Saturday, November 17, 2018

California Fire and Life

(apologies to Don Winslow)

Over the past twenty years or so, California's fire season has expanded from a late-summer nuisance to a nine-month volley of increasingly more catastrophic firestorms. Typically it rains enough between late November and mid-March to keep fire threats down, but our fire season now occupies nearly the entire period of time in between.

Last year saw parts of Santa Rosa, by far the largest city between the San Francisco-Sacramento I-80 corridor and the Oregon border, burned right to the ground. Hundreds of homes and buildings destroyed, thousands of people displaced. The fires disrupted the real estate market for a year, in about a hundred-mile radius, because of the sudden scarcities in an already scarce inventory.

This year has been non-stop all over the state, but especially burdensome in the relatively spare population areas of Northern California, the region commonly known these days as the State of Jefferson. The Carr Fire engulfed the Redding area for weeks, causing destruction that will take years to recover from. And now the rather poorly-named Camp Fire (named because it originated near Camp Creek Road, not because it was a campfire that got away from the campers) has claimed the entire town of Paradise, and is heading down Highway 99 toward Oroville. Somehow Chico has been spared. Fire crews from all over the country have pitched to help, and the fire is finally getting contained. It's supposed to rain this coming week, which should help finish off the damned thing.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

The King In Yellow

I barely regard him -- it -- as human anymore, using words like "monster" and "thing" to describe the creature that continues to defile the White House and corrode what's left of this country, day by rotting day. And at first there may have been a vein of schtick, trash talk, the proverbial smackdown, but that part rang hollow, that there might be any semblance of even grim humor to those specifically chosen words.

Because humans, even assholes, have common threads that identify them as such. We've gone over this many times before, but it can't be repeated enough:  humans have things and people that they like and appreciate for their own merits. Music, books, art, friends, family, pets, games, teevee shows, whatever. Something. Unconditional love.

Normal human beings enjoy these pleasant little features of life because collectively those little features are what make life worth living. It's hard to know what to make of someone who has never -- and that may very well be literally true, like never -- had an appreciative or complimentary thing to say about anybody or anything, except in the context of how its quality was a reflection of themselves.

Like, as a hypothetical, someone asking such a person how they felt about, I dunno, the Beatles' music, and the response being something like, Oh, Paul McCartney stayed at one of my hotels once. Big spender, Great guy. What's your favorite movie? You know, Madonna dropped $500k at the craps table at the Taj Mahal once when she was in town doing some post on Shanghai Surprise. How does anyone listen to that pathetic, weird old man for any length of time and not hear the festering insanity? How did such a person get into a position to gut the country so critically in just a couple of years?

We can all take a deep collective breath that the midterm election results at least show that we don't have to pull the plug on the old bird just yet. It's still on life support, but it's still life, and maybe even having a chance to breathe on its own a bit and start to recuperate.

But it will take more work, and lots of it. Because the results also showed that there are more horrible people than you'd hoped. I said after the 2016 election that those results raised the question of whether the country we thought we'd become with a black president had changed somehow, or maybe that election just revealed and confirmed what we really still had been the whole time -- a seething, teeming, bitter, vituperative mess.

There are a lot of assholes out there, and the thing has unleashed their energy; pure spite and id and moiling fury. Bad people can have good qualities, but if they're supporting something that inspires pipe bombers and synagogue spree-killers and yahoo border militias because they think it pwns libtards for them, well, they're still bad people in the end. Hitler loved his dog, yada yada.

The most dangerous thing about them is, if you really listen to them (not a suggestion, by the way) you find pretty quickly that since they neither know nor care what they're yammering about, there is nothing that will make them happy. Nothing. You could give them ten million dollars and they'd just waste it; you could kick out all the Meskins and they'd bitch that strawberries are now too expensive. You could shout Merry Christmas at them year-round and they'd wonder what happened to Blessed Memorial Day.

Nothing will make them happy because they don't want to be happy. The fight is all they have, because the fight is all it has. It campaigned on the notion that Obummer had turned Jebus' Nayshun into a flaming hellscape, and that worked on the addled and the butt-hurt. Complaining is all it's capable of, and so that's all they know anymore. More and more it is observed that the behavior is cult-like, and that's not an exaggeration -- nor, to them, is it a flaw. It's a feature.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Troll Flag

The conventional wisdom holds that the midterm election is a referendum on that fucking thing currently defiling the White House. This is only partially true -- it is a referendum on us, and what kind of country we intend to be. Do enough of us want to move forward into what will most assuredly be a transitional decade on many fronts (political, economic, environmental, cultural), or are we going to continue slouching back to the 1930s?

This must be what life is like in a particle accelerator -- countless atoms propelled at impossible velocities into observed collisions. Each week moves faster than the last, with more and more and more crazy things. It tells you what kind of week it's been when the Saudis' admission -- after weeks of denial and almost defiant dog-ate-our-homework excuses -- that they planned the murder of a dissident journalist and carried it out in their Turkish consulate, that such a thing doesn't even register in the top three things of the past seven days.

The attempted pipe bombings and now yesterday's massacre at a synagogue serve to bring us all into sharp relief. We already know what sort of diseased soul he is; what will now be revealed is what sort of people we are collectively. Either we are fine with insane losers being egged on by the chief executive at hate rally after hate rally, or we've had enough. Either we're okay with one of our "allies" holding a journalist to a table and dismembering him alive, or we're not.

Either we see the connection or we choose not to, between said chief executive spending years going town to town, city to city, night after night, openly calling for the imprisonment without charges of his political opponents, and having audiences of angry losers chanting along. They can try to bullshit onlooker with the bullshit evasion of It's just a joke!, but it is clearly not a joke, and when unbalanced loners and losers take that shit both literally and seriously, either you address your role in that situation, or you're fine with it all.

Make no mistake -- they are fine with it. All of it.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Partners In Crime

The Middle East is unraveling very quickly, and with momentum. The murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in the Saudi Consulate in Turkey, committed by a Saudi hit squad sent by their thug king, is the latest and so far largest domino to fall. (Never mind, of course, that the Saudis have been mercilessly driving Yemen back into the Stone Age for several years now, aided and abetted by the current and previous US governments.

If the Obama Administration was somewhat slow and heedless in its (non-)responses to authoritarians taking over in Egypt, Israel, and Turkey, as well as the existing problems in Iran and Syria, the current gang has been even worse. They have made it very clear that their idea of foreign policy is merely a tollbooth, one which bails out the first failson-in-law from his various real estate snafus.

Naturally, the despotisms of the world prefer raw transactional politics, which is why these creeps get along so well with each other. And in fact, the current regime's enabling behavior, as an aversion to Obama's measured responses and precautions, has kept the region more volatile than it would otherwise have been. They are sleeping with a monster, and they are fine with it, because he's a rich monster who's happy to pay up.

Turkey is playing its own game here -- all of the information about Khashoggi's presumed fate, and the evidence for it, has been filtered out from Ankara. They have on-and-off relationships with the Saudis and the Israelis, and meddling in Syria from Russia and the US have only exacerbated the dynamic in the region. The one good outcome is that ISIS seems to have been mostly eliminated, though of course there's always another such group lurking under the next rock.

But with this greedy, doddering old fool driving things forward into a nasty election, this Saudi problem could get pretty ugly. Already the Saudi stock market is taking a hit, expecting sanctions, and they dump too much money into the US real estate market for it not to be noticeable if they decide to pull out or sell off their sovereign fund investments, or just slow down oil production for the winter to drive up gas prices.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Seriously, Fuck Kanye West

So did I tell ya or did I tell ya? The guy has, like, zero fucking redeemable characteristics. He's a perfect acolyte for this anal fissure of an administration -- not one-tenth as smart as he thinks he is, proudly ignorant, completely incoherent when he thinks he's trying to actually make a fucking point. He has nothing useful to say about anything or anybody. Just like his fat, elderly, doddering daddy figure.

Few things are more pathetic than watching a grown-ass forty-year-old man spew his little-lost-girl daddy issues; even Clownstick looked uncomfortable after a while. I think if there hadn't been a crowd there, Kanye probably would have tried to suck his dick.

The professional observers who are trying to make this a mental illness issue need to reconsider. He may be mentally ill, but that's not the problem here. Kanye West's problem is exactly the same as Fuckface Von Clownstick's problem:  he's an ignorant, jabbering fool who has nobody in his life to tell him no or set him straight on anything, so he's now far beyond the point where he would listen anyway.

You really can't tell people like that anything, all you can do is cut them out of your lives, and hope they finally see the pattern for themselves. Or not. If they can't get it together, you're better off without them anyway.

But this is how West has always been, always. Clownstick fans and self-styled conservatards think they're being clever by appropriating West as one of their own, like they've liberated him from the Dummycrat plantation. Well, they can fucking have him, and the wife-beater Jim Brown, and the murderous thief Don King, and the rest of the criminal types they think show the party as being more inclusive. Hell, dig up Ike Fucking Turner while you're at it.

The funniest part of it is that this serves as a perfect example of what I was just talking about in the previous post less than a week ago -- they can't tell musicians and athaletes to shut up and sing or dribble or dance, when they take a stance against their senile god-emperor, but soon as one starts singing his praises, they all reach for the hymnal and join in.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Shut Up and Sing

Onoez! Taylor Swift has broken the hearts and dreams of white-power cellar-dwellers by coming out in support of Phil Bredesen in the TN Senate election. In the slightly more "mainstream" conservatard disinfo universe, no doubt the Fixed Noise baboons are already verbally burning Swift in effigy.

This is a weird but entirely predictable phenomenon for them. I never hear of liberal (or "liberal") commentators or bloggers touting the endorsement of this or that celebrity. I mean, it's nice that, for example, Willie Nelson has endorsed Beto O'Rourke all summer, but it doesn't affect my opinion of Willie or Beto at all. I'd support a slab of river rock, if it was running against that dipshit Ted Cruz.

So the way your garden variety conservaturd will characterize this is some too-clever-by-half variation on Laura Ingraham's "shut up and sing" catchphrase. Of course, they don't say that to Kanye West anymore, now do they? Hell, some of us are old enough to recall how they all flipped when West was embarrassingly rude to Swift, crashing her award thingy like an asshole. Or when West claimed that George W. Bush didn't care about black people. (Not true, of course -- Bush didn't and doesn't care about poor people.)

But these days, as far as they're concerned, Kenny West is woke like a Tim Allen joke, y'all, wearing his MAGAt cap on that librul Saturdee Night DEAD fake-comedy program, hurrr, amirite. He showed them assholes whut's whut, I tell you whut. They try to make it sound like people in the entertainment industry are unqualified to reach an opinion on something (as if Ingraham or Hannity or Tomi Lahren or Greg Gutfeld are qualified to do anything that doesn't involve fellating raw power on a nightly basis), until they have an opinion they like.

Like all reactionaries, their real motto is ipse dixit. Because I say so.

It's even funnier when random morons post such memes on their social mediot pages. Some Fuckface in Pig's Taint, Alabama gets all het up about a celebrity or athlete trying to ram their opinion down 'murka's throat. But they're jes' a dumb celebrity! Har har! Entertain me! Dance, monkey, dance! Right, and who are you, and who am I, and who is that panel of privileged assholes on my basic cable feed? If it's your right to be an obnoxious dickhead on your friends' Facebook feeds, why is it such a problem when LeBron James or Tom Arnold speaks their mind?

We all know the old "opinions are like assholes" song:  Everyone's got one, and they all stink. Taylor Swift is not unqualified to voice her opinion because of her line of work -- if anything, the fact that she has to tour and travel constantly probably gives her a broader perspective and range of experience. I might even say the same thing about a garbage human being like Kanye West, if not for the fact that everything about him is a publicity stunt, and it's impossible to detect anything resembling sincerity from him. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if a year or two passed and he and that hobbit he's married to publicly change their minds about their elderly oompa-loompa friend.

And they would still be insufferable assholes. When they give away 95% of their ill-gotten pelf and go help some isolated African village, without a camera crew in tow, then we can be impressed.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Devil's Triangle, Slight Return: The People's Court

Now that the vile deed is done and written in blood, here's a few follow-up points from yesterday:
  • In the initial review of how each branch of gubmint has broken down, I meant to point out that in the case of the executive branch, this has obviously been going on for some time. The "unitary executive" trend gained steam after 9/11 of course, but Obama did nothing to stem or abate that trend. (Nor without any clear direction or guarantee of lasting effect, should he have.) It was always a bargain with the devil, in the possibility that sooner or later this increasingly unchallenged power would fall into the hands of an evil person, or an idiot -- or, as it turned out, both.
  • The final vote to confirm was 50-48, with Steve Daines absent, Lisa Murkowski voting "present" rather than "no," and Joe Manchin defecting to the "yes" crowd, ostensibly to protect his re-election odds. I find that logic baffling; does anyone on either side of the fence seriously think that a Clownstick cultist is going to vote for Manchin because he voted to confirm Kavanaugh? If Manchin votes with his party, the count is 49-49, and Murkowski is forced to make a choice, as is Daines. That's what hardball politics is supposed to be about. Imagine if, say, that fuckhead Flake could have somehow been brought around. Suddenly Manchin's the deciding vote. Instead the guy fucking punts. Real party solidarity there, asshole. Maybe his Pharma Sis daughter has another price increase on the Epi-Pen coming up.

    For the next few weeks, liberals will be lecturing each other about "purity votes" and that sort of nonsense. Personally, I think Manchin's a fucking squirrel turd, and he is entirely welcome to go fuck himself repeatedly until you can drive a Buick straight up his gaping asshole. He deserves whatever rage and scorn actual liberals and Democrats can muster to heap upon him. He did something he didn't have to do, for no good strategic or tactical reason, at a time when all Democrats really need to stand and fight.

    All that said, he needs to be voted back in right now (though, you know, try not to be too surprised if the blue tsunami doesn't turn out quite as advertised, and he jumps parties), and then primaried hard the next time around. But it shouldn't be hard to understand the way people are reacting to this, the feeling that there's no point in voting Democrat if the fucker votes Republican. Heidi Heitkamp understood that there's no point in genuflecting to monsters, and so she voted her principle. It will probably cost her seat, but at least she's going down swinging. People are pissed, and they should be. For fuck's sake it hasn't even been a day and these tiresome lectures come out. Let people have a few minutes to fucking vent, before they vote the way you think they should vote. But in the end, come back around and show up, now and every time going forward. Use your anger, rather than the other way around. Don't forget, but don't self-destruct. Use it the way they use it:  to keep warm. Wolverines!
  • More than anything, you can pretty much bet the bank that more will come about Kavanaugh in the weeks and months to come. This guy is fucking dirt, pure and simple, both as a human being and as a practitioner of the legal profession, much less a Supreme Court justice. The most critical lesson to be learned with Kavanaugh is that process should not be rushed, especially if the nominee turns out to be janky as fuck. It's fascinating how every dipshit peckerwood suddenly became a fucking SCOTUS scholar overnight, even though they couldn't name two other justices if you held a gun to their heads.
  • Bottom line, here is the deal on this asshole:  Kavanaugh was selected by an executive who lost the popular vote, and confirmed by a collection of senators who represent a minority of the population, and was opposed by a majority of the citizens in every poll. Hang tight onto that, and don't let go. Use that anger constructively. Never vote Republicon again, for anything or anyone, no matter what. Start strategically weeding out fake Democrats like Joe Manchin, one by one by one. It can be done, but it takes work, attention, effort, commitment.
  • If I have to read one more thing about how Chris Coons and Jeff Flake are such wonderful friends and colleagues who rely on each others' advice, I'm going to fucking puke. Earth to Chris Coons: your good pal made a spectacle of himself and his vaunted principles, and then turned right around and did what he was always going to do, what Susan Collins was always going to do. Quit letting yourself be fooled by these cock-smokers. There is nothing good about them. You're a sap to think otherwise.
There can be no excuses in a month. Either you're tired of all the winning, or you love it. Either you want a voice in your government and your collective fates, or you're good with all this. There's no middle ground. If everyone who was just too lazy or apathetic to vote last time around showed up -- hell, if half of 'em showed up -- you would have your tsunami, bigly. There are more of us than there are of them. All we have to do is show up.