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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Takin' Care of Business

Never were we told, we'd be bought and sold, when we were innocent. -- Fuel, Innocent

I missed this missive from Brother Orlov a couple weeks ago, but it is spot-on, as any casual observer should be able to tell. At least at the national level, your vote, even if it's not suppressed, even if it's "for" someone rather than merely "against" an opponent, is a waste, a piss in the wind, something to be ignored en masse.

This should be laid out in simple terms of procession, as often as possible:  The political system is owned and operated by a very small group of very wealthy individuals and corporations. This same oligarchical class also --coincidentally, mind you -- happens to own all of the major canals of disseminating points of information and discussion, not just the networks who provide content, but the physical modes by which said content is transported. To the extent that this class appears to tolerate any meaningful form of dissent or reform, it is almost entirely illusional.

Consider the rise and flail of one Barack Hussein Obama, who was seen at his first investiture in 2008 as a genuinely transformational figure, someone who not only could but desired to engage in systemic reform, and could communicate this on an intellectually honest level. Welp, how has that all turned out? You can -- and should -- defend Obama to a great extent by reiterating the blatant, shameless obstructionism of the teahadis in the House, but you must also accept that Obama has too often been diffident and passive in the face of their idiocy and hostility.

I said it when it happened, and I'll say it again -- there are two things that happened very early on after Obama's first election that he could and should have straightened out. The first incident occurred at the '08 Republican National Convention, where Joe Lieberman ratfucked Obama (and yes, you whinging assholes who are still crying about Ralph Nader, I want you to consider what sort of vice-president this shameless cocksucker would have been). The first thing Obama should have done after winning that election was wall-slam the esteemed senior fuckface from Connecticut and explain to him in no uncertain terms how shit was going to roll from here on out. Instead, he fucking hugged him. Shit, why don't you knit him a fucking sweater while you're at it, wash his car or something? Jesus H. Christ.

The second major opportunity missed was when Obama held a (giggle) health care address in September of 2009, and pigfucker Addison Graves "Call me Joe, because that's a man's name" Wilson decided to impress his colleagues by heckling Obama, shouting "You lie!" not once, but twice during the speech. Now, someone who's serious about not being pushed around by bidness-as-usual assholes would be on the phone to their party chairman the next day, and instruct them to spend $50m in the next election to push that motherless fuck out, if that's what it took. They gave it a token shot in 2010, but didn't even bother to run an opponent against Wilson in 2012. Balls to the wall, amirite?

You might (rightly) say, "Well, jeez, Heywood, what can ya do? We have to reach across the aisle, forge a consensus, politics is the art of the possible, blahbedy-blah-blah." Fair enough, and believe it or not, I agree with the principle of that. But I also recognize when a bully is trying to test defenses and pushbacks, and the only way, unfortunately, to beat such people back is to go full fucking apeshit on them. Before Obama had been in office for a full year, the Republicans understood that he was willing to take shit from them, and that bolstered their resolve to thumb their dicks and obstruct everything he proposed.

So when the honest post-mortem on this administration gets written, if it ever gets written, it will have to state at or near the top that one, Obama failed to accomplish much of what he said he'd do and set out to do; and two, that this was primarily because of an inability to assert himself convincingly with his opponents -- in short, people who laugh at you will never work with you or concede to you. On anything.

These days, I have two recurring dreams, desires, whatever you want to call them. One is some sort of rich-uncle windfall coming in, and I cash out and move to Costa Rica or Croatia or somewhere, and see what life is like outside the toxic circle. The second, more contemporaneous of these idealized visions is a scenario where "we" the "people" are presented by our corporate insect overlords with a "choice" between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush. And we say "fuck you very much," and act and react accordingly. We stop pretending, we stop legitimizing this bullshit, we stop hoping that someone, anyone upstairs gives a red-hot monkey-fuck about anyone besides themselves, we stop waiting for crumbs from the table that never seem to come.

I mean, neither of those things will ever happen, but one has to hold out some sense of hope.

Money Grab

I guess the thrill of hosting the Olympics is now officially gone, and good riddance. Notice that not a single one of the venues listed in the Deadspin article is in the US. Not that we're above that, mind you; there's never a shortage of municipalities begging to force its own citizens to build a playground for millionaires playing for teams owned by billionaires.

Watching the Olympics used to be a thrill when I was a kid; I still remember watching the Innsbruck and Montreal Games in 1976. There wasn't a particular favorite sport, but certainly the various "death on ice" events -- your bobsled, your giant slalom, etc., were exciting, the gymnasts were impressive, and the camaraderie and competition between athletes from various nations seemed evident.

But now it's just a big ol' hustle, stuffed with inane "human interest" stories and infinite commercials on an endless loop. I mean, they have to recoup the money somehow, we all get that. But it's about as entertaining and inspiring as watching flies fuck (as my kindly great-grandmother used to say in Sunday school).

Even people who enjoy watching sports -- and I'm definitely one of them; I watch a decent amount of NBA and MLB during playoff seasons, and am pretty much encyclopedic on college and pro football at this point -- have to admit that it's at best a diversion from real, pervasive issues, and at worst a system that grinds up the bodies of young men for the costly amusement of fans, the expense of taxpayers, and the benefit of owners only.

The Olympics have fallen into this trap as well; long ago, they abandoned the pretense of "amateur" -- as in, non-professional -- competitors on the world stage, which makes the whole thing even more of a shameless joke. It's sad, but it's up to people whether they want to keep supporting this racket or not.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Marketing to the Choir

Fundamentalists of any religion are, by definition, obsessed with their own certitude, and the need for everyone else to abide by their divine pipeline. I suppose the primary difference (and perhaps, if you'll pardon the pun, the saving grace) of the Christian fundamentalist, as opposed to the violent psychopathy of the Islamic fundamentalist, is that the Christian is first and foremost American, which means that his primary purpose is sales.

Case in point:  this guy, who has apparently written 25 books (probably all about the same thing, something along the lines of "Jesus really loves you, but God is getting sick of your decadent bullshit and will burn you in the fiery pits of hell for all eternity, so put down the cock!"). While the headline gulls one into believing that the article will describe "America's Greatest Moral Crisis," (which of course is abortion and homosexuality and such like, and totally not, as some hippie dude once put it, the love of money, so stop it you guys!) one is treated to such a cobbled-together pastiche of pull quotes and self-tributes, it becomes almost impossible to tell what parts of this slapdash exercise qualify as new, fresh thought.

I mean, it's still a damn sight better than whipping or executing people for being gay, or committing adultery, or marrying someone of another faith. But even a hard-boiled atheist skeptic wants to see a more challenging, developed level of thought and ideas in their faith-based counterparts, not this stylized ipse dixit jabber. Batman wants to go up against the Joker, not some junkie pickpocket trying to shake down little old ladies with a finger gun pointing through the pocket of his tattered hoodie. This transparent "buy one of my books" schtick, masquerading as a serious thought piece, is just downright embarrassing.

Plumbing the Depths

Folks, d'ya remember a cartoon character from the 2008 preznitential campaignsideshow, bald-headed galoot who went by the name "Joe the Plumber," who reified the teatard teleology of the self-made bootstrapper making his way in this socialist paradise, in spite of libtards' attempts to hold back his greatness? Yeah, that guy.

So apparently "Joe," in between plumbing gigs, has returned to his self-anointed role as vox populi for the low-forehead set, and written an "open letter" to gunsplain to the parents of the victims in the Isla Vista shooting, you know, 72 hours ago. Certainly no one else on the professional or amateur opinion-mongering circuit (uh, including your humble blog proprietor right here) has waited for the bodies to get cold before analyzing the situation.

But Wurzelbacher's trite, paranoid manifesto brings another dimension to the notion of, well, insensitivity. (Not to mention, you know, the ludicrous proposition that there was actually a person out there observing the coverage thus far of this tragedy, and saying to themselves, "You know what? I wonder what that 'Joe the Plumber' dude, the guy whose first name is not Joe and is not really a licensed plumber, thinks about this whole rotten mess.")

"[Y]our dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional rights"? Seriously, this is the best way to frame a response to a grieving father who just lost his kid hours before, who hasn't even had a chance to bury him? Who does this? Well, we know who does this, but still, as always -- what the hell is wrong with these people?

There's a minimal chance that any meaningful debate about gun control will arise from the Isla Vista tragedy, whether it's initiated by a grief-stricken parent or an opportunistic politician. In fact, no politician who isn't bulletproof in their incumbency will even suggest that any actual measures be taken. You know it, I know it, Richard Martinez knows it, the NRA knows it, and Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher knows it as well.

The public has become inured and desensitized to these events, as they happen with regularity, and the gun culture (there clearly is such a thing; in fact, of all the voices that clamor after these routine tragedies, theirs is always the loudest and most strident) steeps a sufficient amount of people, apparently besotted with action-movie heroism tropes, into sincerely believing that one thing that could have prevented or altered Elliot Rodger's bizarre rampage was a "good guy" with a gun.

And as I mentioned before, it's hard to tell exactly where any real suggestions as to gun control would have prevented this. Rodger purchased his guns legally, months ago, in California, which has rigorous background checks and waiting periods. Now, if Rodger had had to purchase insurance on the firearms he bought, the way he (or someone) had to pay insurance on the BMW and Mercedes daddy bought for him to drive around Santa Barbara, there might have been a different dynamic in play. Perhaps not, but the idea might have merit in discussion.

And this is where the gun activists lose the thread. For them, since the Second Amendment is a constitutional right and is therefore impermeable and unalterable, no discussion is allowed. There is no room for debate, because as far as they're concerned, it would be like debating the merits of breathing air, drinking water, eating food. (Of course, since these folks usually find themselves on the side of unconscionable polluters, those particular issues tend to resolve themselves with some regularity as well, as a cursory glance at red-state life expectancy will demonstrate.)

Of course some of the chatter, on either side, in the wake of tragedies like is going to be cynical, self-serving, opportunistic. But even honest questions and debate get shouted down now; even legitimate protests and disagreements are dealt with by intimidation and harassment. They may revere their immutable interpretation of the Second Amendment, but they clearly have nothing but contempt for the First.

Planet of the Apes

You know, there's rarely an opportunity missed to take cheap shots at 'murkin culcher burble, slack-jawed fish-in-a-barrel watch-the-neighbors-sort-their-sock-drawers crap that we all get saturated in, or the deeper, darker, oppression of minorities, gays, women, etc. Those things are all true.

Yet this sort of thing puts all of the above to shame. Or this. The people, the cultures that perpetrate "honor killing" or execution for "apostasy" are nothing more than a skid mark on humanity's collective underwear. They have nothing to offer, nothing to add to the world. It needs to be said.

Even when they're not murdering their daughters for imaginary transgressions, they oppress them every moment of their lives, covering them in beekeeper suits, marrying them to their own cousins, beating them to keep them cowed. They have a pathological hatred of women, one that makes your garden-variety pro-life goofball in America look like an amateur.

There are knuckle-dragging assholes everywhere, but the ones in the "Islamic republics" seem to be determined to show up everyone else. Folks, it ain't a contest. The rest of the world just looks at your toxic behavior and wonders what the hell is wrong with you.

[Update 5/29/14 19:00 PDT:  It gets better. These people are just all kinds of awesome.]

Monday, May 26, 2014

Ladies' Man

In the wake of the Isla Vista killings a couple days ago, it's certainly not shocking but might still catch some (including yours truly) unawares that there is something called a "pick-up artist [PUA] community." If you have the stomach to wade through such guff, you're a better person than me, but from the Slate article one can still glean the basics -- that these communities are populated by men who hate women (or at least view them as things to be acquired by any means necessary) and probably hate themselves and each other as well.

Certainly there are "alphas" and "betas" in this world, and the trope of the "nice guy" getting "friend-zoned" by his heart's desire is the staple of many a rom-com over the years. This is not in dispute. I suppose my puzzlement with this "community" thing of stratifying and stat-ifying "the game" is that, while it is a game, the rules are simpler than these doofuses seem to understand.

[Edit:  I had a half-dozen or so common-sense "rules" worked up for your entertainment, but decided to punt because it came out sounding uncomfortably close to these bro-douche PUA assholes. The basics of it should be obvious to anyone who isn't emotionally or socially stunted -- go out with your friends once in a while, because that's how you meet new people; don't overthink it or fixate on a person you barely know; be self-aware of things you may need to work on.

Perhaps most importantly, talk to women as if they're human beings, and not "objects" of your "affection." See previous advice about being self-aware. And relax -- you're trying to get laid, not come up with a cure for cancer. Look at some of the other folks getting laid. How hard can it be, really?]

You look at the self-inflicted trauma of someone like Elliot Rodger, and all you can do is wonder. Here's a kid who had money and toys at his disposal, and at least some connections that women would dig. But, uh, I'm gonna go out on a limb and speculate that anyone who barfs up a 140-page manifesto about he's going to torture and slaughter the whores who didn't see what a knight in shining armor he was, there's someone who could have benefited from the above Obvious Rules.

Same with the PUA guys. These poor bastards have channeled their inability to self reflect into this weird obsession with developing a method or process to snagging that smokin' hot babe. This sense of entitlement permeates popular culture; every year, there's a number of popular movies and teevee shows featuring some fat schlub punching way above his weight -- say, Kevin James married to Salma Hayek. Notice that this never happens in the opposite direction; you are never going to see a movie with, say, Melissa McCarthy married to Brad Pitt.

This gets reinforced and conditioned over the years, until you get a particular strain of tool who thinks he's entitled to the hottest chick in the room. These guys (okay, okay, I did check out the PUA site a bit; I had to rubberneck at the 50-car pile-up), once you drill down a bit, really seem to be motivated by the urge to "get back" at the cute chick they obsessed over in high school, but who failed to see their awesomeness and drop to her knees forthwith.

So they buy into this "neuro-linguistic programming" schtick, and think they can basically hypnotize or convince any woman they talk to into jumping their bones. Inevitably they are disappointed when they try out their "game" and it doesn't work. Or it does work, and they get laid, but fireworks and rainbows don't shoot out of her ass, and they feel gypped. After all, they were entitled to having their greatness validated.

Just as rape is not really a crime of sex, so much as a crime of power and assertion, so does this PUA thing come across less as an effort to find love or sex or even an emotional connection with another human being, but an attempt to claim status and peer recognition. Where most Americans have been properly conditioned to self-actualize by acquiring money and toys and jacked-up four-by pick-em-up trucks to compensate for lack of penile girth, these twits have convinced themselves that they need to overthink what, for even average guys, is one of the easier things in life to do -- get laid.

Press the Meat

Driftglass brings up some nice points regarding the esteemed institution of the Sunday morning punditocracy. One would think that the holiday weekend had a substantial role in yesterday's Meet the Press being pre-empted by F1 racing.

The question still remains, though:  who watches this shit, especially on a regular basis. Do you watch any of these idiotic Sunday morning fuckfests, do you know anyone who does? I sure as hell don't on both counts. Most people will say that life is too short, and weekends are spent in infinitely better ways than tuning in to liars being interviewed and analyzed by insular chumps.

These people are talking to each other, not to any of us. Politics, never a respectable pastime in the first place, is now rather transparently just another racket, in a nation run by rackets. It was already a foregone conclusion by the time the two-ply bumwipe known as Citizens United passed through SCOTUS (yet another American institution that has outlived its usefulness) like a pork tamale from a disreputable taco truck.

But the CU (next Tuesday) ruling sealed the deal, legitimized the blatantly transactional nature of the American political system. The total 2012 election spending topped $7 billion. More than $2 bn was spent by the two major candidates for president. The bulk of all that money was raised and/or donated by large contributors. It is not merely na├»ve to suppose that the large donors, and the corporations who own the networks which broadcast the Sunday morning follies, don't have directly vested interests in the outcomes of these rituals -- it is flat-out stupid to not understand intrinsically the power and purpose of those connections.

Chomsky laid this all out more than 25 years ago in Manufacturing Consent, but the point bears repeating -- there is no hidden, dark conspiracy, no oaths or rituals sworn in smoke-filled backrooms. This is all out in the open. The hyper-concentration of ownership of these resources is self-perpetuating, and anyone wanting to enter the game knows this before they even get into the game. Any and every talking head we gawp at on any given day, or time of day, knows what the rules are, without even having to have those rules explained to them.

For every outlier like, say, Bill Moyers, there are two hundred Erin Burnetts or David Gregorys. Hell, when was the last time you saw Noam Chomsky on your teevee, versus the usual rotation of known liars, calumniators, and just lazy thinkers, giving bad or false analysis of a situation they know jack shit about? These things are not by accident, but by design -- there are large, grotesque amounts of money in play these days, and these fuckers aren't taking any chances.

The buildup to the big Battle of the Dynasties, Hillary versus Jeb, will continue apace, people will show up like they think have a real choice, and then the second after the winner is anointed in 2016, the circle jerk to 2020 begins anew. It is an industry in the truest sense of the word.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Virgin Suicides

So we kick off our We Honor Our Soldiers With Bullshit Health Care Weekend with a massacre that has some strange locational and motivational parallels. More than anything, it's a deep, disturbing look into the fevered brain of a young man that should have had the world laid out right in front of him, but for some reason couldn't make anything of it. It's brutal to read, but provides a ton of context.

There is the temptation to blame the "gun culture", the NRA, and politicians for this horror. That's understandable; on a planet full of assholes, Wayne LaPierre certainly stands tall in that regard. And you could make a reasonable argument as to the Glock 34's standard 17-round (33 optional!) magazine capacity. But as of now, it appears that Elliot Rodger purchased his guns legally, went through California's waiting period and background checks, the whole nine yards.

If it were an illegally obtained AK-47, it would be a different story. It would be easy money chastising the usual gun nuts over their callous indifference to tragedies such as these. But this is not one of those instances, tragic as it is.

The more you read the excerpts of Rodger's sketchy manifesto, you have to wonder. In a world where most average schmucks seem to have few obstacles to getting laid, how is it that a privileged kid who drives high-end German automobiles, and whose dad just happens to be an assistant director on one of the hotter movie franchises right now, can't get any action? Who knows? The details will come out soon enough, if we allow ourselves to catch our collective breath.

Chances are, even if Rodger's fantasy had come true, it wouldn't have satisfied him, wouldn't have silenced whatever demons were driving him. As we all know (I mean you all have had sex before right?), sex is great, an important part of life, but people who have this vision built up in their heads of sex being the absolute pinnacle of human existence are inevitably doomed to disappointment.

These big, crazy tragedies happen far too often, because we are a big, crazy nation, desensitized to violence, attuned to easy sexual gratification, and affixed to social ranking amongst our peers. There is always the impulse to assume, to presume that Something Must (Or Can, Or Should) Be Done when these things happen. Sometimes we can do something, sometimes we can't. This is an example of the latter.

Given that Elliot Rodger appears to have legally purchased his firearm, as is his right, curtailing the existing rights of gun owners as a response would be as irresponsible and unreasonable as taking people's vehicles away as a response to David Attias mowing down coeds in his Saab thirteen years ago. Of course, the opposite will happen; nothing will be done and the whole terrible event will go down the memory hole with all the others. That's not much better.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Cowards

Over the years I think I've been a pretty consistent supporter of the 2nd Amendment as written, with reasonable constraints. This is based on the notion that, despite the unspeakable tragedies that almost routinely take place with firearms in these here Yewnighted States, it is simply unrealistic to try to engage in any meaningful confiscatory actions, given that there are more guns than people here; and more importantly, it is simply wrong (beyond enforcing and instituting reasonable regulations and restrictions) to punish the majority of responsible gun owners and users for the actions of a demented few.

That said, incidents like these [via Balloon Juice] certainly make a case for just saying fuck it, and taking away some toys from some assholes. I'm pretty sure that the Founding Fathers did not have these thumb-dick losers in mind when they conceived of armed self-defense against the encroachment of tyranny.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Preaching to the Choir in the Briar Patch

Elaborating a little further on "Benghazigategate", which is to Fux News what the missing Malaysian jet is to CNN, a steaming fnord in the punch bowl, meant explicitly to distract folks from anything of actual import. Again, Congressman Car Alarm and his merry band of idiots know full well that there is no there there, that compared to US Embassy deaths in the past, the most damning thing about Benghazi is that it was a PR fuck-up.

I shouldn't have to say this, but I do anyway -- that is not to minimize the tragic, violent death of foreign service personnel, but simply to point out that dozens of people were killed in multiple incidents around the world during Fredo's tenure, and no one said jack shit. In Beirut in the early '80s, between the US Embassy and Marine barracks attacks, over 300 people were lost, and there were glaring security issues in the latter attack that should have gotten someone's ass whipped.

And that's not even to mention the weird fact that some of the most strident criers of this particular "wolf!" are the same folks who voted to defund embassy security. So, you know, fuck you and the horse you rode in on, fellas.

Now, all that said, I think it's a splendid thing for these folks to continue with their obsession, and I think the Democrats should (and probably do, but won't say so) embrace it as well. For one, it is only going to get the base to vote in the midterms, it will not sway or convince a single person truly on the proverbial fence. It is of no strategic use.

Second, and maybe this is just my personal preference, the only possible long-term outcome of obsessing over this nothingburger is that it sticks to Hillary Clinton's "my turn" presidential campaign, and that would be just fine. It is a sad state of affairs when, in a fairly sophisticated nation of 320 million people, and a hyperactive electoral industry with dollars flowing through it like water through Niagara Falls, the best our "two" parties can come up with are Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush.

Let me be even more clear:  if the "choice" in 2016 comes down to Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, then we might as well just dispense with the endless campaign, the tedious analysis, the useless debates, and just have a fucking coin toss at the Super Bowl, and not bother to look at the result. It would be as explicit an indicator of the truth about the political system as one could imagine, the open acknowledgement that your vote is worthless, outcomes are inevitable, and the best you can hope for is for some rich tool to toss you a better piece of flotsam on which to weather an endless storm.

Don't get me wrong. If it comes down to Clinton versus whatever clown-shoes psychopath the Republicans roll out, you hold your nose and vote for her, and hope next time there'll be a better choice, just like you've done since day one. This is based on the presumption that at least the Democratic candidate has at least a slight chance of being marginally less catastrophic to the interests of what remains of the American working class.

It's just that it is always going to be this way, and it is not an accident but by design, and the only way to make it stop is to, well, make it stop.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

It's Getting Drafty

OK, it's official -- with all the scheduling maneuvers and extensions, the hype and the barrage of ridonkulous mock drafts, the NFL draft has gotten completely out of hand. Already the hype has gotten to where folks are openly speculating if it might be pushed back yet another week, and extended to four days.

All this for something that the most rigorous statistical analysis imaginable can realistically characterize as a crapshoot. It's stunning to consider, even more so when factoring in the NCAA's recent problems with college players suddenly wanting to, you know, get paid for the profit they add to their schools' balance sheets.

These are situations and dynamics which will continue to get more, not less, problematic. The prognostication industry, despite its newer and better econometric regression analysis tools and formulas, is no better at determining how a random human being will work out with a team of random human beings, run by yet another staff of random human beings.

This is relevant because, at its cold heart, the NFL is a corporation, and as such, is a fairly rational indicator of business behavior and expectations. Modes of strategy, tactics, leadership, motivation, and especially public relations are inherent in virtually any NFL activity. So at the very least, it will be interesting to see how the corporation handles its eventual overreach in extending what used to be a fairly routine, mundane annual task.

Without a Prayer

As far as praying in public events goes, I feel about the same as I do about religious artyfacts or farting in public -- as long as everyone gets their shot in, fine. I have a feeling that the good folk of this or that sectarian township will righteously bristle when approached by members of a less popular cause, but c'est la vie, connards.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Cabin Fever

The Benghazi fever can probably be cured with more cowbell, but honestly, why bother or worry? This is one of those pointless things that will convert or motivate absolutely no one; statistically, there is virtually no living human who is going to look at this ongoing handjob and say to themselves, "Self, I was going to vote for the Democratic candidate in these here midterms, but because of the vague, unfounded speculations surrounding the Benghazi attack, I'm going to go right ahead and vote against my rational self-interest, and endorse the red-assed baboon that the Republicans are running. While I'm at it, I'll just hit myself in the head with a hammer or a large rock for a while."

But hey, whatever. Look, instead of griping about the ludicrous idiocy of the House Republicans, maybe start running some viable candidates and putting some real money behind them. I mean, Darrell Issa is not really Jesus H. Christ, he just thinks he is.

Qualifications

Can someone kindly explain why, in a job market where thousands of people holding master's degrees are either looking for work or holding jobs way beneath their skill levels, David Brooks is still employed? Seriously, if one were to sit down and scrutinize each individual player in the professional pundit industry, they'd come away completely perplexed.

Or, you know, with a deeper understanding of why utter morons are entrusted with the important job of manufacturing acceptable opinion and consent. It is neither accident nor mere circumstance that you'll see someone like Bobo on your teevee a hundred times for every occasion that, say, Noam Chomsky is allowed anywhere near a corporate media newsotainment program.

By now, Bobo should have massive arms, from carrying water for his dark overlords lo these many decades. Strangely, he still looks like he's made of pipe cleaners and broken dreams.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Lost Cause

From the "better late than never movie review" files, here's a quick rundown of 12 Years a Slave:  it's a lavishly photographed, brilliantly executed, disgusting, appalling film. It is in fact, I believe, meant to be all of those things, and as such, fits well into my wabi-sabi view of the universe.

And yet, it also transcends that aesthetic, in that when viewing movies such as 12 Years or Django Unchained, I inevitably come away thinking that William Tecumseh Sherman let them off too easy, that if there had been atomic bombs and daisy cutters at the time, the confederacy sorely deserved to have flaming hell visited upon them.

While the national media gets its periodic moral enema on over the Donald Sterling kerfuffle, some things need to be put into perspective:  one, that Sterling is 80 years old, and a billionaire, so banning him from the NBA "for life" means less than folks might like it to; and two, the media abandoned tealoading welfare rancher Cliven Bundy way too quickly, perhaps because Bundy's own people spotted him granting interviews whilst holding a dead calf, and thus realized because of that, that their boy might just be shithouse-rat crayzay.

Bundy's comments ("I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro") deserve more scrutiny in this light. What films like 12 Years (and to a lesser degree, Django) make clear is what more astute observers such as Ta-Nehisi Coates have been elucidating -- that this dynamic is and was systemic, and that, no matter how often these "those darn racist bastards" stories crop up in the media, things don't just magically wash out that cleanly. There are any number of studies showing hard numbers on the discrepancy of education for inner-city schools, or for numbers of black men imprisoned, versus other races.

Because Cliven Bundy was primarily a conservatard cause celebre, once he made his bed, his conserva-buddies were the first to jump ship on his ass. They have a hard enough time as it is convincing non-whites to vote or even listen to them, they don't need this asshole mucking things up for them.

And yet, it is only sensible and just to continue exploring the motifs behind someone like Bundy. Recall that this started with Bundy as a would-be insurrectionist, replete with armed supporters ready to square off with the feds over someone else's right to graze cattle on public lands. The Hannity types were just fine with all that, not just because Black President, but because Democratic President. They will pull this shit and more on the next one, and the one after that. Anything and everything to distract and obstruct.

So we've got the crazy established, but it went up another substantial notch. Again, Bundy's comments re "the Negro" were not so much merely insensitive as thuggishly clueless, the musings of a person who seems genuinely not to understand why they shouldn't bludgeon a beloved pet.

The only thing a thoughtless dickweed like Cliven Bundy will understand, in the wake of his revolting "I wuz jes' wondrin'" comments, is to be forced to pick cotton all day under the hot sun and the lash of the whip, and then to watch 12 Years over and over again until he gets it. Until they all get it, that even if there were "nice" plantation owners and slave masters -- and common sense should tell you that such people were either non-existent, or a less-than-1% minority -- it doesn't matter.

This was a system of owning human beings as property, using any manner of violence -- rape, murder, torture, maiming, breaking up families -- to do so. There is no excuse for continuing to defend what is and always has been completely indefensible.

I don't know why this is so fucking hard for them, but such people deserve no mercy in the court of public opinion.