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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

ROI

The endless discursions on Uday Clownstick's moronic need to publicly confess his malfeasance are a distraction. Per usual, Charles Pierce has the correct angle on this. It is about nothing more nor less than a fake tycoon whose value is mostly trapped in the distressed properties his daddy snapped up in the '70s, when NYC was a crime-ridden shit-hole, but is mostly cash-poor.

And none of the banks down the street from him would lend to him anymore, because he'd fucked them over every goddamned time. So he had to turn to Ze Germans for his project capital, and the bratva for operating cash. You have to give the Russians some credit here -- they played the long game, the 1000:1 one-trick pony that should have been turned into glue and dog food before the turn of the millennium, and it paid off, bigly.

Uday's meeting just scratches the dismal surface; the iceberg that awaits below the waterline is so much greater. Mueller's investigation is about to go full-tilt up this sleazy crime family's collective asshole, and it couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of people. I love reading that minions such as Michael Caputo are literally having to pawn off their children's futures in order to cover their legal bills. Sleep with dogs, wake with fleas, and all that. Serves him right; Caputo sold his soul only to find out that his dark lord left him to twist in the legal gibbet.

The reckoning is coming, slowly but inexorably, and a hard rain is about to fall. These are all fucking vile people who have betrayed their country, top to bottom, and they should pay the price. I don't need to see them up against a wall; it would be perfectly satisfying to see them selling oranges at the freeway off-ramp for the rest of their scuttling cockroach lives. Let them live out their lives with the eternal blemish of their sins.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Evil of Banality, Part 3: Exceptional, My Ass

[I had the basic skeleton of this third part worked up back on the 5th or 6th, then went on a reading bender, and things went pear-shaped with Uday's epic fuckuppery last week. I swear, you practically have to keep up with these morons on an hourly basis. Which is ultimately the point of this one.]

Reading Nancy Isenberg's White Trash is at once reassuring and dismaying, basically for the same reason -- we are not in unique times. Things have always been thus, or at least mostly. We were granted a relatively brief respite of about sixty years or so, roughly from our entrance into WW2 to 9/11, give or take.

Isenberg patiently and effectively busts the tired "godly puritans escaping oppression" myths we were all fed in school, and paints a more real, more lurid picture. London had a surplus population centuries before Dickens coined the phrase, and many of the early colonists were vagrants and vagabonds and other such undesirables, pressed into servitude and shipped across the ocean.

That these folks came from "mean (mostly as in 'average,' but also to some extent as in 'cruel') stock" was less of a factor in their generational fates than was the concerted effort by colonial masters -- merchants, politicians, builders, tradesmen -- to keep them down so as to ensure a steady supply of cheap, generally compliant laborers.

What shines through is how consistently the low-born cracker class, as a generalized demographic, are kept in their place with fairly modest efforts, mostly empty appeals to pride, religion, jingoism, racism, whatever. But those efforts worked, and continue to do so quite well.

So the ugliness of the campaign, the "winning" candidate, the sentiments that were appealed to, the tenor of the electorate, none of those are unprecedented.  American history is littered with such examples of worse behavior than what we saw last year. That is strangely reassuring, to know that the nation as a whole has been able to get past such things in the past.

But it took a lot of blood and pain and time, and despite all that, the dipshit mentality still persists, and seems to be on the rise. The stupid is like mercury, it cannot be beaten or bred out of anyone, it spreads when you hit it, and it poisons what it touches. And it is getting on pretty much everything and everyone these days.

We already know that Clownstick and his crew are gaslighting America, but I'd take it the extra logical step and say that the media are gaslighting us as well, and in pretty much the same fashion. Clownstick demagogued the rubes with a lurid picture of bullshit, a flaming hellscape that only he could fix. Similarly, the media keep the twenty-four hour news cycle going by pushing the most sensationalized stories they can find. You would never know that the violent crime rate has been steadily declining for years, and is relatively low. And as mentioned above, as toxic as the 2016 campaign was, it was presented as an unprecedented, do-or-die cataclysm.

Most of us probably (hopefully!) never imagined a day where someone got into high office with the express assistance and collusion of a hostile foreign power -- and all the politicians and voters from that party were just fine with it. Such a thing seemed to be unthinkable a short time ago, but perhaps it had been lurking just below the surface the whole time, watching, waiting for the right moment to seize the opportunity.

Well, it's been seized, and too many people seem just fine with all that. Even though the truth of the matter is that, if those 80,000 rust-belt rubes not shown up and Butter Emails had squeaked in instead, those same folks would be swinging from the rafters over every jot and tittle. They would be seeing collusion in every crack in the pavement.

When enough people stop believing or caring about empirical facts and informed analysis, when enough of them seriously think that pulling some foolishness out of one's ass is just as valid as paying attention and strategizing accordingly, you are in deep trouble as a nation. The US has come a long way in a relatively short period of time, and it can slide back just as far just as quickly.

And we may very well be on that path after all. The sheer amount of toxic dumbfuckery in play right now, at the political, electoral, and cultural levels, cannot be offset or countered quickly. We have been focused on the foam at the crest of the wave, rather than the overall current and the tide direction.

The tide takes time to turn, but so far it has not shown any signs of abating or turning. Too many things seem to be a wink or a nod to the white-power crowd, people who we had hoped had essentially disenfranchised themselves by this point. But they found their champion in the sort of toxic narcissist who will jabber about "fake news" as a euphemism for "stuff I don't like," again bearing in mind too many of our fellow rubes no longer count "facts" or "information" as anything of any value at all.

Such a person, who does not want to do the hard work of leading but merely wants to be feted like an Egyptian god-king, is the ideal useful idiot to blithely toss dog-whistle rhetoric to the punters, perhaps even unknowingly. After all, they're just words on a teleprompter, which proved how stupid Obama and Hillary were, but apparently is acceptable now. Alrighty-then.

Honestly, it's a small wonder that he doesn't have a team of minions carry him around on a litter on these trips abroad. Maybe some chickens could be sacrificed to secure His favor. Whatever it takes to distract from the actual work of overseeing the (for now) world's largest economy and military.

But this current trip begs the classic question:  How many Polacks does it take to wave a confederate flag? This will get bypassed in the torrent of news and nonsense, but it is an important symbol of something much greater than what we normally think of it as. Focusing on the traitor-slaver rag's history of pain and racism is necessary, but again focuses on the foam (the, erm, whitecaps) while ignoring the actual current.

Again, we are now a country where the average citizen knows more about some "real housewives" characters than they do about who represents them, and how well. Again, maybe we were always that country, and we're just now realizing it. Technology has amplified the voices of outraged ignoramuses, along with all the other wondrous things that are provided. Those morons are emboldened by that amplification, and we are seeing the consequences.

Starting to see the consequences. Hope you're in it for the long haul, because it is about to get weirder. I stand by my earlier prognostications that the stupidity and arrogance of the current administration will prevent them from doing as much damage as they'd like. But they will do some damage, and more importantly, containing the symptom doesn't necessarily affect the disease.

When facts are what you want them to be, and reality is what you tell yourself it is, new and interesting possibilities open up for you. Flags and symbols that have been universally recognized for generations now mean just what you say they mean, neither more nor less. You can tweet a doctored photo of your hero throwing a kill-switch on his political opponent in a gas chamber, and have your kindred chastise the majority for not getting what was clearly a high-larry-us joke.

You no longer have to familiarize yourself with the source documentation of your own country, because you stopped reading a long time ago, and besides, reading books is for fags. So it makes sense that you might interpret the Declaration of Independence as a call to insurrection, and get all indignant when someone mentions it, even when they've been mentioning it every year at this time since the late '80s.

The beauty of being this type of complete fucking retard is that everything means exactly what you want it to mean, what you need it to mean -- words, deeds, people, flags, symbols, documents.

Obviously, it's a very short putter on your mobility scooter to arrive at the conclusion that if you studiously avoid knowing or learning anything of value, you can simply declare unilaterally that everything means exactly what you want it to mean, neither more nor less.

Fuckface Von Clownstick's supporters made that decision many moons ago, well before FVC decided to run. It just happens that he is the perfect empty vessel for their nonsense -- or any nonsense, really, as long as the check clears, he'll say whatever you want him to say on any given day.

But the potentially dangerous conclusion that we all need to understand is that these rubes, through their refusal to learn or experience anything new, or question their idiot dogma, believe that the country is what they say it is. That's how you get an anonymous Polack waving the traitor-slaver flag at a rally in Warsaw in 2017. The contents of the speech given at that rally hammer that whole idea home -- the country is what we say it is, and we're not letting you libtards take it away.

And this is how we end up with utter mediocrities and total fuckups in extremely important positions. I am not kidding, and this is not snark -- as I have mentioned before, Clownstick is the sort of person you would never work for or with, nor would you hire him for anything more complicated than moving rocks from one end of the property to the other. And even then you'd have to keep an eye on him.

His children are no better. One is a dyed-in-the-wool brander like Himself, pushing her knock-off handbags and glad-rags. One rides the charity grift racket, throwing epic fundraisers at dad's golf courses, then acting all surprised when dad charges roughly what the fundraiser took in. And Uday "runs the business" more or less like dad always did -- seat of the pants, skin of the teeth, fart of the squeal, whatever. Jesus H. Tapdancing Christ. Seriously, is there one (1) serious person out there who would really work for this fucking guy?

Well, the same goes for most of the people he's selected to "run" the gubmint. They're all hacks and dipshits and money-grubbing assholes. It should be unthinkable that a spoiled princess like Betsy DeVos, who has spent her adult life trying to buy and marry her way into influence, should be picked to run the American public educational system into the ground by making it into another goddamned profit center.

I'm out of solutions on this one. It's hard to force someone (or millions of someones) to not be a moron or an asshole. But we have collectively engendered this type of stupidity, simply by not squashing it.

That should be the real takeaway here:  beyond the insult-comic jabber, the alt-right fascist trolls, the skeevy grifter con-man mentality of these people, what really shines through is how mediocre they really are. All of them -- Himself, the kids, the thieves and poltroons in the cabinet -- these are people who are literally unemployable in the real world, and they literally know nothing besides how to fill their pockets. This needs to be pointed out at every possible opportunity, every bit as much as the Russia stuff.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

The Evil of Banality, Part Two

The commemoration of Independence Day is always an opportunity to reflect on the good things about this country, even if for too many of our fella 'murkins it seems to be a chance to gorge on food and blow off our fingers.

After the last two years and counting, it seems now more to be a chance to reflect on whether we have the collective will to keep those good things and move forward. It's all well and good to write ourselves missives about how we can outlast the senile, doddering oaf currently at the helm. But we need to start working on how to overcome the factors that put him there in the first place, remembering once again that he is the symptom and not the disease.

The bigger problems are much more pernicious. All the wondrous technology we take for granted now, most of which was unimaginable just twenty years ago, was supposed to set us free, presumably on an ocean of infinite information and enlightenment. Instead, it has become the two-fisted tool of the would-be oppressor -- free porn (not just sexual, but things like "reality" teevee and celeb-sniffing and political bafflegab would count as well) for the masses, and tools of control for the owners.

Both are nothing more than sophisticated distractions, one more troubling than the other, but both working hand-in-glove. It's bad enough that people are besotted with kardashians (no longer capitalizing that word; they are merely nouns and objects), fake hook-up shows, and bottled lies from suspect content providers. What's even worse is that one party has systematically gerrymandered itself into a position of dominance, that their agenda is unabashedly regressive and ruinous. They seriously do not give a shit about anything but power, and are nakedly hypocritical in their pursuit of it.

And yet, gerrymandering or no, someone keeps putting them there -- or more accurately, many voters are putting many scumbags in there, over and over again. It's such a cheap cop-out to attribute it to voting habits, social influence, media bias. Individuals should take responsibility for their choices, and suffer the consequences for their poor choices, isn't that what we keep hearing? Failure to pay attention to reality is not an excuse, it's the con artist's invitation to do what he does best.

From the second New Yorker article linked above, let's take Texas Governor Greg Abbott as an example. Abbott was in his mid-twenties when he was paralyzed by a falling tree. He had no medical insurance, but sued the homeowner and the company that failed to identify and remove the tree, and won a settlement of about nine million dollars. Once he got into power, Abbott successfully got tort settlement amounts in Texas capped at $250,000.

It would be difficult to find a more stark example of how these fucking people think, how they don't even blink at their own rank hypocrisy. Abbott proudly belongs to a party that looks at uninsured people who fall into misfortune, and tells them to go fuck themselves. I think it's a goddamned shame that when Abbott had his accident, he wasn't stuck with the consequences of the very policies he has always supported. They should have dragged his broken ass into the street and told him he was on his own -- no payday, no free medical care. That is exactly what he thinks should be done to everyone else. Real christian of him.

So vile people have figured out how to use technology to do more efficiently what they have always done -- turn the lower classes against each other, against themselves, while the owners continue hoovering up all the wealth. They won't be happy until they have it all for themselves, and probably not even then. It is a pathology, a sickness of the soul they profess to believe in, but somehow never act accordingly. They always find some bullshit excuse to justify their rotten behavior. They have no shame, mainly because their constituencies keep letting them get away with it.

Voters are such cheap dates, it turns out. You don't have to take them to dinner, buy them flowers, any of that shit. You just tell them what they want to hear, empty platitudes and hoary bromides, scare talk about the other, whoever it is this week. And they buy it, every fucking time. Because it's easier to believe than to think rationally and skeptically. It lets them get back to their goddamned nothing that much more quickly. Who has time to read?

As a result of too many of our peers being stuck in their rut, content in having the intellectual lives of farm animals, we find ourselves in a bit of a pickle now. It has culminated -- again, for now, as this is systemic -- with the aforementioned doddering old man. He promised to fuck shit up, and that is one promise he is intent on making good on.

He is doing his grim best to non-strategically bluster the world into a nuclear conflagration. It may be us going at it with the Norks to defend Japan and South Korea, or it may be the "let's you and him fight" gambit he's trying with the Chinese -- who, like the Russians, see this fucking clown exactly for what he is, and are playing him as such.

It is actually something of a surprise that throughout, the stock market has held firm, even gained for the most part. Economic statistics tend to be lagging indicators, but one factor that was always presumed to be a given was stability, lack of volatility. Institutional investors do not typically like rolling dice and trying to guess what's coming day to day.

But here we are. We'll see how long it holds out, and then something will come next -- the same but worse, because it'll be smoother, more likable, less of a blustery prick. Pick any number of "moderate" Republicans who talk a good game when the cameras are on, but go along with the most vicious of policies every single time.

Hope is not a plan, but it is a way to keep one's bearings when times are darkest. So it's not the worst thing to try to maintain the dim hope that eventually enough people will see who their real enemies are and vote accordingly, not just at the ballot box, but with their wallets. Find out who's supporting these vile, lying bastards and put them out of business.

The Evil of Banality

Looks like Uday Von Clownstick is "curious" about all the commie pinko queers out there in the blue states:
But hey, to answer the "question," there's always plenty to celebrate, despite the efforts of your cheap, awful, grifter family to lower the collective stock of the nation. And you can bet that if karma ever kicks in on your worthless asses, we'll throw the biggest fucking party the planet's ever seen. Nothing would please me more than to watch this crime family lose every ill-gotten dime of their pelf, and end up selling oranges at the freeway off-ramp.

Why don't you take your fourth-rate troll ass and go plop down more money than people who actually work an honest living see in a year, and gun down an endangered animal, asshole? Maybe set up another fake charity to line your pockets. Seriously, is there a single adult in this fucking family that does not deliberately make the world a worse place?

Monday, July 03, 2017

Beat the Press

It seemed like a joke for so long, that once people actually started taking it seriously, it was too late. The clay-eaters, in their earthy wisdom, had decided on their own sets of truth and facts, and had appointed their ideal avatar to represent them in all their empirical confusion. Gotta nuke somethin', right?

And so, in our post-millennial, post-irony, post-reality subsistence, it inevitably came to pass that this avatar, an impossibly small man in every way but with a large arsenal (giggity), decided to attack a corporate media entity for daring to report the truth about him. In that light, it made wondrous sense that he would choose to do so by retweeting a video of him pretending to pin Vince McMahon.

Imagine all that:  a fake billionaire, who spent the previous decade pretending to fire unemployable morons who didn't really work for him in the first place on a fake teevee show, somehow tumbles into the most important job on the planet, and as a cartoonish show of strength, promotes a doctored image of himself participating in the most fake "sport" in existence. (Also keep in mind that the head of that much-hated "fake news" network also helmed the network that aired the fake-boss show -- so, you know....) It's so on-the-nose, true absurdists such as Kafka and Vonnegut look on from the shadow plane and shake their heads at it.

It is going to be enormously difficult for creative people to keep up with the scenery-chewing destruction of this wood-chipper administration. I have a feeling most of them will throw their hands up at the sheer futility of it all and create purposefully escapist drivel in order to cope.

The sprig of withered parsley to this truck-stop buffet is that the retweeted image was created by some Reddit douchebag with a clear and nasty history of going after Muslims, blacks, Jews. Shocking, I know. These dumb motherfuckers chugged the kool-aid, and may never come out of their hangover. At any rate, this is (as I have been pointing out for months) textbook cult behavior, and such a thing takes much longer than five months to undo the culmination of years of Hutu Power Radio programming.

The process takes longer in a system with norms and institutions, but it is the same process nonetheless -- delegitimize and dehumanize. Declare the norms and institutions problematic to The Righteous Cause of MAGA, and the participants of such things as a subversive fifth column.

Count me in as one who ridiculed Scott "Dilbert" Adams' posts on why Emperor Snowflake was succeeding as a candidate and would eventually win, but it has become clear that he was correct on many things. First, we have to accept several things as givens:
  • If Snowflake has a skill, it is as a marketer and promoter. Let's face it -- he's been selling America the same ol' flaming bag of shit for decades now, and they can't get enough of it.
  • In the internets age, one of the most potent tools marketers have available to them is split (or A/B) testing. The marketer has at least two ideas in the bag to try out on potential customers, and they may try them concurrently in separate venues, or consecutively in the same venue or multiple venues. You can see where the possible combinations can surface rapidly. A skilled internet (or, get this -- social media) marketer will niche simultaneous marketing strategies depending on the content outlet.
  • The Mercer family backed Snowflake hard, and provided him with the necessary marketing data. Between their stake in Breitbart and their ownership of Cambridge Analytica, they provided Snowflake with sophisticated data and tools to target voters, and propaganda outlets (including Fixed Noise as well) with which to fine-tune that message. Facebook and Twitter played immensely in that strategy as well, obviously. Also, the Russians.
  • The strategy of the internet marketer (which Adams leaned on in many of his posts supporting Snowflake) can be boiled down to "move fast and break things." Of course, this is completely at odds with the staid, moribund, mechanical processes of Big Gubmint. For the Snowflake admin team, it was a selling point, and now it's an operational point. This is why the wealth-care bill has been such a clusterfuck from the word go. This is why they really haven't been able to get much done, for which we should be grateful for the time being.
But the last point also illustrates why Congress and the media have had such a difficult time adjusting to How Things Are Now. They are focused on procedural mistakes and breaches of etiquette, when the fact of the matter is that the cult deliberately eschewed those things when they cast their lot.

When people Americans think of "civil war," they tend to think of heroic struggles among brothers in empty fields, equally valiant sides opposing in an ideological equilibrium. More often than not, this is something people who are ignorant of the specifics tell each other in order to reassure themselves that people are essentially Good. The reality of that tends to be one side fighting against an injustice gleefully perpetrated by the other side. The sides are almost never equally balanced, whether in size or in having a moral center, or in engaging in the fight with reasoning based on good faith.

The main difference now, though, for better or worse, is that one side is not shy or embarrassed at all about their disdain for facts or even a fixity of purpose and basic definition. They have collectively decided that "facts" and "truth" are whatever the emperor says they are on a given day, and if that changes tomorrow or next week, they just roll with it. If he says he never said the thing we all just saw and heard him say, they buy it without thought or question.

This makes it just about impossible to counter with anything from the rational world, for politicians, the media, and ordinary people. About all you can do is wait for the incompetence and chaos to peel away the base as reality hits them, one by one. And it will happen, on a variety of fronts -- natural disaster, terrorist attack, economic slump, trade war, real war, probably all of the above to some degree. Even then, some of them will stick with him. As the saying goes, you can't fix stupid.

But the media need to face reality as well, and decide what their best collective course of action should be against aggressive agitprop. It's a very real problem that the firehose of incompetence overwhelms their ability to report it all, as well as the audience's ability to absorb it all.

So when they expend too much time or space fixating on his trolling and taunting them, that takes away from their ability to get something more substantive out in front of everyone. Reminders of how unfit the occupant is for the office just end up as more choir-preaching.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

In Other News

Today is Canada's sesquicentennial, as well as Pamela Anderson's 50th birthday. In celebration of the latter event, this is a fun read.

Disenfranchise

While we're all distracted by the terrible awful no-good abuse of the enablers at Morning Joke:
  • Clownstick's pet shitbird Kris Kobach saw his bullshit attempt to gather voter data get repudiated -- for now. I'll be more than happy to tell these cock-smokers to their faces why I've never voted for them, and never will -- just as soon as Emperor Snowflake shows those tax returns.
  • We don't know who all the players are on that "very distinguished" panel, perhaps because they're just too distinguished to refer to by name. (IOW, Kushner, Bannon, Stone, Manafort, the usual gang of grifters and psychopaths.)
  • Because the issue of "voter fraud" is sooo important in its prevalence, the GOP budget just happened to kill off the only federal agency that ensures the integrity of voting machines.
  • That $50m congressional election in GA a couple weeks ago? Karen Handel was GA's Secretary of State -- you know, the person in charge of ensuring the integrity of the voting process -- from 2007 to 2010. Handel and her successor, Brian Kemp, have done everything they can to ensure the fine standards of voter suppression one would expect from a southern state -- or a banana republic.
  • Georgia's voting machines are out-of date, easily hacked, and do not give paper receipts. As shown in the WaPo link above, this was pointed out to Handel in great detail, and for some weird reason, she chose to ignore it, as has Kemp. I wonder why that might be.
  • Jon Ossoff led in most GA-6 polls right up to the very end. Funny how all these slam-dunks seem to be going tits-up lately. Pollsters are inept and voters are flaky, but there is also something janky going on here. Oh well, too bad the great state of Georgia doesn't believe in having a forensic account of what actually took place. Maybe someone could assemble a panel or commission to look into all that.
Make no mistake -- if these fuckers had their way, only good upstanding white christian men would be allowed to vote, the way the founding fathers intended it. They're going to try to find a way to make that happen, and you can bet that there are just enough of your friends and neighbors and gamily who just fine with all that.

But yeah, let's fixate on some spoiled journo getting dissed in some asshole's internet slam-book.