Friday, December 31, 2010

Bastards of 2010

[With apologies to the late great Beast.]

Update (1/3/11): Thanks to RD in comments. For months every time I'd tried to access The Beast, I would get an Error 404 message. I had heard that the site was going under at one point, so I just assumed that it had. But the real deal is that my sidebar link was just suffering from a severe case of linkrot, which is now fixed. Thanks, RD!

10. Mark Burnett
Largely responsible for "reality" teevee taking over network and cable airwaves during the past decade. Not that teevee was ever a grand cultural medium, nor have humans ever been quite as exalted as they think they are. But thanks in large part to Burnett's schlocky efforts, anonymous nincompoops consider it a star-making turn to be dumped out in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of like-minded assholes, and eat bugs for the amusement of millions of emotionally-stunted couch potatoes.

With his latest entertainment abortion, however, Burnett crosses the line in allowing someone with a lamentable degree of political viability to get paid to pimp themselves -- essentially a two-month campaign commercial in which the candidate gets paid to shill their own happy horseshit.

Sentence: To be dropped on a remote island, forced to eat grubs and deer penises in exchange for life-sustaining basics, only to be shot by Sarah Palin from a helicopter.

9. Fox News
For these guys, the Big Lie is not just dogmatic consistency, it's a proven business model. This year's list alone underscores the fundamental fact that, for a substantial portion of people, "facts" are incidental to the overall narrative they need to remain "vigilant", in the sense that your neighbor is "vigilant" for building a giant cinderblock tower on the side of his house so that he can keep an eye out for unicorns. Has more Republican candidates on its payroll than the RNC, to which it now openly contributes, which at least removes the long-standing pretense of "fair and balanced". Simply calling Fox an irresponsible journalistic enterprise does a disservice to truly irresponsible, yet far less damaging, journalistic enterprises, such as, say, the National Enquirer.

Sentence: To live in the financially, morally, and intellectually bankrupt backwater which it strives to create.

8. The Supreme Court
Ideological handmaidens of corporate rapacity. Purveyors of the periodic charade that Roe v. Wade is the be-all/end-all of jurisprudential knowledge and advancement, whilst bumwipe such as Kelo and Citizens United (not to mention, say, Bush v. Gore) pass through unabated. Possibly an even more sclerotic instituion than Congress, which takes some doing. Home of intellectual reprobates such as Combover Tony Scalia and Long Dong Clarence Thomas, which should be warning enough.

Sentence: Tied to chairs and forced to watch LA Law reruns until they promise to retire.

7. The Democratic Party
The proverbial pawl to the Republican ratchet of awfulness. Considering the supermajority they had after the 2008 elections, pound-for-pound quite possibly the most gutless, ineffectual group of cheesedicks this country has ever seen. Time and again, they found themselves flummoxed by bare minority opposition, undercooked Faux News rhetoric that a sixth-grader could have eviscerated, and a complete lack of internal discipline. It's bad enough when the usual circular firing squad forms, but it seems to be an ineffably Democratic trait to accomplish this feat whilst holding all the cards.

Unless, of course, you happen to be one of the Wall Street rentier scumbags who paid good money to have these chumps look after your bad bets, in which case, they did exactly what they were paid to do.

Sentence: Permanent irrelevance.

6. The Republican Party
From career asshole Mitch McConnell to tanorexic crybaby John Boehner to teabagger godfather Jim DeMint, this is a collection of goofballs and whackjobs right out of a Dick Tracy or Batman lineup. A bunch of moral cretins, acting on borderline treasonous impulses, who would rather stall and further wound an economically reeling nation, just for the opportunity to fuck over Barack Obama. Would probably filibuster a resolution expressing support of Mom and apple pie until they were allowed to attach some district earmarks. Ran two candidates for the US Senate in the last election (Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell) who were so marginal in terms of qualifications and, well, sanity, they made even Sarah Palin look somewhat rational. As difficult as it is to overestimate just what scumbags the leaders of this party really are, it is even more difficult to fathom why supposedly reasonable people would remotely identify with these sociopaths.

Sentence: Unemployment, and benefits have been cancelled.

5. George W. Bush
A solipsistic, birdbrained amateur, who seriously does not appear to understand just how badly he monkeyfucked the country during his reign of error. Still and always a gladhanding butt-boy to the haves and have-mores, if only because he has no concept of anything else. Seriously believes that his biggest failure was his inability to turn Social Security over to ass-raping Wall Street fiends, even after they nuked the economy. A living, breathing, stammering insult to anyone and everyone who has actually busted their ass to earn an honest MBA, or even just worked their way through life. Does not realize or care that most of the shit that's gone down the last several years really is his fucking fault. Still butt-hurt about that Kanye West thing, as if anyone besides Kanye West gives half a goddamn about anything Kanye West has to say about anything. Should stand as a stark warning about putting unqualified morons into higher office, but will probably end up being some sort of totem for the burgeoning know-nothings barnacling their way onto the hull of the ship politic. Brags that he read fourteen biographies about Abraham Lincoln while in office, which may explain why he never got around to learning the nuances of his job.

Sentence: Home mistakenly foreclosed on by predatory slice-and-dice operation that "accidentally" robo-signed his mortgage and tanked his pension on credit default swaps.

4. Barack Obama
In the kingdom of the people without balls, the man with one testicle is king. Constantly treads the fine line between capitulation and collusion. Seems to think punting on first down is a strategy. Not only is unable to garner credit for the few decent things he has accomplished, but has continued many of his predecessor's policies, even after swearing on a stack of Qu'rans that he wouldn't. Has managed to squander a supermajority in less than two years, even with most of the country understanding the enormously bad hand he was dealt. Does not seem to realize just how badly his Wall Street buddies have rolled him, and like Clinton, will ultimately have to hock what remains of his hide to them if he hopes to get what will at any rate be an utterly meaningless second term. May eventually get a clue that the only way to approach a completely thankless job is to say "fuck it" and at least try to take some suckas down with you.

Sentence: Four more years! Four more years!

3. You
You've really let yourself go, yet you don't seem to mind. You've spent most of the last decade watching has-beens and never-weres sort their sock drawers and give each other herpes, and are mightily offended at the notion that someone else might think they're smarter than you. You let smug assholes in DC and New York skull-fuck you at every opportunity, and are enraged that they don't respect you. You think it's always someone else's fault, never your own. If you're a man, you think Sarah Palin wants you to jump her bones; if you're a woman, you think she wants to share her secret moose chili recipe with you. You've convinced yourself that it's your god-given right to have a vehicle roughly the size of a Winnebago to run mundane errands around town. You'll fight to the death to protect your right to guzzle and squander, you might even send a protest letter if Jersey Shore gets cancelled, but not much else seems worth the effort. You know your kids think you're a jerkoff, but you have no idea why.

Sentence: Reap the whirlwind.

2. Sarah Palin
The Oprah dream turned on its head -- a petulant, obnoxious smartass, empowered by pure spite and gall. Let's face it, folks -- a person who knows barely half of what they're talking about, and can't be bothered to learn the other half, is not fit for higher office, as if George W. Bush's rotten tenure weren't proof enough of that. Communicates primarily by crafting catchphrases via incessant twittersniping, then repeating ad nauseam in her fundraising road show, since her audience is generally of the sort that needs shit recited to them over and over and fucking over again. Insists on riding fambly valyews schtick until the wheels fall off, yet has a fairly poor slugging percentage with her older kids, and seems content to use the younger ones as props.

Seems to seriously think that Michelle Obama's initiative to discourage childhood obesity is some sort of conspiracy to forcibly keep Americans from choosing to swim in Cheez Doodles and sodium benzoate (and having the rest of society subsidize their excesses). In a decent society, people like Palin would be relegated to harmless bridge club and quilting activities; here, she's a political rock star for morons. Here is America 2010 in a nutshell -- on a recent episode of Palin's reality show, fellow professional pain-in-the-ass Kate Gosselin made an appearance with her in-vitro brood, and at one point, both women apparently complained about the intrusiveness of the media and the hassle of being famous for being well-known. At no point did it to occur to anyone, including the halfwits who actually sit through this dreck, to turn the cameras (or the teevee) off.

Sentence: After attempting to parlay her heretofore humorous political career into talk-show gravy, Palin is dragooned by her army of gibbering maroons into running for President -- and somehow wins, upon which she instantly nukes Pyongyang (on order from her prayer warriors), and sets off World War III.

1. Glenn Beck
Yet another "only in America" success story -- pudgy alcoholic cokehead finds Mormonism and becomes Fox News' most popular moralizer, surely cable's coals-to-Newcastle moment if ever there were one. Makes a tidy living affirming every John Bircher legend and outright lie to unbelievably credulous audience. Calling Beck a professional calumniator would be like saying Lindsay Lohan might have a little substance abuse problem. As the saying goes, every word is a lie, including "and" and "the". Between the simpering fugues and the messianic delusions, Beck's career arc will make a fascinating case study for some future scholar trying to figure out how millions of idiots bought into Beck's pet notion that Woodrow Wilson turned us all into communists. As with most professional jackasses, Beck's success says more about his followers than about himself. It is actually scary to contemplate so many foaming-at-the-mouth morons willing to pay money for the third-rate product this asshole generates; the only sensible explanation is that they are not working nearly hard enough for their money.

Sentence: Fired, preferably from a cannon.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Random Public Service Announcement

Just wanted to give quick shout-outs to two of the many fine compadres lurking on the sidebar at yon right.

Our good friend The Vile Scribbler at The One True Blog always has an abundance of good stuff cooking, and is really swinging some lumber these days. Politics, philosophy, atheism, what have you, with nasty good humor and at a prolific pace.

Collapsitarian emeritus Dmitry Orlov, usually a fairly intermittent poster (like I can talk), has been throwing down some excellent jeremiads, and added some interesting guest posts into the mix as well.

Birth of a Notion

On the one hand, one understands the administration's reluctance to directly engage the foaming retards demanding that the Kenyan Moooslim produce his papers. On the other hand, it's nice to see someone finally willing to stand up and call "bullshit" on these chumps.

Mr. Abercrombie, who represented Honolulu in Congress until leaving Washington to run for governor, said he has initiated conversations with his attorney general and his health secretary about how he can make public more explicit documentation of Mr. Obama’s birth on Aug. 4, 1961, at Kapi’olani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu.

Good luck with that, but of course the real problem is that the actual document could be brought out at a press conference, and the birther goons would still find something hinky with it. Empirical evidence won't convince them, because they are never evidence-based about any issue, this particular one is just a convenient cover for their baser impulses.

Still, ignoring them hasn't made them go away or shut up, so maybe sunlight penetrating the edges might encourage them to scuttle back under the rocks whence they emerged. At the very least, to stand up and stop taking shit from these bozos on even one (1) issue might prove contagious. It is, after all, the season of hope, n'est-ce pas?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Big Balls

No chance, sadly, that these dickholes would ever learn anything, no matter how long or how patiently you sat explained to them why this is inherently racist. Their Hamlet-without-the-prince reinventions of the causes of the Woah of Nawthun Aggression are so ingrained, it will take generations to weed out of them, if it ever really is. You'd think that they would, at least at some point, bother to read their own founding documents. As with any (by definition anti-empirical) religion, this is unfortunately S.O.P. with this particular sort of mouth-breathing boob.

I suppose we should just consider ourselves lucky that only three hundred of these dipshits bothered to attend; it's almost enough to make you forget that they also most likely drive cars, have kids, and vote. With the sesquicentennial and all, get ready for at least five straight years of this shit, starting with Il Bubba di Tutti Bubbi, Haley "Six Chins" Barbour.

Oprah, Mencken, Mencken, Oprah

So, who wants to break it to Miss Thang that a nation of slack-jawed rubes, that has basically spent the last decade watching has-beens and never-weres sort their sock drawers on the teevee while their pockets were picked and their jobs sent to Shenzhen, is exactly dumb enough to put Sarah Palin in the White House?

Never put anything past the 'murkin public, dearie. Not only is there an abundance of assholes ready and willing to cut off their noses to spite their faces, they also seem to think that noses grow back after you cut them off. Still not sure whether that is better or worse than people waiting for Oprah to tell them what to do or read, or for Barbara Walters to tell them who the "most fascinating" people are (an annual exercise in tedium that somehow manages to exclude even marginally interesting people as a general rule).

It never ceases to be a source of amazement/amusement to me, the people who we choose (or have chosen for us) to dictate the tastes and tempo of what passes for cultural discourse. Oprah's preening dismay at La Palin would have more credibility if, you know, she hadn't had Palin on to pimp Going RougeRugRogue last year, and again with her bohunk pincushion daughter just a few months later. If you aspire to be a tastemaker, start by learning to tell the difference between soup and wastewater.

Update: This guy, who bravely took a bullet for the rest of us and read Sarah's latest two-ply scrawl, hits the nail right on the head: "There is no historical analogue in the political history of the United States because Palin is not a politician. She is Oprah for another segment of the country."

He's right. And fortunately, Palin is just smart enough to realize this, and to realize that she can make Oprah money doing that, rather than Obama money dicking around in politics. Which is a good thing, because America is just dumb enough to vote for her, given half a chance. Let the wisdom of fools trump the spiteful foolishness of mobs. Or something.

Season's Beatings!

You've probably already read this Ricky Gervais piece by now, but if not, you should.

Something to consider in the wake of the Don't Ask Don't Tell law finally being repealed, as people congratulate one another over the US finally joining every other industrialized nation in something, if not health care and education -- an openly gay politician has a much better chance of getting elected than an openly atheist politician (if there are any). Like Gervais, like most atheists, I choose not to pester people, religious or not, about my personal belief system. But I think most atheists could put their senses of morality and justice up against those of any devout person, and come up as good or better in comparison.

Generally we're just quiet about it, because we all have shit to do, and life is too short, and it's tough to talk people out of that particular tree; evidence obviously won't sway them on the subject, so rational discussion is usually not an option. But one could point out that there is only one openly atheist federal legislator (Pete Stark), and that's pretty much it at the federal level. Every time there's a Supreme Court vacancy to fill, the endless "diversity" trolls start counting gender and race as finely as they can, but when you get right down to it, it's six Catholics and three Jews.

It's easy to point the finger at American Christians -- sweet merciful Jebus, is it easy -- since most of them seriously seem to think that their religion was created in toto sometime between the landing of the Mayflower and the founding of the Republic. The idea that it could actually be a hodgepodge of cultures, histories, and traditions that co- or even pre-existed their usual touchstones does not seem to have even occurred to them. This does not, however, let the Euros off the hook, with their carefully sculpted hypocrisies -- state religions, symbols festooning public buildings, yet very little actual keeping of the practices. But very nice seasonal festivals, especially in the Germanic countries. So it goes.

Contrary to popular belief, atheists do have hope -- hope in the rational and empirical, hope that humans stop fine-tuning their traditional belief books to amplify their personal preferences, hope that they can eventually get over themselves and just leave other people the hell alone, instead of telling them what to believe or not believe.

Peace on Earth. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Useful Idiot

This has to be one of the most willfully obtuse screeds to litter the NYT in quite some time, and considering the roster of chuckleheads who poop out filler for them on a reg'lar basis, that really is saying something. Certainly the Arab world, as a whole, needs to do a better job in weeding out the regressive nutballs in their backyards, but for one, Persians are not Arabs.

Cohen seems blessedly ignorant of any possibility why some inhabitants of that part of the world, after a couple straight centuries of varying levels of colonialism, might tend to assume the worst of the US and Israel. The question is not that it might sound preposterous that the Mossad would have remote-controlled sharks attacking people at Sharm el-Shaikh; it does sound preposterous. But only because sharks, insofar as we know, cannot be lowjacked and utilized as remote-kill devices, not because there's no way Israel -- who, let's recall, just a few months ago sent two dozen agents into a Gulf State hotel to whack someone, pissing off several countries' diplomatic corps with their counterfeiting of passports -- would ever do such a thing.

It's as if this guy, not even sixty years later, has never heard of, say, Kermit Roosevelt.

Make a Joyful Noise

OK, it's basically an update of Dick in a Box, but that's not a bad thing. One of the more fun things to hit the teevee in recent memory.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Exception to the Drool

Been meaning to touch on this gem for a while, but busy week, blah blah blah, you know the drill. Besides, if this is an article, you know it's a slow news week in Bullshit City.

Anyhoo, let us cut the proverbial crap -- for each and every one of the turd-bruglars mentioned trumpeting about "American exceptionalism", it is a vastly different concept than what most sentient beings assume. The phrase actually used to connote, get this, a certain level of exceptionalism, that even beyond the blood-soaked history of slavery and genocide, there was a common desire to achieve and excel. This, along with serendipitous geography and the sort of gregarious aggression that stupefies Europeans, translated into progress over the last century.

But the exceptionalists have something more sinister, less achievement-oriented in mind. What they really mean is the divinely-ordained right to push inconvenient others around, to dictate the tempo of regional and global activity, to drive the world's bus even as the country itself devolves into an obese corporate despotism with banana-republic levels of income disparity. To such people it makes infinitely more sense to spend $3 trillion to depose and kill Saddam Hussein, displace or kill 10% of the Iraqi population, and leave the country a violent Iranian satrapy, than to spend even one-tenth of that trying to make sure that the public education system actually produces thinking, reasoning people.

They'll throw out some pseudo-populist red meat about those darned bankers, but rest assured not a one of 'em would turn down a fat donation from Lloyd Blankfein or whichever Armani-coated homunculus. But they do get an inordinate amount of mileage from the one-o'-yew pose.

This cheap anti-intellectual posturing always gets traction when one of them (you know which one) misspeaks, then is apoplectic at the prospect of it getting reported. This is the downside of having the cowed corporate media report every blessed thing to fall out yer piehole, dearie -- they regurgitate the fuck-ups as well.

The takeaway from that particular non-story is not whether Palin knows the difference between North Korea and South Korea, anymore than anyone seriously believes that Obama thinks there are 57 states. People misspeak. It happens. (Of course, the responses of each when people make fun of them for it is telling; Obama never says shit, while Palin instantly gets defensive and has a holy hissy-fit that someone is not completely deferential to her.)

Palin probably understands which Korea is which in the context of American interests; that is, she knows which one is designated as "our friend". That's not necessarily an insult; for all his rhetorical furbelows and oratorical vamping, Obama has so far demonstrated precious little real acumen for foreign policy detail. Aside from his stance thus far on Iran, one would be hard-pressed to delineate substantial differences from what he's doing, and what his predecessors or opponents would have done.

If we accept for the sake of argument that Obama does not have over Palin -- aside from proprietary information granted the office -- any substantial advantage in profound knowledge regarding the Korean peninsula, we then have to keep in mind their respective approaches. That is, a leader who does not possess deep insight on a particular subject surrounds himself with people who do. And that is the big difference -- where Obama will at least in good faith try to find someone temperamentally inclined to defuse volatile situations with unstable despots, Palin would pick John Bolton.

This is of a piece with her "commentary" as such, on pretty much any given subject, the predisposition to escalate virtually any conversation with obnoxious guff and mendacious flapdoodle. People who are looking for a problem can invariably create one if need be, the better to rally her legion of angry, ignorant, gibbering morons to the most tendentious arguments.

In the past, I might have been self-righteously offended at yet another god-bothering dickhole overtly insinuating that the religious, despite at least two thousand years of bloody proof to the contrary, are inherently more moral than non-believers, whether or not they practice what they preach, whether or not they know what they're yapping about, simply by virtue of belief. But really, it would be like leaving my dog in the house, and getting angry when she shits on the rug. The dog is doing the only thing it knows how to do; the fault is mine for not kicking the stupid fucker out before I left.

So it is here. The only question is whether we (whoever "we" may be in this case, perhaps folks with IQs above 90) still have the energy to rub their noses in it when they soil the rug.