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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Blut und Scheisse

We can't honestly say we weren't warned, nor can we honestly claim to be surprised. This is who he's always been -- not just bigoted, but stubborn and vain past the point of rational self-interest. People are welcome and correct to focus on Clownstick's insistence on both-siding with nazis, the most slam-dunk of all political oppositions to take.

He's sunk so low in approval ratings, and the bar has been lowered so much for him, he literally would have gained credence and political capital just by beating on the white power assholes. And of course he couldn't do it -- every single time he tries to speak spontaneously, he reveals and projects exactly who he's always been. He's incapable of doing otherwise. I will never not be utterly baffled that so many people couldn't see that characteristic. It's not like he ever tried to hide it.

At some point there will be some sort of political reckoning, if for no other reason than that he's making it easier for his congressional compadres to distance themselves from his poisonous agenda and toxic personality. In the meantime, keep on diggin', fucko. By the time this is all over, even Fixed Noise won't have his fat back, and the world will be boycotting his name, and everything it's plastered on.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Promises Made, Promises Kept

I don't know if Charlottesville will turn out to be the Fort Sumter of the current "cold civil war," as all the kids are calling it, but things seem to be heating up, slowly, surely, inexorably. The joke has been that maybe Clownstick ran over an old gypsy woman, and she cursed him to live out all his peanut-gallery tweets at Obama. The truth is that Yeats was a prophet, and we are all living out his warning. Clownstick may be Orangemandias, faded glory that never was in the first place, but the Pepe-the-Frog Jew-baiting douchebags are the falcon to his falconer.

These racist assholes and their racist bullshit are being normalized right in front of us. They are not bothering to conceal it at all, you have to give them that. David Duke is a loathsome tool, but when he's right, he's right:
“This represents a turning point for the people of this country. We are determined to take our country back,” Duke said. “We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back.”
Yes indeedy. They got their panties all up in a wad every time the Black Lives Matter folks blocked traffic, but in the meantime, these small racist rallies have been going on all over the south, and you know what you have not heard of? Some random BLM activist pulling a Mr. Mercedes and running these losers down.

Plz Moar Tardz

Well, it's about that time again, time for the lamestream media's periodic ass-spelunking tour into dipshit country, to reinforce Emperor Snowflake's rapidly dwindling coterie of ball-lickers that somewhere out there, there's a derpelganger jes' lahk thaym:
Out on Colorado’s eastern plains, an agricultural region where voters went overwhelmingly for Mr. Trump, the response to the president’s remarks was one of support, with little fear of repercussions.

“He needs to step all over that little twerp,” said John Stout, 71, who sat with three retired friends over coffee at the Sinclair gas station in Wiggins, Colo., on Thursday. The other men nodded in agreement. “If it had been me up there,” Mr. Stout continued, “I’d have done it a lot quicker.”
Sure you would've, old man. Everyone's a fucking tough guy when they have no skin in the game. Why, I recall the last time I played a Civilization 4 campaign, I finally got bored and decided to finish off the last AI opponent -- Korea -- by nuking....wait for it....Pyongyang. Then I smoked a cigarette. [cough cough hack] So satisfying.
Mr. Stout said he did not fear for his safety, and hoped that [Fuckface Von Clownstick] would take action to “take out” the North Korean leader’s nuclear abilities.

“Hell yes,” he said. “And they can pinpoint it to where they are not killing a lot of innocent people. That will be the big goal there.”
The worst thing this country ever did -- and continues to do, through its estimable coven of city-mouse scriveners -- is ascribe some sort of earthy wisdom to random jabber, simply because it comes from the piehole of a fist-shaking codger in a dumpy shithole town.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Axiomatic

John Holbo over at Crooked Timber asks what is turning out to be the defining question of this wondrous new millennium:
What do I think the really important, consequential issues are for humanity for the next hundred years?  Climate change and environmental destruction generally; the threat of some catastrophic, global war and/or the use, somewhere, of weapons of mass destruction. I guess number three would be: inequality and the threat it poses for the stability of societies and political orders, long-term.
I would agree 100% with all of those. I would also note for the record that the primary cause for these issues is generally the same across the board:  overpopulation. We have reached the carrying capacity of our planet, for the lifestyle we wish to lead. If we don't mind living asshole-to-teakettle in urbanized stack flats, invest massively in desalination, irrigate every hectare of arable land with perfect seasonality and soil management, stop raising beef and pork, and eliminate every non-essential species over 100 pounds, then sure, we could probably stuff another few billion in. Why the fuck not?

To answer Holbo's question about whether to be pessimistic or optimistic about the next hundred years, I am extremely pessimistic about the near future (to 2040 or 2050), and very cautiously optimistic about the longer term (2050-2100). I'll sketch out some ideas further down, but the proverbial elevator pitch is one of my all-time favorites, which any regular reader here has seen many times (but like so many things, bears repeating):
People do not change until they realize that the cost of not changing is greater than the cost of changing.
I'd love to lie to you and say I coined that one myself, but it's been such a long time I honestly don't recall where I first encountered it. I'm pretty sure it was at The Oil Drum, but I couldn't tell you which writer; whether they poached it from some organizational theory seminar is anyone's guess. The main thing is that it's true and it applies so well to so many issues going on right now.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Clear and Present Danger

One thing should be starkly apparent to all, as tensions ramp up with the Hermit Kingdom:  civilized nations cannot sit idly while an erratic, impulsive man-baby with ridiculous hair, who surrounds himself with sycophants, and who believes his own hype and nothing else, has his tiny hands on the nuclear trigger.

Rock the Vote

Looks like Jester's got the answer:


It might get in the way of Supergeeeenyus Snowflake Von Clownstick's tireless efforts to write off the three million more people who legitimately voted for his opponent, but them's the breaks.

Consider:  since the founding of the republic, between stuffing and/or tossing ballot boxes, voter intimidation, literacy tests, poll taxes, crooked or "broken" machines, deliberately shorting busy districts in order to create three-hour lines to frustrate voters, and on and on, this nation has almost certainly never had a one-hundred-percent free and fair election in every part of the country. Some ward heeler or local factotum always has their thumb on the scale in some location(s).

That's a different matter than saying that the will of the people has always been thwarted, but obviously it would be very difficult to forensically go back and re-litigate all those past exercises in civic futility. All of which is to say that it would simply be interesting, to say the least, to get a truly untainted picture of What The People Really Want, to the extent that they actually know.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Poisoning the Well

Once in a great while, it's fun and even illuminating to reread books. Depending on how long it's been, you can get a lot out of it. I first read Stephen King's Needful Things back in the early '90s, half a lifetime ago. It was billed more or less as a horror version of Our Town, and that was essentially how I recalled it, until actually sitting down and rereading it over the last week.

(We here in Northern Cali are in the midst of a protracted heat wave; the number of days below 100 degrees in the daytime is maybe five since Memorial Day, so more than enough time to read. I think I knocked out seven full-length books in July, somewhere around 3,500 pages. It's too fucking hot to do much else.)

As intrigued as I am by King's explanation in the link that Needful Things is in some respects a satire of '80s excess, I came away with more specific impressions this time around. If I were to condense this 700-page doorstop (not an insult; it's a richly rewarding and fun read, but it's a big-ass book) into a logline or elevator pitch for someone who for some reason hasn't gotten around to reading the book, it would go something like this:
The devil comes to a small New England town, and turns the townsfolk against each other.
That's a radical oversimplification, though it gets the broad points across. The devil (pun intended) is in the details, and contextualized against our current real-world backdrop, can be fleshed out more interestingly.

The main theme of the book is cupidity, the sort of slavering covetousness that spurs otherwise rational humans to abandon good sense in order to pursue an object that they connect perhaps too deeply with, for whatever reason. In NT, these objects are at once mundane and yet important on an intimate level -- a mint-condition Sandy Koufax card; Elvis Presley's sunglasses; a splinter of wood from Noah's Ark.

So maybe now the elevator pitch is a bit more expansive. The "devil" understands his target audience, their vacant desires and what they will do to attain them. He hooks them and sets them in motion against each other. Desire and surrender and our willingness to see what we want to see are central to the trickster demon's nefarious plans. And when the objects of desire turn out to be junk -- the ratty card of an unknown player; a busted pair of cheap sunglasses; a rotted hunk of lumber infested with bugs -- the marks (at least the ones that manage to eventually see the objects for what they actually are) are appalled at themselves, at what they did for an empty promise.

Any sort of deceptive person -- a used-car salesman, a cheating relationship, a grifter or con-man, a politician -- cannot do what they do effectively without the complicity of the mark. The old saw about a grifter being someone who gets you to empty your pockets, but a con-man being someone who gets you to empty you pockets and then go home or to the bank and get the rest of your money to hand over, holds true here.

A good liar understands the value of pride and the need for respect that we all have, the intrinsic need to not be thought a dummy or a rube. Pride becomes the hook for the con-man to reel in his fish -- the fish cannot admit that he was dumb enough to fall for a shiny rubber lure, even as the barb hangs out his cheek and he is being reeled toward the boat.

Leland Gaunt's goal in Needful Things is ostensibly to collect souls, but it is really just to make mischief, the sheer joy in turning neighbor violently against neighbor. The discord is the reward, you might say. Some men just want to watch the world burn.

In a consumerist society, we are used to our thoughts and desires being monetized. It is so routine at this point it barely merits notice. But what if those thoughts and desires are escalated, taken to the next logical level? Someone who figured out how to weaponize those things would wield unspeakable power. That is how cults are built, and whether that cult leader is Alex Jones or Kim Jong Un or Fuckface Von Clownstick is irrelevant -- the principles are the same, and they work on the same type of people.

Perhaps worst of all is that when it comes to deprogramming brainwashed cult victims, the consequences can be almost as bad as leaving them in the cult. It's not they're going to thank you and jump across to "your side." By definition they are in need of something, usually something that jibes with their preferences thus far -- so when that something gets removed, there's a good chance they'll find something worse.

The symptom gets treated, but the disease -- ignorance in the broader sense, but specifically things such as living in a bubble with their own facts, racism or racist assumptions, a daily addiction to outrage du jour stories (again, without bothering to check whether there's any factual basis to them or not) -- persists and mutates.

Obviously, the root causes go back generations, but the more recent origins do stem from persistent systemic inequality, that most Americans did not get to share in the "recovery" anywhere near to the extent that their betters (who, after all, caused the collapse in the first place) enjoyed. Until that gets adequately addressed, we are simply heading deeper into an extended cycle of viciousness, regardless of whether the con-man gets impeached and removed.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The President Show

I don't do much in the way of promoting basic-cable teevee programs, but Comedy Central's The President Show has been one of the best things about summer so far. Princess Snowflake's endless candidacy and now regime of daily fuckuppery has provided a rich goldmine of content for late night hosts, Daily Show defectors, and such like. Seth Meyers and Stephen Colbert have been hitting on all cylinders the last six months. Samantha Bee has provided intelligent catharsis via angry snark, and John Oliver has carved a solid niche with his HBO show, primarily by tackling in-depth topics that our sound-bite media entities no longer bother with.

But with TPS, creator Anthony Atamanuik has done something a little bit different. For one, his Snowflake impression is spot-on, far better than anyone else's that I've seen (and I like Alec Baldwin's impression, but Atamanuik's is way better). Atamanuik honed his take for a year or so, on the road with Bernie Sanders impersonator James Adomian, so both players had their targets dialed in pretty well. Even better is that each TPS episode ends with a rather serious "big picture" monologue in the Snowflake voice, which is weird and unsettling, but perfect all the same. And Mario Cantone nailed Da Mooch in the most recent episode.

It will be interesting to see what sort of art will be produced under this regime of disillusionment and indifference and societal despair. It's not just about the daily fodder provided by the inept antics of the bozos in charge right now; it's about the conditions that allowed such people within a thousand feet of any position of responsibility, much less the White House. As I said shortly after the election, the real shock many of us felt was in trying to figure out which was worse --  that the result was a warning about what kind of nation we were becoming, or a reminder of what we've always been.

It sounds pretentious, but it's true all the same:  art can help illuminate the dark corners of our ongoing collective cathexis, and maybe even turn that grim fixation into something productive or useful, even just as a warning. A record number of Democratic candidates will be running for state and federal office next year, and that's a start right there. But artists are supposed to be a barometer of the culture (or a niche) as it stands, and where it's headed.

Comedians are always way out in front on this sort of thing, acting in real time, and writers won't be too far behind. Music and movies will be way behind the curve; if they check in at all, it will be indie projects. The only major music acts anymore are auto-tuned, song-doctored douchebags, and ancient retreads milking the last few bucks out of their aging fan-bases. Movies are even worse, as it seems that the only major movies getting green-lit anymore are franchises, reboots, and animated Hero's Journey template iterations.

TPS is still a little rough around the edges (which actually is part of the fun), seeing as it's only aired about a dozen episodes so far. But it started strong, has improved steadily, and mines its subject with skill and glee. Check it out, support it, tell your friends, even your Clownstick-supporting friends. They probably won't watch it, but you never know.

Managing Oneself

Let's take a step back from our usual f-bomb-throwing hijinks in discussing the various mutant species currently pushing our fine country into permanent ruination, and step back and discuss the goings-on in more business-oriented perspective.

Unlike HRH Princess Snowflake von Clownstick, I actually completed my MBA, and have the massive student-loan debt to prove it. More importantly, I regularly read actual business books by actual business thinkers and innovators, as opposed to ghost-written celebrity memoirs that all end in Chapter 11.

One of those thinkers I like a lot is Peter Drucker, one of the true OG business innovators. Drucker, who passed away in 2005 a few days before his 96th birthday, was around so long that he literally was born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He coined the business axiom "if you can't measure it, you can't manage it," which seems obvious enough, but go ahead and apply it to the current regime using the conventional metrics. The GDP and unemployment rates have held steady the first two quarters, but every econ novice knows that these are lagging indicators, and the market does not like instability or volatility.

Drucker also laid out basic principles of management competencies in his essay Managing Oneself, which later became a full-length treatise. Again, at the risk of stating the obvious, Drucker proposed that the competent manager's self-actualization consist primarily of awareness, knowledge, and discipline -- that is, awareness of one's strengths and skills, the ability to acquire knowledge as necessary, and the discipline to not only be consistent, but to assemble a team of complementary strengths, and to delegate appropriately.

So consider all that, and compare to what you see now, and what you saw in past administrations. Every president from Washington to Obama understood what they were good at -- and more importantly, what they weren't good at -- gathered people around them that could help fill the gaps and provide other perspectives for a more balanced approach, and let them do their jobs within the constraints of agreed-upon policy. Obviously, the better leaders did this more effectively, and the poorer ones (Andrew Johnson, for example) who ignored this concept usually paid the price.

But it all starts with having the self-awareness to know (at the risk of sounding like Don Rumsfeld) what you don't know, and to let others help you in those areas. So when you're a spoiled man-baby who's had everyone kiss your fat fucking ass your entire life, and you've never been wrong about anything, ever, and facts are no longer empirically verifiable points of data but merely riffs that you decide on the fly, how are you ever supposed to assemble such a team?

This is the true, practical danger not only of having an aristocracy that by nature becomes insulated from its collective shortcomings, but of having an individual from such an environment be put in charge of immensely complex systems that they are simply not equipped to comprehend, nor have they acquired the discipline necessary to learn about those systems and their components.

This is really the heart of the argument for Hillary Clinton, and against Princess Snowflake -- whatever her flaws, she put in the work over the years to learn these things, and applied herself within those systems, while he spent his entire adulthood failing upward and talking shit about people much, much smarter and more accomplished than he could ever have dreamed of being.

That's not even snark; that's just the way it is. An average West Wing intern from any of the past ten administrations knows light-years more about the mechanics of government than the current asshole-in-thief. The most important thing to know is that the day-to-day operations of running an efficient White House office is mechanical, and not ideological. It's not a panel show where everyone screams over everyone else about some inane talking point, nor is it a reality show where ten people and five sharp knives are dropped on an island. This is how you end up with bridge-and-tunnel dipshits like "The Mooch" running your office into the ground.

So when you have someone who sincerely believes that it is both of those things, a reality show and a poli-panel screamfest, you get what you have now -- a narcissistic moron who thinks the sun rises and sets out of his asshole. Nothing but drama. No awareness, no knowledge, no discipline, just buckets of bluster and bullshit that remind most sentient observers that if this guy was your employee, you'd fire his worthless ass, and if he was your boss, you'd quit and punch him in the throat on your way out the door.

That's what amazes me most about the people still steadfastly defending Princess Snowflake. Not just that they fell for the "great bidnessman" schtick, but that they buy the "alpha dog" schtick as well. He's not a true alpha, he's just louder and more obnoxious, and unafraid to pull nonsense straight out of his bunghole and pass it off as truth. I don't know what sort of idiot "feels safer" with this guy. It's more like having your senile grandparent live at your house because you can't afford the rest home, and you have to hide your car keys and deadbolt all the doors to keep him from wandering off.

As a counterfactual, it's actually pretty easy to consider a scenario where not only is Snowflake competent and qualified for the job, but finds a way to beat the Democrats at their own game and win some of their flock over. He could have come up with an actual infrastructure plan that wasn't a transparent beak-wetting cronyfest, but created tons of good-paying jobs for people who don't necessarily have college degrees. He could have just not been a lying dick every single day. Seriously, this could have gone a whole different direction, even with the tone of the campaign. Someday we'll look back at all this and think about how much effort went into just being an asshole for the sake of being an asshole. Completely unnecessary.

This will blow your mind, and sound like some self-help Tony Robbins shit (confession:  I like Tony Robbins a great deal) but good managers and leaders don't pit team members against each other, they don't engage in routine humiliation of subordinates, they do understand that loyalty is in fact a two-way street. And yet that's 90% of what's gone on the last six months.

One of Robbins' better aphorisms is that leaders don't create followers, they create more leaders. Think about it from that perspective -- if he's such a great fucking bidness leader and all-around Wile E. Coyote-level genius, name one person from Princess Snowflake's "organization" that "leads" in any sense of the word. His doofy sons try not to fuck up their intertwined grifts too badly, while biding their time before they get to drop more than honest working people make in a year to jet to Africa and murder an endangered animal. His daughter lamely pretends not to get involved in politics, while she runs the branding operation for her knock-off handbags from their White House office. It is utterly impossible to imagine any of these inbred dipshits working an honest job. You see any real companies trying to pull any of them onboard, like ever? No, and you know that will never happen. They know that will never happen.

I had an unexpected chat this morning with a close friend who voted for the "change" Clownstick promised, and is now feeling a bit sheepish about all that. I think that feeling is going to become more pervasive among sizable chunks of that bloc. What liberals and Democrats can do to accelerate and intensify that feeling heading into the midterms is to approach it from this "competent management" perspective described here, and color with plenty of mockery and ridicule, which will bait Snowflake into ever more entertaining tweet-rages.