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Monday, January 21, 2019

Mediocracy

I bet you won't fall on your face, your belly will hold you in place. -- Iron Maiden Be Quick or Be Dead<./I>

Since we're talking about the importance of accountability for a bunch of dipshit teenagers, let's also mention how much more important that ideal is for the cadre of adult professionals who monger opinions and convene panel circle jerks and such like. Obviously the Covington Catholic controversy sets right in their collective wheelhouse. They can spend the next week going over video swatches like the fucking Zapruder film, frame-by-frame analysis that ultimately confirms whatever a given observer has already chosen to believe beforehand.

I guess it beats reporting on whether the school is tax-exempt, as many religious schools are, and if so, how that status squares with the school bussing children wearing political endorsement swag to a political protest to advocate a highly specific -- and contentious -- point of view. But then again, let's face it -- the 501(c)(3) status that churches and religious organizations enjoy is one of the most ridiculous and least enforced legal fig leaves in existence. It barely falls under the scope of pro forma.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Keep America Hate; Or, Character Is Density

By now, we've all seen the photos and videos of this disgusting bullshit, and there's not a whole lot to add. Res ipsa loquitur, as the kids are wont to say in the 'hood.

On the one hand, maybe it's harsh to pick on children; on the other hand, these "children" are awful. No one put a gun to their heads to force those fucking lids on them. Would you care to meet their parents? There's no guessing as to how this happens. It would be a failure of imagination -- and, therefore, given the perilous state of what passes for our free and independent media ecosystem, entirely predictable -- to pass this off as yet another example of racism.

Certainly racism is a driving element, but it's really a matter of asserting upper-middle-class white privilege, on a second-class group. The only way it could be any better if is these losers try to excuse their behavior by saying that they thought Nathan Phillips was Mexican, and hence wanted to build a wall to keep him out, per Dear Leader's impassioned plaints. Build that wall! Lock her up! Derp derp derp! Dee- fence! Unh-unh! Dee-fence!

Christ. What a bunch of morons -- but worse than that, what a bunch of truly useless humans. The world would not miss them, had they never come along, really. Gunny from Full Metal Jacket had it right -- the best part of these doughy losers ran down the back of their mommas' legs, ending up as brown stains on mattresses all over the greater Cincinnati area.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Running Out of Synonyms for "Fuck 'em"

As the Cletus safaris become fewer and farther between, strangely they are also starting to take on the texture of a fine dessert or aperitif. This latest visit from the NY Times (I know, I know) to a benighted polyp somewhere deep in 'murka's taint, is too delicious to not be fattening:
MARIANNA, Fla. — A federal prison here in Florida’s rural Panhandle lost much of its roof and fence during Hurricane Michael in October, forcing hundreds of inmates to relocate to a facility in Yazoo City, Miss., more than 400 miles away.

Since then, corrections officers have had to commute there to work, a seven-hour drive, for two-week stints. As of this week, thanks to the partial federal government shutdown, they will be doing it without pay — no paychecks and no reimbursement for gas, meals and laundry, expenses that can run hundreds of dollars per trip.

....

This, after all, is one of many towns across the country where private industries are few and the federal government is intimately connected to livelihoods. Wedged near the border with Alabama and Georgia, Marianna’s 7,000 residents depend on the federal medium-security prison to employ nearly 300 people in good-paying jobs with attractive benefits.
Which is sadder -- that there are towns across the nation where the best job opportunity is at the nearest prison, or that people are so desperate to keep that slight privilege that they'll drive for seven hours to work a two-week block of shifts for free?

But prison workers were facing trouble even before the partial government shutdown. At least two-thirds of the Marianna staff members sustained hurricane damage to their homes, according to prison managers. The local prison officers’ union estimated that 10 percent of its affected members experienced total property losses.

Charles Jones, 32, a corrections officer and vice president of the union, said he and his wife were expecting their first child next month. “Because of the storm, I’ve already had to defer a payment here and there for my car,” he said. “Those are the basic things that we’re trying to do.”
It's somehow strangely reassuring to hear that disaster management for this gaping asshole of an administration doesn't just fail Puerto Ricans. Say what you will, but at least they're consistent in their failure.

“Everybody I talk to wants the wall,” James Grover, 72, a car salesman from nearby Blountstown, said over breakfast on Saturday at the Waffle Iron, a diner on Route 90 that opens six days a week even though its facade, destroyed by the hurricane, is temporarily made up of plastic sheeting and plywood.
The photo of the diner is all the reason you need to click on that link. I know you're surprised at the notion that Florida doesn't believe in health inspectors for restaurants, but seeing it is another thing. It seems like exactly the sort of place where you would expect to find a car salesman who should have been able to retire by now, sharing his teleological belief in an expensive "solution" to a crisis that doesn't really exist.

The grand finale is where that now-infamous pull quote resides.

A few miles away, another prison employee, Crystal Minton, accompanied her fiancé to a friend’s house to help clear the remnants of a metal roof mangled by the hurricane. Ms. Minton, a 38-year-old secretary, said she had obtained permission from the warden to put off her Mississippi duty until early February because she is a single mother caring for disabled parents. Her fiancé plans to take vacation days to look after Ms. Minton’s 7-year-old twins once she has to go to work.

The shutdown on top of the hurricane has caused Ms. Minton to rethink a lot of things.

“I voted for him, and he’s the one who’s doing this,” she said of Mr. Trump. “I thought he was going to do good things. He’s not hurting the people he needs to be hurting.

[emphasis mine]

Okay then, there ya go. Crystal Minton should be praised for her honesty, whether or not she intended it as such. I don't know how many such affirmations of the obvious people might need to decide for themselves, but there's yet another one, just as stark and blatant as you please.

As the next phase of the perennial campaign gets underway, and the various panel-show get their talking points ready for How Dems Can Win Them Back, and other equally useless suggestions, Ms. Minton actually provides an ideal angle of attack for whichever candidate decides to try to poach the coveted angry-rube sliver. There is definitely a way to reframe that he's not hurting the people he needs to be hurting whinge.

Every one of these Real 'murkins, be they ancient car salesman or plaintive long-haul prison screw, is stuck -- in their low-rent locale, in their mediocre career aspirations, in their sad lives of quiet destitution. Only people who have no other choice drive seven hours to stay in a hotel for two weeks and work at a prison, all out of pocket. These are folks for whom "economic insecurity" is not a direct cause for their vote, only because they are so habituated to economic insecurity, they don't notice it as a proximal cause of anything. It's a visible characteristic, like having brown eyes or being left-handed.

They want out of it, but you could give them a million bucks tax-free and they still wouldn't really know what to do with it. Get debt-free, maybe buy a larger, newer house (but in the same area). Take a couple family trips east of the Rockies: Branson, maybe DC or New York. They live close enough to Disney World to have been there already.

Mainly, though, their worldview would not change even if they were no longer economically insecure. It is not necessarily overt racism so much as lifelong conditioning that their strangely revered broke-down "way of life" of busted-out towns and opioid-addled relatives is "under attack," whatever the hell that means for them.

But it doesn't matter, because they are economically insecure, and they know they always will be, and so the way you snap them out of their dead-eyed cult gaze is to simply point out the obvious -- that all those godless heathen fag libruls, all those coastal elites, have been doing just fine. Maybe not great, because only the wealthy do great anymore, but their hero hasn't hurt the coastal elites, not even a little bit. Even the initial snowflake tears, as tasty as those might have been, have dried and galvanized what is now just as intractable an opposition bloc as the teatards were ten long years ago.

The snowflakes are just pissed now, and a lot of them are young, and they'll never vote Republicon now. Never. And most of them really haven't taken any sort of economic hit, because they don't typically work in industries or geographic areas that Master Dealmaker's idiot shenanigans actually affected. It's the floor monkey at the nail factory that's losing his job; it's the soybean farmer in Iowa watching his harvest rot in a cavernous warehouse; it's the already dilapidated panhandle craphole that just had its best jobs outsourced four hundred miles away in another state, because the disaster money still hasn't shown up to repair their houses and businesses and infrastructure.

They were already getting a raw deal. Right or wrong, they feel like they've gotten a raw deal all their lives. He promised to bring the pain to all those smug, condescending libruls who have the nerve to read books, who think they're so fuckin' smart. Instead he's just brought the pain exclusively to the people who love him the most. And they can't figure it out. It's hilarious. I'm getting a huge fuckin' chubby just thinking about it all over again. It's not just that they can't quit Preznit Monkey Paw. They voted for Ron DeSantis, they voted for Matt Gaetz, just ten weeks ago. They asked for this, and now, like the dumbest of dogs, they stand around scratching their nuts, wondering what the hell happened. It turns out that stoves are hot, and elections have consequences, and there are simply some folks who need to learn those lessons the hard way. Some of them will keep touching the stove, no matter what. As the man said, you can't fix stupid.

Democratic candidates, certainly at the national level, need to just write these numbskulls off. There's nothing you can tell them, and there's no need when there are millions more votes to be had just by motivating a relative handful of non-voters. But certainly local and state pols can make this argument to them, and it could conceivably be utilized by the right national candidate: He promised you he'd make it better for you, and slap them down. How's that been working out?

But again, in the meantime, these stories are like slightly delayed Christmas presents. How can you not love reading about people getting exactly what they voted for? That's democracy right there!

First They Came for the De-Platformed Snowflakes

Plenty of whining these days about idiots being "de-platformed," deprived of their God-given right to make a fat living spreading lies and abuse and wink-wink-nudge-nudge racism. Oh, what will become of poor Milo or Carl or Gavin, or whatever pied pissant is trying this month to coax the virtual hordes of incels and basement losers into the good life of flame-tweeting uppity bitchez and minorituhs?

Look, it's too bad that Milo Yiannopoulos is $2M in debt. Maybe, in the true ethos of the committed fiscal conservative bootstrapper lot, he should have made sure to secure gainful employment sufficient to support his high-on-the-cock lifestyle. Just as NBC isn't required to sell and broadcast advertisements for Pornhub or crush videos (even the latter of which was at one point ruled free speech), Patreon and other such outlets have the right to refuse service. This is less a matter of corporate control, and more a matter of cost-benefit analysis, the knowledge that for every one of these dipshit "provocateur" losers they take on, they'll lose a hundred or a thousand or a million users and contributors -- in other words, their revenue model.

Do people still need an explanation of how the free market works? It's suboptimal in many ways, but at least its one true ethos holds firm throughout -- no matter how stupid or awful it is, if it makes money, it gets in the arena. That's how Rush Limbaugh has stayed on the air for thirty years. That's how you got half a decade of Duck Dynasty and Honey Boo Boo types, a decade of Kardashians, or two decades of various strains of "reality" teevee. They're all terrible, and entirely useless, even as entertainment. But they sold or sell ad time.

I mean, are these people fucking kidding? If one thing about teevee and the internets holds true over anything else, it's that Sturgeon's Law is pretty much the main operational guideline. Does anyone seriously think that putatively librul (in the sense that it's possible that they may have voted Democratic at least as often as they voted Republican) scumbags such as Jeff Zucker and Les Moonves think twice about all the free publicity they gave that jabbering baboon during the 2016 campaign? They held their noses and deposited their checks.

Mark Burnett is an even better example -- he's actually on record as being a Democratic voter and donor over the years, but when he smelled cheap pelf, he ran with the devil and never looked back. Not only was Burnett richly rewarded, he has broadcast properties all over the place. No one's boycotting him or cutting him loose. Why do you think that is?

Why doesn't Milo just start up a website with all his deep thoughts and put a PayPal link on the sidebar, get a mailing list going and shake down his readers? Or start up a YouTube channel and sell subscriptions? People make bank on YouTube watching other people play video games, or teaching people how to put on makeup. Surely these renegade thinkers can coordinate their thoughts to the same extent Jenna Marbles or Pewdiepie has, and figure their principled way out of the corporate Marxist gulag.

This is kinda what Sarah Palin ran into when she tried to monetize her grift after getting her tight ass kicked in the 2008 election. She tried the reality show, the Fixed Noise commentary gig, the paid subscription grift -- but they all required work, effort, content, attention. Or you have to pay someone to do that content creation-curation shit for you. So now she sits up in the tundra, tweeting her deep thoughts now and then, when she's not busy trying to keep her dope-addled son from pulling a murder-suicide with whatever dingbat he's hooked up with this year.

Same thing with these other yahoos, to some degree or other. They're not broke and desperate because they're being blackballed by mythic corporate librul fascists; they're broke because they're incompetent boobs whose schtick has worn thin. Sure, the basement dipshits looking for the daily outrage pellet in their Skinner-box lives will read it for free until the die-uh-beet-us finally keels them over. But they won't pay for it.

The Koch Brothers, worth over $100 billion dollars between them, each one averages something like a million dollars a day, they dump hundreds of millions into each electoral cycle, they bankroll think tanks and magazines. Say what you want about them, but you can't say they aren't engaged in every facet of the political and policy-making process. They invest a lot of fucking money every year in strategy, legislation, influencing, and who knows what else.

You think if poor destitute Milo was doing anything worth half a shit that they could use to their benefit, the Koch boys or one of their swollen failsons couldn't sweep in and give him a sinecure somewhere, a Reason column or such like? One of the conservatard vanity publishers couldn't throw him a bone after his debacle with Simon and Schuster?

Jesus H. Christ, rich assholes keep Dinesh D'Souza, who is a failure on every level -- moral, ethical, financial, legal -- solvent. If they wanted to, they would and could, and they wouldn't even notice the money. This nation is openly run by psychotic billionaires. If they wanted these Patreon numbskulls on their roster, they'd have signed 'em up already.

And again, it's not just Milo, who obviously has his own image problems to deal with. He's just the highest-profile example, but the end result is true for the rest of these slugs -- they don't do anything that their self-reinforcing audience of angry dupes is actually willing to pay for. Why should they, when they can get their pellets for free? They're not worried about any issues of "quality" or a higher level of thinking or writing skill. They don't want prime rib, they're fine with Cheez Doodles. And you can find those anywhere.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Why We Boycott CNN

Further evidence that Jim Acosta is a dickless weasel, and should go out and ply an honest trade at the earliest possible opportunity. You're hurting 'murka, Jimbo, and you inform no one, you illuminate nothing, you add no value.

There's only so many ways to put it:  having a paid liar on your "news" program is not journalism. At all. Genuflecting before said liar and not just taking her shit, but eating it and asking for seconds, is even worse. It degrades whatever husk remains of honest journalism; it lends credence to pure scum and cheap agitprop. It convinces no one, it changes nothing. This sort of shit makes the nation, and the world, and even the debased profession of journalism, objectively worse.

I bet his family can't look him in the eyes anymore. His friends, when they have to talk to him, probably have the tone of someone talking to a stage-four cancer patient, sympathy and sorrow and the urge to be anywhere else on the planet.

And Acosta can't see it. He thinks someone gets something out of his tedious excursions to the cult rallies, to be spit at and flipped off and shat on by angry morons. He thinks that lightly sautéing a sellout lackey like Kellyanne Conway one more fucking time is going to elicit some useful information, like he's going to catch her in another lie and this time it'll matter. Jesus Fucking Christ, where do you find rutabaga halfwits like this?

It's not just Acosta, of course -- Conway is CNN's go-to propagandist, openly defying them to find someone else for their hack-cess journamalism. And you know what? She's right. She gives them exactly the amount of respect they deserve. But it also happens to be the degree of respect CNN holds for its dipshit viewers.

Clear your conscience, Jimbo. Go investigate a real story and provide us with some facts, some actual information. Will it be ignored in the ceaseless tsunami of nonsense and bullshit? Almost certainly. But it's a good start for you to start scrubbing your soul clean, or at least a bit cleaner. Because this? This is the gutter equivalent of cheap Super-8 animal porn. This is a grainy '60s loop of a cranked-up biker fucking a terrified farm animal. This is shameful, repulsive. This is an unholy crime against nature and humanity.

This....is CNN.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Baby, It's Old Outside

The reason Fairytale of New York is far and away the best Christmas song ever is simple:  it is a song about maintaining hope even when you know better. That's the "Christmas spirit" in a nutshell.

That sounds cynical, but it actually the opposite of the hopelessly cynical, crass commercialism that infests the holiday and most of its entertainment offerings, which range from the utterly sappy to the winking, knowing we're all full of shit here, guys! spoofs.

And perhaps nothing is more cynical these days than this new and ugly "tradition" of finding some ginned-up story or bullshit cultural artifact as prima facie evidence of a "war" on Christmas. Like Black Friday, it actually starts around Thanksgiving, and truckles on in some form until the end of the year.

At least with Black Friday, you get the twin pleasures of discount electronics and beating up strangers. This other thing is just another in the endless series of imaginary grievances wielded by fist-shaking codgers and barely-employable widget-stampers who are still trying to figure out why no one's rebooted The Dukes of Hazzard.

This nation has become utterly boring in its incessant whinging, in its myopic focus on jabbering nonsense, while the planet's climate is self-destructing, and Central American children are paying with their lives for the high crime of seeking asylum from carnage. The average workin' 'murkin busts their fat ass for just enough to get by, and is one medical catastrophe or job layoff from the sidewalk. Our health-care system, like the Holy Roman Empire, is none of those three words; instead it's an open conspiracy by rentier capitalists to overcharge and underserve, to transfer money from the working poor to the already wealthy.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Promises Made, Promises Kept

Just what you always wanted -- yet another Cletus safari culminating in a Festivus "fuck 'em" profile. Despite the completely predictable quotes and observations and outcomes, it's still worth a read, if only to demonstrate clearly just how members of a cult process information and function in their lives of futility and acquiescence.

The more recent nature of the New Yorker article (the author visited the plant in November) can't capture the near-daily unraveling since the midterm elections, so maybe some of these folks have changed their minds, seeing as how they're facing a welfare Christmas because of their feckless leader's stupefying ignorance on every possible subject. But even leaving that aside, they're fine with everything he's done so far. We all get that no one wants to admit they've been conned, that for every schmuck that actually goes on teevee to lament how they got suckered by some obvious catfishing scam, there's a dozen or more that will never admit it, but Jesus H. Christ. The people at this nail factory need to be deprogrammed.

Considering that their $11.50/hour jobs are about to disappear, and they'll be competing for new work with the people who lost their jobs at the nearby Briggs & Stratton facility, the only thing that has a chance of deprogramming them is reality jamming one way up their asses and snapping it clean off.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

GOP Delenda Est; Or, Season's Beatings

During my teen years, I would travel downstate to Los Angeles for the summer, mostly to visit my father, but also several other relatives in the area. So an uncle and aunt in Downey, a cousin in Newport Beach, and so on. This was a time when "summer vacation" meant a full three months, early June to the week after Labor Day. So it was a week here, two weeks there, much more fun than sitting at home, broke and broiling in the punishing NorCal summer heat.

The Newport Beach cousin was (and still is) an avid surfer and guitar player, and close enough in age to where it was a lot like hanging out with an older brother who actually wanted you to hang out with him. So I would go on all-day surfing junkets with him and his USC buddies. I learned to enjoy and appreciate surfing, not just as a challenging physical activity (ocean swimming is not for the weak-willed), but as a meditative activity. The board becomes an extension of you, just by repetition; there are points where you imagine an overhead view of yourself, a tiny dot in a vast area of green and blue, land nearby but not conveniently so, possibly sharks or jellyfish or rocks lurking just below the surface.

The main thing about catching that proverbial wave is recognizing that the ocean is constantly moving, pulsing, surging, defying you to grab hold and find some rhythm. It's a beautiful and daunting thing, that existential challenge, one that forces you to simultaneously acknowledge your smallness, yet have the courage to jump into the endless motion and figure out a way to ride it to shore.

That's what the political news sphere feels like, more and more -- endlessly churning, surging faster and faster, defying us to find purchase, get a grip on this swirling narrative and make sense of it. In filing the Cohen and Manafort memos on Pearl Harbor Day (or Noam Chomsky Day, if you prefer), Robert Mueller may be hinting at a more sardonic sense of humor than any of us might have supposed. Certainly this tapestry is unfolding to reveal what very well may turn out to be a case of treason rivaling that of the Rosenbergs or Benedict Arnold.

You certainly wouldn't put it past ol' Fuckface Von Clownstick to sell West Point to one of Putin's bagmen. And now we are getting a clearer picture of how he literally sold American foreign policy, not to mention its electoral integrity, to a nation he is deeply in hock to. The people who are still denying what's plain for all to see are either on the payroll, or permanently drunk on the Kool-Aid.