Thursday, June 22, 2017

Young Man Blues

As we enter the hottest summer ever -- because we are now in an age where every year is hotter than the last -- let's take a look at three recent stories involving young men.

So the special elections keep becoming near-misses, the latest one being the $50 million or so spent trying to spring techno-milquetoast Jon Ossoff into the GA-6 seat vacated by corrupt lizard Tom Price, who was appointed to funnel the health-care system more fully into the pockets of the insurance-pharma-HMO axis of evil.

I caught Ossoff the night before the election on one of the interchangeable MSNBC shows, probably Lawrence O'Donnell, but it doesn't really matter. Ossoff came off as pleasant, intelligent, well-versed in policy specifics, but rather bland -- in other words, completely wrong for an electorate that is now basically nothing more than a collection of hamsters in a giant Skinner box, pressing the metal plate for their outrage pellets before getting back on the wheel that passes for their lives.

Excessive "Thrilla in Manila" media hype didn't help; not only did the enormous presence of "outside" money apparently rankle some of the locals' fine sensibilities, but the endless chimp-with-dartboard hot-takes just exhausted everyone.

One of the stupider tropes of the election was that it was a "referendum on [Clownstick]." Well, yes and no, mostly no. Technically, every election is a referendum on pretty much everything. In this case, it could be a referendum on the media, the pollsters, the voters themselves. GA-6 should be proud of the irony that, in order to show their proud disdain for "outsider money" and their desire for "change," they chose a careerist hack who was born in DC, while eschewing someone who was born in the heavily gerrymandered district, and lives within walking district of it while his fiancé finishes up her degree at Emory. So much for their lying excuses.

The polls generally leaned to Ossoff by 2-5% until the last few days when they evened out. Ossoff lost by four percent. It might be time to consider the possibility that:
  • Pollsters are not very good at their jobs.
  • Respondents are fucking with pollsters.
  • Enough people are uninformed, flaky morons who can't make up their wittle minds on the starkest choices until the last second, effectively rendering the polling process into a lucrative circle-jerk.
  • We heard over and over again how much money had been spent on this race. So what was it spent on? With that in mind, do media companies and political consultants and polling professionals have perhaps a vested interest in stoking a horse race, even when there might not really be one? Think their rates are a little higher when the polls show Ossoff up by three or neck-and-neck, than down by four or five in a reliably red district?
Polling aside, it became apparent that Ossoff would probably lose when Handel produced a homestretch-weekend video linking Ossoff to the dumb and destructive activities of D-list personality Kathy Griffin and shooter James Hodgkinson. The video itself was not the problem; the shocked, pearl-clutching reaction was the problem. Democrats still do not understand the nature of the game they play. They persist in this "when they go low, we go high" idiocy, which just means more spork-to-a-gunfight mismatches.

Ossoff could have responded -- indeed, should have had in the can, ready to use -- showing Handel's scandalous behavior as a vote-suppressing bastard as Secretary of State in Georgia, as a Planned Parenthood attacking loon when she headed the pink-washing Susan Komen Foundation. The fact that he didn't -- the idea that at this point, anyone thinks they can get in the ring and still stay above the fray -- validated the hushed suspicions that maybe the kid was just a little too wet behind the ears.

Now, is hand-wringing and panic justified, going 0-5 in these special elections? Some say yes, others say no. Choose your hot take, 'murka! Again, the truth is both yes and no, again mostly no. These elections all occurred to replace critters who had been selected to join the boot-licking Clownstick cabinet, and as such, were chosen from very safe districts. In all of them, the Democratic candidate got within reach, closing 20+% gaps in some cases, barely half a year since November. So frustration is rational, but giving up in despair would be stupid. Even for a complete, unrepentant, gaping asshole like Emperor Snowflake, it's a lot to expect the cult to turn on him in just five months. Let him fuck them out their health care and job prospects first.

However, disgruntled Democrats are right to say that a change in leadership is needed. I totally agree with Charles Pierce that kicking Nancy Pelosi to the curb in the heat of the moment would be enormously counterproductive. I don't agree with Pelosi on everything, but she's smart, effective, raises money, kicks ass when needed, gets shit done. But she's 77 years old. Dianne Feinstein turns 84 tomorrow, and is up for re-election next year, and appears to be set to run.

This is both amazing and stupid. It's as if the party has never heard of succession planning, or developing a bench. They should be tapping one of the Castro brothers to go after alien-in-an-itchy-human-suit Rafael Edward Cruz's Senate seat next year. They should be pushing up-and-comers like Seth Moulton in front of every camera possible. In an endless news cycle with nearly infinite content modes, it should not be that difficult to get your younger talent out there to spread the message.

And what is that message, exactly? I said this a full year ago, and I'll say it again -- forget the "inclusive" SJW jabber, and focus on economic justice. In the end, it wasn't latent racism that caused all those rust-belt counties that voted for the blah guy twice to flip to Clownstick. It was the perception -- right or wrong, this is the alternate reality we all inhabit now -- that "Democrats" and "liberals" cared more about transgender bathroom rights than they cared about the washed-up, boarded-up, opioid-addicted wastelands infesting the hinterlands.

I think there may have been some justification to that perception. In his farewell press conference, Obama reflected on how a black guy with a foreign-sounding name could win in a place like Iowa, and he attributed it to going to all 99 counties, going to the pig-fucking competitions and eating deep-fried candy bars -- and most importantly, talking and listening to the people directly. You didn't really see that with most of the candidates.

Get some true economic populists with balls who will actually stand up to this bully, not with a scripted litany of fifty-cent words, but with the same "fuck you and the horse you rode in on" cadences he uses on everyone else. Work on some nicknames for him and make them stick. Have I ever mentioned before that most of branding and marketing comes down to repetition?

Go find a few of the blue-collar contractors Clownstick fucked over as part of his "business" model, put together quick two-minute videos of smash-cut money-quote excerpts from them, push it to the MSNBC night crew with a "deadbeat Asshole" type of nickname, and make a real concerted push. Why are these people so inept at crafting simple, effective messages? Because they still seriously think that better ideas win by virtue of their betterness. How's that working out? Stop overthinking this shit and take the piss out of this moron and his moron cult already. It should not be this difficult to brand a lifelong con-artist as such. Better messages, messengers, and channels help.

The GA-6 outcome may be the final straw in causing something of a rift in the Democratic Party. Sorry, but I think it would be a good thing for them. They need to re-focus on who they are just as much as who they are not, and they need to develop new blood much more effectively. It doesn't need to happen overnight; done correctly and patiently, they can easily reclaim enough seats in the midterms to hobble this inept scumbag crook and his thieving, grasping family, and then depose him in 2020. But they need to start now.

The sad tale of Otto Warmbier, the Midwestern kid with the on-the-nose surname, came to an abrupt close when North Korea essentially pulled the classic frightened-frat-boy maneuver -- putting the alcohol-poisoned pledge in a shopping cart and leaving him at the front door of the emergency room.

Plenty of people have weighed in with their "what did you expect" bumptions, and indeed, it would be difficult to come up with more inadvisable activities than traveling to North Korea. Maybe reporting on a Mexican drug cartel, or climbing Mount Everest in your jean shorts, those would be slightly worse ideas. But the kid was twenty-one years old, and I don't know about you, but when I was twenty-one, "dumb and impulsive" pretty much covered it. Between drugs, booze, motorcycles, and women, there are days where I wonder how I made it to thirty. Part of getting old is being lucky to survive a wild youth long enough to settle down.

It's also easy to lob armchair-quarterback critiques of the Obama administration's inaction in getting Warmbier returned, especially after being sentenced to fifteen years in a labor camp, in a trial that looked like a parody. But most negotiations with NK take place behind the scenes, out of necessity. And everything in dealing with this cult-like regime expends political capital, which is scarcer than Clownstick brain cells when it comes to getting leverage on the Norks. You can't shoot your wad on one person -- for one thing, even if it works, it makes every other person from your country that travels there an enhanced target.

Every traditional diplomatic element is stood on its head when it comes to working with the Kim crime family. There is no "rational actor" strategic thinking that will help, because Kim's only rationale is self-preservation, and he clearly doesn't care at all what happens to his people. And they have nukes and rough terrain and massive underground bunkers. Kim and his inner circle would be perfectly happy to hide for months -- after nuking Seoul and Tokyo -- while we eliminate the defenders and civilians. They really do not give a shit, and that's enormously tough to strategize.

No administration of any party can be reasonably expected to go too far to "rescue" someone when it may not be possible logistically in the first place. And who knows why they chose to send Warmbier home when they did? Probably either the Chinese leaned on them, or they just got tired of trying to keep a kid in a coma alive.

Whatever the case, what should we do about it? People are pissed about what NK did to Otto Warmbier, and they damn well should be. But again, what do you propose to do about it? Start a war? Increase sanctions and starve them out? Again, these things have no leverage, and only hurt people who had nothing to do with any of this. Anyone who says it's simple is nuts.

The old cliché about youth being wasted on the young has some merit to it, but the corollary to that is that the wisdom that is supposed to be conferred with age frequently gets wasted as well. Part of being "wise" is being able to recall what we were like when we were younger, and allowing the "unwise" to have the time and experience we were granted to learn the ropes.

Philando Castile is the latest example of (much to whitey's ongoing chagrin and confusion) Why Black People Are Pissed. The release of the dash cam footage is harrowing and disgusting. Jeronimo Yanez got away with murder, shooting Castile like a fish in a barrel, narrowly missing Castile's four-year-old daughter.

To hear Yanez screaming unintelligibly even after turning Castile into Swiss cheese is to hear the entire problem -- Yanez should never have been a cop or allowed to carry a gun in the first place. Here's a pro-tip for all you wannabe, gonnabe, and actual cops -- if this is how you act when someone is fully cooperating with you, you are in the wrong fucking line of work. Turn in your badge and go be a plumber or something, before you get someone killed. Sorry it's a dangerous job, but I refuse to concede my basic rights as a citizen to make it easier to push the peons around, and I don't expect anyone else to give up their rights.

The problem here is training, how much and what type. In many states, you need more hours of training to become a hairdresser than to become a cop. In Yanez' case, maybe taking two seconds to think about calling a police training Bulletproof Warrior would clarify the situation. That is not what you call anything that is designed to facilitate community relations, let's say. To say that it presumes a stance and a relationship with the people you're supposed to protect and serve as unnecessarily antagonistic is to put it very mildly.

And now a little girl gets to grow up having watched her father get murdered by a cop for no goddamned reason, while that inept-at-best police officer walked away scot free. They didn't even have the balls to fire his incompetent ass; Yanez was simply asked to voluntarily resign, which means he won't get anything on his jacket. He can land somewhere else. I hear Texas is pretty good about keeping Those People in their place. But this is someone who should never have a role in law enforcement again, ever. The video proves he was unqualified in the first place.

While the focus has been on young black men being killed unnecessarily by cops, that doesn't really get to the heart of the matter. Yes, there is a racist (or racial profiling) component to it, but what this is really about is perspective, training, and accountability. If you are taking some kid and giving him about 800 hours of training, outfitting him with military gear, drumming it into his head that he's in some sort of American Fallujah where lethal combat awaits him around every corner, you can't be too shocked when he goes off on some hapless civilian trying to produce his wallet like a good peon.

The accountability is the main thing, and it has to be something that all of us, not just aggrieved blacks, need to stand up and be counted for. Philando Castile had a permit to carry his gun and we have audio and video footage that he was completely cooperative and docile during the stop, so where's the NRA on this, where are all the 2nd Amendment rights obsessives? Are black people allowed to carry guns, does the 2nd Amendment apply to them as well? These are not rhetorical questions; many of us are old enough to recall when Saint Reagan, as governor of California, instituted gun control measures precisely because of that very situation, because he and his old-cracker base were terrified that the Black Panthers were coming to exact retribution from them.

Turning fifty last month was a reminder of the obvious fact that we all view the world differently as we age, not just politically, but when you're young, the world seems full of possibilities, and its dangers seem eminently conquerable. You are too young and full of yourself to understand how deeply entrenched the system and its vile minions are against you. You might travel to countries where there are no laws or facts, or you might forget at the worst moment that some cops really are out to get you. Stay frosty, kids.

No comments: