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Saturday, July 04, 2020

Wasted Motion

So here's an interesting dynamic, becoming more and more commonplace:
  1. Trump breaks the routine tedium of saying and doing stupid things, and selling out American troops and foreign policy, etc., etc., to have an "event."
  2. Some F-list rando celeb hitches their non-existent wagon to Dear Leader's ill-fitted coattails.
  3. Twitter gathers up a collective "fuck you" to said celebri-dupe and moves on to the next one.
  4. "News" and "commentary" sites churn out reliable, predictable content on the "cancel culture" template they all keep handy for such occasions. Like the "obituary roll" corporate news organs keep compiled for quick deployment in the event of the demise of an ancient or volatile famous person, there is now a "cancel culture" roll apparently.
Now, some folks will tell you with a straight face that in a country where police attack innocent civilians at will, and the chief executive makes a point of ignoring Russian bounties on American troops in a war zone, that the collective online sputtering of impotent fury is the biggest problem right now. Forty million out of work, one hundred thirty thousand dead and counting, a "lost year" for the entire planet, but the real problem is that a relative handful of Twitter randos wants to "cancel" Scott Baio or Mary Hart or whoever. It's all so terrible. Exactly like the French Revolution, or Kristallnacht.

Help, help, I'm being repressed!

I would be interested to know how you would go about "cancelling" someone who doesn't do anything. To take the most recent example, Mary Hart never really did anything anyway. She spent some number of years on a syndicated teevee show, regaling shut-ins and people who couldn't find their remote with the comings and goings of entertainment personalities. She read copy that someone else wrote, and pretended to give a shit. If that's a noteworthy skill then we are all superstars, truly.

More to the point, she retired a long time ago. (I mean, I'm pretty sure she did, right? If someone leaves and you don't notice they're gone, were they really ever there in the first place?) She's married to a game-show producer who hasn't done anything in thirty years. If Mary Hart has an appreciable asset that's even worth the bother of a boycott or whatever, good luck tracking it down.

The weird penumbra of bullshit surrounding the "cancel culture" trope is more interesting in its meta-senses anyway, the poutrage generated by the spectacle of completely powerless, anonymous internet commenters performatively commenting about someone who is being a public asshole precisely to generate that sort of reaction.

There's nothing to "cancel" for Mary Hart. She hasn't even updated her Twitter page in a decade. She's out of the game. She resurfaced for that, which tells you what you need to know about her as a person -- if, in fact, you really "needed" to "know" anything about her at all.

Obviously, that's a huge part of the problem with "celebrity culture," this weird idea that these individuals are at all interesting or noteworthy outside of the creative projects they're involved in. Sometimes they are, but just as often they really are just like you 'n' me -- in other words, nice but otherwise ordinary in most respects.

But there's an industry of reactionary "cancel culture" meta-commentary now, counter-reformationist content curation for the addled masses, who want to distract you from the real bullies and thugs with imagined scenes of a dystopian future where the worst thing that can happen is that some anonymous person calls you an asshole when you act like one.

Snowflakes indeed. I dunno. Some guy had a tee-shirt once telling me to fuck my feelings, so I suppose that's as good a response as any. But what this really is is the creation of a cottage industry. It started with the cosseted, sinecured pimps of the NY Times' sorry excuse for a slop-ed page, as MoDo and Bobo and Bretbug gnashed their teeth and rent their garments over the prospect of nasty comments being the rough equivalent of a guillotine in Times Square.

As my Texan great-grandmother used to say, a hit dog hollers loudest -- meaning that the more a criticism is justified, the more its target will whine about how unfair it all really is.

Which is another huge tell --  the people who are the first to tell you how unfair cancel culture is to its "victims" are usually the first ones to tell you that life isn't fair, so long as it's smacking someone else upside the head, but leaving them to peddle their nonsense.

Funny how that works, isn't it?

Friday, July 03, 2020

The Murder of Elijah McClain

The more you read about the details of Elijah McClain's murder, the more unsettling it really is, both in the crime itself, and the larger picture entailed by it. I had no idea that ketamine was being used so routinely to incapacitate civilians detained by law enforcement.

Here's a couple things I do know, just to pick a couple of random, if notorious examples:
  1. Back in 2012, when demented shitbag James Holmes shot up a movie theater, slaughtering a dozen people and injuring five dozen more, the Aurora police were able to bring him in without putting him a sleeper hold, or grinding a knee into his neck, or shooting him a half-dozen times in the back, or making him crawl on the fucking ground, crying and mewling like an animal, before dispatching him anyway, just because.
  2. When demented racist shitbag Dylann Roof and his bowl haircut slaughtered a bunch of elderly people in a church, the cops took him to fucking Burger King before booking him.

It sure is funny how these people, who have military-grade weapons and armor and training, and are given broad powers of discretion in urgent situations (most importantly, determining whether a situation in even "urgent" in the first place), somehow manage to defuse situations where there's already a pile of bodies. Yet they're pretty good at going full-throttle tough-guy when there's a scared 140-pound kid walking home with a sack of groceries.

Really keeping the mean streets of Aurora safe for humanity, you guys. Be proud of yourselves. Take a photo at your trophy site.

Keep in mind that McClain was actually killed nearly a year ago. The only reason you're finally hearing about it is because of the more recent murders and assaults that have received more notoriety and scrutiny.

So cut to a few days ago, when z group of citizens decided to exercise their supposed right to peacefully assemble and air their grievances, when lo and behold, here come the cops to escalate the situation and gas some people. This has become commonplace, except when the protesters happen to be doughy white neckbeards toting assault rifles and traitor-slaver flags.

One frequent trope invoked by defenders of bad behavior is the "sheepdog" scenario, that the sheepdogs (cops) are there to protect the sheep (god-fearin' law-abidin' citizens) from wolves (criminals), and that the basic premise of protesting killer cops is really the wolf trying to convince the sheep that the sheepdog is not necessary.

Setting aside the obnoxious, paternalistic tone (not to mention exploitative -- sheep are raised and protected as commodities of commercial value, after all) of the analogy, maybe we should focus a bit on the actual mechanics of it. It's not just a dumb analogy, once you think about the specifics and apply them by their own logic. It's a mission statement.

Because here's the thing -- if you're a sheep rancher, and you have many sheep and a few dogs, and one of the dogs keeps attacking sheep, well, you're not going to keep using that particular dog, are you? The dog either comes back to stay at the house, or he goes to a nice farm upstate. You don't keep him out there attacking the flock, and you don't just hand him off to another sheep rancher to attack his flock.

Decades of true-crime and crime-drama narratives -- aka "copaganda" -- have inured many civilians to the systemic abuses that perpetuate, conditioning us to think of these incidents as unfortunate occasions, the unintended consequences of necessary excesses. I get that, I really do. I love well-done crime shows and books, and frequently leave Law & Order marathons going on in the background when I'm working on stuff. It's easy to see how long-term exposure to those narratives conditions viewers to assume that every perp is a potential Jeffrey Dahmer or Charles Manson.

But there's really no excuse for what happened to Elijah McClain, or George Floyd, or Breonna Taylor, or Daniel Shaver, or many many others. The problem is that nothing gets done about the people who commit those crimes, or the systems in which such people proliferate.

Frankly, I'm not terribly bothered by the idea of an actual bad guy getting roughed up a bit, whether from resisting arrest, or getting tuned up in the interrogation room. (Within reason, of course. I am not suggesting that cops should routinely beat the shit out of every dipshit with a gang tat on his neck.) But that's not what's going on here. Over and over we're seeing indisputable video evidence of harmless, unarmed, defenseless, frequently intimidated people getting smacked and stomped and gassed and beaten. There's a clear pattern here.

It's worth considering -- the real protest at the vigil for Elijah McClain was not civilians protesting for the right of a civilian to carry his fuckin' groceries home and not get killed for it. The real protest there was the cops, who are demonstrating for the continued privileges of gassing and beating inconvenient citizens, for the discretion to decide who they get to treat like some IED-planting insurgent in Fallujah, and for the right to avoid any and all modes of accountability when their excesses cost people their lives. They wanted to stir up some shit, just to remind the livestock who's got the whip hand, who's in the herd and who's doing the herding.

A lot of people would probably just settle for identifying the thugs and dirtbags, weeding them out, and making sure they never get paid to carry a weapon or use force on another human being again. But even that is unacceptable to them. That's what the police are protesting. That's why they're escalating peaceful gatherings into riots, shoving elderly cancer patients into sidewalks, macing teenage girls and kicking them in the face when they're already down.

If they were doing those things to MS-13 gangstas caught in the act, you'd probably hear about it, and you might not even have much of a problem with it in general. Strange that it doesn't seem to happen nearly as often.

It may take some time, but eventually Elijah McClain's family is probably going to get some sort of settlement, probably in the six or seven figures. Guess who gets to pay for that? You know what the NYPD's annual budget is just for paying settlements on police brutality and civil rights violations?

There are a lot of livestock ranchers around here, and I know some of them. Dogs don't live out in the pasture with the herd full-time, you know. Dogs are actually only used when it's time to move the herd, to another field or to a trailer to head for the auction yard. That's when "herd" becomes a verb.

You know what most of the sheep and goat ranchers (around here, anyway) leave out in the pasture with the flocks to keep away predators (which, as it happens, are usually loose dogs)? Llamas or emus, sometimes noisier birds such as geese or peacocks. But you would never leave a dog -- or worse yet, multiple dogs -- out in a pasture with sheep. Have you ever seen what large, aggressive dogs do when they congregate in a pack?

Sunday, June 28, 2020

The Republican Party Hates America

You sell your oldest friends, you sold your countrymen
And yet we know your name....  Motörhead, Traitor

I long ago gave up on the New York Times, and I still think the daily harm they do outweighs the occasional good, but you have to hand it to them on their latest scoop (login required), which of course reveals much more than just the basic premise of the headline.

I don't know that I had "Russia offering bounties to Taliban insurgents for killing American soldiers, and Trump knew about it" on my 2020 bingo card, but I do know that I'm not surprised, not even a little. There are infinite ways for a faithless bucket of shit to prove themselves, and this is just one of the more egregious. It's appalling, but not surprising.

What is at least a little surprising is that none of the people around him who also knew simply stepped forward and took their chances, or at least leaked it to someone in Congress.

But hell, maybe they did try a congressweasel first. It's not like either party is willing to step up and confront this fucking monster.

The title of this post is a bit misleading. The thing about hate is that you actually have to give a shit about the things you take the effort to hate. And the Republicons have made it abundantly clear that they don't care enough even about their own base to expend the energy it would take to hate them.

Contempt is a more accurate word for this. It's the contempt that a successful con artist has for the saps who fall for his sorry act, the loathing a drug dealer has for his best customers, the resentment a pussy-hound has for the women he bangs in quick succession. It's the general sentiment that suckers and dupes deserve their lot, that they'll never earn a fair shake, that if you don't take advantage of their stupidity you're the real idiot in the equation.

Already that MagaNinny broad, that horrid fucking dingbat posing as a press suckaterry, has responded that Trump and Pence "were not briefed" on the bounty issue. Think about that:  the national security apparatus of the USA had identified a situation where a rival power was paying bounties on American troops in a war zone, and they chose for some reason not to brief the chief executive and his trusty li'l sidekick. It's difficult to determine whether it's worse that that's a pathetic lie, or that it might actually be true.

I have a relative who is currently finishing boot camp at Camp Pendleton. He wants to serve his country in the military. The great thing about being young is that you don't know any better yet. All politics aside, it's disturbing to think that he and the other kids he's in camp with, young men and women with their whole lives ahead of them, finding for whatever reason some value and virtue in military service for a dying empire, are being sold out by their commander-in-chief, a gutless, pathetic old man who has never sacrificed anything for anyone, who has always prided himself on getting the upper hand over the contemptible dupes who bought his nonsense.

I don't want to ever again hear about "supporting our troops" from these worthless cocksuckers, these scumbags who sold the troops out long ago, and would in fact push their own grandmothers into a wood chipper if it would get them re-elected to whatever gubmint sinecure they're currently milking.

One rhetorical question that gets asked with some regularity is what will it take for Republicons to stand up to Trump's corruption and malfeasance? What line would he have to cross in order to necessitate action on their part? A perfectly valid question that becomes more imperative with each passing offense.

But you might also ask that question of the supposed opposition party. How bad does it get before they decide that the situation is urgent enough to act with a  genuine sense of urgency? Political prognostications about the "failure" of an impeachment effort ignore the moral and practical necessity of investigating criminal activity, which now literally encompasses what was previously unthinkable -- an American president selling out the lives of American soldiers.

It's not enough to point out the sad, obvious fact that there is no bottom to the degeneracy of this human centipede of an administration. We may not have known the ultimate depth -- and they probably will sink even lower -- but we all understood the principle long ago. This is a situation that draws stark lines, and the political futures of all participating parties should be determined by where they find themselves in relation to those lines.

If the Democrats aren't calling for hearings and flooding the zone within the next couple of days, plague or no plague, we'll know where they stand as well. I have zero interest in perpetuating gutless incrementalism. They can take their "wait for November" bullshit and stick it up their asses. Either you use all the powers you have now, or you don't.

Economic Anxiety

I parked my truck and sat in the gallery during the morning session of the legislature. I watched the regard with which Bobby Earl was treated by many of his peers, the warm handshakes, the pats on the arm and shoulder, the expression of gentlemanly goodwill by men who should have known better. It reminded me of the deference sometimes shown to a small-town poolroom bully or redneck police chief. The people around him well know his hatred, of Jews, intellectuals, news people, Asians, blacks; no one doubts his potential with the leaded baton or the hobnailed boot across the neck. But they make friends with the ape in their midst, no matter how violently the tuning fork vibrates inside them; consequently they absorb his dark powers, and secretly gloat at the fear he inspires in others. -- James Lee Burke, A Stained White Radiance

An interesting twist on the so-called George Floyd protests (as if all that pent rage could be attributed in even a moderate portion to one tragic event, but when the camel's back breaks, only the final straw gets remembered, not the bales that were already weighing down the poor beast) is how the long-running effort to tear down monuments to traitors and enemy combatants has kicked back into gear, as well as the desire to remove the 'murkin swastika (aka the stars 'n' bars flag) from the respectable areas of public life.

Confederate memorabilia, like that of the Nazis, becomes "interesting" in the way villains tend to be in a standard fictional narrative. It's only when you sit down for a while and read, say, Elie Wiesel's Night trilogy, or Colson Whitehead's Underground Railroad, that the "romantic" trappings of the doomed cause fall away, and you quietly affirm the understanding that these "causes" were not lost in some tragic sense, but fully evil in every respect, and do not deserve to be preserved, except perhaps as museum curios.

Certainly the commemoration of such vile enterprises should be recognized for what they are, and not hidden behind some bullshit lie about "history" or "heritage." A heritage of owning human beings and forcing them under threat of torture and murder to labor for free is nothing to be proud of.

Even in Northern California, one occasionally sees a confederate rag. I don't sweat it -- I appreciate the advance notice that an asshole (and probably several pit bulls and a meth lab) is within fifty yards of the damned thing. I do appreciate this mild twist to the usual Cletus safari, though, and how in the context of the article, we manage to meet at least three identifiable phyla in the taxonomy of the aggrieved southern cracker -- rednecks, peckerwoods, and coonasses. It's a shitbird trifecta, y'all!

It doesn't matter what I think about these folks, to the extent I would think of them at all. They've shown us what they are. There's nothing to debate with them, no discussion to be had. The only thing that matters, to the extent that it actually matters, is that it's a reminder that Heraclitus knew a thing or two, that character really is destiny, and people reap what they sow eventually.

Sometimes that harvest is in the daily tedium of a mediocre life spent watching people drive in circles for several hours, or slinging bumper stickers supporting a treasonous chief executive.

Sometimes that's punishment enough. It's not like there's anything to boycott there.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Represent

These days, I can't really muster the energy necessary to get too boiled about this sort of shit, mainly because it is entirely expected. I wish I lived in Pelosi's district, so I could vote for her opponent.

Lady, contrary to popular belief, there was a fucking election. It was in 2018, y'all crowed about it as THE BLUE WAVE, and it seemed at the time that people were pretty clear about their expectations. And here you are, defaulting to the usual "wait 'til next election" guff.

I'll vote blue no matter who this time around, but it might be the last time. Because I have better things to do than waste my time on people who won't fucking fight, even when there are openings and vulnerabilities all over the place.

Whether it's in politics, school, the workplace, your love life, whatever, I hate to think that I might be the first person to share this yuge secret with you, but here ya go:  there is never a perfect or even good time to get into a huge undertaking, or pick a big fight. Bokay? That perfect scenario simply never occurs. That's how life is. You take your opportunities where you find them, and you use every tool at your disposal to make the most of them. You play the hand you're dealt, but you by god fucking well play it.

So in the case of impeaching one William "Dad was a sex predator who gave Uncle Jeff Epstein his first job, working with teenage girls, even though he didn't have the necessary degree for the job" Barr, you have to acknowledge at the outset that it is highly unlikely that the Senate will convict and remove Barr.

That is a given:  the Republicon Party hates this country, and the people who live in it, and will do anything and everything to subvert and undermine our interests. They are traitors, pure and simple. That is the terrain in which you must operate.

Now, when you tell the proles and plebes and doofuses that believe you still give a shit that they must wait until the next election (always the next one, isn't it?), it's important that you elide the fact that you're dealing with people who are currently doing everything they can to suppress the right to vote, especially in key states. Unlike your overpaid cable teevee pigskin prognosticators, I'm not going to call them "swing" states, because the fact of the matter is that even if states like Kentucky and Georgia were D+10 states, every Republicon official in those states would do everything they could to just shut down the process and keep blacks from voting.

It's as simple as that -- they cheat because they know they can't win, and they're brazen enough to make it clear that they're cheating. Because they know no one will do a fucking thing about it.

But the process of impeachment itself, whether it results in the removal of its target or not, entails the implementation of procedures and powers that bring the corruption and malfeasance under a spotlight, and especially this close to the election, could by just enough breathing room to ensure a relatively fair election process. The fact that the election is only four months away now necessitates the initiation of this process now, rather than, as Pelosi would have it, postpones it.

It's been a long, strange trip in this blog over the past fifteen years, and longtime readers have seen some of the personal and professional travails I've shared. Over the past five years or so, though, my resolve has been to insulate my life from the decisions of stupid, cruel people. And it's taken some work, time, patience, commitment, but for the most part, I've attained that goal. I'll have a house and a good job either way. I have very little immediate skin in this game anymore. And so I have no interest or need to bother with voting for people who are just going jerk my fucking chain.

Turns out that I have hands, so I am entirely capable of jerking myself off.

But I still have a sense of justice, and I still give a shit about the direction this country has taken, and where our most vulnerable citizens will be if this thing shakes out wrong. I think the situation is truly urgent, and to me, that means by definition that we -- our elected representatives -- must act with a real sense of urgency.

And this is less in anger than in sheer exasperation, but I simply don't understand why the Speaker of the House, in a position to oppose a dangerous, erratic, corrupt, and incredibly unpopular chief executive and his attack dog, fail to actively, strenuously, urgently oppose them at every possible opportunity. Failure to take advantage and action of every chance is simply a dereliction of duty. Take your excuses and shove them sideways.

Either the law means something, or it doesn't. Either you think there's a problem, or you don't. Either you act upon your concerns at every possible juncture, or you punt with the usual bullshit excuses. All I know is that I am sick and goddamned tired of being lectured to show up and vote, by people who, once voted into office, do the bare fucking minimum and still have the fucking balls to lecture some more about how we need to get the next time. Always the next time.

Until you wake up one day, and find out the hard way that there isn't a next time, that your scam has dried up and blown away, and that people figured that if you're not gonna do anything anyway, what's the point of showing up?

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Summer of Stupid

Because the US has a constant surplus of genuinely stupid, credulous dupes who rilly rilly care about shit, but simply cannot be bothered enough to find out whether it's even true or not, there is always a running narrative or several at any given moment that serve only to reinforce that basic concept.

Here are three such current notions, and why they're fucking dumb, as are their adherents:

  1. Voting by mail is inherently fraudulent.
    Given that its biggest proponent has been voting by mail long before he threw his head-ferret into the political ring, this one shouldn't even need to be debunked. And yet, because there is a gross ratio of simpletons who perceive a linear correlation between repetition and veracity -- in other words, the more you repeat the lie, the more they buy it -- it needs to be debunked.

    So here's the thing:  it's not even worth bothering with trucking out the usual statistical data showing that fraud by mail ballot is almost literally (and is statistically) nonexistent. Instead, let's think for a hot second about the mechanics of the mail-ballot process. Preznit Genius Q. Dealmaker would have his fan-club of shitheads and suckers believe that anyone could simply run down to Kinko's with their absentee ballot, and run off infinity copies, and pass them off as "real" (i.e., fraudulent) votes.

    Okay. Go ahead and try it. (Especially you Trumptards out there -- I fucking encourage you to try it, because it'll be a complete waste of your disability check.) Take your mail-in ballot and run off, say, a thousand copies. If you're feeling extra ambitious, make it a million copies. The folks at the copy shop will looove you.

    So. You've made your hundreds or thousands of copies of your ballot, right? Now you take them home, and spend x number of hours filling them all out, meticulously, methodically, consistently. You are gonna TURN THIS ELECTION ROUND, Y'ALL. Why doesn't everyone on the mail-in scam do this? you ask yourself. How the fuck did I get to be so much smarter than everyone else?

    Then, as you finish filling out ballot #9,999 or the ten thousand you made with your crafty little scheme, you notice a small but important detail -- the ballot registry number. You see, whether you vote in person or by mail, you have to register, and when you do that, the county verifies your residence -- to prevent duplication, you see -- and assigns you a number on the county roster. Since your "ballots" are all copies, it's all the same number, ten thousand times.

    Which means that once the county sees your ballot -- any one of the ten thousand or so you paid money to copy, and spent time to fill out, they check you off on the county roster. You voted, it's done. You can send the entire stack in if it floats your boat, but they will throw it all away -- but not before, if they're worth half a shit at their job, coming after you and slapping you with a fat fine for voter fraud.

    It's a concentric ring of increasingly stupid and obvious lies -- not only does Dear Leader and his entire claque vote by mail, and not only is fraud statistically nonexistent by mail-in ballots, it is mechanically and procedurally impossible to do so to any meaningful degree. You have to literally have no earthly clue how the process works -- like, at all -- to buy this one.

  2. Statues and monuments are intended to be educational tools.
    This one is just too easy. No doubt you have seen by now some tedious version of the usual Facebook uncle YEW CAIN'T TAKE ARRR HISSTRY nonsense, as a response to the wave of statue-toppling going on right now.

    So go ahead and think for a second how much you know about American history -- or any history -- and how much of that knowledge was gleaned from looking at statues or monuments.

    Those cultural objects, whatever their values, are not intended to educate, but commemorate -- and in the case of the participation trophies cluttering the south, intimidate. That is not a "modern" "liberal" interpretation, four or five generations removed from the installation of such things, it was explicitly stated as such at the time. It was part of the benediction and investiture of those abominations.

    Consider:  what other country in the world insists on keeping monuments to people who took up arms against their own country and lost badly, names military bases after traitors and losers? Name one other country that honors enemy combatants. Go ahead, we'll wait.

    And yet, I'll wager that the average German knows a hell of a lot more about the Nazi regime than the average southerner knows about the confederate regime. No one "learns" anything of value from a statue or monument, even if it's of Abraham Lincoln or Albert Einstein. At best you get a plaque with fifty or a hundred words containing some decontextualized specifics about the honoree.

    But if you wanted to learn something about Einstein or Lincoln, if you wanted to get educated about the "history" of the confederacy and its participants and adherents, you'd read a fucking book. They still have those, you know. The library in your town is still free. I'll bet they have at least one book about Jeff Davis or Bobby Lee or Albert Pike, or whichever scumbag traitor shitbird they tore down today.

    The people who claim that participation trophies are the best -- or even a good, or marginally reliable -- source of information or "history" are participating in a mass self-delusion, a sort of line-dancing of evasion. They don't know the history, and don't want to know. They want to pretend that all interpretations are equally valid, even the empirically false ones, even the versions based on pure hatred and blatant racism, and they want you to join them in that pretense.

    They don't want to keep slave-owner statues and plantation "tours" because those things present a more complete picture of a complex time. They want to keep those things because they validate a vision and a goal of returning to a time where certain people ruled the roost, and everyone else knew their place.

    But let's call the lie for what it really is -- nobody ever came away from a statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest or whatever traitor-slaver dirtbag you prefer, knowing more useful information about that person and the context and time they operated in, than they did before they stepped up to the plaque and moved their lips to the inscription.

  3. Impeachment is a waste of time if you know you can't win.
    In the interest of fairness, and mostly because these people piss me off as much as confederate apologists piss me off, let's take a look at a rather stout beam of current liberal and Democratic orthodoxy.

    Now, if you are not too distracted by the homilies of inept confederate sculpture, you may have seen in the onrushing torrent of political coverage that since his sham impeachment trial a few months ago, the chief executive has continued to act in ways that not only countermand and subvert the national interest, but are blatantly illegal and unconstitutional.

    It turns out also that the current attorney general, a self-proclaimed culture paladin whose own father was the very same pederast headmaster who hired one Jeffrey Epstein, has openly played an active role in purging the ranks of the "Justice" Department, squashing inconvenient investigations, and generally making no secret of his goal of completing the job of turning this country into a fully fledged banana republic.

    The logical and moral thing to do would be for the House of Representatives (pay particular attention to the last word of that name) to use every tool at their disposal to investigate these ongoing misdeeds, with the goal of prosecuting and trying them in public, for the benefit of same. Beyond simply prosecuting and punishing these crimes as such, the ancillary goals would be to make it as inconvenient as possible for the criminals to continue their activities, as well as make it clear to them that their actions will not go without a response.

    Since the impeachment farce, which showed beyond all doubt that the Republicon senators have been irretrievably corrupted and must be voted out of office as soon as possible, the Democratic response to further calls for investigation and prosecution have been met with limp responses of "wait till November," as if people will actually get the chance to cast a vote and get it counted without undue interference.

    (Turns out there is no need to concoct a baroque scheme to mass-copy mail-in ballots, or bus in illegals from Massachusetts across the New Hampshire border. All you need to do is have vested financial interest with the companies that produce electronic voting machines for contentious states, and then make sure that the secretaries of state in those places can be bought. See the great state of Georgia for the most egregious example, but Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, and others are all following suit in various ways.)

    Of course a second impeachment of Trump, or a first impeachment of Barr, will end in acquittal by the Senate. So what? Do it anyway. Do it because it's your fucking job. See, there already was an election mandating the investigation of corruption. That was that "blue wave" of 2018, remember? You're representatives, and now it is time to represent. You really may not have another shot at this.

    Either the law means something, or it doesn't. Either corruption is something that should be called out and publicly shamed for what it is at every opportunity and every occurrence, or not. There is a disagreement on what "failure" means in this context. It does not mean trying and not succeeding in conviction, it means not trying at all, which is much more empowering and validating to the criminals than putting up a good fight and maybe not getting across the finish line.

    Look at how federal prosecutors have used creative tactics to secure convictions against mobsters over the years, from Al Capone to John Gotti. It frequently takes years, and multiple tries, and even questionable methods sometimes. But persistence is key, and while the odds may be slim, they're always better than pre-emptively giving up.

    Even the political aspect of trying makes more sense. The Democrats' problem typically is finding ways to inspire passion and action in its ranks. Who the fuck is inspired by yeah, we know they're guilty as hell, but let's wait six months and see if we're still allowed to vote?

    We voted, assholes, and it was clear at the time what we were voting for. So do it, not with narrowly-drawn articles that a chimp could scramble out of, but with a barrage of throw-everything-against-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks charges. Hammer them for fucking jaywalking. Hammer them for being assholes. Hammer them because you don't like the color of their suits. Whatever.

    It's truly sad that a moral abomination of a political party has such a handle on marketing its horrific policies, but a lot of that boils down to passion. They may be nuts, they may be assholes, but they're all-in on those things. They don't second-guess, they don't worry about facts, or what works. They investigated the Benghazi nothingburger nine times, and when they still came up flat, they trotted it out at their convention to whip up the rubes. It was bullshit, but it worked where they needed it to work.

    What might it be like if the Democrats understood the gunfight for what it was, and finally dropped their Spork of Decorum™ and picked up a fucking MAC-10 and went to town?

Daddy Issues

It is going on six years since my dad passed away, and in that time Father's Day has increasingly become a time not only where I have the expected overall feeling of missing him, but thinking very specifically of the things I miss about him. That, along with the ongoing cultural perturbations of what is referred to as toxic masculinity, presents broader questions about what masculinity is, what "makes" a "man" recognized as such, which characteristics and traits are identified with "men" and why.

(I'm not going to get into a digression about gender theory or deconstructing heteronormative tropes, or any of that sort of thing. It doesn't bother me, but it doesn't interest me either. I don't know enough about it, and it's orthogonal to the point anyway. I'm going by the usual definitions of all those words and ideas, but putting some of them in quotes just to get people thinking about the definitions all the same.)

There are two additional recent events (for me personally) that bring such questions into sharp relief for me, and I believe are worth considering for everyone. One was watching the movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, in which Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks) helps a magazine interviewer (Matthew Rhys) deal with the self-destructive relationship with his own father (Chris Cooper).

As a kid of that era, of course I watched Mr. Rogers, and then as a teen watched his style lampooned by comedians like Eddie Murphy and Robin Williams. It's one of those little formative things you forget about, but ultimately take seed and bear fruit in many people, in the form of a rather acidic cynicism about everything and everyone. Only later in life, certainly once you have kids of your own, do you start to see the real value in what Fred Rogers was trying to convey not only to children, but to their parents as well:  Kindness. Sincerity. Compassion. Empathy. Patience. Grace.

In a world where we are all routinely conditioned from an early age to reject those things, in favor of a smug, knowing, cynical outlook, those traits become burdens that identify suckers and weigh them down with reluctance to do the expedient things in life.

If you're in, say, the 45-55 age bracket, there are a couple of interesting tests you can run on yourself and on your Facebook friends, regarding two cultural touchstones that people of that demographic would know -- Mr. Rogers and N.W.A. (yes, the gangsta rap group).

Remember the N.W.A. movie that came out a few years ago, and all those people like Yay, cool, I remember when!, right? Think about the people you knew who reacted positively to the movie, went and saw it, relived that era of their lives, and how those particular people now express themselves about the "blue lives matter" movement, or the co-opted national flag they use. There's a cognitive dissonance, a contradiction in declared values.

You cannot align yourself with a group whose signature song and slogan was "Fuck the police," and then turn your back on the hundreds of videos just in the past month, of irrefutable evidence of thugs and bullies abusing their uniform and the public's trust. Pepper-spraying little kids and taking the prosthetic legs of amputees. Not all heroes wear capes, I guess.

Many of those same people in that age bracket also identify as having enjoyed Mr. Rogers when they were kids, yet again, somehow without internalizing those traits which were his entire reason for doing the show to begin with. If you pointed out that Martin Gugino was basically doing what Fred Rogers would have done if he were still alive -- peacefully resisting, and trying to approach his aggressors in a spirit of kindness and kinship -- they wouldn't believe you. They like the cheesy, memorable sure you could slogans that the comedians parodied. As far as the actual values that he tried to impart, he was just a christian hippie with a sweater, as far as they're concerned.

This juxtaposition of personally-held with culturally-inculcated values is key, and it is perhaps the most stark in people who identify rather vocally and emphatically as "christian," while routinely indulging in personal behavior is at odds with the teachings of Christ, and of course loudly endorsing politicians who behave like rutting pigs at a trough. But of course there are countless examples, large and small, subtle and obvious, everywhere you look.

The second recent event for me was a close elderly relative passing away. Despite the ongoing plague, we managed to have a nice service with good, if strategically spaced, attendance. As you might imagine, I am not one for the cliché of "role models," but this particular relative was certainly someone who was cut from that jib, almost effortlessly -- someone who didn't have to show you how decent he was, because he was decent.

So what comes to mind for most of us when we talk about "masculine" "virtues"? Strength (whether physical or moral fortitude), self-reliance, competence, skill, loyalty, honesty. Usually somewhere between the Stoics and the Boy Scouts.

But really, most of those things (maybe not necessarily physical strength) are just as easily applied to women. If you were raised by a single mother or just have ever known one, you know that they have to have most or all of those traits, and more. So they're not "masculine" traits or values, they're just values then, aren't they?

But that's a difficult conditioning to look past in this culture, and the fact is that there are a lot of men who take advantage of the assumptions of those traits, without even pretending to try to possess or attain them.

It annoys me that my relative -- who was kind, patient, funny, strong, competent, decent, and so much more -- went ahead and did the work required to be those things, right up to the very end and with a genuine spirit of joy in the undertaking, while so many in power, and many of those who follow them, don't feel the need to indulge in such silliness.

Many of your "dark web" types, your Jordan Peterson "conservative thinkamator" thought leaders, bullshit people with the notion that if they just made their bed and developed lifehack routines, the rest takes care of itself. But it doesn't. It takes self-reflection to see that you cannot be in conflict at that deep of a personal level. You can't pretend to be one thing while being its diametric opposite. Some misalignment is natural, but either you are kind and patient and reasonable and treat people well until they give you a reason not to, or you're not and don't.

Not just on Father's Day, but every day, fathers in particular owe it to themselves and their children to really think about the values and goals they are imparting to their kids. I mean, I can be a high-toned, vengeful s.o.b. in here, but the fact is that I have taught my child to be generous and decent and kind and tolerant. And that's really the only measure of parental success worth striving for.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

The Bigger They Scum, the Larder They Fall

Looks like the Jonestown comeback rally at Tulsa's Sad Trombone Feed Lot didn't go quite as expected. Instead of a million attendees, looks like a million lulz showed up, along with a couple thousand of the usual sweaty orcs and gastropods who signed their X to the COVID (hoax!) waiver. Sad! But also high-larry-us!

It's not entirely clear whether Hills Have Eyes extra Brad Parscale is simply a slapdick IT weasel who's been punching above his weight for way too long, like a bad guitar teacher who's just barely good enough to stay one lesson ahead of his best student, and the clock is finally running out on his ineptitude; or if he's been this smooth meta-grifting super-genius the entire time, setting up a web machine to milk the rubes on swag, while he placates Diaper Don with carefully massaged polls, and now Grampa Walnuts went out to one of the deepest-red states expecting a victory lap and got caught with his old-man pants down.

Guess all those tickets Parscale was bragging about ended up going to TikTok teens who know the game way better than Lurch could ever dream possible. Tens of thousands of no-shows, so bad that Dear Leader had to cancel the outdoor speech, because of the optics of him serenading a mostly-empty parking lot. Maybe if he unbuttoned his shirt and started with a couple of Engelbert Humperdinck numbers.

Whatever the case, hopefully everyone who did show up got what they were looking for, good and hard. We'll find out in a couple weeks, when the incubation period has had its chance. Don't forget to chug your bleach, you guys! Twice as much means twice as effective. That's just science right there.

In the meantime, six campaign staff members tested positive for the #TrumpPlague. Most of the tests available are the swab type, which involves jamming a Q-tip up into your nose until it hits your pre-frontal lobe or thereabouts. Because of the staff members' proximity to Mister Man, they will all most likely have to be tested daily for the next two weeks, as will the rest of the staff.

I am not remotely kidding when I say that that knowledge thrills me to no end, and adds to what has already been a pretty good weekend. That gives me a chub that could hit a dinger out of Fenway Park, I shit you not. They chose to work for that dirtbag, this seems like an appropriate consequence, eventually leading to being drummed out of the political-industrial complex altogether, and being forced to ply an honest -- and low-paying -- trade.

Like these assholes insist every time there's a hurricane or flood while a Demoncrat is in office, maybe your vengeful sky-buddy is trying to tell you something. Repent now, shitheads, while there's still time.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Very Fine People

Since we're all "reopening" the wage-slave service economy now, plague be damned, you can probably start the countdown to the next elite mediot haunted diner safari to lecture us all for the kajillionth time on the "economic anxiety" these salt-of-the-earth types factor into their decision-making, such as it is.

Any doubts or concerns about why my default position on these dirtbags starts at seething contempt and generally worsens, should be answered thoroughly by that video. That town and its inhabitants are a dog turd stuck to the sole of the world's collective shoe. This isn't some "worst of the worst" scenario; the cops are standing there while the lone protester gets threatened and assaulted. This is how it is in these places.

The only consolation to be had is that pretty much everyone you see in that video has the coveted blood type of Gravy+, and as such won't live long enough collect their Social Security. (Though clearly most of them are collecting it prematurely in the form of various other social programs, as you wouldn't hire a single one of those losers to clean your gutters or move rocks across your driveway.)

This is what you're up against. The cops won't help you; they're on their side, the side of authoritarianism and fascism. So don't get angry, get ahead. The main thing is to stop pretending that if their soul-deadening widget-stamping jobs came back to East Overshoe, they'd be totally different people. They wouldn't. They'd just be racist scumbags with steadier income. The factory leaving town twenty years ago is just the excuse they've always hidden behind. Did someone put a fucking gun to their heads and keep them from going to the free library and learning a new job skill?

It occurs to me that while I suppose I self-identify as a "liberal" essentially by default, since all the alternatives are either rabidly stupid or wildly ineffective, the thing I notice about real liberals is that most of them have this weird teleological need to believe in the "innate goodness of humanity" or some shit like that. It's like religion without the money -- which, you know, what's the fuckin' point then?

And the cold fact is that, as the prophet John Cougar Mellencamp sagely wrote thirty-some years ago, some people ain't no damned good. Like Dr. Cox in Scrubs said, most people are bastard-coated bastards with bastard filling.

Not you or me, of course -- we're the good guys, right? I mean, I won't claim to be simon-pure, but I do know I've never been part of a snarling circle of predators surrounding a terrified kid for the high crime of speaking his fucking mind in what we used to at least pretend was a free country. You know? I have no doubt that most of these shitheads are trudging back home to lives of futility -- and that thrills me to no end.

They deserve to be miserable with every waking breath. I hope their lives are the stuff of Hank Williams songs. They pretty much have to be, because successful, happy people don't have time for this angry-chimp bullshit.

When they tell you and show you, over and over and over again, who and what they really are, it might be best to give up notions about helping them find their "better angels," and just believe them. They're nothing more and nothing less than miserable fucks who lost the game of life before they dropped out of tenth grade, and have spent their entire adult lives doing nothing but trying to pull the rest of the world down to their level. They'll lamely try to tell you that they just want to be "left alone," but somehow that always seems to include their gawwwd-given right to push around anyone who disagrees with them.

Leave me alone, but I insist upon the privilege of never having to leave you alone.

Dung beetles don't morph into butterflies, folks. Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is simply insulate yourself as much as possible from the decisions of the lowest common denominators of society. Not every problem has a solution.

There is no percentage in arguing with some toothless cousin-fucker living out his vicarious revenge-porn fantasy (probably on his probation officer, or on the judge who slapped him with a restraining order and child-support payments, or on his ex's divorce lawyer, or her new boyfriend, etc.) with his stupid Punisher tee-shirt. Okay? There's just not a discussion to be had, no compromise, no "reaching out" by whatever "conservative Democrat" asshole thinks will get him that 50.1% electoral victory.

Just tell them that a nice chug of Drano will cure their tertiary syphilis and prevent the COVID, and let karma find its way.