Saturday, December 08, 2018

GOP Delenda Est; Or, Season's Beatings

During my teen years, I would travel downstate to Los Angeles for the summer, mostly to visit my father, but also several other relatives in the area. So an uncle and aunt in Downey, a cousin in Newport Beach, and so on. This was a time when "summer vacation" meant a full three months, early June to the week after Labor Day. So it was a week here, two weeks there, much more fun than sitting at home, broke and broiling in the punishing NorCal summer heat.

The Newport Beach cousin was (and still is) an avid surfer and guitar player, and close enough in age to where it was a lot like hanging out with an older brother who actually wanted you to hang out with him. So I would go on all-day surfing junkets with him and his USC buddies. I learned to enjoy and appreciate surfing, not just as a challenging physical activity (ocean swimming is not for the weak-willed), but as a meditative activity. The board becomes an extension of you, just by repetition; there are points where you imagine an overhead view of yourself, a tiny dot in a vast area of green and blue, land nearby but not conveniently so, possibly sharks or jellyfish or rocks lurking just below the surface.

The main thing about catching that proverbial wave is recognizing that the ocean is constantly moving, pulsing, surging, defying you to grab hold and find some rhythm. It's a beautiful and daunting thing, that existential challenge, one that forces you to simultaneously acknowledge your smallness, yet have the courage to jump into the endless motion and figure out a way to ride it to shore.

That's what the political news sphere feels like, more and more -- endlessly churning, surging faster and faster, defying us to find purchase, get a grip on this swirling narrative and make sense of it. In filing the Cohen and Manafort memos on Pearl Harbor Day (or Noam Chomsky Day, if you prefer), Robert Mueller may be hinting at a more sardonic sense of humor than any of us might have supposed. Certainly this tapestry is unfolding to reveal what very well may turn out to be a case of treason rivaling that of the Rosenbergs or Benedict Arnold.

You certainly wouldn't put it past ol' Fuckface Von Clownstick to sell West Point to one of Putin's bagmen. And now we are getting a clearer picture of how he literally sold American foreign policy, not to mention its electoral integrity, to a nation he is deeply in hock to. The people who are still denying what's plain for all to see are either on the payroll, or permanently drunk on the Kool-Aid.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

California Fire and Life

(apologies to Don Winslow)

Over the past twenty years or so, California's fire season has expanded from a late-summer nuisance to a nine-month volley of increasingly more catastrophic firestorms. Typically it rains enough between late November and mid-March to keep fire threats down, but our fire season now occupies nearly the entire period of time in between.

Last year saw parts of Santa Rosa, by far the largest city between the San Francisco-Sacramento I-80 corridor and the Oregon border, burned right to the ground. Hundreds of homes and buildings destroyed, thousands of people displaced. The fires disrupted the real estate market for a year, in about a hundred-mile radius, because of the sudden scarcities in an already scarce inventory.

This year has been non-stop all over the state, but especially burdensome in the relatively sparse population areas of Northern California, the region commonly known these days as the State of Jefferson. The Carr Fire engulfed the Redding area for weeks, causing destruction that will take years to recover from. And now the rather poorly-named Camp Fire (named because it originated near Camp Creek Road, not because it was a campfire that got away from the campers) has claimed the entire town of Paradise, and is heading down Highway 99 toward Oroville. Somehow Chico has been spared. Fire crews from all over the country have pitched to help, and the fire is finally getting contained. It's supposed to rain this coming week, which should help finish off the damned thing.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

The King In Yellow

I barely regard him -- it -- as human anymore, using words like "monster" and "thing" to describe the creature that continues to defile the White House and corrode what's left of this country, day by rotting day. And at first there may have been a vein of schtick, trash talk, the proverbial smackdown, but that part rang hollow, that there might be any semblance of even grim humor to those specifically chosen words.

Because humans, even assholes, have common threads that identify them as such. We've gone over this many times before, but it can't be repeated enough:  humans have things and people that they like and appreciate for their own merits. Music, books, art, friends, family, pets, games, teevee shows, whatever. Something. Unconditional love.

Normal human beings enjoy these pleasant little features of life because collectively those little features are what make life worth living. It's hard to know what to make of someone who has never -- and that may very well be literally true, like never -- had an appreciative or complimentary thing to say about anybody or anything, except in the context of how its quality was a reflection of themselves.

Like, as a hypothetical, someone asking such a person how they felt about, I dunno, the Beatles' music, and the response being something like, Oh, Paul McCartney stayed at one of my hotels once. Big spender, Great guy. What's your favorite movie? You know, Madonna dropped $500k at the craps table at the Taj Mahal once when she was in town doing some post on Shanghai Surprise. How does anyone listen to that pathetic, weird old man for any length of time and not hear the festering insanity? How did such a person get into a position to gut the country so critically in just a couple of years?

We can all take a deep collective breath that the midterm election results at least show that we don't have to pull the plug on the old bird just yet. It's still on life support, but it's still life, and maybe even having a chance to breathe on its own a bit and start to recuperate.

But it will take more work, and lots of it. Because the results also showed that there are more horrible people than you'd hoped. I said after the 2016 election that those results raised the question of whether the country we thought we'd become with a black president had changed somehow, or maybe that election just revealed and confirmed what we really still had been the whole time -- a seething, teeming, bitter, vituperative mess.

There are a lot of assholes out there, and the thing has unleashed their energy; pure spite and id and moiling fury. Bad people can have good qualities, but if they're supporting something that inspires pipe bombers and synagogue spree-killers and yahoo border militias because they think it pwns libtards for them, well, they're still bad people in the end. Hitler loved his dog, yada yada.

The most dangerous thing about them is, if you really listen to them (not a suggestion, by the way) you find pretty quickly that since they neither know nor care what they're yammering about, there is nothing that will make them happy. Nothing. You could give them ten million dollars and they'd just waste it; you could kick out all the Meskins and they'd bitch that strawberries are now too expensive. You could shout Merry Christmas at them year-round and they'd wonder what happened to Blessed Memorial Day.

Nothing will make them happy because they don't want to be happy. The fight is all they have, because the fight is all it has. It campaigned on the notion that Obummer had turned Jebus' Nayshun into a flaming hellscape, and that worked on the addled and the butt-hurt. Complaining is all it's capable of, and so that's all they know anymore. More and more it is observed that the behavior is cult-like, and that's not an exaggeration -- nor, to them, is it a flaw. It's a feature.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Troll Flag

The conventional wisdom holds that the midterm election is a referendum on that fucking thing currently defiling the White House. This is only partially true -- it is a referendum on us, and what kind of country we intend to be. Do enough of us want to move forward into what will most assuredly be a transitional decade on many fronts (political, economic, environmental, cultural), or are we going to continue slouching back to the 1930s?

This must be what life is like in a particle accelerator -- countless atoms propelled at impossible velocities into observed collisions. Each week moves faster than the last, with more and more and more crazy things. It tells you what kind of week it's been when the Saudis' admission -- after weeks of denial and almost defiant dog-ate-our-homework excuses -- that they planned the murder of a dissident journalist and carried it out in their Turkish consulate, that such a thing doesn't even register in the top three things of the past seven days.

The attempted pipe bombings and now yesterday's massacre at a synagogue serve to bring us all into sharp relief. We already know what sort of diseased soul he is; what will now be revealed is what sort of people we are collectively. Either we are fine with insane losers being egged on by the chief executive at hate rally after hate rally, or we've had enough. Either we're okay with one of our "allies" holding a journalist to a table and dismembering him alive, or we're not.

Either we see the connection or we choose not to, between said chief executive spending years going town to town, city to city, night after night, openly calling for the imprisonment without charges of his political opponents, and having audiences of angry losers chanting along. They can try to bullshit onlooker with the bullshit evasion of It's just a joke!, but it is clearly not a joke, and when unbalanced loners and losers take that shit both literally and seriously, either you address your role in that situation, or you're fine with it all.

Make no mistake -- they are fine with it. All of it.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Partners In Crime

The Middle East is unraveling very quickly, and with momentum. The murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in the Saudi Consulate in Turkey, committed by a Saudi hit squad sent by their thug king, is the latest and so far largest domino to fall. (Never mind, of course, that the Saudis have been mercilessly driving Yemen back into the Stone Age for several years now, aided and abetted by the current and previous US governments.

If the Obama Administration was somewhat slow and heedless in its (non-)responses to authoritarians taking over in Egypt, Israel, and Turkey, as well as the existing problems in Iran and Syria, the current gang has been even worse. They have made it very clear that their idea of foreign policy is merely a tollbooth, one which bails out the first failson-in-law from his various real estate snafus.

Naturally, the despotisms of the world prefer raw transactional politics, which is why these creeps get along so well with each other. And in fact, the current regime's enabling behavior, as an aversion to Obama's measured responses and precautions, has kept the region more volatile than it would otherwise have been. They are sleeping with a monster, and they are fine with it, because he's a rich monster who's happy to pay up.

Turkey is playing its own game here -- all of the information about Khashoggi's presumed fate, and the evidence for it, has been filtered out from Ankara. They have on-and-off relationships with the Saudis and the Israelis, and meddling in Syria from Russia and the US have only exacerbated the dynamic in the region. The one good outcome is that ISIS seems to have been mostly eliminated, though of course there's always another such group lurking under the next rock.

But with this greedy, doddering old fool driving things forward into a nasty election, this Saudi problem could get pretty ugly. Already the Saudi stock market is taking a hit, expecting sanctions, and they dump too much money into the US real estate market for it not to be noticeable if they decide to pull out or sell off their sovereign fund investments, or just slow down oil production for the winter to drive up gas prices.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Seriously, Fuck Kanye West

So did I tell ya or did I tell ya? The guy has, like, zero fucking redeemable characteristics. He's a perfect acolyte for this anal fissure of an administration -- not one-tenth as smart as he thinks he is, proudly ignorant, completely incoherent when he thinks he's trying to actually make a fucking point. He has nothing useful to say about anything or anybody. Just like his fat, elderly, doddering daddy figure.

Few things are more pathetic than watching a grown-ass forty-year-old man spew his little-lost-girl daddy issues; even Clownstick looked uncomfortable after a while. I think if there hadn't been a crowd there, Kanye probably would have tried to suck his dick.

The professional observers who are trying to make this a mental illness issue need to reconsider. He may be mentally ill, but that's not the problem here. Kanye West's problem is exactly the same as Fuckface Von Clownstick's problem:  he's an ignorant, jabbering fool who has nobody in his life to tell him no or set him straight on anything, so he's now far beyond the point where he would listen anyway.

You really can't tell people like that anything, all you can do is cut them out of your lives, and hope they finally see the pattern for themselves. Or not. If they can't get it together, you're better off without them anyway.

But this is how West has always been, always. Clownstick fans and self-styled conservatards think they're being clever by appropriating West as one of their own, like they've liberated him from the Dummycrat plantation. Well, they can fucking have him, and the wife-beater Jim Brown, and the murderous thief Don King, and the rest of the criminal types they think show the party as being more inclusive. Hell, dig up Ike Fucking Turner while you're at it.

The funniest part of it is that this serves as a perfect example of what I was just talking about in the previous post less than a week ago -- they can't tell musicians and athaletes to shut up and sing or dribble or dance, when they take a stance against their senile god-emperor, but soon as one starts singing his praises, they all reach for the hymnal and join in.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Shut Up and Sing

Onoez! Taylor Swift has broken the hearts and dreams of white-power cellar-dwellers by coming out in support of Phil Bredesen in the TN Senate election. In the slightly more "mainstream" conservatard disinfo universe, no doubt the Fixed Noise baboons are already verbally burning Swift in effigy.

This is a weird but entirely predictable phenomenon for them. I never hear of liberal (or "liberal") commentators or bloggers touting the endorsement of this or that celebrity. I mean, it's nice that, for example, Willie Nelson has endorsed Beto O'Rourke all summer, but it doesn't affect my opinion of Willie or Beto at all. I'd support a slab of river rock, if it was running against that dipshit Ted Cruz.

So the way your garden variety conservaturd will characterize this is some too-clever-by-half variation on Laura Ingraham's "shut up and sing" catchphrase. Of course, they don't say that to Kanye West anymore, now do they? Hell, some of us are old enough to recall how they all flipped when West was embarrassingly rude to Swift, crashing her award thingy like an asshole. Or when West claimed that George W. Bush didn't care about black people. (Not true, of course -- Bush didn't and doesn't care about poor people.)

But these days, as far as they're concerned, Kenny West is woke like a Tim Allen joke, y'all, wearing his MAGAt cap on that librul Saturdee Night DEAD fake-comedy program, hurrr, amirite. He showed them assholes whut's whut, I tell you whut. They try to make it sound like people in the entertainment industry are unqualified to reach an opinion on something (as if Ingraham or Hannity or Tomi Lahren or Greg Gutfeld are qualified to do anything that doesn't involve fellating raw power on a nightly basis), until they have an opinion they like.

Like all reactionaries, their real motto is ipse dixit. Because I say so.

It's even funnier when random morons post such memes on their social mediot pages. Some Fuckface in Pig's Taint, Alabama gets all het up about a celebrity or athlete trying to ram their opinion down 'murka's throat. But they're jes' a dumb celebrity! Har har! Entertain me! Dance, monkey, dance! Right, and who are you, and who am I, and who is that panel of privileged assholes on my basic cable feed? If it's your right to be an obnoxious dickhead on your friends' Facebook feeds, why is it such a problem when LeBron James or Tom Arnold speaks their mind?

We all know the old "opinions are like assholes" song:  Everyone's got one, and they all stink. Taylor Swift is not unqualified to voice her opinion because of her line of work -- if anything, the fact that she has to tour and travel constantly probably gives her a broader perspective and range of experience. I might even say the same thing about a garbage human being like Kanye West, if not for the fact that everything about him is a publicity stunt, and it's impossible to detect anything resembling sincerity from him. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if a year or two passed and he and that hobbit he's married to publicly change their minds about their elderly oompa-loompa friend.

And they would still be insufferable assholes. When they give away 95% of their ill-gotten pelf and go help some isolated African village, without a camera crew in tow, then we can be impressed.