Thursday, February 25, 2016

Punch Drunk

I managed to stomach just a precious few minutes of tonight's circle jerk, but apparently I caught most of the highlights. Obviously, it's down to fuck-or-walk for Cruz and especially Rubio, in that they needed to learn to start cockpunching back if they were going to make any headway against Herr Drumpf.

We don't even need to wait for hindsight on this clusterfuck to see how consistently this "deep bench" managed to hand it over to Trump, over and over and over again. It begins with there simply being too many of them to begin with, preventing a consolidation of opposition. Plus they're all just fucking horrible; it's a sad state of affairs that of the five remaining candidates, as awful as Trump is, he may be the least awful of them.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Suck My Caucus

Jesus H. Christ, it's like Nevada looked at the shitshows in the previous three states and said, "Not clusterfucky enough. We can do better." And by god they did. Wonder how many of the Trumpalos voted two or six or twelve times. It's not like anyone bothered to keep track.

Pro tip:  it's pretty simple to blow the competition out of the water when the ballot workers are in the can for you.

We like to tell ourselves that we have the freest, fairest election process anywhere, that it is the envy of all other nations. Come on. Has there been a single primary yet, from either party, that wasn't janky, that didn't have shenanigans? Coin flips in Iowa for the Democrats, compromised counting processes in Nevada for the Republicans. Jimmy Carter couldn't keep these fucking lowlifes honest.

And now Trump is signaling for people who protest at his rallies to be beaten for having the nerve to exercise their First Amendment rights. The slackjawed goobers who populate the rallies love it, because they, like he, are proud of their jingoism and authoritarianism. It's only a matter of time before one of these putsches turn into an Altamont, and shit will have gotten real. Even that may not derail Trump; the fact is that he has given voice to the most disturbing segment of American politics right now, not just because they come as nativists and racists, but because they're so paranoid, and so over the top about it. And no amount of factual information can sway them from their wittle feewings. It's like arguing with a bunch of pissy four-year-olds.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Bloc Heads

One of the most tedious features of political horse-race coverage is how inept it tends to be. Even the Monday-morning-quarterback hindsight assessments tend to be off, because they tend to be based on assumptions going in.

Last night's South Carolina primary is a good example of that. Conventional wisdom had it that "evangelicals" would go for Cruz, and instead they went for Trump. The media don't really know what to make of evangelicals, and when they ask them questions, of course the evangelicals spout a bunch of god-bothering jabber about their morals and values.

I saw a commenter somewhere -- a conservative Trump supporter, mind you -- recently say something to the effect that most of the southern evangelicals he knew had been divorced several times, used meth, oxy, and or alcohol, and usually could be found at a casino. He was not saying this disparagingly or admiringly, just in a matter-of-fact way.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Failed State

The term "failed state" or "hollow state" generally refers to a nation whose institutions do not or cannot govern anymore, due to collapse by a number of different means -- economic, resource depletion, natural catastrophe, war, internal strife, maniacal despot, etc. The wrong circumstances and the wrong people converge, and structures that were seemingly in place just a month or a year prior are suddenly no longer evident.

The same dynamic can happen to any sort of entity, of course, even (perhaps especially) a political party. So it is appearing more and more to be the case with the Republicans. Antonin Scalia's death over the weekend cast this into sharp relief, not just with McConnell's comically quick urge to show his entire hand when he had no need to, to the bizarre conspiracy theories suddenly surrounding Scalia's death.

No, whatever you do, don't consider the likelihood that a fat eighty-year-old man who kept his health concerns to himself, and whose enjoyment of wine and rich food was well-known, might have, you know, had a heart attack in his sleep. I know, try to contain your surprise. But the Michael Savage types out there pull the "that's what they want you to think, man!" card.

Kudos to Trump for falling for that one, by the way. Jesus, what a fuckin' maroon. He seems like he might just be dumb enough to, say, use junk bonds to fund an overpriced casino in a dying resort community, and have it go bankrupt in just three years.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Liars' Poker

In terms of making a mint from the internets, I frequently think I was born about 15-20 years too early (1967), maybe more. I think people born about 1990 or so, growing up with the modern toys we all take for granted now, are instinctively attuned in a way we older folk had to learn. I can definitely say that even mundane things such as Excel have made me think and process information differently than I did in the previous century, but they've grown up with those things, where we older folks learned them, implanted them on the old paradigm we grew up with, which was so different.

Having a teenager in the house is a constant reminder of how difficult it is to convey how much different life was before these wondrous things. Of course I have tried, by mentioning such oddities as rotary-dial phones and black-and-white TVs, but understandably I just get a blank stare. It would be like my great-grandmother trying to explain how music recordings were once played by wax cylinders.

Like many kids her age, my daughter wants to be a video game designer, which is yet another area in which I can only lamely attempt to tell her how things used to be. Games are as sophisticated as movies now, of course, and as such require not only coders but scriptwriters. I don't have any ironic nostalgia for Pong or Adventure or Pitfall or Pac-Man, as much fun as those games were back in the day, anymore than I would trade Breaking Bad for Dukes of Hazzard. Trust me, your Facebook friends posting memes about that shit are missing the boat.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Random Observations From Tonight's GOP Debate

Watching debates from either party is only possible with alcohol, and fortunately (or not) I stocked up for the weekend. Even so, I only hung in for blessedly brief portions, which were quite enough to get a feel for things.

All smackdown aside, this really is a fucked-up crew of moral degenerates, for the most part. When John Kasich and John Ellis Bush are the least objectionable contestants on your little game show, you know you have a problem.

Death and Texas

Not to whoop over the untimely demise of a fellow human being, but the sudden death of Comb-Over Tony -- and of course it was on a (no doubt canned) hunting trip at a "luxury ranch" in Texas -- is a yuuuge game-changer. That noise you just heard was the collective pants-pooping of what's left of the Republican party.

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Audacity of Dope

Ezra Klein is spot on with his analysis of Herr Drumpf, but like most such analyses, they overlook the more salient question -- what's wrong with his supporters? Seriously, what's the fucking deal with these people? Beltway thumbnails touch on the obvious anger underpinning their antics, but that doesn't quite cover it. Lots of angry people are supporting Bernie Sanders, or Hillary Clinton. Hell, I'm angry. I definitely feel like I've gotten a raw deal. But I'd never fall for the low-rent carny antics of a reality-teevee pitchman. It's not like it's a carefully hidden secret how Trump has serially failed and derped his way through his so-called business career.

And yet there's a sizable -- and growing chunk of people who are falling for it. For now we can console ourselves that it's "just" 35% of Republicans, who as a group are maybe 40% of  registered voters. Some of Trump's domination of the GOP field is simply the natural result of an over-populated field of political has-beens and never-weres with a fraction of his name recognition.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Super Bowl 50 Prediction

The NFL season comes to an end with a classic matchup -- an up-and-coming powerhouse led by one of the league's most charismatic stars, against a perennial contender trying for one last shot at glory for its retiring superstar (and most critical offensive player). Here's a quick breakdown of the two teams:

Carolina Panthers:  Like it or not (and somehow there are fans who don't), it's Cam Newton's league right now, everyone else is just playing in it. There are two players in the league right now who seem like they're having a blast every minute they're on the field; one is Newton and the other is Rob Gronkowski. Newton's attitude is contagious to his entire team, and they have rallied around his leadership, they love their fans, and they have beaten the hell out of opponents, rolling to a 17-1 record so far.

Like Tom Brady, one of the most impressive things about Newton is how well he's done with, to be frank, a less-than-ideal crew of receivers in his spread-option offense. Not that they're awful, but there's just no Calvin Johnson-type stud, no thousand-yard WR in the crew. Still, veterans Ted Ginn and Jerricho Cotchery make plays at the right times, rookie Devin Funchess has been steadily improving in the post-season, and tight end Greg Olsen (who leads the team by far in receptions and yards) is a reliable outlet for Newton on any and every given play.

But the Panthers' real strength is their shutdown defense. Safety Kurt Coleman tied for the league lead in interceptions this seasons, and he and cornerback Josh Norman are the cornerstones of one of the league's best secondaries. Linebacker Luke Kuechly had a game-changing pick-six against Carson Palmer in the NFC Championship Game; after that play, Palmer wasn't the same, and the Cardinals ended up turning over the ball seven times in a 49-15 blowout.

Denver Broncos:  It's hard not to feel bad for Peyton Manning. After a barnstorming 2013 year in which he set season records for touchdowns and passing yards, Manning had his ass unceremoniously handed to him literally from the first play of Super Bowl 48, which turned out to be a record-setting blowout. During the 2015 season, Manning set records for career yards and touchdowns, which are unlikely to be broken in the near future.

And yet despite Denver's buzzsaw defense, featuring all-world linebackers Demarcus Ware and Von Miller, the outcome looks much the same, this time because the Donks' offense isn't quite what it was a couple years ago. Receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryious Thomas are better on paper, but Thomas has had key drops all season. Ware, Miller, and CB Aqib Talib are likely to make some plays on defense, but ultimately, the Panthers have much more talent and momentum on both sides of the ball.

The one weakness Carolina has shown repeatedly all season is a knack for building formidable leads in the first half, only to let their opponents come back in the second half. In fact, the Panthers had the worst second-half stats of just about any team in the entire league. They played to this pattern in the divisional playoffs against Seattle, leading 31-0 late n the second quarter before being forced to hold off the Seahags late in the game, ultimately winning 31-24. But the Panthers' merciless squashing of the upstart Cardinals showed that they were aware of that trend, and were finally ready to shut it down. Denver will be the unfortunate recipient of the Panthers' renewed efforts.

Final Score:  Panthers 38, Broncos 17

[Update 2/7/16 11:27 PST:  There ya go, after very nearly running the table throughout the entire post-season, and getting a Super Bowl matchup that should have been a no-brainer, the Donkeys go and pull off the upset. This makes the third year in a row that I have predicted the wrong team to win the Super Bowl.

There is a certain Hollywood symmetry to it, though -- this game was yet another record for Manning, his 200th career win, and his Super Bowl record now evens out to 2-2 (under four different head coaches, yet another record). Not that Manning's eventual first-ballot Hall of Fame selection was ever in doubt, but if he's going to retire -- and he really should -- this is certainly the way to go out.

As for the Panthers, what can you say? Their pass protection was poor, play execution sloppy, ball control unreliable. Turnovers and poor offensive play in general did them in. This was easily their worst game of the entire 2015 campaign. You wouldn't have known to look at them today that Carolina had gone 15-1 in the regular season, with a +6 turnover ratio and a 35:01 time-of-possession average, or that in the two previous post-season games, they had not been behind a single second, and in fact had been in the lead 112 out of 120 total minutes. Today they were in a hole for the entire game, and played like it.

The good news for the Panthers is that the team should remain largely intact for 2016, where Denver probably won't.]

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Poll Smokers: 2016 Edition

If there's one thing you can count on with the Iowa Caucus, it's for it to be utterly useless in predicting a nominee, or even a real trend. Tuesday's shit-show proved more than ever that there's just not much reason to let these corn-dog-engorged mouth-breathers have precedence in selecting candidates. What the fuck is this coin-toss-on-a-gym-floor bullshit? Game shows are more rigorous in their vetting methodology. This is just shameful.

I've stated before that between Sanders and Clinton, I far prefer Sanders (but will vote Clinton if need be). But the Democratic Party has done a lousy fucking job building a competitive bench of players. Their top two contenders are a former First Lady/Senator/Sec State with negatives as high as her positives, and a 74-year-old man who identifies as a socialist and only caucuses with the Democrats. The also-rans were the guy David Simon based Tommy Carcetti (unfavorably) on in The Wire, and two former Republicans who couldn't get re-elected in their own states. Clinton will save face (and her neck) upon winning the nomination by pulling in Julian Castro as her running mate, but still -- there's a veritable power vacuum in the GOP, and the Democrats seem to avoid taking advantage of the opportunity to set themselves up for the next decade or so, including down-ticket after the next census.

As for the Goopers, you can pick your analysis as you see fit. Trump's a loser because he's spent seven months telling us how yuge his cock was, and he barely held off Marco Rubio to keep his second-place finish. On the other hand, Trump has never run for or held any political office whatsoever, has spent far less money than any other candidate, and still finished in the top three, between two sitting senators. And each of those top three received more votes than any previous candidate in the history of the caucus. Again, take your pick, as neither conclusion helps pick New Hampshire, where Trump still leads comfortably by double digits.

I do have to appreciate Fuckface von Clownstick's meltdown the next morning, if only because it proves what I (and pretty much anyone who's paying attention) said all along -- there's something off about this fucking guy, Trump. I don't think I've ever seen someone in the public eye who's so consistently thin-skinned, so petty and vindictive. Is Cruz a weasel? Sure. Did he do anything out of the ordinary for political campaigns? No, not really. Has von Clownstick been anything but a mouthy dickhead from day one, talking shit about anyone and everyone, making things up as he sees fit? Does he have a right to complain about the shenanigans of others? Is karma actually a thing once in a rare while?

It's just hard to picture someone of Trump's temperament having to work -- having to compromise -- with other people. That's not just an important part of the job, it's the job, full stop. Trump would have some advantage in working with a Republican dominated Congress, particularly a House comprised of rabid, deeply stupid reactionaries. But it wouldn't be a given, especially if he doesn't have a supermajority in the Senate. None of his proposals have any real-world viability. And every other major world leader, excepting perhaps Vladimir Putin, sees him for the obnoxious jerkoff that he is.

With regard to Ted Cruz' dirty tricks in Iowa, the "Voting Violation" flyer is at once obnoxiously stupid and counterintuitive -- conventional wisdom holds Republicans benefitting from low voter turnout (or in this case, low-forehead voter turnout). Either way, someone stupid enough to fall for the flyer is exactly the sort of moron to vote for Cruz or Trump (or really, any of them) in the first place. And Cruz' imputations of Ben Carson dropping out really just boils down to a fairly obvious conclusion -- Carson is an idiot, but he's smart enough to know that he has no chance to win, or even to get a position in someone else's administration.

I don't think he's angling for that anyway, unlike most of the other undercard fools. One thing about professionally religious people in this country is that the more religious they are, the deeper their understanding of the grift. Carson can shuffle his way through New Hampshire and South Carolina, declare that he fought the good fight, and then head home to Florida to rest up, crank out another ghost-written book, and schedule as many "inspirational" speaking engagements as his stomach and wallet can handle. And his supporters will gravitate to Rubio, since Trump long ago barked many nasty things about Carson's admittedly weird Scarface-to-Urkel backstory, and Cruz' little gambit will be fresh in their pea skulls.

So while no one knows for sure how NH shakes out, the narrative seems to be taking hold already -- the establishment GOP wants Rubio, because they hate Cruz, Trump's an asshole, and Rubio is a willing sock puppet. Rubio's biggest gap, in their eyes, is his lack of experience and gravitas, just like Fredo Arbusto. And like with Fredo, the bosses will pair him up with an old hand who can lend the kid a veneer of seriousness. That's where John Kasich comes in.

Really, the one who fell the furthest in Iowa was Jeb Bush. Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.