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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Great Moments In Journamalism

Since apparently that War On Christmas thing finally, blessedly petered out, the persecution ninnies need to create another quasi-Christian tempest in a teapot. Enter Bill Maher:

"Wow, Jesus just f**ked #TimTebow bad! And on Xmas Eve! Somewhere....Satan is tebowing, saying to Hitler "Hey, Buffalo’s killing them."

Tebow had thrown four interceptions in his team's Christmas Eve loss to the Bills, which prompted Maher's remark.

Okay, Maher is being deliberately obnoxious and confrontational, but that's what a political comedian is supposed to do. And the argument can -- and has -- been reasonably made that Tebow's squeaky-clean, overly-publicized evangelism has changed the outcome of Tebow's job profile, in that while Tebow has demonstrated his toughness and resilience, he still insufficiently displays competence in the basic mechanics of his job.

In other words, it's not unreasonable to ask out loud exactly how Tebow has managed to avoid being converted to a fullback or H-back, considering how poorly and inconsistently he throws a football. Which is ordinarily a deal-breaker for someone who plays the position of quarterback in the National Football League.

Part of it may be that, in a climate where some folks never get tired of braying the tedious "role model" trope, Tebow gives that particular crowd something to hang their hats on. He's not a grotesquely-overpaid doorstop who, in a hyper-competitive profession, somehow managed to be completely unmotivated by a $60 million contract. Nor is Tebow a jism-spraying fool who never got the memo on how babies are created. God-bothering aside, when you watch enough soulless jerkoffs dick around through their careers with an obscene sense of over-entitlement, Mister Clean is going to pull in a lot of people who are repelled by that sort of behavior.

But I digress, this is actually not about all that nonsense. What this is about is the ludicrous notion of what online Faux News considers worthy of reportage.

And while Tebow did not respond to Maher, some of his fans are calling for a boycott of HBO, urging customers who find Maher's tweet offensive to cancel their subscriptions to the pay cable channel, Yahoo! Sports reports.

Wow, that's fascinating, Faux News! How many "fans" is this mysterious "some" comprised of, six, ten, fifty, a kajillionty? Is there a link to the Yahoo Sports story? Is there any organizing entity behind these "some fans", say James Dobson, that sort of thing, some door-knocking claque with the word "Family" in their name? Or is this someone's random "ya know whut we shud do" Facebook page? You literally cannot any of those obvious questions by reading this "article", yet it the whole thing is presented as if it were actual news.

Tebow himself is less bothersome than the rabble roused by his schtick, people who would almost certainly come unglued if Tebow were Mooooslim, and felt compelled to preface every interview by thanking Allah and the One True Prophet (PBUH). And that's really what the people picking on Tebow are on about -- football fans want football; if we wanted a sermon, we'd go to church. Faith is supposed to be, and used to be, a personal thing for most people, rather than a tribal or political declaration.

[Update: Wonder why "some fans" didn't get all publicly butt-hurt over Big Daddy Drew's blasphemous takedown a couple months ago.]

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Walking Dead

Seems that the folks at The Atlantic have been analyzing Ron Paul's disingenuous responses to racist sentiments being disseminated in his own newsletter, much to the chagrin of the usual claque of exasperated Paultards, who are still agog that the rest of us can be so blind to the great man's innate brilliance.

Now, hilarious as this is, every bit as hilarious as the schtick of someone who's been in politics for 35 years still pretending to be an outsider, it is the audience of mouth-breathing, window-licking, arm-dragging troglodytes clamoring for this racist guff which really bears some scrutiny:

At the time I was Lefty Morris' campaign manager, who was the Democrat running against Ron Paul in the general election. Our campaign released the "Ron Paul Political Report" to reporters and later focus grouped some of his writings and affiliations at a restaurant in La Grange, Texas.

At the time, the "Ron Paul Political Report" was listed in an online Neo-Nazi Directory that also included publications by the Ku Klux Klan and the Aryan Brothers (or something like that).

Of course, we thought we could use this to our advantage. So, in the focus group, we let participants look at the newsletters and told them that Ron Paul's Political Report was listed in the Neo Nazi directory with the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups.

The focus group got really quiet. Then one man pops off, "There's nothing wrong with the Ku Klux Klan."

Another man in the group says, "The Ku Klux Klan has done a lot of good things. For example, if a man wasn't taking care of his family, the Ku Klux Klan would take him down to the town square and tar a feather him."

Next a woman says, "It's the media. They never report the good things that the Ku Klux Klan does."

We had a runaway focus group on our hands. About 10 of the 12 participants were chirping their enthusiasm for the KKK.

Wow. Just....Jesus H. Christ, keep in mind that this took place in 1996. Truly old times there are not forgotten. Then there's the excerpt in the Coates link about George Wallace being the forward-thinking liberal in his area -- until, of course, he got "outniggered" by an opponent and vowed never to fall for that again. Charming.

Maybe we should be reassured that the '96 focus group was "only" 12, that maybe these are isolated idiots. Some days it's hard to be sure of that, though. Regardless, as Coates notes, Paul's evasiveness pretty much tells you where he and his fans are at, not as racists per se, but intellectually dishonest nonetheless. It should be easy meat to repudiate this detestable shit right out of the gate, and yet for some reason it isn't.

I suppose people are charmed by Paul's irascible, insouciant insistence that the American garrison state pull out of its 700-plus bases around the world. Hey, that's a super idea, as long as we're all willing to conserve a bit. And since we're clearly not, not even a little bit, except as some boutique bien pensant notion, you need your hegemon, you need your octopus. They don't seem to have an answer for that one.

Paul at least is the most interesting and sincere of all of the people running for the office, and that includes Obama. However, that is exactly why he has no chance in hell.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Character

A valiant attempt on the part of the NY Times to rehabilitate Gingrich's, um, character. Megalulz:

Mr. Gingrich has repeatedly said that he is not perfect and that there are episodes he regrets. “There are periods of my life I’ve had to seek forgiveness and reconcile with God for,” he said last month in an interview in New Hampshire. “But if you look at who I am today, I think I can withstand scrutiny as well as anyone else in the field.”

His candor seems to be working even with social conservatives, who seem more interested in choosing a hard-edged opponent to face President Obama. Recent polls of Iowa voters showed Mr. Gingrich with the largest share of support from Christian evangelicals.


Look, not to rehash yet again the long-dead Clinton impeachment saga, but it's relevant here. Count me among the folks who were repulsed and annoyed at the idea of the president not only getting his cock sucked by an intern while discussing Balkan troop deployments, but by his own admission ejaculating into a fucking bathroom sink. Because blowing a wad in this girl's mouth would have been wrong, you know? I don't expect pols to lead perfectly moral lives, but really, the whole thing was weird as all hell, in addition to being completely inappropriate. (Yeah, I'm a little square about bosses banging subordinates as a general principle, sorry.)

And just as a practical matter, you don't have to be a Rhodes Scholar to know that that sort of thing will completely derail your term in office, and that by nature of your immensely powerful position, there's a good chance that your good-time girl will get so excited, she'll have to tell somebody. So it's also an unforgivably irresponsible squandering of political capital. No doubt Clinton assumed that the usual gentleman's agreement was in place; shoulda known better that he wasn't dealing with gentlemen.

Aaaaanyhoo, despite the above-listed, far-too-often-discussed reasons to be pissed at Clinton for his exploits, I reserve far more contempt for someone who persecutes a man for such picayune things as if they were high crimes, while he himself is enjoying the exact same services. And, setting aside hoary sentiments about hypocrisy being the tribute vice pays to virtue, it's particularly puzzling that a claque of doofuses who reflexively leap their high horses to lecture us godless heathens on their regard for high moral character, can align themselves with this slug.

And that's not even getting into the other various episodes of hypocrisy (taking $1.8 million from the much-maligned Freddie Mac) and revolting stances (such as using poor children as school janitors). Not that he has a chance to actually take the nomination; Newt is just the final "anyone but Romney" pig at the dance before the goobers buckle in and settle for either the real thing or Huntsman, who is apparently going all out to try to capture the NH primary and build momentum from there.

Jesus, the man is just awful, and the people supporting him are just as pathetic. Nice of them to demonstrate so convincingly for us that their sanctiomonious nonsense was just that after all. (As if their jumping from serial harasser Herman Cain to serial adulterer Newt Gingrich wasn't enough of a clue.) Turns out we really did know what they were all along, we were just haggling over the price.

A Thousand Cuts

"If America goes, it will surely be an inside job." -- Mort Sahl

OK, so Alec Baldwin getting booted from a plane (and getting put on American Airlines' internal no-fly list) for being an asshole and not shutting down his iPad right when he was told to isn't really a sign, in and of itself, of an impending totalitarianism. But it's a symptom, an indicator of how much we're conditioned to put up with, what we've come to expect.

Isn't it interesting that, after ten full years since 9/11, of not getting attacked on US soil, either internally or from abroad, that now it becomes suddenly of vital national interest to declare the "homeland" (or, if you prefer, Heimat) a battlefield, necessitating the complete suspension of habeas corpus, of charging a suspect with a crime, of fair trial by jury. Yes, only now is it vital to officially decide and declare who is a vetted journamalist allowed to exercise their First Amendment rights, and who is but a mere blogger, not allowed to slander critical cogs such as foreclosure attorneys and pepper-spray-happy cops down at the be-in.

Maybe press passes should be required for people to discuss the daily news at the water cooler as well, lest the ruling class feel slandered by the scourge of unvetted public opinion. Officially approved discussion topics will consist of Tebows, Kardashians, and speculating as to whom will be the next set of neverweres on that dancing show.

Gin and Tacos commenter J. Dryden makes a brilliant point, summed up nicely in this sentence:

our country and culture is fertile ground for totalitarianism.

Flight of Dickarus

Judging from the media coverage of the non-event, I guess I'm supposed to be outraged at Alec Baldwin's uppity behavior. I mean, really -- how dare not just shut his cakehole like a good German, and happily submit to what has long been nothing more than an abusive process, from the time you set foot in the departure terminal to whenever you eventually disembark.

Seriously, Baldwin should have thanked American Airlines for their "just shut the fuck up and sit quiet while we wait on the runway for a fucking week to take off" attitude that they stockpile in reserve for every airline passenger. Instead, he had the nerve, the absolute gall, to USE HIS I-PAD WHICH COULD TOTALLY BRING DOWN THE ENTIRE FRAGILE AIR TRANSIT INFRASTRUCTURE!!!elevenZOMG!!!

No. It's much easier for us to tell ourselves that some mouthy actor is being an asshole, than to wonder for a hot second just how we continue to let ourselves be treated like animals in a routine consumer transaction. Some folks will continue to do so right up to the moment the wage slave on the kill floor parks the metaphorical bolt gun between their eyes and pulls that trigger.

Just another little cut, a common indignity which most have been conditioned to placidly accept, one of a thousand. Go back to sleep.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mother of Invention

Historian-in-chief makes specious claim. Really, I'm surprised he didn't invoke the dog in a manger argument.

Also, too is the fact that -- again, brace yourself -- Newter's talking out of his capacious bunghole yet again: the name Palestine was derived from the Biblical "Philistine" by the Romans, fell into semi-official use by the Ottomans, and was revived by the British (along with other administrative designations) when they parceled out the area after WW1.

Gingrich's parsimonious averral that the usage only became common after 1977, after decalring the term an "invention", is too clever by half, but perfectly in keeping with the necessity of courting evangelical votes by waving the Israeli flag, as all Republican candidates are now required to do. Good luck with that, son -- either it's the economy, stupid, or it's not. Anyone with the luxury of obsessing over gay marriage or abortion or "holy" lands instantly reveals the true level of their concern for addressing the economic situation.

Projection

Remember when one of the primary -- and most hilarious -- rationales given for invading Iraq was the idea that Saddam might have a squadron of nucular-tipped drones that would only take 45 minutes to get London or Washington? Somewhat ironic, considering how much we've depended on drones in the Afghan campaign (and the amount of diplomatic grief some of their more "erroneous" misfires have caused.

The commentary over Iran's pursuit for nuclear capability has been uniformly paranoid. Not that the mullahs are nice guys, and they very well could cause some trouble with the capacity for nuclear weapons, most notably by dissemination through surrogate independent terrorist cells.

But the simpler and more prevalent explanation is that Iran simply needs to keep up with its neighbors at this point. If you live in a really dangerous neighborhood to begin with, and all your neighbors have AR-15 assault rifles, and all you've got is a 12" Buck knife, are you gonna want a gun or what, just in case?

Anyway, this whole snafu plays right into China's hands, at least as much as Iran's. Between the Osama copter and now this, their reverse-engineering crews have just gotten a huge upsurge in projects to work on. And the tech monkeys can downplay this all they want, talk about how the Sentinel's tech is already been surpassed, but the fact is the plane has only been declassified for four years, and therefore is almost certainly less than ten. For a country that's still playing catchup on 70-year-old nuke tech, they'd settle for being just ten years (or less) behind on surveillance drone tech, since that is a huge future branch of warfare.

It might be useful if, just once in a while, our insect overlords considered their projected anxieties about certain weapons and tech, and see if that helps them empathize a bit more with other countries that are nervous over our capabilities with those weapons. Rational-actor theory aside, a scary weapon is still just that.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

What a Friend We Have In Tebow

Klosterman on Tebow. Worth a read.

I'm not sure of all the consternation surrounding the kid. As an atheist, I am non-plussed by his zealous professions of faith, it's how he was raised, it's how he's always going to be. Whatever works.

As a man, I have to wonder about someone who becomes a marquee Heisman-winning QB at a notorious SEC party school, and still manages to emerge as a virgin. This is a feat unbeknownst to modern science, friends 'n' neighbors. I mean, dude, you don't have to bang every cheerleader, but you can at least have a girlfriend, someone you actually care about and have fun with. People who store up sex for special occasions are inevitably disappointed.

But as a football fan, Tebow is simultaneously frustrating and exhilarating to observe. He runs like a deer and takes some serious hits. There's no denying his toughness. But he throws like old people fuck; every time he cocks back for more then fifteen yards, I get a visual of someone attempting to heave a frozen turkey over a ten-foot wall.

So as a lifelong Raiders fan, I find it immensely frustrating that Tebow continues to find ways to win, regardless of the inherent superiorities of the opposition. The Jets and Vikings, with their run-stopping front fours, should have shut his ass down; the Raiders, with a 17-point halftime lead last month, should have stood on his goddamned neck and pushed that lead to 30. But no, all the guy does is ride a storming D into single-possession fourth-quarter deficits to be overcome by moxie and/or gumption. To abuse the cliché, he just finds ways to win.

I still don't see the Donks making playoffs, it's statistically improbable at best. Then again, I still can't believe George W. Bush made it into the White House -- even by hook and/or crook -- not once, but twice. Truth really is stranger than fiction.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Ho Ho Holy Crap

This little number is far less interesting for the actual topic -- second-grade teacher drops a dime on "Santa"; parents get butt-hurt -- than for how quickly some of the commenters mount their librulnatsi hobby-horses:

Jeff Nickels · Top Commenter
"Teachers wont lie to them"? You cant be serious. Students get lied to by leftist "teachers" every single day in colleges and grade/middle schools around the country. It is not the job of a so-called educator to inform my child of anything other than the lessons at hand, and that includes whether or not there's a santa claus.

Jennifer Wagner
What are these lies that are being told "every single day in colleges and grade/middle schools..."?

Jeff Nickels · Top Commenter
Well on a local forum I frequent, an anonymous teacher bragged that she was "indoctrinating (my) kids with all of the liberal "information" she could so that kids wouldnt be "hateful conservatives". I guess we can live in fairy-tale land and pretend that mine was the only case of something like this happening, if you want to. We can also pretend that teacers are infallible arbiters of pure truth if you'd like; the national test scores and illiteracy rate would say otherwise,

Jeff Nickels · Top Commenter
(cont)..but we can also ignore that as well, if you'd like.

Jeff Nickels · Top Commenter
I'm willing to bet that if I teach my child a biblical view about homosexuality, you feel it would be alright for said teacher to "correct" my child, dont you? I can assure you that were that to happen, I would not only have the teacher's job. I would have the school board, school, principle, and anyone else involved in civil court post-haste. I am fed up to the gills with agents of government thinking they know best how to raise my own children.

And so forth. Look, it's bad enough that some offshoot of the War on Christmas guff will be ignited over the teacher's tragic revelation. (And not to break the hearts of some of the more addled codgers further down the comment board, claiming to be well into their fifties and sixties, yet "still believing", but I had the Santa thing dialed in when I was maybe six or seven. It seemed important to my mother, who grew up in a Jehovah Witness household and therefore got cheated out of childhood Christmases, so I went along with it until I was about ten. I have a feeling that many, maybe even most kids, are just going along with it at some point.)

Some folks are clinging on a bit too tight. You want to preserve the power of imagination for your precious rinpoche? Help them imagine what it's going to be like finding a fucking job in about ten years, one that doesn't make them want to self-medicate or ram their pedicab into a bridge abutment.

But it's the ones that immediately make the hyperintuitive leap to librul malfeeance that truly fascinate me. They're the ones for whom the very existence of, say, Glee is prima facie evidence that something untoward is being rammed directly down their throats, thus forcing them to confront the horrific notion that they might secretly like it. The axiom that anyone who obsesses that much -- or, you know, at all -- over gay people is very likely themselves gay holds true as always.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

And Now For Something Completely Different

So I assumed that in going to see the new Muppet movie over the holiday weekend, I would simply be fulfilling another parental duty, handing good money over to the Mouse Cult in exchange for two hours of cloying sentimentalism. And it is sentimental, and wears its sweetness and innocence on its sleeve.

But writer/star Jason Segel is clearly passionate about this project, and his joy in the story is infectious. Amy Adams is her usual perky, cute, engaging self. The Muppet characters feel like old friends, long time no see, and the movie makes an earnest but true point about the role for their style of entertaining in a steadily coarsened culture.

But what really makes it a very good movie are the songs, especially the ones written by Flight of the Conchords alum Bret McKenzie. The songs are fun and silly, play off the story's abundant meta jokes, and move things along (and the movie isn't two hours, more like a crisp 90 minutes or so). And there are a couple of extremely funny sight/music gags toward the end.

I know, I was surprised too. This may ruin my reputation as a foul-mouthed intartubez curmudgeon. Go see it anyway, you'll be glad you did.

Chunky Flunky

Apparently this month's GOPmedia flavor is a heady swirl of lard, failure, and what passes for intellectualism in an intellectual and moral vacuum.

The only thing more perplexing than ceding electoral imprimaturs to unpopulated states such as Iowa and New Hampshire is the notion that Gingrich is some sort of intemellectual thoroughbred, simply because he's written a bunch of books. So has Danielle Steel.

The actual ideas Gingrich promulgates are nothing more than retreaded American Exceptionalism boilerplate, tarted up for an audience of mouth-breathers that tells themselves and each other that reading Atlas Shrugged autmoatically confers smart-set credentials. Not entirely clear how or when mere affirmation became intellection, maybe it's always been thus and I missed it because I wasn't reading the highbrow assertions of Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. Talk about missing the boat. Of course, in this case it's the proverbial lifeboat where everyone's talking cannibalism.

At any rate, I suppose the Goopers have just about run out of losers and also-rans to audition for their little Anyone But Romney booty pageant. Unless they're going to change their minds about the Mittster, or give Paul or Santorum a go, or come to their senses and realize that Huntsman is about the only halfway reasonable person on the roster, they'll have to go back through the list of oafs and castoffs, and try to convince us that Perry or Cain or Bachmann are seriously electable. But let's face it, they can't even convince themselves.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Eliminationist Rhetoric

Goddammit. Just. Goddammit. [Via Dohiyi Mir]

Look, we all get that Ann Coulter's role in this here game is that of agent provocateur. The factoid that Coulter and Bill Maher (both Cornell alumni) are supposedly close friends may be a tip of sorts that Coulter is cheekily aware that her obnoxious jabber is simply lucrative schtick.

But it's possible to point out that there is a line of sorts, fine or not, between schtick and open hostility, the sociopathic hostility of indifference to the murder of defenseless coeds by vicious thugs. Despite Coulter's implicit assertion, there is no debate whatsoever here -- the murdered college students were unarmed, period, end of sentence. The notion that someone would try to "humorously" walk that one back to Schtickville just says more about them than the subjects of their anemic jape.

I dunno. It's one thing to advocate physical violence against the authors of economic violence against the abject masses. Perhaps impolitic, but you get whence it originates.

But to advocate death for the people who have the temerity to agitate against the manifest economic injustices being perpetrated upon them, this is a different animal. This is the rhetorical arrogance of making a goof about kids being killed at school, about people who were dumb enough to believe that their national institutions would do the right thing when confronted -- despite a preponderance of evidence to the contrary -- and were murdered in cold blood as a consequence.

Sooner or later something's gotta give, the question is on which side it falls initially. Do frustrated, beaten-down peons strike back against feckless, armored thugs, or do the latter just decide to stomp down the former? Sadly, you can always count on someone to inexplicably defend the latter, to trade their humanity for a couple of shekels and a sack of magic beans.

About the Other Night

So uh, yeah, maybe I was channeling Burroughs a bit back there, not by intention but it kinda shook out that way. And of course there are plenty of things I actually am thankful for -- a healthy family, a job, a house, a reliable vehicle, a reasonably valuable skill set.

But even those things come with a set of caveats: since I work in the public sector, findingfunding is always precarious, I don't have much seniority, and I spend at least three nights a week looking for greener pastures in a moribund job market; the house is underwater, not as much as a lot of folks out there, but enough to make me a glorified renter; and even with pretty decent medical insurance, we still have to check EOBs and medical billing clerks and haggle with insurance companies whose provider lists may or may not be accurate at any given time. That's the thing in this country anymore -- even people who are doing "okay" are really just a paycheck or two from the sidewalk, still have to worry about job security in a flat economy, still have to waste hours on end haggling over routine doctor's office visits -- again, with medical insurance.

But all those things are a given, really. What's really burning my ass is the indifference or insouciance paid to the more blatant examples of official thuggery in our midst. We've been long accustomed to it, obviously. People were hunky and/or dory with police-state actions in the War on Some Drugs, no-knock warrants, civil asset forfeiture without trial nor even charge. And 9/11 just sealed that deal, and utilized technological advances to snoop and secure ever more.

So we're comfortable with masked DEA guys kicking in doors and shooting without provocation, just as we're inured to ordinary county mounties and town clowns tasering speeders for getting lippy. We're jake with whisking people to Gitmo, be they bountied Afghan shepherds or homegrown assholes, and stuffing them away for years on end, again without charge nor trial.

So what's the big deal about pepper-spraying college kids and elderly women for sitting on a sidewalk? After all, it might prevent potential consumers from getting that sweet-ass Black Friday deal, right?

Oh, and about that:

This year, reports of injuries, fights and at least one shooting have come in from across the country, with one California customer even fending off competing shoppers with pepper spray.

Words fail. Not to advocate vigilantism, but one hopes at the very least that when they check the surveilance tapes and figure out who this dunce is, her victims drop by with fresh pepper-spray canisters of their own.

But those stories, much like the thing itself are overblown; when the herd is heavily encouraged to converge, we shouldn't be too surprised when there's trampling here and there.

The part that's puzzling is that we continue to put up with all this shit, even though we know that we know better. I don't know if the prime instinct has simply become escapism at every turn, whether it's self-actualizing through shopping or endless schlock, or what. But again, it's really just going to come down to unplugging from the system, to stop feeding the beast.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks

We thank you, o lord, for the banksters who have murdered the economy of the planet, who have turned the profit and productivity of others into a lint-ridden pocket for themselves to dip into.

Thanks for overpopulation, for idiots who seriously think they should have a dozen or so children, while entire species are driven to extinction at an unprecedented rate and resources deplete.

Thanks for punk bitch thug cops, wannabe tough guys who strut around in their Spaceballs stormtrooper suits (Taibbi's line) and spray blinding chemicals in the faces of their fellow citizens, which is the only reasonable response to peaceful protest, n'est-ce pas?

Thanks for a holiday that was once about reconnecting with family and community, but has long since devolved into a mindless orgy of pornographic consumerism, of people who actually look forward to the opportunity to go to Wal-Mart in the middle of the night and do battle to spend money they don't really have on shit they don't really want.

Thanks for the gaping hole in this nation's soul, and its collective inability to see or do anything about it.

Thanks for an interminable series of breathless "reports" on subhuman scumbags who think a college football program is more important than -- well, pretty much anything, apparently. Because there are actually people who are violently angry at the unfair persecution of poor ol' Joe Paterno. Lord, may their children all get ass-raped in the shower by Jerry Sandusky. (Not really, but perhaps make them take a second to reflect "what if", and double-check as to whether they are actually human beings or not. Because it's pretty unclear right now.)

Thanks for the fucking fascist scumbags who run this country now, who cravenly use a terrorist attack by a bunch of Saudis a decade ago as cover for their paramilitarizing of urban police forces. We thank you, sweet lord, for these gutless, inhuman thugs who wipe their asses with our constitution every chance they get. Good to know that official press passes must be obtained to "report" officially-sanctioned "news". Wouldn't want reg'lar citizens to think they can just show up unannounced at Tahrir SquareZuccotti Park and, you know, document what occurs, write about or even film the armored pussies who pepper-spray old ladies and coeds. Lord, please jam lightning bolts up their asses, and melt their dead hearts, in Tebow's name, whatever and ever amen.

Some simple truths (pezzo di merde):
  • Lloyd Blankfein, and every other bankster, for what they've done to literally billions of people at this point out of sheer greed and nothing more, are pieces of shit.
  • Mike Bloomberg, for his craven support of the banksters, and for unleashing his punk-ass thug cops on unarmed peaceful citizens who are simply tired of taking shit from well-heeled thieves, is a piece of shit.
  • Lt. John Pike, caught on video as a gutless, heartless bully, is a ten-pound growler, truly a king-sized piece of shit. Do your duty and flush twice on this motherfucker. It will truly be a fine day when this asshole finds himself in the unemployment line.
  • There are many more, too many to mention. This nation seems overrun with numberless pieces of shit, from the halls of Congress to the boardrooms of Wall Street to the frontlines of Occupied America to the chat rooms defending the pussy paramilitaries who push around the citizens they're fucking well sworn to protect.
  • What this nation needs is an enema, and a big one.
What the OWSers need to realize is that, however well-intended, what they are doing is not enough, might really never be enough. Rather than risk sacrificing their lives and well-being to an indifferent thugocracy and a complicit, compliant, complaisant corporate media who are already bored with their tubthumping antics, what the OWSers -- and everyone, including you 'n' me, friends 'n' neighbors -- need to do is avail themselves of any and every opportunity to divest from the matrix, to starve the beast.

Because it most certainly is a bloody beast, voracious, insatiable, red in tooth and claw, utterly indifferent to the misery spawned by its actions, indeed taking perverse glee in the pain it causes. It does not care about you, and by "it" I mean Wall Street, Congress, Obama, the urban paramilitary gangs masquerading as cops, the hump-your-leg-till-you-waste-more-money media, the whole wretched lot of them.

The decision we have to make is whether we continue to put up with it just for the opportunity for more flat-screens and iPads, or decide that having a lifestyle is a piss-poor substitute for having a life, and that maybe we won't miss our Dancing with the Has-Beens and Never-Weres and the hourly Kardashian updates as much as they think we will. The greatest fear these motherless fucks have is that we one day decide to stand on our hind legs and be men.

I can't think of a better day than today for us all to resolve to do exactly that. I think we would all be more thankful, and right now an attitude of gratitude might be just the thing.

Otherwise, I've had quite enough of this hollowed-out police state, and its revolting cheerleaders, and I'd rather make it a goal to get the fuck out of here once and for all, find a bungalow in Costa Rica and spend the rest of my life surfing and playing guitar, which is all I ever really wanted to do anyway. Bageant had the right idea.

The bullshit going on right now in multiple quarters on multiple levels, and the vocal support it engenders from some of the more insane quadrants of the mediasphere, make me positively ill. One can still believe in Hume's Paradox, the old "they got the guns but we got the numbers" maxim, but there's really no substitute for just pulling out whenever and wherever possible, divesting from the beast and re-investing locally.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Psycho Finance, Qu'est-ce Que C'est

Ce que j'ai fait ce soir-là
Ce qu'elle a dit ce soir-là
Réalisant mon espoir
Je me lance vers la gloire... OK -- Talking Heads


George Monbiot is shrill:

In a study published by the journal Psychology, Crime and Law, Belinda Board and Katarina Fritzon tested 39 senior managers and chief executives from leading British businesses. They compared the results to the same tests on patients at Broadmoor special hospital, where people who have been convicted of serious crimes are incarcerated. On certain indicators of psychopathy, the bosses's scores either matched or exceeded those of the patients. In fact, on these criteria, they beat even the subset of patients who had been diagnosed with psychopathic personality disorders.

The psychopathic traits on which the bosses scored so highly, Board and Fritzon point out, closely resemble the characteristics that companies look for. Those who have these traits often possess great skill in flattering and manipulating powerful people. Egocentricity, a strong sense of entitlement, a readiness to exploit others and a lack of empathy and conscience are also unlikely to damage their prospects in many corporations.

In their book Snakes in Suits, Paul Babiak and Robert Hare point out that as the old corporate bureaucracies have been replaced by flexible, ever-changing structures, and as team players are deemed less valuable than competitive risk-takers, psychopathic traits are more likely to be selected and rewarded. Reading their work, it seems to me that if you have psychopathic tendencies and are born to a poor family, you're likely to go to prison. If you have psychopathic tendencies and are born to a rich family, you're likely to go to business school.

Monbiot avers to the classic "all poodles are dogs, but not all dogs are poodles" chestnut, which is at least intellectually honest:

This is not to suggest that all executives are psychopaths. It is to suggest that the economy has been rewarding the wrong skills. As the bosses have shaken off the trade unions and captured both regulators and tax authorities, the distinction between the productive and rentier upper classes has broken down. Chief executives now behave like dukes, extracting from their financial estates sums out of all proportion to the work they do or the value they generate, sums that sometimes exhaust the businesses they parasitise. They are no more deserving of the share of wealth they've captured than oil sheikhs.

Here we're getting closer to the nut. Success in the high-stakes finance world is not predicated on raw skill; there is very little chance that Jamie Dimon or Lloyd Blankfein possesses skill sets that the average college graduate could not be trained for in, say, a year or two. Yes, they are highly specialized skill sets, but not uniquely so.

More and more, it becomes clear that their defining characteristic is willingness to push boundaries, to engage in what would previously have been considered transgressive behavior.

Finally the crux of the biscuit.

The rest of us are invited, by governments and by fawning interviews in the press, to subscribe to their myth of election: the belief that they are possessed of superhuman talents. The very rich are often described as wealth creators. But they have preyed on the earth's natural wealth and their workers' labour and creativity, impoverishing both people and planet. Now they have almost bankrupted us. The wealth creators of neoliberal mythology are some of the most effective wealth destroyers the world has ever seen.

Exactly. The persistent myth has been that taxes and regulations must be kept low in order to maintain robust growth and profits. Well, what of that, then? Both have been at historic lows for the entirety of this preceding decade, the paper profits of which have been wiped clean -- except, of course, for the engineers of that destruction. Securitization policies were upended to facilitate this mendacious scamboogery, and we can all see the results.

Yet again, the myth persists that if we just stay the proverbial course, the ship will right itself anon.

Taibbi, per usual, has been all up in this shiznit. Handing Social Security and Medicare over to these thieves was a dreadful idea before they monkeyfucked the world economy; it is incomprehensible that any remotely serious person would still be considering such a thing at this stage of the game.

As Taibbi points out, not only is their chicanery exhaustively documented and simple to trace (though hopelessly convoluted in scope, and hence beyond the attention span of the average 'murkin, which is precisely what they count on), but so is their incompetence. You have to give props to people who have the balls to demand to be thanked and rewarded not only for their malfeasance, but for their ineptitude as well.

Here's how I've explained the situation to people, to make it a bit less muddled, feel free to use or modify as you see fit:

Say you have an idiot brother-in-law. He fancies himself a pigskin prognosticator, and decides to take a loan out on the value of his house to bet on the Super Bowl. But wait -- not only is the bank allowing him a loan at full value, they're allowing him to "leverage" on a 30:1 margin. That is, his house is worth $200K, but Bank of Stupid is letting him borrow $6 million. Still with me? Okay, good.

You can guess what happens next -- he bets on the Steelers, who lose to the Packers, and he's on the hook for way more money than he's ever going to see in his life. The bank basically tells you and your neighbors that you get to pay for it, since your asshole b-i-l sure as hell ain't gonna cough up a thin dime for his stupidity.

Of course, there are additional layers of complexity to this admittedly feeble analogy, but the point still stands. It's public subsidy/private profit at its worst.

Now, to add insult to njury, the richies are bemoaning their lot, and pushing back against the tubthumping DFHs in the park, with their usual condescending sneer:

Mike Bloomberg wants you to believe the banks didn’t want anything to do with those unworthy borrowers. Yet in reality, the banks not only went to every conceivable length to take on the home loans of those subprime borrowers, they actually invented new technology to make clones of those Barney Frank debtors.

And there were thousands upon thousands of those synthetic deals, meaning each and every one of those deadbeat subprime borrowers have been Xeroxed by the banks fifty or a hundred times over, and are flying around the globe to this day as toxic assets.

Nomi Prins pointed out in her book It Takes a Pillage that we could have paid off every subprime loan in America at the start of the crisis for about $1.4 trillion dollars. But the bailouts ended up being four, five, perhaps as much as ten or twelve times that size.

Why? Because we weren’t paying off the underlying loans of those subprime, personal-responsibility-deficient homeowners. We were paying off the banks' bets on those loans. We were adopting all those clones they made.

Anyway, there's is a massive gap between making a bad decision with one’s personal finances and committing criminal fraud in billion-dollar amounts. Morally, the two acts are not even in the same universe.

Here is a perfect example of why I detest bien pensant limo libs nearly as much as I despise the usual mouth-breathing, window-licking, up-to-the-fourth-knuckle nose-picking conservatards. Animals like Mike Bloomberg, who presents a media-friendly image and aligns perfectly with their socially-liberal-but-fundamentally-authoritarian impulses, know perfectly well that there's more than enough blame to go around.

As long as Bloomberg appears "progressive" enough on vital issues such as abortion and gay marriage, these putatively librul tools could give less than two shits about whether he regards the peons as human beings. Not that abortion and gay marriage aren't relevant issues, but I'll go out on a limb and stipulate that everyone's right to live a decent life commensurate with the work they put out is a tad more critical.

But Bloomberg, his proxies, and complicitly his starstruck audiences, they're all happy to lay it all at the feet of the one group that has no media or political presence whatsoever -- the working stiffs who got juked into these bullshit mortgages.

Yes, they should have known better, yes they should have done the math and figured it out. But a lot of people made -- and are still making -- a shitload of money for all that, really for taking deliberate advantage of their lack of financial sophistication.

Even worse, in addition to the foreclosed millions you hear about, there are millions more -- I count myself among them -- who did everything right, spent wisely, lived frugally, locked in the mortgage rate opportunistically, didn't use the HELOC as an ATM, and still got fucking hosed by decimated property values, reduced credit limits, fewer decent job opportunities, etc. Trust me folks, there's no reward whatsoever for doing things "right", and indeed only the finest of lines between those folks and the folks who are being jeered at by smug billionaires for their supposed stupidity and recklessness.

Really, if there's one thing that Bloomberg and his scumbag friends have proven time and again, it's that stupidity and recklessness pays quite handsomely, provided one has taken care to rent the right people ahead of time.

As the slow burn of Europe continues apace, and eventually spreads here, and shit really starts raining down, keep all that in mind when it's time to choose a side. Wall Street has the moral compass of a Mexican drug cartel. These motherfuckers would skin you alive and feed you your own nutsack if they thought it'd gain them two cents on their portfolio.

Has nothing to do with the virtues of "capitalism", the magic of the "free market", or the vicissitudes of the peons. It's just the nature of the beasts. Perhaps a viewing of Grizzly Man might jog one's perception of how this thing really works.

News of the Weird

This is not exactly burning front-page material, but it is passing strange at least that scientists would expend any real lengths of time, effort, and research dollars to limn the plight of chicken-fucking hillbillies. I mean, I don't quite get the "they deserve to burn in hell" vitriol of some of the commenters, but I would say that if you're the sort of person for whom buggering livestock is a habit, a way of life, the trajectory of your existence on this here earth is already pretty well charted.

This is just all kinds of charming:

The researchers found no association between penile cancer and the number of animals the men used over time, the species (which included mares, cows, pigs and chickens, among other animals) or the number of other men who also participated. However, the higher rate of reported sexually transmitted diseases in men who had sex with animals could be a result of group sex, said lead author Stênio de Cássio Zequi, a urologist inSão Paulo. More than 30 percent of subjects practiced SWA in groups.

Ahahahaha, there's a lovely visual, no, a bunch of inbred goobers gang-raping a cow. Well, there are 7,000,000,000 lost souls on our fair slab of rock, the law of averages dictates that at least some of them are going to be disgusting wastes of oxygen. Nothing new under the sun, but never a dull moment either.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Predators

I don't know what sort of self-respecting man -- and a 6'5" athlete at that -- observes a ten-year-old boy getting buttfucked in the shower by a grown man, and not only doesn't intervene directly at the scene, but doesn't even call the fucking cops. I cannot imagine what went through that child's head at that moment, first probably thinking that Mike McQueary, seemingly a responsible adult, would jump in and rescue the kid. Instead, McQueary slunk away, went home, called his dad for advice, and then told Joe Paterno, who told Penn State's athletic director.

Again, keep in mind that McQueary was 28 years old at the time. Did he not get the memo about how sexually assaulting children is a bad thing? Jesus H. Tapdancing Christ, one gets that Sandusky is a piece of shit pedophile, and Paterno and the PSU athletic department had the semi-plausible deniability of hearing everything second- or third-hand, but I have no clue what McQueary and the others who witnessed Sandusky's behavior were thinking. It is inconceivable to me that someone could witness the abuse of a child and not physically intervene immediately.

McQueary is likely to follow Paterno to the unemployment line; indeed, his coaching career is likely over. Good. Hopefully he lives to Paterno's ripe old age, and his gutless inaction haunts him every second.

It's amazing to consider the sorts of awful things humans will conceal just for the sake of reputation. Penn State's rationale is exactly that of the numberless Catholic dioceses worldwide that excused and covered up, perpetuated the exact same conduct systematically. Just as McQueary's inaction is unfathomable, so is the notion of anyone continuing to support organizations such as these with their (presumably) hard-earned dollars.

As always, you get what you pay for.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The "No Shit" Moment

I like to give center-to-center-right people like Fareed Zakaria and Niall Ferguson some leeway because they generally present smart, moderate arguments which just happen to land a bit to the right of where I normally would on most given subjects. This stands in stark contrast not only to the numberless goons the wingers have peddling numinous fictions for them, but to ham-fisted NYTimes "moderates" such as Bobo Brooks and Ross Douthat. People like Brooks and Douthat are not necessarily nasty players like their more wingy counterparts, but they do tend to be messy thinkers, whereas folks like Zakaria and Ferguson, who have actual educations and curricula vitae, and write actual books and know serious facts, generally impart their ideas with clarity and logic.

So I have no idea what got into Ferguson all of a sudden, but given his "killer app" metaphor, I'm tempted to assume he's been boning up on some Tommy Friedman and decided to up his book sales by giving that lazy tack a try. The earliest incarnation of "killer apps" seems apropos enough, anyway, in describing how the West surpassed the East after around 1500 (that is, around the time Vasco da Gama set the Portuguese navy in every seaport from Lisbon east to Macau, subjugated the natives and converted them at sword-point, and set up trading ports to put the locals out of business).

1. Competition. Europe was politically fragmented into multiple monarchies and republics, which were in turn internally divided into competing corporate entities, among them the ancestors of modern business corporations.

2. The Scientific Revolution. All the major 17th-century breakthroughs in mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry, and biology happened in Western Europe.

3. The Rule of Law and Representative Government. An optimal system of social and political order emerged in the English-speaking world, based on private-property rights and the representation of property owners in elected legislatures.

4. Modern Medicine. Nearly all the major 19th- and 20th-century breakthroughs in health care were made by Western Europeans and North Americans.

5. The Consumer Society. The Industrial Revolution took place where there was both a supply of productivity-enhancing technologies and a demand for more, better, and cheaper goods, beginning with cotton garments.

6. The Work Ethic. Westerners were the first people in the world to combine more extensive and intensive labor with higher savings rates, permitting sustained capital accumulation.

A knowledgeable historian without an agenda could easily pick apart most or all of these points, seeing as how Ferguson so easily elides over the era of colonialism, and the technological advantages provided by its immense labor-to-capital ratio. But to be fair, the era also brought us Scottish Enlightenment figures such as David Hume, James Watt, and Adam Smith -- the latter of whom is most important for pseudo-econs who have clearly never read Wealth of Nations as a totem to invoke every time they need to make a Serious Point about Capitalism.

Not only do they not understand capitalism nearly as much as they think they do (unless they seriously think that socialized debt and public subsidy of institutionalized, leveraged gambling has fuck-all to do with legitimate risk-reward scenarios), but they don't even understand that Smith himself very clearly came down dead against unproductive vorocracies masquerading as merchant princes, loyal to none but themselves and each other.

Anyhoo, where Ferguson really puts the rock on the ground is when he attempts to apply his "killer app" model to the current crises continuing apace:

Ask yourself: who’s got the work ethic now? The average South Korean works about 39 percent more hours per week than the average American. The school year in South Korea is 220 days long, compared with 180 days here.

....

The consumer society? Did you know that 26 of the 30 biggest shopping malls in the world are now in emerging markets, mostly in Asia? Only three are in the United States. And, boy, do they look forlorn these days, as maxed-out Americans struggle to pay down their debts.

Modern medicine? Well, we certainly outspend everyone else. As a share of gross domestic product, the United States spends twice what Japan spends on health care and more than three times what China spends.

....

The rule of law? For a real eye-opener, take a look at the latest World Economic Forum (WEF) Executive Opinion Survey. On no fewer than 15 of 16 different issues relating to property rights and governance, the United States fares worse than Hong Kong. Indeed, the U.S. makes the global top 20 in only one area: investor protection. On every other count, its reputation is shockingly bad. The U.S. ranks 86th in the world for the costs imposed on business by organized crime, 50th for public trust in the ethics of politicians, 42nd for various forms of bribery, and 40th for standards of auditing and financial reporting.

What about science? It’s certainly true that U.S.-based scientists continue to walk off with plenty of Nobel Prizes each year. But Nobel winners are old men. The future belongs not to them but to today’s teenagers.

....

Finally, there’s competition, the original killer app that sent the fragmented West down a completely different path from monolithic imperial China. Well, the WEF has conducted a comprehensive Global Competitiveness survey every year since 1979. Since the current methodology was adopted in 2004, the United States’ average competitiveness score has fallen from 5.82 to 5.43, one of the steepest declines among developed economies. China’s score, meanwhile, has leapt up from 4.29 to 4.90.

....

What we need to do is to delete the viruses that have crept into our system: the anticompetitive quasi monopolies that blight everything from banking to public education; the politically correct pseudosciences and soft subjects that deflect good students away from hard science; the lobbyists who subvert the rule of law for the sake of the special interests they represent—to say nothing of our crazily dysfunctional system of health care, our overleveraged personal finances, and our newfound unemployment ethic.

Then we need to download the updates that are running more successfully in other countries, from Finland to New Zealand, from Denmark to Hong Kong, from Singapore to Sweden.

And finally we need to reboot our whole system.

I refuse to accept that Western civilization is like some hopeless old version of Microsoft DOS, doomed to freeze, then crash. I still cling to the hope that the United States is the Mac to Europe’s PC, and that if one part of the West can successfully update and reboot itself, it’s America.

Kee-rist. It goes on like that, and worse yet, Ferguson even musters Charles Bell Curve Murray for his arguments at one point.

Look, the problem is much simpler than all that. Thirty years ago it was decided that while Americans were happy and productive actually making things they and their neighbors wanted to use and buy, it simply cost the bosses too much. Margins could be increased by outsourcing manufacturing, and 'murkins would be retrained to make far more money selling each other five-dollar cups of coffee. Productivity increased massively over the last fifteen years, it's just that nearly every cent of gains went straight upstairs. There was not even the pretext of marginally spreading a bit of those gains around. Oh, and you're welcome, America. Enjoy your hi-def flat-screen, the better to see Chaz Bono's knee dimples.

Everything since then has been a futile attempt to paper the consequences of those decisions over, with cheerleading for the emerging economies and the rentier financiers running the shell game. They don't even bother to mask their contempt anymore, you all just get to bail out the TBTF banks that fucked you out of your job and are foreclosing your house. How you like them apples, Champ?

Ferguson gets close in his "reboot app" jabber, but what he misses is the most important thing -- health care is a racket. Ditto "higher education", credentialist mills that churn $200 textbooks and pull fat raises for academic sinecures on the backs of broke students and their strapped parents. Even the public education system, enough 'murkins have been bamboozled into believing that fat teachers' unions are bleeding them dry.

This absence of critical thinking, it should be pointed out, might just be the very consequence of a desiccated educational system that no one can afford anyway. Just a thought. But the fact is that all these "viruses" are not bugs, they're features built into the system.

The "updates" Ferguson refers to, in all these far-flung geographic locales, require government investment in infrastructure, massive revenue injections -- yes, tax increases, especially on the 1%, since they are the only ones who have anything anymore. Good luck selling that one.

The idea that only the plebes should suddenly have to learn the virtues of self-discipline is one that has probably underpinned the aristocratic philosophy since Sumeria. But hey, folks, just work harder and smarter, and this ol' ship'll turn right around.

Booty Call, Too

Not sure how the publicity-stunt sexual exploits of a horsefaced Armenian chick with a fat ass, a sex tape, and an infamous dad, whose primary talent seems to be banging pro athaletes, merits so much attention. No doubt the Today show, most noted for having a chimp (other than Lauer) as a sidekick back in the day, will be milking this through Thanksgiving, no doubt thanks in no small part to esteemed relationship expert Star Jones.

Really, I'm repulsed that I know even this much about it, but it happens the same way I know that the most recent American Idol was won by some kid that looks like Alfred E. Neuman, without ever watching a blessed second of the show. You can only switch channels -- or turn the infernal thing off, or kill the browser link -- so quickly. Cultural osmosis, incurable even with antibiotics.

Do we even need to ask whether any corporate media outlets will turn away from Kim Kardashian's hypnotic cowcatcher ass long enough to talk about anything important to anyone's actual life -- say, the likelihood that Bank of America may have overextended itself (and, of course, all of us, since we're on the hook for their bullshit whether we like it or not) irretrievably [via Taibbi?]

5. Bank of America is officially rated the biggest, scariest bank. Its stock price also fared the worst of the group of banks (which also included Citigroup and Wells Fargo) when Moody's Investors Service downgraded it on September 21.

B of A's long-term holding company (parent bank) rating was chopped two notches to Baa1 from A2, and its retail bank rating was cut two notches from A2 to Aa3, placing B of A four notches below rival JP Morgan Chase and one below Citigroup, the third-largest US bank. Its bank holding company has the lowest rating among the top five banks with the largest derivatives positions.

This caused great fear for investors involved in derivatives trades with the Merrill Lynch division, prompting them to request trades be moved to the part of the bank with the better rating - the retail part with the insured (peoples') deposits. That way, B of A doesn't have to pony up as much collateral to back the trades, as it would in a subsidiary with a lower rating. The Fed was recklessly happy to approve, despite the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's (FDIC) misgiving about having to insure more risk, even if it can borrow from the US Treasury to do so. Meanwhile, Bank of America's stock price got so crushed that Warren Buffett scooped up a $5 billion preferred stock deal, effectively betting that the government won't let this big bank go bust.

6. B of A's derivatives position keeps rising. The total amount of derivatives in the FDIC-insured portion of B of A as of mid-year was $53.7 trillion, up 10 percent from $48.9 trillion the prior year, and up nearly 35 percent from its pre-fall crisis level of $40 trillion (the Merrill Lynch securities division holds $22 trillion in addition.) The bank has $5 trillion of credit derivatives, nearly double its $2.7 trillion pre-Merrill amount. In addition, because of its inherent zombie status and rating downgrades, the cost of insuring B of A against a possible default continues to rise in the credit derivatives market - a pattern that American International group (AIG) once followed.

Nice, huh? Read that again -- that's not $53 billion, but $53 trillion, roughly the equivalent of the entire on-the-books global GDP. The idea that we're forced to subsidize these ricockulously bad bets, while Ken Lewis gets nine figures of walking-away money, would merit the guillotine, in a society that didn't have the attention span and priorities of a seventh-grader.

Obviously it was ever thus. But anymore it seems the circuses-to-bread ratio is skewed in Paretian fashion. Herman Cain should not be disqualified because he played grab-ass with a couple of subordinates back in the '90s (though that is a reason, just not the most damning); he should be disqualified because he is a ludicrous person with stupid ideas, who is doing this just to bump up his book sales and speaking fees.

The more the corporate media (who of course have no vested interest in keeping you distracted with shiny baubles and plastic personalities, nosiree bob) indulge in this nonsense, as Neil Postman sagely pointed out a generation ago, the more we (in the collective) lose our capacity for meaningful engagement.

Instead of commiserating over the water cooler about the few picking the pockets of the masses, and getting away scot-free, we ponder the fairytale aspects of reality teevee wannabes and their contrived love lives. We debate the momentous occurrence of Chaz Bono being on a dancing show, without pondering for a second that Chaz Bono is way too fucking fat to be on a dancing show. (Or that, you know, the idea of sitting there and watching Chaz Bono or yet another of these Kardaashians dancing is a supreme waste of time and cable bill.)

I dunno. I am back as always to that poisoned well, the unleashing of easy "people are morons" snark, while realizing at the same time that there are a lot of intelligent people out there that are tired of this stuff, the debasement of "news" and "discussion" to its lowest common denominator, the sage review of idiot sexcapades, the common culture of collectively watching has-beens and never-weres sort their sock drawers. It's pathetic and unnecessary, and ultimately self-defeating.

When you're already in a deep, deep hole as a nation-state entity, these miserably inept cultural touchstones are not ladders, they're shovels, things deliberately placed to keep us from looking at the real problems. It's not just that the "stories" are stupid; they are, but the real issue is that, like the shows whence these creatures emanate, weeks and months are spent telling and rehashing what is really about five minutes' worth of one-view trivia. after that, really, who gives two shits about the Kardashian sisters or interchangeable reality twits? But they are marketed for months on end, until it's played out and the next meaningless thing comes along for another six months.

And I think there are a lot of folks who really just don't want to know. They understand just enough to realize that the game is fixed, the players bought, they are not in the club and are going to lose regardless, so they may as well distract themselves with comforting effluvia, cultural macaroni-and-cheese. The subject, its facts and its players are too complicated to keep track of, by design.

Actually getting on the same page to change the game would be too much like work, unless you're some DFH beating a plastic bucket in the park. Hopefully those folks keep all that in mind when their destitute grandkids are bailing out Ken Lewis' lucky-sperm-wealthy-from-cradle-to-grave grandkids.

And if you're a one-percenter, that is precisely the collective mentality you count on.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Booty Call

Yeah, it's a real shock that Long Dong SilverHerman Cain turns out to be a sexual serial harasser. (Right, alleged, falsely accused and unfairly maligned. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger.)

The real curiosity here is that, while Cain has been surging -- throbbing, if you will (and you might) -- in the (ahem) polls for the last month, this just now comes out. Accusations and settlements from fifteen years ago taking a month to see light, in the age of 30-second Google hunts.

If you didn't know better, you might narrow it down to one of two rather unseemly assumptions: one, that our intrepid corporate media would take weeks to find its own collective ass in a dark room with both hands and a flashlight; or two, that whoever's been bankrolling this dog-and-pony show from behind the scenes finally decided to pull the blessed plug.

Either Rick Perry suddenly discovered oppo research, in between hits of ecstasy and paint thinner in New Hampshire, or the Koch Brothers finally decided to drop 185 pounds of dead weight. They're obscenely wealthy for a reason, and at least part of that reason is that they realize that there's not much percentage in bankrolling certifiably batshit candidates.

Expect Jon Huntsman to receive an anonymous manila envelope stuffed with photos of either Perry or Romney in a compromising position with: a dead girl, a live boy, a terrified farm animal, or each other. Such a moral dilemma!

Mystery Meat

"I don't mind the taste!"

I am definitely not a food snob, and while I eat very little fast food in recent years (In-N-Out maybe once every couple of months), I certainly ate more than my fill of Carl's Jr. burgers back in the day.

But despite originally hailing from Los Angeles, McDonald's was always verboten growing up. It wasn't because it was fast food, or completely non-nutritious. It was because the food tasted like an unholy blend of cardboard and ass, flash-frozen and then thawed out under a heat lamp. The burgers are nasty, and the fries are pure grease and salt. It should not be mistaken for actual food, it is suicide by slower means. This is not exactly news, even to frequent customers.

So I have been to Mickey D's literally maybe a half-dozen times in my entire life. One of those times I tried a McRib, currently being overpimped on its 112th farewell tour.

I don't recall the exact circumstances which led me to try this bestial thing, probably peer pressure, possibly the occasionally profane amounts of drugs ingested in my twenties. Whatever the case, clearly there was impaired judgment involved.

As I recall, it tasted exactly what you would expect something concoted to offset the chicken shortage caused by McNugget sales to taste like -- a slab of pressed goo, slathered in sauce that must have had 10W40 as one of its main ingredients.

Now, it's not a secret that Americans, more than just about any other nationality, are accustomed to associating an utterly inane concept like "convenience" (as opposed to, say, nutrition, taste, quality, sustenance, or even actual hunger) with "food". And sentimentality may be one of the common touchstones of all cuisines, the ability to conjure up a rustic kitchen, whether grandmother's or anyone's, with well-placed manipulation of the olfactory senses.

But the marketing of this mystery slab ("Think smaller, and more legs.") is very perplexing. Maybe not as much as the grotesque glutton factories that continue to litter the landscape, but bizarre nonetheless.

I hold dear as a simple longstanding empirical axiom that Americans are enormously weird about, and have very dysfunctional relationships with, money, sex, and food. I think there are some people out there (and many of the comments in that first link seem to confirm the idea) that want to take the McRib out behind the middle school and get it pregnant.

Which, come to think of it, might help explain that nasty sauce.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Clownocracy

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. -- Hunter S. Thompson

On the one hand, it may be a bit of an overreach for the FBI to classify Juggalos as a gang, in the same sense that violent street/prison/biker gangs comport themselves.

Most crimes committed by Juggalos are sporadic, disorganized, individualistic, and often involve simple assault, personal drug use and possession, petty theft, and vandalism. However, open source reporting suggests that a small number of Juggalos are forming more organized subsets and engaging in more gang-like criminal activity, such as felony assaults, thefts, robberies, and drug sales. Social networking websites are a popular conveyance for Juggalo sub-culture to communicate and expand.

....

Juggalos’ disorganization and lack of structure within their groups, coupled with their transient nature, makes it difficult to classify them and identify their members and migration patterns. Many criminal Juggalo sub-sets are comprised of transient or homeless individuals, according to law enforcement reporting. Most Juggalo criminal groups are not motivated to migrate based upon traditional needs of a gang.


Coverage of the recent Gathering suggests that the majority of these goofballs would have trouble navigating their way out of their parents' basements, much less organize for anything more complicated than a pothead fuckfest in a remote holler:

As I walk through a tent area in the early evening, an excited Juggalo runs up to a group of guys in front of us. He has a can of beer in each hand, a cigarette on his lip, and some news: "We've got three Juggalettes giving free hand jobs in a tent up here!"

....

One Juggalo, an immense man with a red beard and a slightly lazy eye, parks himself on the side of the infamous Drug Bridge (more on that later) with a multipurpose cardboard sign: On one side, he offers "Got Neden?" stickers for sale; on the other, he's written, "Its my birthday show me your tits." In the corner, somebody has penned, "Baby mama Approved."


On the other hand, as collapse proceeds apace, gangs -- yes, even the hydrocephalic mouth-breathing Juggalo set -- constitute perhaps the purest and most original form of tribal loyalty. They know that the government has nothing for them. They know that what education they did get didn't prepare them for much, and to pursue it further would simply cost them far more money and time than they have, with no guarantees other than onerous debt.

The Dow is temporarily back "up", the Euros have bought themselves just a bit more time, like a doomed drowning victim trapped in a sinking car, instinctively sucking precious last gulps of air as the water rises inexorably, buying one more second, bargaining with inevitability.

Of course, nothing is truly inevitable, history does not have to be as deterministic as we make it out to be. It all comes down to what we decide to accept as our lot in life, if a system that quite literally depends upon and encourages eternal debt peonage for the masses, and a perverse socialized-risk gambling scheme for the very top, is mathematically sustainable.

It's human nature to confuse the ability to prolong with the ability to genuinely sustain, and that is where we are now. People still think things will right themselves, that something will come along and turn it all around, because something always does. As a planet of increasingly finite resources becomes more and more overpopulated, the futility of this sort of thinking still might not become apparent to its strongest adherents.

Providentiary thinking is magical in scope, and relieves its practitioners of the burden of empirical verification. A nation of Rick Perrys praying for rain does not a plan make. For now, the smart set of the commentariat is content to poke fun at the DFH protesting The Man, and to encourage us to self-actualize through the entertainment choices of following the exploits of celebritards and whores.

I think the effectiveness of that strategy is going to dwindle, as the economic corpses pile up in the parks and free speech zones worldwide. When even Friedman is coming around -- as if the globalization agenda he's been pimping for the last fifteen years had nothing to do with the philosophical underpinnings of the transnational merchant princes running our lives -- you know it's the real deal.

The Oakland OWS protest violence was just the beginning. Some catalyzing "black swan" event is on the near horizon, but really, unless the system itself is forced to tectonically change, it's all rearranging deck chairs on a sinking economy. For the masses, anyway; as ever, the wealthy will take it with them.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mitt Happens

When it comes to describing the Republican preznitential primary process so far, with its increasingly bizarre and inane "debates", and the string of three-week candidate crushes going back to Donald Fucking Trump's transparent publicity stunt, words begin more and more to fail. The usual metaphor of rubber-necking at the scene of a particularly grisly road accident doesn't cut it anymore.

It's more like trying to figure out the wave of torture-porn movies in the middle of the last decade, as sadistic schlock-meisters set out to limn the agonies of the human condition by trying to out-spatter the likes of Eli Roth. When your bar is already set low from the outset, you are absolutely guaranteed to GIGO your way through things.

So it is with this protracted sideshow, which ostensibly has the goal of presenting a viable replacement for Barack Hussein OsamaObama who, some continue to insist, emerged fully realized from his mother's womb in a turban, waving a scimitar in one hand and clutching the Qu'ran and Das Kapital in the other, ululating "Death to Amreeka!" at the top of his tiny little lungs.

Of course, this negates the facts that Obama is actually the one who found and killed bin Laden after a decade on the run, turned a militant American-born cleric in Yemen -- whose stated goal was to radicalize American Muslims and create more Fort Hood massacres -- into a greasy spot on a donkey path, and assisted in bring down Moammar Qaddafi, a truly nasty character, without risking a single American life. When it comes to foreign policy, Barack Obama is as hawkish as they think they are.

Economic policy is even easier -- he's on retainer to the Wall Street thieves and grifters, to every bit the extent that one would expect from any of his Republican challengers (excepting, perhaps, Ron Paul). It is remotely possible that a McCain White House would have dropped the corporate tax rate to zero (which for many corporations it essentially is), but while Johnny Mac had to dance with them who brung him in '08, it's safe to wager that he is still rational and lucid enough to read a balance sheet.

So this summer has been merely a tedious exercise in trotting out an increasingly moronic series of candidates, in order to pander to what is apparently the most regressive, knuckle-dragging political base in a couple of generations. Seriously -- reasonable people from both sides can discuss at length the manifest failures of the Obama administration, but what sort of window-licking fuckwit actually thinks that Herman Cain would be anything but a disaster in any elected post higher than dog-catcher?

Oh sure, Cain would open the doors to the Koch brothers, let them and their subsidiaries pull favors and run riot over the regulatory agencies and labor unions (what remains of those entities, anyway). The magic of The Invisible Hand Making The Tide Rise For All Boats and such like. Because that's been working out so fucking well, hasn't it?

But Cain is interesting not in the sense of what he's revealed about himself -- a bumptious, ignorant tool who literally thinks that poor people should blame themselves first and foremost, and whose main actual idea is a 2000-mile fence to electrocute Mexicans -- but about the people who would actually vote for someone so comical and nonsensical.

And we won't even get into Cain's much-vaunted campaign video, which more than anything seems to allude to off-camera accessories such as a van with tinted portholes and a sex dungeon cluttered with missing hitchhikers.

Now, all of this has been an attempt by the Republitard base to avoid endorsing the Stormin' Mormon, Romney. Perhaps it's Romney's religion, or the way he keeps changing his positions day-to-day, or the fact that virtually nothing out of his cakehole is believable in the sense that you think he might actually believe what he's saying. But the bottom line is that the base hates him, but he has money and name recognition, so he's the perennial #2 in this dog show.

The fact of the matter is, when compared with the rest of the doofuses on the scorecard, Romney is not only the most competent and accomplished of the bunch, he is the only one of the front-runners that might be sufficiently competent to actually do the job. Romney's problem is the opposite of the rest of them -- he is actually an intelligent guy.

Romney, unlike Cain, understands why it's important for the president of the United States to know who the fucking dictator of Uzbekistan is, that there are important logistical capabilities for the US military about to be transferred there, and that Islam Karimov is a Saddam Hussein-grade brute who has literally boiled dissidents alive. He understands how economics and finance works. Romney, unlike Trump (who obviously was never an actual candidate, merely pimping his piece-of-shit teevee show), Bachmann, Perry, and Cain, is not an idiot.

He is, however, an unctuous, insincere turd who made his bones gutting manufacturing companies and sending American jobs overseas, instantly making him easy money for the Democrats to run against. And the Goopers know it. And the rest of their dance-card is a cluster of shit-scary goons and apocalyptos, people who, if they were really sincere in their belief in the dominionist claptrap about Christ coming back to scorch the earth and cleanse it of sinners week after next, should be spending their last days in style, having fun, not jockeying for the blue ribbon like a fattened pig at a county fair.

People have danced around Romney's (and to a lesser degree, because of the much lower name recognition, Huntsman's) religion, not wanting to appear bigoted, but treading dangerously close to ofay "some of my best friends are" territory. This is understandable; every religion is goofy to outsiders. Certainly in the years of running this blog, and before that on chat boards, I've never shied away from taking cheap shots at whatever religion crossed my sights, and Mormonism was definitely in there somewhere.

Perhaps counterintuitively, though, I would say this about Mormonism in general, and the many Mormons I have personally known, in particular: They're nice people. They place an emphasis on work ethic, and on individual self-sufficiency, but in the context of strengthening family and community. And not just the usual empty "fambly valyews" guff (though there was a video company in Utah whose specialty was bowdlerizing mainstream releases for "safer viewing"), but most of them seem to actually like their families, and make the effort to spend time with them.

Again, as an atheist, as far as I'm concerned every religion has wacky, far-fetched, completely fantastical belief systems and mythos underpinning them. Magic underwear is funny, there's just no getting around that. And certainly the Mormon church, just like the Catholic church, has many institutional wrongs to atone for. (Although, unlike the Catholic church, which took half a millennium just to acknowledge that it might have screwed the pooch on the whole Galileo thing, and that bit of nastiness with the Inquisition, the LDS church does update its dogma and amend its more racist undertones a bit more quickly.)

But institutional wrongs do not necessarily and always fully incriminate individual believers. Every Christian is not individually responsible for the Ku Klux Klan; every Muslim is not responsible for Osama bin Laden. And whether atheists like it or not, someone who professes to a mainstream religion is going to hold high office, at least for the near future. When enough people come around to the idea that you can be a very moral person without the burden of a particular established superstition, that will change. Till then, here's what you have to choose from. And Mormonism, as peculiar as its backstories are, as transparently scammy as its origins and its founder were, is merely the young child in a very old, far more established crowd of scams and fantasies; it is neither more nor less empirically valid than any of them.

I still think that in the end, Huntsman, if he can keep his powder dry, and just enough money coming in to keep breathing, gets this by attrition. The rest of them peaked too early and fell too hard; Perry, alone among them, has enough money and charisma and favors from his home state to rebound some, but it ain't gonna happen. The whole "if you like Dubya, you'll love Perry" schtick is exactly where it's at, and when was the last time you heard anyone admitting to missing George W. Bush?

And Huntsman, alone in the entire group of intellectual reprobates and buffoons, still has the ability to appeal to anyone outside that base. This will be a test for the far-right wing of the Corporate party, to decide if it still wants to be taken somewhat seriously by rational people, or it wants to continue its devolution into the "crazy aunt in the attic" wing of a hollowed-out corporatocracy.

Either way, metric fucktons of cash will be thrown around, and you, Tonstant Weader, won't see a red cent of it. Might be a good time to bone up on political consultancy.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Erin Go Blah

OK, so it is duly noted that money bunny Erin Burnett should never be mistaken for a friend of the masses. I mean, at the risk of belaboring the blitheringly obvious, she has never been that person. If she were, she would not have the job she has.

Burnett's pedigree -- worked for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, and is set to marry a Citigroup exec -- is exactly the curricula vitae one would expect for someone in her job. Same with Jim Cramer. It should not be a blindside surprise that Burnett comes across as a smug, overprivileged twit, functionally ignorant of how people outside of Manhattan get by in life. That is not an accident, that is a job requirement.

Look, the financial system itself is simply a polite fiction that people have agreed to agree on, to passively accept. Americans of all wealth quintiles, whether they have investments or not, have some awareness of how the DJIA works, insofar as it is "good" when it increases, "bad" when it decreases. But that's about the extent of it; even people who work in the financial services industry display little specific acumen as to why -- or more importantly, for whom -- those indicators necessarily mean those things. For the most part, it is about as scientific and empirical as astrology, or the reading of chicken entrails. Again, this is by design; the industry has a vested interest in protecting the arcana of their vested interests, and the mechanics therein.

This is where the cheerleading sector comes in, the CNBC money bunnies and balding galoots, the Burnetts and Cramers and Maria Bartiromos. The women present a veneer of knowledge and a frisson of sexuality, not-so-subtle reminders that money equates power and both will get you more ass than you can handle. The men present either the appearance of gravitas and expertise, or in the case of Cramer, the illusion of expertise coupled with a shameless buffoonery one normally associates with the local morning zoo radio drive-time show.

But they're all there for the same reason, in the end -- to make you believe that they know what they're talking about, that Wall Street's interests coincide and overlap with the interests of people outside of Wall Street. They are there to elide the increasingly obvious notion that Wall Street financiers simply regard the rest of the country and the rest of the planet as a dead-brain milch cow to be periodically cleaned out.

Don't ever tell yourself differently, folks. I am not exaggerating even a little bit when I tell you, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Six-Pack, that nobody in that industry, from Erin Burnett on up to Jamie Dimon, gives a red-hot monkey-fuck whether you live or die, whether you can find a job, whether you live in a fucking cardboard box while they pick out $10K leather couches for their East Side penthouses.

They do not care, nor do they care about the banana-republic levels of income and wealth disparity, and the only emotion they feel when you resent this indifference and chicanery is antagonism and open hostility. There is not a moment in the lives of these people where they wonder why the peons don't have more, because that would interfere with them wondering why they themselves do not have more.

If the financial services system is a racket -- and Jesus H. Tapdancing Christ, how can any sentient being at this point not understand that that is exactly what it is? -- then financial "journalists" are the procurers and whores of that racket, shamelessly exhorting and pimping anything and everything, whether they know better or not. They are the kids on the street corner in Goodfellas, running bets on the rigged numbers game to Tuddy and Paulie at the neighborhood pizzeria. They are Crazy Vince selling you the ShamWow and the pajama jeans on your midnight teevee, call within the next 20 minutes and get a 30% discount, tonight only.

Because one thing they do know is that the system is predicated on belief, like Tinkerbell. If people start understanding the flawed mechanics of that system, the shenanigans and outright thievery and graft that so much of it is built on, they might get wise and stop believing, and Tinkerbell dies.

Getting upset with a financial journo for doing what they've been conditioned and groomed for years to do is like getting upset with, say, Pat Robertson for saying something completely stupid and hypocritical. Like religion, modern de-leveraged and de-securitized finance is simply an ungainly belief system, but one that is necessary for its believers to maintain. They are balls-deep up in this biznitch, and if people stop buying what they're selling, they might no longer be able to have thousand-dollar meals at Cipriani's, or send their kids to $50K private kindergartens. Can't you feel the pain of the 1%ers, you heartless motherfuckers?

But there's nothing stopping anyone outside the bubble from taking a look at this shit, watching someone like Burnett waltzing down to the OWSers to fuck with people who are up to their eyeballs in debt and can't get a job because Burnett's cocksucker bosses might lose a quarter-point on their stock bonuses, and saying, "Wait a minute. How the fuck do credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligations and MERS benefit me in any way, directly or indirectly?" I mean, who you gonna believe -- Erin Burnett and Jim Cramer, or your own lyin' eyes?

The answer, of course, is that those alphabet-soup financial devices don't benefit you at all -- if anything, their only net effect on the average 'merkin is more debt and pain. That's where Erin Burnett comes in, to convince you that that pain you feel in your ass is not Lloyd Blankfein's tiny, barbed cock, but the invisible hand of the marketplace giving you a nice prostate massage.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

American Spring

It's a wonderful, terrible thing to watch the Occupy Wall Street protests. The belated but increasing corporate media coverage, as well as the prospects for the protests themselves, present some possible dilemmas.

First, the media. One could go back a couple years, and compare and contrast coverage of the teabaggers versus that of the OWSers. While some media observers surely did point out the incoherence and logical inconsistencies of the 'baggers and their proclaimed goals, just as many covered them almost reverently, as if they took the be-Rascalled tri-corner hats as a new wave of founding fathers, righteously battling an oppressive, indeed despotic, regime. Vituperative cranks hollering at hapless aldermen at local town hall meetings, and protest signs announcing that the bearers were unarmed "this time", were simply manifestations of this new breed of self-actualizing, totally-not-astroturfed codger.

The Occupiers, otoh, were portrayed (at least initially, and even still in many instances) as having no goals or leaders or stated political outcomes as such. And that's true, as far as it goes, but there's an actual reason for that, one which the media fails to comprehend so far.

The simplest way to put it is the old Upton Sinclair chestnut that it is impossible for someone to understand something when their paycheck depends on their not understanding it. But it is also ingrained, institutionalized in the corporate media DNA, to "properly" limn the narrative of a political story by long-established principles and benchmarks -- appointed spokespersons, bullet-point goals and negotiating tactics, etc.

It does not occur to your average corporate media bear that the OWS folks have quite clearly stated what they are pissed about -- a system that is rigged against the majority, that insists on practical impossibilities: that you can't get a decent job without going into hock for a degree, preferably a graduate degree; that the best time to look for a job is when you already have one, because apparently prospective employers smell rotting meat when an unemployed job-seeker walks in for an interview; that cutting taxes for corporations and financial insitutions is an imperative for job creation and growth, even though taxes have been at historic lows for a decade, and job creation has run at a net negative, while corporations outsource jobs and offshore revenues.

And that's not even touching on the too-big-too-fail banks sitting on reserves, refusing to lend or help jumpstart a moribund economy, continuing with the crooked derivatives that got them into trouble in the first place, pushing people out of their homes with retroactively falsified MERS and bullshit tranched promissory notes that no longer have identifiable holders because they've been sliced and diced and resold so often, etc.

It's a goddamn racket, folks, from A to Z. They don't even bother trying to conceal it anymore, one of the ancillary benefits of owning the political system outright, both the center-right and the far-right wings of the Corporate Party. That is what the OWSers are protesting, their complete economic and political disenfranchisement from a hollowed-out system. And they -- and by they, I mean the media and their owners -- know full fucking well what these people are fed up about, why they're risking being truncheoned and pepper-sprayed in their "free speech" cordons by chickenshit cops.

No doubt Lloyd and Jamie and the rest of the banksters are hoping for an early, frigid winter, the better to shut the rabble down forthwith, lest any substantial portion of the populace actually start believing this populist guff and daring to stand on their hind legs and be men. That simply would not stand, especially since the proles do have plenty of weaponry.

Wall Street is never willingly going to give in or even haggle with people -- literally everyone who is not on Wall Street -- they hold in such deep, unabiding contempt. Make no mistake, America -- Wall Street fucking hates you, considers you nothing more than sheep to be repeatedly fleeced, financial Soylent Green.

But it should be admitted and observed that, since in the conventional sense OWS does not have achievable, realistic outcomes to aim for -- the banksters are not going to voluntarily renegotiate their bloodsucking; unless OWS gets some measure of big, committed donors for candidates, they are not going to make a dent in what passes for a political system.

Certainly this doesn't mean their efforts aren't valid, worthy, even necessary -- they absolutely are, first as catharsis, then as curative, if possible. But "success", however one defines it for OWS, would seem to be automatically fraught with at least two noteworthy dangers: the inevitable attempt by someone from within the corrupt political system to co-opt them, or a (not necessarily inevitable, but not at all unlikely either) violently catalyzing event, a cop going full thug on a defenseless coed and provoking a riot, a lone nut in the crowd going after a bankster in person, that sort of black-swan game-changer that you just can't predict but resets the entire perception of the situation.

But those things are all different from a positive outcome, obviously a subjective, difficult-to-define thing to begin with. One dynamic is impossible to walk back from, though -- the spectacle of working-class people being told by millionaires that other working class people are the enemy, and worse yet, actually believing it, instead of their own lyin' eyes. I know Jay Gould wasn't bullshitting when he said he'd pay half the working class to kill the other half, but I still balk at the prospect of the first half actually falling for such a transparent ruse.

If the teabaggers actually believe their own stated precepts, and aren't simply a group of angry cranks that simply can't stand any government spending that doesn't benefit themselves, then they do have common cause with the OWS crowd. And for their own sake, they may want to find that common ground sooner rather than later, since the Koch brothers will sell their dumb asses down the river first chance.

Maybe the biggest takeaway of all is the quintessentially American notion of loudly supporting rebels and protesters in other countries, but denouncing the selfsame breed here as morons at best, traitors at worst.