m.po memorial list of banal phrases

Sadly reader m.po (short for mashedpo or mashedpotatohead) died last year so I will no longer be receiving updates to his astute list of garbage phrases everyone uses such as "game changer," "optics," "don't go there," and "my bad."
In honor of m.po I will do my best to keep the list alive by adding items I know he would hate such as "baked in" and "in the weeds." Reader suggestions are also welcome.
One phrase from the list that jumps out, added by m.po in February 2017, is "new normal." This appears to an artifact of the early Trump Derangement Era that was repurposed for covid. Either way, it's a dumb thing to say (or write).

russiagate narratives (with realistic adherents)

An article in the American Conservative about the "deep state" helpfully breaks Russiagate opinion into two camps. Annotations (in bold) provide further elaboration.

One narrative -- let’s call it Narrative A -- has it that honorable and dedicated federal law enforcement officials developed concerns over a tainted election in which nefarious Russian agents had sought to tilt the balloting towards the candidate who wanted to improve U.S.-Russian relations and who seemed generally unseemly. Thus did the notion emerge, quite understandably, that Trump had “colluded” with Russian officials to cadge a victory that otherwise would have gone to his opponent. This narrative is supported and protected by Democratic figures and organizations, by adherents of the “Russia as Threat” preoccupation, and by anti-Trumpers everywhere, particularly news outlets such as CNN, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.

It is also very popular with DC bureaucrats worried about their jobs, military contractors, and people not skeptical of the Clintons (who originated the story).

The other view -- Narrative B -- posits that certain bureaucratic mandarins of the national security state and the outgoing Obama administration resolved early on to thwart Trump’s candidacy. After his election, they determined to undermine his political standing, and particularly his proposed policy toward Russia, through a relentless and expansive investigation characterized by initial misrepresentations, selective media leaks, brutal law enforcement tactics, and a barrage of innuendo. This is the narrative of most Trump supporters, conservative commentators, Fox News, and The Wall Street Journal editorial page, notably columnist Kimberley Strassel.

It also happens to be the view of normal, levelheaded people all over the world who aren't dependent on a DC job. This includes Sanders supporters, Green voters, assorted libertarians, and what might colloquially be called "anyone with a brain."

the far center

Bill Clinton biographer Joe Conason begins a recent article with this sentence:

In certain precincts on the American left — and especially in some places where the far left blurs into the far right — it is considered clever to dismiss the Russia investigation as a relic of the Cold War, an opportunistic Clintonite ploy, or both.

Yes, Joe, that's the "far center," where reality blurs into reality. Dismissal of the New Red Scare isn't half as clever as the scare itself, concocted by Clintonites to distract from their incompetent campaign, where they insisted the US was in great shape after eight years of Obama. The scare isn't so much a Cold War relic, though, as McCarthyism 2.0 -- an attempt to use foreign enemies to distract from corruption at home, while justifying an ongoing military buildup.

greyhound shakedown, texas style

As previously noted, have been doing some Kerouac-Lite traveling by bus lately. Many friends and family think it's normal to drive, use Ubers, and fly through the air in a sealed spam can belching hydrocarbons but there's gotta be a better way to live on this planet.
Greyhound keeps better timetables than airlines, I've learned. The only downside I've experienced is something I'd never have guessed, which is that certain less-than-scrupulous Texas sheriffs can rifle through the bus without probable cause. A letter to Greyhound suggesting it schedule stops in some county other than these perpetrators' is below. What a country the US is turning into.
(The name of the city/county is in my letter but omitted here -- more harassment from these perps isn't needed.)

Greyhound Lines, Inc.

RE: Police raids on buses in ________ County, TX

Dear Sir or Madam,

I have ridden Greyhound from [New York area] to [Texas] twice in the last year and found the service satisfactory. The buses are on time and the drivers very professional.
I'm writing to make a suggestion regarding your travel routes. In the future I hope you'll consider not scheduling any bus stops in __________, TX. I will certainly avoid any route that includes this stop. The sheriff's department is conducting what I believe are illegal and unconstitutional raids on buses, causing much hassle and threat to bus riders.
On my last trip... such a raid was conducted by officers in ______ County Sheriff's Dept vehicles, parked and waiting at Greyhound's regular bus stop [in that county]. The officers forced all passengers to leave the bus, randomly searched bags, and removed luggage from the bus's lower compartment. A german shepherd dog sniffed through the evacuated bus and in the lower baggage areas.
The officers questioned several passengers with bags that tested “positive” according to the dog – falsely, as it turned out.
The main officer conducting the raid was rude and sarcastic to bus riders. He made a small boy empty his pack for inspection in front of his horrified father and other passengers. Questions regarding the purpose of the raid were met with flippant replies about searching for “drugs, weapons, and murderers.” The raid did not appear to have any probable cause or constitutional basis. In my opinion, it was a simple “shakedown” of travelers to find contraband or “drug money” that could be seized by the county to enhance its fiscal bottom line. (As noted, none was found in this case.)
I asked the Greyhound driver if these raids had happened before. He said yes, always in [this county] and in no other cities on his routes. He agreed the raids had no purpose except a coercive shakedown.
I hope you will consider sparing your passengers these humiliations in the future, by not scheduling any bus stops at this location.

Sincerely, Tom Moody

minor edits after posting

Update, April 2018: No reply has come to my letter; it probably went immediately into the wastebin. According to this HuffPo story, Greyhound rolls over for border patrol raids; likely the company wouldn't be any less opposed to small town sheriffs raising revenue by asking its customers to empty their luggage.