Saturday, January 30, 2016

Hello Mutter, Hello Fodder

I've spent months beating into the ground the fish-in-a-barrel meme that Donald Trump's fan base is dumber than a box of rocks. And they are; that assessment has not (will not, cannot) change(d).

But as stupid as they are, they at least have the excuse of lifelong indifference, of being victims of a consumerist, star-fucking quasi-culture that rewards -- or at least refuses to punish -- the dumb and untalented. In that context, it makes sense that there would be a number of people who would be gulled by a professional smartass that has clogged their teevee sets off and on for several decades.

There is no longer a cultural mechanism that identifies and weeds out idiots and preening dipshits; indeed, they all seem to have their own shows. So it's galling, but not completely surprising, that a serially failed "businessman," whose main product is pretending to fire people who don't actually work for him, is hailed as an eminently successful genius. Sure, and the Kardashian sisters don't have any STDs.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has no such excuse. This is someone who for twenty-five years and counting has spun a narrative of organized, systematic persecution, most of it absolutely true. HRC has spent most of her time in the public eye embodying the classic phrase "just because you're paranoid doesn't mean someone's not really out to get you".

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Children of a Lesser Clod

Speaking of business failures trying to bamboozle morons about their track records, abortion kidnapper Carly Fiorina lit up the Trump-less Gooper debate tonight swinging the chain at her fellow vagina-owning candidate. I am definitely no fan of Hillary Clinton, but really, Fiorina's just awful in every respect. I don't know if she's self-funded or not; I assume that after her monkey-fuck of a Senate campaign here in Cali, she's learned to fleece some other group of idiots out of their money.

Which makes me happy; on the one hand, as much as I despise people like Trump and Cruz (and indeed, the entire rest of the GOP bottom-feeders), at least it makes some warped sense why people might support them. They have some self-reinforcing viability.

But what's the motivation for someone willing to tell a pollster at this stage of the game that they support one of the "margin of error" candidates? What sort of maroon is actually telling someone, "Yeah, I'm still holding out for Huckabee?"

The eternal question remains:  What's wrong with these people? That's okay, I still believe sincerely that it is utterly wrong to allow suckers to keep their money.

And yet, just as your average Breitbart comments thread turns into a pig-fucking contest before you scroll through a single screenshot, so too occasionally does your MoJo comments feed. I mean, these fucking people waste no time forgetting that the article is about what a shrill, nasty beast Carly Fiorina is, and instead devolve instantly into a Hillary vs. Bernie slugfest. Even with just two real candidates, Democrats waste no time in going full circular firing squad.

Some of the People All of the Time

You might not believe this, and I certainly wouldn't blame you, but I'm getting tired and bored of talking about Trump. I really just wish he'd fucking go away already, and never darken the world's doorstep again. Consistently the point of reference for my interest (which is also fading fast) is in the people who are itching to vote for him, who stand in line to listen to his moronic "my dad can beat up your dad" type of tautological jabber, and eat it right up and come back for more.

Dropping the Hammer

Looks like the militia finally got regulated. After giving these clowns a month to work out their toy army siege fantasies, it all came crashing to an end, ignominiously, on a snowy road to nowhere. Say this much for noted wearer of cowboy hats and tarps LaVoy Finicum -- he meant what he said about how he'd rather die than go to jail.

If anyone was going to get taken down in this, it was Finicum; while Ammon Bundy at least made the effort to present a calm, rational demeanor in his irrational endeavor, Finicum seemed to relish the opportunity to play up the Yosemite Sam stereotype.

It's too bad that someone had to die before something actually got done about this nonsense, but it's not like we didn't all see something like this coming up the road. Perhaps the only real surprise in all this is just how few of them there were -- twenty on all, counting Finicum, the eight that were arrested, and the eleven that remained afterward, most of whom have already been rolled up.

It will be interesting to see if the "movement" sees those low numbers and is disheartened by their measly turnout, or emboldened to step up the internuts recruitment efforts. This is the very essence of what fuels the various 5GW terrorist cells overseas, up to and including more notorious groups like al Qaeda and ISIS. The ease and flexibility of social media enables this sort of thing.

What sets the American domestic terror cells apart strategically is their lack of anonymity. They are so steeped in the bizarre connection between early Mormon land-poaching in the American West and a unique interpretation of certain Constitutional clauses, they just assume everyone's on their side because they're right. And they're not; just like cults inflicting their personal interpretations of Biblical or Quranic text on everyone else, they're simply re-reading the supreme law of the land to suit their personal purposes.

This is not some dopey "urban vs. rural" contretemps of condescension, this is simply a matter of what the appropriate avenues for protest are against laws we disagree with. To attempt to incite insurrection and subvert the Constitution is, not to put too fine a point on it, dangerous by definition, and in the hands of driven zealots, a singularly dangerous proposition. I may kvetch about the corrupted gubmint we live under, and the elites who run it for themselves and their dogsbodies in the media, but I have no illusions about what life would be like for any non-Bundy types in Bundystan.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

NFL Conference Championship Predictions

As much as I dislike the Patriots and Broncos, I have to admit that the final four team in the playoffs are also the best teams of their respective conferences. These should be good games, leading to a good Super Bowl. You can't say that every year. Place your bets, folks.

AFC Championship Game
New England (-3) at Denver:  Just what you always wanted, another Patsies-Donkeys showdown. It's a testament not only to the consistency of the two quarterbacks, but of the dearth of consistent competition in the rest of the AFC. Whether it's Tom Brady's bland, lifeless diet, or Peyton Manning's tedious fake audibles, there's something in this game for everyone to hate on. This is almost certainly Peyton Manning's final season, unless he has some sort of weird death wish, so this 17th matchup between the two quarterbacks is probably the last.

As for the game itself, the Patriots won their first ten games of the season before losing in Denver on November 29th, 30-24 in overtime. The Patsies' late-season fade, losing four of their final six games, cost them their top playoff seeding, which is why this game is in Denver rather than Foxborough. Denver has a middling offense at best, but their defense is first in total yards and passing yards allowed, third in rush yards, and fourth in points allowed. New England has one of the better offenses (except for their 30th-ranked rushing attack), and a mostly top-10 defense.

Manning is about as rested and healthy as he's going to get, but it's going to be the Donkeys' D that makes the difference in this one. New England's o-line is banged up, and Denver DC Wade Phillips is going to put the pressure on Brady all day. Fun fact #1: Denver is the only team in the league that Brady has a losing record against (6-8). Fun fact #2: Brady is the only one of the four starting QBs this weekend that was not a #1 overall draft pick -- yet he has three more winning Super Bowl rings than the other three QBs combined.
Final Score:  Broncos 21, Patriots 20

NFC Championship Game
Arizona (+3) at Carolina:  Either of these teams is better than the Broncos or Patriots, which should give you an idea of how the Super Bowl will roll (though I'm not 100% convinced that the Cardinals would beat the Patriots). Both Arizona and Carolina derped their respective ways through last week's divisional home stands, barely holding off clearly inferior opponents.

In the Panthers' case, they had the Seattle Seahawks down 31-0 at halftime before letting up and allowing Seattle to score 24 points in what was almost a legendary comeback. This is a highly disciplined unit that is unlikely to repeat that mistake. The Cardinals, on the other hand, were barely competitive against a wounded Packers team that Arizona had handily throttled just two weeks earlier. Only a fluke deflection touchdown saved them from what would have been an epic collapse.

Bruce Arians is a good coach, and one of the more colorful characters in the league. It would be nice to see Larry Fitzgerald get a ring. But it's a long trip to the East Coast, and the Panthers are also a well-coached team with a brutal defense, and a need to show that they can get a good team down and keep them there. Mark it right now:  the Carolina Panthers are going to win Super Bowl 50.
Final Score:  Panthers 30, Cardinals 17

[Update 1/28/16 10:00 PST:  Almost nailed the Pats-Donks score on the money, and even almost had the Cards' point total. But it's the Carolina Panthers that really showed me something with their dismantling of the hapless Cardinals who, while you wouldn't have known it to watch them against Carolina, had the top offense in the league, and were second in passing yards and points scored. I'll do a Super Bowl preview/prediction with all the specifics next Friday, after the injury rosters for the game are released, but right now the game looks like a mismatch much greater than the average spread (3.5 at the beginning of the week; currently 6.5 in most spreads) would indicate. Denver's defense is very good, no doubt; it got them this far. But the Panthers' D is just as good, maybe better in some respects, and their offense is much better than Denver's.]

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Widening Impunity

In the latest volley fired by the freeloading peckerwoods who illegally took over a federal building, and have yet to be brought to justice for it, some asshole drove all the way from New Mexico to Oregon to make a point that exists mostly in his fevered cranium:

A rancher from New Mexico renounced his U.S. Forest Service grazing contract at an event held Saturday by an armed group occupying a national wildlife refuge in Oregon to protest federal land use policies.

Adrian Sewell of Grant County, New Mexico, took the action at the event attended by about 120 people at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. A group led by Ammon Bundy began occupying the refuge in eastern Oregon on Jan. 2. The group plans to open the 300-square-mile refuge for cattle this spring.

Bundy has said the federal government has no authority to enforce federal grazing contracts with ranchers.

As a contract analyst for a local government agency, I can tell you definitively what you already know -- first, you don't cancel a contract with the government by symbolically ripping it up and proclaiming "I renounce thee, uncouth parchment!" three times; secondly, cancellation of any contract does not then magically entitle you to then use for free that which you were previously contracted to pay for.

These people disgust me, in a very deep and visceral way. Part of it is their obnoxious, overweening sense of entitlement, that because they raise beef cattle, they must (not should, must) be allowed to use as much public lands as they want, for as many cattle as they want, and not pay if they don't feel like it.

Let's not kid ourselves about this, folks -- this is an insurrection in the making, populated by dangerous, deranged, volatile people with a lot of high-powered weapons, and a righteous cause to use them for. Their goal is to spread the insurrection as far and wide as possible, to defy the gubmint to do anything about any of it, to provoke a violent confrontation.

The ironic part of all this is that you can bet that each and every one of these insurrectionists and their supporters were outraged at all the urban riots over the past year or so, local residents expressing their frustration extra-legally over the treatment they were receiving from their local law enforcement personnel. You can bet that not a single one of them gets the irony.

Again, we all get why the feebs don't want to dance with these shitbirds, but either the law means something or it doesn't; either we are all part of this nation and its laws or we are not. It's like being a little bit pregnant -- no such thing.

This has gone on for almost a full month now. The residents of Harney County have repeatedly asked these dickheads to leave. But the time for them being allowed to leave is over with; these fuckers need to go to jail, the sooner the better. What does the federal government of the United States of America plan to do to enforce its federal statutes, and prevent future instances from occurring? How many more decades will king of the deadbeat ranchers Cliven Bundy be allowed to owe millions of dollars, when reg'lar folks get collection notices and interest tacked on when they owe the IRS a few hundred bucks?

These traitors keep asking whose country this is. I'm wondering the same thing. Pretend they're black, if that's what it takes to get motivated to actually do something about this.

This Week In "Stupid People With Guns"

We've already heard about Track Palin and his Obama-induced PTSD. But here's another one that won't surprise you in the least:

RENTON, Wash. - A 40-year-old woman was seriously injured Thursday when she was shot in the chest inside a Renton movie theater, police said.

The shooting happened at around 8 p.m. at a movie theater at the The Landing in Renton during a showing of the film "13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi."

"It got about 15-20 minutes into the film and I believe the lady in front of us that got shot was actually talking to her husband or significant other and that's when we heard the loud pop," said one witness, who did not want to be identified. He was sitting 3 or 4 rows behind the man when the gun went off.
Just as witnesses realized it was a shooting, they saw the man make his way toward a nearby exit.
"We saw the lady, she was laying on the bench with a shot in her upper chest," a witness said.
Renton police believe the shooter may have been intoxicated at the time.
Police say the shooter's father called 911 Thursday night from his Newcastle home and told dispatchers his son was distraught and told him that he dropped his gun at a Renton movie theater and it discharged.
The 29-year-old suspect, who has not been identified, was booked into the King County jail on charges of investigation of felony assault.

Or this one:

A 27-year-old was in jail charged with murder Saturday after he allegedly shot and killed a Good Samaritan who tried to help him when he was stuck in the snow in North Carolina, police said.

Catawba County Sheriff Coy Reid said the suspect's car slid off the road and got stuck in snow outside Charlotte, on Friday.

Some people who were passing by stopped to help. Reid said that the group believed there was something wrong with the man, so they said they were going to call the police.

The suspect, identified as Marvin Lee, then jumped out of the car with a pistol and allegedly opened fire, Reid said.

"He shoots and hits one of them," Reid said, adding that the victim fell to the ground.

After that "he walks over and fires multiple shots into him," Reid added.

Here's how all three of these instances will go down:
  1. Track Palin will get out of jail and promise to clean up his act, and be allowed to keep his gun(s).
  2. The movie theater idiot in Washington will get his felony dropped to a misdemeanor because it was an "accident," and he might get a month in jail and some probation time, but be allowed to keep his gun(s).
  3. The North Carolina asshole will plead insanity, and probably not get away with it. However, at no point will anyone ask how a supposedly insane person got a gun so easily.
I have no proposals or suggestions. I do not know how to solve this problem. I simply think that when some fool misuses a firearm, it needs to be put out there as a reminder. The Second Amendment's biggest flaw is not its ambiguous wording, nor the intellectually dishonest interpretations of it. It's that it assumes equal competence and good intention of everyone, and people who live in the real world know that that just isn't true.

[Update 1/24/16 1:30 PST:  Here's a fun bonus story, courtesy of Mississippi, in which a gun-shop owner and his 17-year-old son were murdered in the shop by a father-son pair of angry customers (who were both wounded as well). Apparently this was all over a $25 service charge (probably a deposit toward the total, as is customary with most repair shops) for a firearm that had not yet been repaired. Assuming they survive, the killers can contemplate the cost-benefit analysis as they fend off their cellmates for the next twenty years or so.]


Although I suppose I read a lot more non-fiction than most people do, my usual intake is about 50-50 between fiction and non-fiction. And I don't really make distinctions between "popular" or "unknown" writers as a barometer of what's "good" or not; if it's good it's good. So I've been a huge fan of Stephen King's writing for most of my life, since probably about seventh grade, 1980 or so.

One of my favorite short stories of King's is Survivor Type, a perverse little number about a drug-smuggling surgeon who survives a plane crash and finds himself marooned on a remote Pacific atoll with nothing more than his wits, his surgical tools, and some heroin. Because it is Stephen King, you expect the natural goo and gore of a man slowly devouring himself, piece by piece, going mad the entire time.

What might be less expected, but is barely subtextualized, is how the demented drug-smuggling doctor tries to convince himself throughout, first as he amputates and eats a foot, then the other foot, working his way up each leg until he's eaten everything below the waist, that he will pull through this, that he can survive, that as bad as it gets, it is still worth surviving, that if a ship somehow came out of the horizon and pulled this raving half-man aboard, he could still rehabilitate himself and move on with the rest of his life.

Which brings us to the much-publicized anti-Trump manifesto released by National Review the other day. It's almost too sad and pathetic to watch, this marooned half-man thinking that there is some deus ex machina out there providentially about to restore his loss.

Putting the "Fun" in "Fundraising"

If you have a few shekels to spare this tax season, you should throw some at Jim Wright. He's been knocking some solid stuff for quite some time, and appears to make a hell of an artisanal birch salad bowl. You could also donate to Strix's efforts (though I don't see a PayPal link, so maybe not. Or Ed. Or any number of fine folks.

If you want to contribute to my random rambunctions and profane ruminations, the best way is actually to purchase something through my Amazon store pages (upper right sidebar).

All of this is strictly voluntary, of course. I think we all write because we have no other choice. This is how we all deal with the craziness of our times. If any of us were in it for "the money" we'd be fighting for space on a very crowded sidewalk.

It's just beer money. But it's good to know you're out there, that we're not just pissing in the wind. If you can't afford to give money, then just give a shout-out in comments.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Palin Terminal Stupid Disorder

Since the Arctic Sorceress swept down from the frozen tundra the other day to celebrate Peak Wingnut with Fuckface Von Clownstick, folks have speculated that she might have been drunk. Watch the video for yourself, if you've got the stones. She doesn't seem drunk at all to me.

But she did seem coked up, or on whatever "mother's little helper" legal scrip type of pill that has the same effect. Manic, rambling, incoherent, shrill, in love with her own catchphrases and bons mots -- all the usual characteristics we've come to know and loathe about her were cranked [snorts giant rail off huge square mirror with rock band logo won at county fair] up to eleven. Even Trump looked like he couldn't wait for her to shut the fuck up already.

So it turns out that at about the time Sarah Palin flew to Iowa to dump her word-salad benediction on yet another gaggle of witless morons, her oldest child, Track, flew into a drunken rage and beat up his girlfriend, threw her phone so she couldn't call for help, and held an AR-15 rifle against his own head, threatening to kill himself. Track Palin was then remanded to custody on fourth-degree (domestic violence) assault charges, and denied bail.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Trump and Trumper

You know, as much fun as it would be to watch Trumpalin blow up what's left of the GOP and defecate on the ruins, maybe it's time the grisly mama went home and took care of her kids, at least the ones who are still young enough to steer clear of their two oldest siblings' paths.

Nah, we're stuck with the fun, whether we want it or not. Might as well make the most of the tossed word salad.

It should be clear with every mention just who exactly these maroons represent -- other maroons. After letting her neglected "web channel" die of neglect (sure hope someone's back at the ranch making sure the younger Palins are getting fed), Miss Thang landed a gig at something called One America News Network. It does not require a particular gift for deconstructing agitprop code for that moniker to ring familiar bells.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Cruz Control

If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you. -- President Lyndon Baines Johnson

From the "couldn't happen to a nicer guy" file, it seems that 'murka's Favorite Comb-Forward, upset at someone approaching his yuuuge poll numbers, has decided to turn up the heat on noted immigrant Rafael Edward Cruz, Junior. (Bonus fun:  If you like Junior, you'll love Senior.)

Perhaps the most hilarious part of this is Chump's threat to file suit against Cruz for not being native-born:
When I file suits, I file real suits.
Yeah. Sure he does. Does George Stephanopoulos not have access to The Google, the better to challenge Chump's idiotic assertion with something along the lines of, "Really? Can you specify one of your lawsuits that didn't get tossed out of court, that was actually successful? What the hell is wrong with you?". That sort of thing.

Approval Process

Now that we're just about into primary season, get ready for the endless deluge of insufferable advice columns, smugly lecturing you on whom you need to vote for and why. Tell ya what -- let's just cancel the primary process and crown Hillary now, save everyone a lot of fucking time, money, and trouble.

I hate this goddamned process we have in this country, I hate the people who own it, who participate in it, and who write about it. Each and every one of those entities is fully committed -- whether they know it or not, whether they admit it or not -- to maintaining a vicious status quo, a system whose only purpose is to keep the proles tethered to a machine that milks them steadily, from birth to death, in an endless cycle of wage slavery and debt peonage.

The Negotiator

The US has made its second significant diplomatic agreement with Iran in less than a week, in getting four American political prisoners, including reporter Jason Rezaian, released from Iranian prison. Rational people would consider this (and the agreement earlier in the week, freeing 10 US sailors who had been detained in Iranian waters) a good thing. Of course, we don't live in a rational world, and perhaps we never really did.

This harks back to the nuclear deal with Iran last summer. The naysayers appear to be genuinely under the impression that negotiating is about getting everything you want, and fucking over the other party, whether by mere trickery or by the threat of force. Trump's campaign rallies have been full of this bellicose schtick, with Mister Man insisting that he would have "done better" in negotiating a nuclear agreement with Iran, "done better" in negotiating trade agreements with China (including, according to Trump, the impending Trans-Pacific Partnership, which China is not a party to), and forced Mexico to pay for a 2000-mile wall across the border.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Enough Is Enough

Can someone please explain why the feds have held off on taking any action at all against the (as Jim Wright poetically puts it) "bums with guns" at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. Two weeks into this and they've got people coming and going as they please, bringing and sending supplies, tearing down fences. And now you have environmental activists stepping up to confront these thieving peckerwoods, because their federal government doesn't have the fucking balls to do anything about this. Are they waiting for someone to get hurt or killed?

Playtime is over. We're two weeks into this now, and they're just digging in, like the parasites they are. No one wants a Waco, but this can easily be resolved without violence. But these assholes need to be taught that the law applies to them as well; whether they leave the refuge alive or dead is up to them, but they are not going straight back home either way. They are no longer free men. They are going to be taking an involuntary vacation in Club Fed for a while.

After the last couple years of urban rioting, some distinctions should be clear. Since rioters are typically armed only with things they can throw, riots get contained pretty quickly, and their participants are dispersed, truncheoned, and/or arrested within hours. Rioters that have guns typically get shot pretty quickly. Compare and contrast with the seizure of a federal building by a band of heavily armed lunatics with a bizarre political agenda -- something that, if it occurred in another country, would correctly be portrayed as extremism or terrorism.

Friday, January 15, 2016

NFL Divisional Playoff Predictions

Last week's predictions were a perfect 4-for-4 straight-up (but only 2-for-4 against the spread), but I'm avoiding the temptation to get cocky about it. Try to restrain yourself from putting all your Powerball winnings on these picks.

Kansas City (+5) at New England:  I'm rooting for the Chiefs in this one not because I'm sure they'll win or I've bought into all the hype about the "momentum" from their ongoing 11-game winning streak after a 1-5 start to the season. I'm rooting for them because, like most of America, I cannot stomach the prospect of yet another Brady-Manning SHOWDOWN for the AFC championship. Somebody has to come along and knock these teams off their respective perches, and this year is as good as any.

The Patsies are banged up, and Brady has no true #1 receiver. It's basically him and all-world tight end Rob Gronkowski, and whoever's running the ball this week. New England lost four of their last six regular-season games, including one at home, which is almost unheard of. The thing is, as bulletproof as they are at Gillette Stadium during the regular season, it turns out that in the nine playoff games played there since 2009, the Patriots have lost three of those games, including the 2010 dumper against their arch-rival Jets after a 14-2 regular season record.

Andy Reid is known for his terrible clock management, and the man looks he's never met an enchilada he didn't want to fuck, but he knows how to coach and motivate and coordinate teams. Alex Smith was a washout #1 overall pick with the 49ers, but that's mostly because he had four different offensive coordinators (and, of course, offenses) in four years there. Reid has constructed an offense that works around Smith's strengths, and in their season ender against the Raiders, as well as last week's wild-card blowout over a hapless Texans team, Smith has been finding his receivers and running like the second coming of Randall Cunningham.

The Chefs' real strength is their defense, however. Rookie cornerback Marcus Peters leads the team with eight interceptions, and is a legitimate candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Sack monster Justin Houston will be back. The Patsies never go down easy, but they might finally go down on this one.
Final Score:  Chiefs 34, Patriots 30

Green Bay (+4.5) at Arizona:  These teams just met two weeks ago in Arizona, and the Cardinals punished the Packers 38-8 (and that was by the end of the third quarter; it could easily have been much worse). After getting off to a 6-0 start, the Packers lost six of their last ten games, including their final two. Their running backs fumble at the worst times. Their defense is inconsistent. Their offensive line is a tattered piece of cheesecloth that might have been used by Vince Lombardi as a napkin.

The Cardinals have suddenly become the best team in the NFC West division, and one of the two or three best in their conference. Carson Palmer just turned 37, however, and if the Packers' defense can get to him early and often, they have a chance. But Palmer was sacked just 27 times in 16 games, while Rodgers was sacked 47 times, and Arizona's defense showed they could overpower Green Bay's o-line anytime they want. Whatever Bruce Arians is doing with this team, he should bottle and sell it.
Final Score:  Cardinals 37, Packers 20

Seattle (+3) at Carolina:  If you're tired of the insufferable bandwagoneering of Seahawks fans, this should be the game for you. The 15-1 Panthers have dominated their opponents all season long, ending the regular season with a nearly 200-point total differential. Seattle improved over the second half of the season after a lousy start, but they're really only in this game because of sheer luck, and Carolina will want to pay them back for last year's playoff defeat in Seattle. The Panthers have some key injuries on offense, but their defense is in good shape, and will punish Russell Wilson and his receivers and running backs. A Panthers-Cardinals conference championship game would be a matchup of the two best teams in the NFC, and it looks like it should happen.
Final Score:  Panthers 27, Seahawks 13

Pittsburgh (+5.5) at Denver:  The Steelers' starters at QB (Ben Roethlisberger), RB (LeVeon Bell), and WR (Antonio Brown) are all listed as out for this game. Bell has been out on injured reserve since early in the regular season, Brown is out under concussion protocol after Pacman Jones' nasty hit at the end of last week's wild-card game, and Roethlisberger may actually appear in this game at some point, but is not listed to start. The last time all three starters at those positions were out for a playoff game was 1979, when Houston Oilers faced that predicament, and still managed to beat the San Diego Chargers.

Denver's offense is not really in much better shape. Peyton Manning is listed to start, but his arm is mostly gone, and backup Brock Osweiler has been okay in his starts, but the Broncos have mostly relied on their top-rated defense to keep them in games. This is going to be one of those tedious defensive struggles, even more so if it snows. In the end, it's probably going to come down to the last team to have a short enough field at the end of the game to score a field goal.
Final Score:  Steelers 10, Broncos 6

[Update 1/17/16 7:00 PST:  And of course it's going to be Brady vs. Manning in the AFC after all, dammit. That's a shame, really, but as Manning is just about done, it is almost certainly the final such matchup. The Packers and Seahawks deserve some credit for making their games a lot more interesting than they should have been, but ultimately the best teams won each of the NFC games. And despite their letting Seattle back into the game after a 31-0 halftime lead, I'm convinced that the Panthers can beat either AFC team in a Super Bowl matchup. You don't need me to tell you that if Tommy Tuck Rule wins that fifth Super Bowl, the massholes will reach Peak Douchebag. It really is best for everyone concerned that the Patsies get shut down finally.]

The Outside Scoop

In order to continue with its premise of completely ignoring Senator Bernie Sanders and his Trump-sized crowds, as well as providing constant coverage of every little thing Trump does, the corporate media has to come up with other things to cover. This week's model revolves around putting Trump's current main rival for the coveted Iowa caucus vote, alien-in-a-human-suit Ted Cruz, under the spotlight. The idea here is to build up Cruz and then pit him against Trump. Spoiler alert:  they're both assholes.

Only in an ADD culture that no longer bothers to distinguish between has-beens and never-weres -- you know, the sort of interchangeable "hey, weren't you in...." saps that appeared on Trump's dopey fake-bidness show -- would it even be mentioned that a doddering cosplay hillbilly, whose stupid show jumped the shark a long time ago, is endorsing Cruz. So Phil Robertson thinks Ted Cruz would be a solid imperial custodian because Cruz believes in God and is willing to put on face paint and go duck hunting? Big fucking deal. Robertson also is on record as saying that liberals follow Satan and are worse than Stalin or the Nazis.

His idiot brother, whose schtick on the show is apparently to make people think he has a steel plate somewhere in his head, insists that atheists don't exist because they use the calendar and spend money. Yeah, if they HAD PRINCIPLES they'd live without money or knowing what day it is. Anyone taking advice from these goobers on picking good political leaders should be disenfranchised before they hurt someone. Fuck these morons in the neck with a rusty spoon.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

NFL Wild Card Predictions

It's that time of year again, where we attempt to brush off our withered pigskin prognostication skills, and make some semi-educated guesses as to the outcomes of the second-most corrupt sport. This opening weekend of the playoffs is highly unusual in that the Washington Redskins are the only home team favored to win, and none of the home-team starting quarterbacks has so much as a single playoff game under his belt. As always, no wagering.

Kansas City Chiefs (-3) at Houston Texans:  One of the more interesting matchups of the wild-card weekend, this is a tale of two teams that got off to miserable starts this season, before getting their respective acts together and finishing strong. The Chiefs overcame a 1-5 start to win their last ten games, barely losing out on the AFC West divisional title to the limping Denver Broncos. The Texans started off 1-6, then winning eight of their last nine and winning the lowly AFC South, which explains the injustice of a 9-7 team hosting an 11-5 team for a playoff game.

Both teams have achieved their competitive momentum with strong, aggressive defenses, and game-managing offenses that feature low-risk, low-yield playbooks. Kansas City's only win in that dismal 1-5 start was a 27-20 victory in Houston in the season opener, and Alex Smith has been a much more consistent quarterback than whichever former Tom Brady backup Houston coach Bill O'Brien has been stuck with starting. (It will be Brian Hoyer for this game.)
Final Score:  Chiefs 24, Texans 14

Pittsburgh Steelers (-2) at Cincinnati Bengals:  Playoff matchups between division rivals are always a coin flip, and it seems to be more true in the AFC North division. The Bengals and Steelers split their two division games this season, winning at each others' stadiums. Cincinnati started 8-0 before losing four of their last eight games, all to playoff-bound teams. Pittsburgh has been extremely sporadic and streaky throughout its 10-6 2015 campaign, with and without Ben Roethlisberger, who has overcome serious injuries this season to regain leadership over the team, and its strong 6-2 finish in the second half of the season.

The big problem for the hard-luck Bengals is, despite a 12-4 record and a home-field playoff game, is that there's a big drop-off from Andy Dalton to A.J. McCarron at quarterback. The Steelers' offense finished fifth in points scored, and third in passing yards and total yards. If McCarron falls behind early and can't figure out Pittsburgh's d-scheme, Cincinnati is headed for yet another one-and-done playoff run.
Final Score:  Steelers 31, Bengals 20

Seattle Seahawks (-4.5) at Minnesota Vikings:  The Seahawks, who crushed the Broncos in Super Bowl 48 and would have won #49 if their OC wasn't borderline retarded, limped to a 5-3 start this year before roaring to a 7-1 finish, without stud RB Marshawn Lynch. Those wins came at an average of nearly 20 points per game, including a 38-7 blowout in Minnesota just last month. Head coach Mike Zimmer has done a solid job in turning around a moribund Vikings team, but they are in the middle of the pack, while the Seahawks are top 5 in all offensive categories except passing yards (20th), and #1 or #2 in every major defensive category. This one could get ugly, even without Lynch.
Final Score:  Seahawks 38, Vikings 13

Green Bay Packers (+1) at Washington Redskins:  To call this a wild season for Washington would be a huge understatement. Hardly any major sports outlet predicted anything better than third place in the division, and maybe six wins for the year. The owner is a toxic asshole. The wife of the general manager was forced to apologize after accusing an ESPN reporter of sucking cock for access to news sources. The head coach, understanding that this was a fuck-or-walk season for his job, benched the franchise quarterback mid-season for a career backup.

And Jay Gruden's gamble paid off -- the 'skins went 4-2 in their weak NFC East division, and come in riding a four-game win streak. The offense is not great (10th in points scored, 11th in pass yards), but has been good enough to win when it needs to. They're hosting a playoff game when no realistic observer expected anything from them this year.

Green Bay, on the other hand, finished second in the NFC North, and so are the other team (besides Kansas City) that has a road playoff game against a team with a worse record. The Packers have simply not been the same since losing #1 WR Jordy Nelson in the preseason, though Aaron Rodgers has made the most of receivers James Jones and Randall Cobb. The game-ending Hail Mary to TE Richard Rodgers in Detroit last month probably saved the Pack's season, and chances are there aren't any other tricks like that in their bag.

Several things work in Green Bay's favor, however:  the Redskins' defense is bottom-10 in three of the four main defensive categories (rushing, passing, and total yards allowed; 17th in points allowed), which means Rodgers should be able to pick them apart with his arm and his extensive playoff experience. The Packers' defense is middling in most categories, but #6 in passing yards allowed, giving them a good chance to neutralize what has been Washington's main asset up to this point. This should be the main upset game of the weekend.
Final Score:  Packers 27, Redskins 21

[Update 1/10/16 9:30 PST:  Much as I'd love to take credit for picking all the winners this weekend, the fact is that Cincinnati and Minnesota really should have won their games. For the Bengals, it's a bit of karma -- at one point in their season opener at Oakland, in a rage over a block, Pacman Jones knocked Raiders rookie receiver Amari Cooper to the ground, sat on Cooper's chest, yanked Cooper's helmet off and beat Cooper's head against the helmet. That was Cooper's first game in the NFL, and instead of being ejected from the game, as it customary in such extreme instances, Jones was merely fined afterward, wasn't even penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct. To have their season end on Jones flipping out on somebody once again is perfect. As for Minnesota, that one just sucks, it's proof that there are no sure things in the league, especially for kickers. Onward to the divisionals!]

This Land Is My Land

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; -- US Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17

It's difficult to find a single thing about the bird-sanctuary "militia" that's even remotely agreeable, save the basic notion that mandatory minimums are bad policy and worse justice. Not that any of these self-righteous clowns would oppose mandatory minimum sentences for, say, a low-level drug dealer (especially if they're black).

It's true that these are ridiculous people, clowns even. And all the Vanilla ISIS/Y'all Qaeda/Yokel Haram smackdown is fun. But these people are serious, and heavily armed, and deeply committed to their deranged vision. And the supposedly tyrannical federal gubmint keeps letting them get away with it.

There is nothing patriotic or respectable about these people and this movement. Cliven Bundy and his ilk are nothing but a bunch of freeloading peckerwoods who sponge off the same gubmint they profess to hate. The senior Bundy hasn't paid his grazing fees -- already one-tenth of private market value -- in over twenty years, which prompted the last standoff with these assholes. Ammon Bundy has a half-million dollar SBA loan on his business. Since the old racist has fourteen grown children, it's entirely likely that more of his burgeoning brood grift the taxpayers in one way or another, and complain about it the entire time.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Dreams of Waco and Ruby Ridge

The essence of the true insurrectionist is to fantasize constantly that either the majority of his fellow citizens or god (usually both) are on his side, that they see what he sees. The fanatic's sincerity of mere belief does not magically render the beliefs as empirically accurate and provable, anymore than the insistence that you can fly will help you when you take a header off the Empire State Building.

Sincerity of belief simply morphs into rote, tautological affirmations. Think about the average Faux News viewer (but not for too long). They are not tuning in to get informed, but to be affirmed, to have their prejudices and incorrect assumptions spoon-fed back to them, preferably by some interchangeable bottle-blonde who probably gives spectacular head to someone with power and/or money.

As much as I loathe and disagree with those folks, I can't say as I completely blame them. The world is changing more quickly than many of us can keep up with it; indeed, it changes so constantly on so many fronts that it's difficult to imagine someone who can be in the game 100% of the time. Such a total consciousness would be mentally and physically crippling.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Ideological Consistency

Oh, so you're saying that a woman-hating, boy-raping death cult has different rules for different people, that when one of their "leaders" takes a break from molesting farm animals to butt-fuck a teenager, they kill the teenager? I, for one, am shocked. I guess we should expect more intellectual honesty from barbarian fanatics.

More seriously, you really want to defeat ISIS, like for reals? Are you sure? Because here's the thing -- while our so-called foreign policy geniuses want to focus on "enemy" (translation: states that don't want to be compliant clients) nations like Iran and Syria, they're not really the problem. The countries that are exacerbating the situation in various ways are our closest "allies" in the region:  Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Turkey.

One thing Obama's critics have right is that his foreign policy is a sheer clusterfuck, especially in the Middle East. It is at best ineffective in some areas of the region (the air-bombing campaign in ISIS territory), and is actually worsening the problem in other areas of the region (Yemen).

Saturday, January 02, 2016

A Modest Proposal

There are actual human beings out there who spend time spamming honest websites with their illiterate, bullshit promotions for knock-off merchandise. If each and every one of those folks, from Los Angeles to Putian, would kindly take a quick moment, put a gun in their mouths, and splatter their useless brains across the nearest wall, it would add net value to the planet. Obviously most of it is bot-deployed, but someone sets up the bots and the dummy sites. I wish they all had one neck so I could fucking break it for them.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Welcome to the Bungle

Let's start off the new year right, and take a look at several shootings around the country from the past week:

  • A Florida woman "accidentally" shot and killed her daughter, thinking she was an intruder.

“The homeowner’s story is consistent with the physical evidence and the witness’ statement,” the release states. “At this time, the incident appears to be an accidental shooting; however, the investigation is ongoing and it is considered to be an ‘open investigation.'”

The St. Cloud Police Department asked that media outlets not publish the names of the shooter and her husband, because the man is a police officer who has previously worked undercover. The victim’s mother works as an Osceola County Sheriff’s Office 911 dispatcher, the release states.

A 911 call captured the aftermath of the shooting, which was apparently confusing for those at the scene. In the call, a man can be heard telling a dispatcher that the victim “passed out,” saying she has a pacemaker and a heart problem. A woman later gets on the phone, and struggles to relay information to the dispatcher.

So the homeowners are a cop and a dispatcher, two people who are (even in Florida) presumably trained to observe and to handle stressful situations as they arise. Yet the "man" -- the police officer, mind you -- said nothing about shots being fired, he in fact lied and said she passed out because of her pacemaker. Oh, and we mustn't know the names of these lying morons, because they're cops.