, and Helm doesn’t try to scan and block for such a thing, then yeah, it could be that I side with Microsoft here. I’d hate that; but I’d have to admit that they are on the correct side of the problem here. is Amazon, of course. Helm is sending the mail from AWS. Of course, the Amazon model is that they will sell their services to anyone; including dirty filthy spammers, may they all get Covid-19 and expire painfully. If Amazon has lumped the Helm customers in with their spammer customers, then there may be nothing Helm can do about it.

But then, I have no way to know if Microsoft is simply pissing on email senders for using AWS. It wouldn’t be the first time Microsoft sabotaged customers for using a competing product. Is this yet another example of “DOS isn’t done until Lotus won’t run“? Does Microsoft happen to be running ads now, with a picture of a crash helmet, and the caption “Wouldn’t you rather host your email with a cloud provider that isn’t on ReturnPath’s block list?”

Anyway. I’ve moved most of my email over to the Helm email server, and now it’s turning out to be a bad thing. Perhaps my corporate overlords are trying to punish me for straying from their cage.