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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Them or Us

It's interesting, and perhaps revealing, that from what I've seen so far, the most incisive and in-depth coverage of the Duggar scandal seems to be coming from "gossip" oriented sites such as Gawker and Jezebel. Not in the "hey, let's revisit the creepy details of teenaged Josh Duggar fingering his sisters while they sleep" sense, but in the much more important "do y'all know what these fucking people fervently believe and preach" sense.

And while of course it's sad and awful about the specifics of what Josh Duggar has admitted to doing, the fact is that the sisters in question are all adults now. They can leave the cult any time they want, get away from the parents who chose their brother over them, simply because he has a penis and they're just females, pure chattel. That they so far have chosen to stick with it is proof that Stockholm syndrome is a thing.

Probably due to these sites' typically snarky, irreverent tone on virtually any and every subject, they are much better suited to tackling this sort of story than any network news org would bother with. Looking not only at the Duggar family but at the individuals and organizations that underpin their belief system, as well as the entire Quiverfull cult (it's a "movement" much like the eight-pound growler I had after surf-and-turf and oatmeal stout the other night), and understanding what their overall goals really are is critical.

Prince Shembo Needs to Do the Right Thing

In college, he got away with raping a coed, and having the muscle of Notre Dame behind him to slut-shame the poor girl into killing herself. (Yet another reason Notre Dame sucks and should burn to the ground, with everyone that harassed her in it.) Now Prince Shembo is finally being held accountable -- but for kicking his girlfriend's Yorkie to death.. Yes, a 6'2", 235# professional athlete decided to turn a six-pound purse dog into hamburger. Real tough guy there.

People like this are simply proof that the world has far too many goddamned people, who do nothing but take and consume and abuse and cause harm. They add no value to the world, they just take up space and oxygen and precious water. It might be something if once in a while, one of these useless humps sees themselves in a mirror and asks themselves why they bother, why they persist, why instead of seeking to quell their inner demons, they are content to inflict them on everyone around them.

Prince Shembo probably doesn't realize it or believe it, but his NFL career is over. The league has had enough bad press and stupid moves over the last year, and it doesn't need another shithead animal abuser hurting the brand. No team will touch this asshole, he's toxic. Ordinarily that might be enough punishment, but he's also got the blood of a nice girl on his hands, and gives far less than a fuck about her.

This is another one of those infinite cases where you wish Nature, in all her supposed wisdom, could maybe be a bit more selective about culling the fucktards from the herd.

Notes from the Underground

Here's how the justice system really works, for those taking notes:  Ross Ulbricht's big mistake was that he was not a commercial banking entity, slapping envelopes swollen with filthy pelf into the proper palms, the usual route to legitimizing an ugly business. Had he remembered (or been able) to render unto Caesar, he could have avoided this whole sordid mess. When it comes to drugs and finance, the crime in question is never the crime itself, it's making sure the right scumbags have been appropriately greased.

I don't want to hear any of this bullshit about how Silk Road sold substances that ultimately killed people. HSBC laundered money for fucking cartels, who not only kill idiots secondhand with illicit substances, but murder people in the ugliest, crudest, most medieval manners you can conceive of. The judge who sentenced Ulbricht needs to read The Power of the Dog and get back to us on how this sort of thing protects anyone, saves a single life.

Look. There's some creepy shit on the deep web, no two ways about it. But it's not like anyone has done anything about it before. Only when someone started figuring out how to make not only his own money, but his own currency, did it become a problem. This should at least clarify what the priorities are.

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Blind Poacher

Perhaps it's a symptom of my end-stage cynicism, but the first thing I thought of when I saw that this rare antelope is being suddenly wiped out by some mystery disease is that this asshole probably needs to round up his "conservationist" buddies and go "save" some antelopes. I mean, shit, how's an over-moneyed tool supposed to compensate for lack of penis and honest work, if he can't pay more than most people will earn in a decade to kill an endangered animal?

If there's any lesson to be found in all this, it's that Mother Nature, in all her wisdom, quite frequently turns out to be scattershot in the creatures she selects for elimination.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Politics By Other Means

So apparently the USDOJ has decided to step in and do something about widespread corruption in soccer's governing body, FIFA. Anyone else find this a bit weird?

In America, we decide who will be imperial custodian for the next four years -- thus serving as the figurehead for the decisions on where our perpetual-war-for-perpetual-peace campaign will touch down next -- by letting billionaires throw impossible amounts of money at a permanent-campaign machine, in order to provide the illusion of choice, between two maroons whom you wouldn't trust to clean your rain gutters. It is a system rife with incompetence, hypocrisy, nepotism, influence peddling, voting fraud and intimidation, ignorant and deceptive analysis from unqualified commentators, and worse. Its principal figures would, in a rational universe, be frog-marched to the nearest penitentiary, or at least be forced to find an honest means of employment.

The rest of the world, weary from the industrial-scale death and destruction of the previous century, have chosen to place their collective faith in institutions, especially international sports institutions, such as FIFA and the International Olympic Committee, both of which abide banana-republic levels of corruption as a matter of routine operations. That the appropriately-named Sepp Blatter is a crude peddler of thick envelopes is of little concern to the billions of fans who sublimate their violent urges through a frequently scoreless game that gets decided on penalty kicks.

Where the average 'murkin, steeped in his usual jingo juices and misunderstandings of history and geopolitics, really doesn't know all that much about the finer details of what his country's up to (not that it would matter; even if he knew, he still wouldn't care), the average Euro knows exactly what FIFA and the IOC are all about. Last year's World Cup in Brazil, with practically single-use stadia being built out in the middle of nowhere, and favelas being cleared both for last year's Cup and next year's Olympics, made it pretty clear that this is How Business Is Done in much of the world -- a stroke of the pen, the passing of cash-stuffed valises, the barrel of a gun.

Not that we're shocked at the morality of all that, come on. Our problem is that we got left out. The US Soccer Federation lobbied pretty hard for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids, we obviously already have high-capacity football stadiums all over the country, and to get shut out of those opportunities was unacceptable. Especially to lose out to a sweaty, oppressive bunghole like Qatar, which will have to spend an estimated $220 billion (yes, $220B; that is not a typo) to build transport capacity and temperature-controlled stadia, presumably with the bones of their enslaved, abused migrant workers.

There is some serious money to be made here, and some openly corrupt dickhead Euro with a silly name has decided to shut American interests out of the picture, precisely because we already have the highways and venues. These sports events have become nothing more than a way for international construction conglomerates to get excuses to build make-work infrastructural upgrades. There's not nearly as much money in holding these events in places that already have those things. That's all any of this is about. Dio Fa!

News of the Weird

I don't mean to be insensitive [Ed.:  Since when?] that a man drowned trying to save his cat. But, uh, and I'm just asking for a friend, who takes a cat canoeing?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The C Word

Some people find religion, in the comparative sense, fascinating. I am not one of those people. Sure, I get the idea that a system of proscribed mores and values can help provide comfort and solace in a violent, chaotic, entropic universe full of unexplainable -- and indeed unfair -- events and entities. It is the warm pink blanky that can grant purpose and meaning to someone who might otherwise not see any point to enduring a brutish existence.

The part of religion I do find interesting is how people can get caught up in more, let's say, dogmatic and rigid belief systems, especially those without any cultural standing or acceptance. In other words, cults. Now, like any good atheist I tend to subscribe to the notion that a "cult" is simply a religion that hasn't been around long enough to gain wide acceptance. But I think we can also describe pretty clear qualitative differences between, say, Judaism and the FLDS (or even mainstream Mormonism and the FLDS). It is a strange phenomenon to watch people who are willing to join and stay with a club that subjugates and abuses them as part of official policy. It's the worst form of Stockholm syndrome.

You may have watched the recent Alex Gibney doc Going Clear, a rather energetic broadside against Scientology that premiered on HBO last month. It's well-made, if not ideally sourced, and perhaps the most contentious section is the now well-known Xenu backstory that is revealed to adherents when they pass the coveted Operating Thetan 3 (aka OT III) level. This mythos is held as prima facie evidence that Scientology is a cult founded by a crackpot.

It's difficult to contest that assertion, except to note that pretty much all religions, mainstream and otherwise, have these types of stories built into them, either as creation mythos or as supporting evidence of certitude (for example, Jesus rising from the dead three days after being crucified). These stories serve two primary purposes:  one, to provide a colorful metaphor to convey some key component of the religion's belief system or pantheon; two, to challenge adherents to take that proverbial leap of faith (it is, after all, a leap of faith and not a leap of reason, n'est-ce pas?).

Saturday, May 23, 2015

5 Kids and Counting

So, how 'bout them Duggars, amirite? The actual details of what Josh Duggar did to four of his sisters and another girl he was babysitting are pretty bad, though not by the standards of what your average social worker sees routinely.

What makes it worse is that, if you do the math, when Josh was 14, his next four sisters would have been 12, 11, 10, and 9 (depending on the dates of the incident(s), the younger two girls may have been 9 and 8). It's hard to tell from the heavily-redacted police report in the In Touch article what the age was of the non-related girl. But this is all pretty bad shit, worse when you make your living humping the country's leg about their moral decline.

Certainly the timing of this story is politically convenient, seeing as how all the events, including the belated investigation, are a decade old or more. It would not be surprising at all to find the fingerprints of whatever ratfucking scumbag Hillary Clinton has running the dirty ops arm of her campaign team. But that is entirely the fault of the asshole conservatard industry, who accumulate money and power lecturing the peons on their personal lives and choices, rather than doing a single goddamned thing to empower them and help them get their lives together.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

The Myth of Reason

Per usual, Driftglass hits it right on the head with the "reasonable conservative" columnists, your Bobos and Frums and Gersons and such like. Brooks, despite his current ongoing emotional meltdown, continues to peddle his pablum in both column and book form, platitudinous observations as to the nature of tradition and character and constancy, sweet constancy. (No link to Bobo's book; I will not be your enabler. Use the Google if you must, and vaya con dios with that.)

The trouble with these middle-aged lackeys and their fusty observations is obvious -- aside from the fact that even their words wear black socks and flip-flops, they collude to present a sensible face on what has become a lurching, shambling, mauling creature of destruction. The idea that, as Driftglass point out, an experienced hack like Frum can (presumably with a straight face) assert that the "liberal left" lead the United States shows that either Frum is a smoother liar than he lets on, or the spectrum shifted tectonically without him -- again, a career professional in peddling this nonsense -- even noticing. Surely the ripples in his empty backyard swimming pool must have hinted at something.

Our collective political perspective has shifted drastically, to the point that Democrats are conservatives and Republicans are authoritarians, and any true liberals remaining are sure to be harangued into voting for Hillary, as early and often as possible. It has taken place in perfect coordination, coincidental or not, with the rise of the permanent campaign and its ancillary industries, with the rise in the money machine behind it.

It never stops anymore, will never stop anymore until public campaign financing takes precedence in some meaningful way (which will never happen). There's just too much money in the machine for the industry players to walk away from; we can blame the Koch brothers and their assorted parasites and dogsbodies, but the fact of the matter is that all that filthy pelf is going into someone's pocket, mostly into the maw of the multi-armed PR monster.

And so your reasonable middle-aged male columnists, their verbal libidos flagging in accord with their physical ones, engage in a different, more financially rewarding type of sexual congress -- weekly attempting to slather a sensible face on a party that now routinely engages in the utterly indefensible. That such diehard, shameless intellectual fraud has not only been elevated, but become an institution in "mainstream" discourse, shows how far we continue to fall.

Race to the Bottom

Matt Henry's photo.During the recent riots over Freddie Gray's completely unnecessary death in police custody, this meme gained some traction in the usual social media circles, where the hamster-like urge to press an easy outrage button is constant and relentless, and the desire to control one's baser impulses and think for a second tends to be suppressed. Unfortunately, this crap is common, pervasive, unavoidable -- and worst of all, is not really open for debate, unless you enjoy throwing your time down a virtual rathole, like used toilet paper. People who think this way are not looking to be convinced otherwise.

Maybe the strangest part of this is that the folks in my circle who were posting and commenting on this nonsense have no experience or knowledge about the case, the city, or urban dysphoria in general. They've grown up in rural communities with almost no black population. Hell, they haven't even watched The Wire. But they just know what those people are predisposed to, so it's this hardy-har-har bullshit about shiftless check-cashers mindlessly destroying everything for no reason at all. They are literally more concerned, more upset, over a CVS getting its windows broken than a young man getting rolled up by the people who are entrusted to protect and serve the community, and ending up somehow with a broken neck.

Now, it would be simple to attribute all that guff to basic racism, but I don't think that's quite it. It's a lack of understanding, coupled with a true belief in the virtues of bootstrapping, and a true ignorance of the realities of urban life. The commenters and posters -- at least the ones I know -- all had parents, teachers, and even cops who all cared about them, knew who they were, lived in the community and cared about it. It does not occur to the brave meme warriors that the corner kids in Baltimore have frequently lived their entire lives without any of those things. All of their institutions have failed them utterly. It could have been the murder of Freddie Gray, it could have been anything. But at some point a sufficient number of these citizens -- and yes, they are citizens of the United States of America -- find themselves tired of being trapped in the failure, the indifference, the daily viciousness.

It was okey-doke when KlavernCliven Bundy's snipers trained their scopes on federal officers attempting to enforce the law, an open insurrection for an openly racist asshole who thinks the country owes his ranch business rent-free land. But when people who have been undermined for generations, redlined, ghettoized, disenfranchised, disempowered, disemployed, have reached their limit, suddenly the whole world's come apart, the center cannot hold.

What escapes the rurals is that the rioters are not necessarily or only protesting whitey. Blacks know that black politicians and teachers and cops have failed them as well. This is about institutions and socioeconomic injustice at least as much as it is about racial injustice. White rural people need to learn that they have much more in common with urban black people that with rich white people. Guess who doesn't want them to figure that out, in this gilded age where the ethical descendants of Jay Gould continue to pay half of the working class to kill the other half?

So when I hear the notion of "safe spaces" being floated at public universities, I say that maybe people have got the wrong end of the stick here. I think that white people who are willing to listen -- and they may be difficult to find -- might be willing to learn. They need to hear these stories, at least as much as members of aggrieved groups need to commiserate. This is the sort of thing that unfortunately feeds the ofay white paranoia that thwarts real progress.