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Monday, August 31, 2020

Opportunity Costs

Throughout the summer, I've been thinking a great deal about the various opportunities we have managed to collectively squander -- chances to rethink fundamental assumptions about "how" "things" "work" in "society," what all those terms mean for various stakeholders, and how quality-of-life metrics could and should have been improved upon or at least touched in this crisis, but instead, of course, were ignored, scorned, repudiated.

This essay is a nice distillation of that grand -- yet very small, personal, intimate -- idea. What kind of life do we want for ourselves, and for the people we care about? What was our dream, and how has it changed?

Few things sum up the dynamic of brutal end-stage capitalism than a handful of millionaires, hustling away at the behest of billionaires, telling the working-class rubes to get their lazy asses back to work, that an extra $600/month for a few months will turn them irretrievably into lazy slackers. You know, like the Wal-Mart heirs and all their kids.

Wait, you say, Wal-Mart is a corporation. They provide goods and services the free market wants. They earned whatever money they have, and can bequeath it how they see fit.

Fair enough. But Wal-Mart also has always used taxpayer-funded gubmint largesse to fund its lucrative operations. From the long-term tax abatements and incentives to open up in economically depressed areas, to deliberately shorting employee hours so they have to get public assistance for food and health care, the Waltons have always suckled at the teat of Uncle Sucker.

You paid for that two-hundred-foot yacht where the family celebrates New Year's in Sydney Harbor. You paid for the useless grandkid who went to USC and paid a classmate to write all their papers and take their tests for them. You paid for the infrastructure improvements that were necessary just to get the stores built in all those little towns.

Public subsidy, private profit. It's a phrase that crops up a great deal, once you start doing a little digging on where the money comes from, and where it ends up.

There are countless opportunities for a better society that we have always passed on, obviously. But during the #TrumpPlague, three huge ones stand out:
  • Education. In a world where information is at everyone's fingertips, we no longer need a century-old indoctrination system we borrowed from the Prussians. Education now is about three valuable things:  knowing what knowledge is useful; knowing where to find it; and hands-on experience. It's more involved than that, but those are the basics. Socialization is fine and valuable, but the toys have already changed the coming generation in ways we oldsters could not have anticipated and cannot turn back. The problem is that from the management end, the education system is really a funnel designed to ensure pliant workers and consumers for our magical hyper-capitalist singularity future, while also keeping the kids properly warehoused so their parents can work. And the higher education system is just a financialized grift, pushing kids into schools to get a piece of paper that they'll be paying for until they're fifty. It's credentialism as much as education or experience. And it's all about to change drastically anyway. Wait and see how many small colleges go broke over the next six to twelve months. But going forward:  what sorts of things do "we" want "our" kids to learn, and how much should they be charged against their futures for the privilege?

  • Work. Who are the "essential" people? What specifically do they do that makes them essential? Are they paid accordingly? What role do you as a consumer have in all that? Should you pay a little for meat from your local butcher, or produce from your local grower, before supporting the factory-farm supply chain that coerces people back to dangerous, low-paying jobs? Do we want to "restore" the vaunted American manufacturing base? Well, here's the deal with that:  it cannot happen to scale unless and until we decouple health care access from employment status. That's all there is to it. Next time you're watching your friendly corporate or cable "news" broadcast, no matter which channel, no matter what time of day, watch it for at least a half-hour or an hour, and count how many health care commercials you see. I bet you didn't even notice until you started taking count.

  • Money -- more specifically, wealth inequality. I've used this analogy many times before -- think of the economy as a massive circulatory system, and money is the blood. If you get too much concentrated in a single area, what happens to the body? Why did our elected representatives shovel trillions of dollars at people who were already obscenely wealthy, and will just hoard the money? They literally could have given every household $31k (based on a low-ball estimate of $4 trillion in economic assistance so far), and that money would have poured directly into the real economy. Shit, you could have picked four million people at random and given each of them $1M, as opposed to the equally arbitrary tactic of handing money to people who already had millions or billions. We have been bamboozled to believe that the Dow and the GDP are accurate barometers of the economy. They are not -- they are betting predictors for a handful of whales at the NYSE casino, where the house always wins, and if the shit blows up, well, Joe Sixpack will be forced to help them keep their extra vacation homes. In return, Joe gets his shitty health plan whittled away, and his pension fund ripped off. Same as it ever was.
It's easy to say that the idiots have dragged us all down with their nonsense, and certainly they have, but this has been a long time coming, and from many angles. The bestiary of American idiots is large and varied, from the coal-rolling shock troops heading into the cities (outside agitators) in the hopes of escalating violence and mayhem, to the hapless good-governance liberal dupe who still believes in institutional integrity and the rightness of their principles.

If this country had anything resembling moral leaders or a collective conscience, they would have been calling for Trump's resignation months ago. Instead you have a seedy subculture of hackcess journos pretending to protect the sanctity of the republic with their court stenography, working at the behest of publishers and editors-in-chief who are there explicitly to protect their own role as elite gatekeeper media -- that is, elites talking to each other, and thus setting the tone for "general discourse," but really just trying to make a horserace out of a corrupted process, in order to -- wait for it -- sell you more boner pills and big ol' trucks. Meanwhile, the "serious journos" hang on to the good stuff for their fucking books.

It's all slipping away, right in front of us, thanks to a deliberately engineered plutocratic insurgency decades in the making. The good news is, it's still up to you to some small extent, though this is almost certainly our last best chance to salvage what's left and try to start putting things back together. Ignore the polls, and the vicious, corrupt machinery that churns them out. Ignore the media's cynical spins and gutless hot takes. Remember that if your vote didn't matter, they wouldn't be trying so hard to cheat you out of it.

But you have to show every goddamned time, not just on Super Bowl Sunday. Everything from dog-catcher on up matters. That's how the fuckers got in charge at every level, because they took it seriously. Being a citizen is a job, and if you fail to show up or pay attention or take the right action at the right time, someone else will be more than happy to make those decisions for you.

No more excuses. Put up or shut up; fuck or walk. Make sure you can vote, and then bloody well do it, every time. You wanna make good trouble, that's the best kind.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

True Believer

I love great comedy and comedians almost as much as I love great music and musicians. Growing up on a steady diet of (mostly) black comedians who would say literally anything to make people laugh, it's never mattered whether they were "dirty" or not. Sometimes it made it funnier, mostly on the holy shit, did he really just say that? sense.

In recent years, "clean" comedians such as Jim Gaffigan and Pete Holmes, both of whom are also to some degree persons of faith, have attracted notice, proving that funny is funny, no matter whether you're raunchy or not. Gaffigan especially, happily married with five kids, so Catholic he's actually performed for the pope, makes his family the centerpiece of his humor, somehow bringing it above the usual realm of "dad jokes".

So when Gaffigan lost his shit on Twitter last Thursday, having seen and heard enough lies and bullshit from this gang of shameless criminals, it was noteworthy. Unfortunately, so far it's mostly been noted either for the man-bites-dog nature of a guy who famously never swears being pushed into telling everyone to go fuck themselves, or for the usual shut-up-and-sing sentiments that get lobbed at (liberal) performers and athletes who upset their (conservative) fans by speaking their mind.

But what's really noteworthy about Gaffigan's tirade is the fact that it's an excellent example of someone taking their faith seriously, and not just as a cheap, convenient political posture. Atheists and believers alike have become desensitized to the public hypocrisies and greed of the most vocal professional god-botherers. It's a tacky public grift and we all know it, and we've just become used to it.

Which makes it all the more startling when someone demonstrates an actual understanding and appreciation of the teachings of Christ, empowering them as -- get this -- Christians. Even as a stone atheist, I can appreciate the fact that the central operational tenet of Christianity is empathy, a necessary element in any group endeavor, whether it's governance or business or love or compassion.

And it in fact underscores the primary reason why I have been an atheist since [checks notes] about seventh or eighth grade -- not because the stories of the bible can't be proven as empirically true or even possible in many cases, and not because god lets "bad things happen to good people" or whatever.

It's mostly because a critical mass of people who profess to believe refuse to walk the talk. They just talk and talk about it, and lecture everyone else about it, but they don't live it at all. Faith without works is dead, and people who just use their professed belief as an excuse to push other people around are not the sort of people I would want to share even fake ontological turf with.

And Trump's endless lies and violations of the nation's laws, as well as several biblical commandments on any given day, have simply brought these people's shameless hypocrisies to an impasse. They can no longer be taken seriously -- as Americans, as Christians, or even as decent people.

This fantastic Twitter thread by "Design Mom" Gabrielle Blair really drives that point home. She calls out the Trumpkins among her Instagram followers in no uncertain terms, the people who want her to shut up and talk about paint and floor tiles and home design shit.

And Blair, who is a practicing Mormon, is having none of it. She understands that the gap is irreconcilable, that she cannot continue to call herself a Christian and ignore the support of violent monsters as a simple agree-to-disagree moment. It is a clear matter of conscience, and silence is assent. And so she makes it clear to these people coming to her for design tips and mom group chats that she doesn't want to make content for people who endorse white supremacy, period.

As the self-deputizing brownshirts out there are now upping the counter-protest violence at the BLM protests, it is now more important than ever to point out to the street protesters -- you are wasting your time, and risking your health and life for nothing. Either arm yourselves -- Oregon, for example, is an open-carry state -- so you can at least defend when a truck full of douchebags rolls up with (if you're lucky) bear mace and paintball guns, or just stay home. It's been going on since May, and nothing has changed, nothing will change until the election clarifies it one way or the other.

Well, it might change one thing -- polls are showing a slight but perceptible nudge among squirrelly suburban swing-state whites toward the [rolls eyes] "law and order" vote. Just like '68. Feel better about all that "good trouble"? Yeah. Might want to start thinking real carefully about outcomes -- the lack of outcomes so far, besides an increase in violence, and what near-future outcomes are more likely. None of them are good.

In the meantime, shunning works, not just boycotting Fox News sponsors or what-have-you, but making it clear to the people in your life who value you that this is a dealbreaker for you, that you may still be their friend or relative, but they no longer have your respect, which at the very least means that political discussions are a no-go, since by definition they cannot be trusted to be honest interlocutors.

It's that simple. They have made themselves clear, time and again, with a consistency that becomes more unconscionable by the day. They are being understood for what they are, and the heinous acts they support, and they can't stand it.

And it really seems that, in a country where a majority of the citizens still at least profess some religious belief, it makes a difference to them when people of faith, such as Jim Gaffigan and Gabrielle Blair, are able to step up and articulate an argument directly derived from a faith that stems accurately from the messages of the New Testament, rather than the co-opted screeds of interchangeable face-lifted tax-dodgers. They understand correctly that there is no way to honor the actual tenets of their faith, and especially that central principle of empathy, and abide the daily cardinal sins of these people.

Ultimately, this is no longer an argument about politics. Hell, I disagree on political things with Democrats and liberals all the time, not just with conservatives and Republicans. This is an argument about ethics and morals and values as real, tangible things worth keeping, not just buzzwords to be cynically launched on some Sunday follies show hosted by whatever credulous dupe gets paid to do that shit.

Either you're okay with a thieving, lying, rapist pervert and his criminal family killing this country, or you're not. Either you're fine with 300k dead by the end of the year from a preventable pandemic, and the lies and economic destruction that have come with it, or you think it's a problem. Either you're good with people taking the law into their own hands and murdering unarmed protesters, or you recognize that as a dangerous step in the direction of brownshirts and death squads.

I think we'd all like to go back to living real lives and not spending every fucking day worrying about whatever new hellish atrocity is being visited on us by these monstrous people. But like with all those unnecessary COVID deaths, it is what it is, and every decision you make in the course of a day -- where you spend your money, who you choose to interact with and how -- counts in the aggregate.

We didn't ask for any of this, but after five years of bullshit from the Go Fuck Yourself cult, all we can say to them in response is, you have made yourselves understood, and this is what that looks like. That doesn't change as long as you continue to align yourself with these things and these people.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

The Brotherhood

Great long-read in Vanity Fair on the origins and current issues with law enforcement fraternal orders, which are not unions in the usual sense, but are conflated with them because they handle wage and pension negotiations as well as legal protection for their members.

I have long advocated against street protests, perhaps counter to "liberal" convention. Here's why:
Indeed, for American policing to function, physical assault is an important tool, but as important is intimidation—the threat of physical assault and the psychological terror it engenders. And for those tools to work, they require the premise of impunity, elevating the police officer as a different kind of being, one unencumbered by the laws of civic comportment or even the basic laws of reality. It requires not only that Alabama state troopers beat John Lewis after he marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965, fracturing his skull—it requires a system that defines Lewis as the criminal in that scenario, and the trooper as the guardian of safety and order. It requires not only that a Chicago police officer, guarding a statue of Christopher Columbus this past July, be able to punch 18-year-old Miracle Boyd in the mouth, knocking out her front teeth—it requires us to see the video and know that the officer will go unnamed and unpunished. It requires not only that a New York City police officer crack 20-year-old Dounya Zayer’s head against the pavement, causing her to have a seizure—it requires a commanding officer to watch and do nothing. It requires Lynch to refer to the officer who shoved Zayer as someone “whose boss sent him out there to do a job, who was put in a bad situation during a chaotic time,” and to refer to the decision to charge him with assault as “dereliction of duty.” For the police to act as they do, and for the body politic to accept it, requires not only fear or force but a reconfiguration of the very fabric of reality as we know it.
You can add teen terrorist Kyle Rittenhouse to that equation now, and observe the immediate wave of support this little monster got for his actions, and gain perhaps a clearer understanding of what you're up against, what the scope and scale of it all really is. Yes, some of them are trolls and/or bots. Some of them.

The real clarifier is that the Kenosha Keystone Kops let Rittenhouse walk right past them with his AR-15, hands in the air, muttering that he'd shot someone. Okay kid, see ya tomorrow! Stay hydrated! This is where they're at. This is how they're aligned. And no one's gonna do a goddamned thing about it. Remember, Rittenhouse was already planning to become a cop, just as soon as he turned eighteen. Imagine that fucking freak with the power and authority over everyone else's lives.

Imagine how many just like him are already in law enforcement across the country.

It's only a small step from "militia" to "death squad," and most of that step entails ensuring that there won't be any consequences for your actions, because you have explicit support from law enforcement personnel. This little puke had his mommy drive him and his big-boy gun across the state line to "protect property" in Kenosha where again, the local "authorities" not only waved him on through with his gun to have some fun, but are also on video essentially deputizing the local (armed) militia.

This isn't even the first instance of this sort of thing this week, law enforcement outsourcing their job duties to local fascist gangs. Portland and Boise saw the same earlier in the week, cops standing by while armed insurgents attacked unarmed protesters and destroyed government property.

Different rules for different people, you see. And when you have a paramilitarized group that is automatically unaccountable for any crime its members commit, because even elected representatives are terrified of them, you have a problem in the making. El Salvador, Bosnia, Brazil.

I think we're damned either way, whether people take to the streets or not. There's precious little evidence that it works though. And with all due respect to John Lewis, please spare me the "good trouble" guff. Point me to a single protest since the civil rights protests that actually worked. Did the Vietnam protests of 1968-70 work? No, Nixon got re-elected and we weren't completely out of there until 1975. Millions of people around the world protested the second Iraq war. Countless people rotated through the Occupy Wall Street protests, and as you can see, the financial-grift industry was completely decimated by their noble efforts. The pussy-hat protests sure showed Trump a thing or two, right? He learned his lesson.

And this magical summer, for all the millions of people who've showed up to get their skulls cracked and teeth kicked in, whaddaya got? A few toppled statues and four Minneapolis cops who finally got arrested. Out of them, only Derek Chauvin will do any time at all --  and I'll bet you my next paycheck he gets more time for tax fraud than for murdering George Floyd.

I'm not saying do nothing, or that all hope is lost. I'm saying that being a street pinata will never the move the needle. Even if you martyred yourself to the cause, they'll forget your name a week later, and millions of dirtbags will happily spring to the defense of your murderer, whether their actions were accorded under "proper" legal authoritah, or handed off to some incel piece of shit.

There is nothing in this hollow state worth losing an eye or a finger or your life over, not any more. Just keep in mind at all times who and what these fucking monsters really are, that some of them appear on CNN, or hang out with Washington Post columnists. A decent society would have tarred and feathered scumbags like Jesse Kelly and Kurt Schlichter long ago. Instead they get rewarded with money and media appearances and hundreds of thousands of followers. When I talk about boycotting the outlets and their sponsors that give these animals a soapbox, I am not bullshitting. It's all or nothing, folks.

Don't kid yourself about people being "tricked" or "manipulated" or any of that shit. Any society that lets scumbags run the show has become profoundly indecent by definition, and again is therefore not worth getting injured or killed for. Save yourself and either find ways to insulate yourself from them, or to escape. But get out of the street already. Stop being fodder for fascist cops and their death squad buddies.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Cancel Conspiracy Culture

The most interesting question to ask someone in charge of the RNC -- assuming there is someone at least nominally coordinating this hilarious dumpster fire -- regarding cancelled speaker Mary Ann Mendoza is not some arcane specific about whatever high-on-ludes QAnon bullshit she's spinning this week. Nor is it anything about how she thinks the world is under the spell of some shifty J-O-O.

The most interesting way to pose the question would be to get this hypothetical show producer to explain to their own customers why they chose to bump Mary Ann Mendoza, and just watch the wheels spin. This is all a freaky coke circus anyway, might as well send in the clowns.

(Fun fact:  Jerry Falwell Junior was scheduled to speak at the convention. They even told him he could have any time slot on any night. But Ol' Jer said he just wanted to watch. Get it? Just wanted to watch? Hello, is this thing on?)

For some inexplicable reason, I greatly enjoy conspiracy theories, the more convoluted and baroque the better. I find them highly entertaining. But that's a completely different matter than believing them.

One of the more unusual ones I find myself returning to a lot these days is this weird idea that George Soros is quietly funding everything authoritarian douchebags don't like, from the DNC's porn budget to Hillary Clinton's immigrant-child cannibalism pantry to sending every BLM and Antifa protester a fat check for showing up in the streets.

So there's that little Twitter chuckle of where's my check, George? We've all seen that. But let's deconstruct the premise down to its essence:  a shady billionaire is quietly funding a variety of individuals and entities that work in concert against the interests and well-being of the American nation and the majority of its citizens. Sound about right?

Well, that happens all the time, especially on the right. All of the things they think Soros is doing are actually being done by Rupert Murdoch, Sheldon Adelson, Foster Friess, Charles Koch, Robert Mercer, and many others that never make the news because that's the way they like it. The fucking Secretary of Education has spent her adult life funding efforts to privatize Michigan's public school system, in order to scale it nationwide.

No, they're not running a cannibal pedophile cult -- probably. But all the rest of it is right there in front of everyone. They don't blast it out from the rooftops, but they don't make much effort to hide it either. Old money tends to be quiet money. Not a lot of flashy Martin Shkreli types there. But they do spend it, and they do like the minions they rent to know where their paychecks come from. Think tanks, foundations, newspapers, magazines, teevee networks. Who bankrolls The Federalist?

It's yet another gaping flaw in the upside-down logic that rules the bizarro world the cultists inhabit. They sit and watch a propaganda network openly funded by an evil billionaire, where the morning show hosts literally lie about the plague being nothing, while those same hosts are socially distanced and working remotely. Uh-huh. That's a hell of a hoax.

What few specifics I have bothered to read about the QAnon mythos are comically ludicrous enough to give you a headache trying to make any sense of it. The idea that JFK Jr., of all people, would fake his own death twenty years ago in order to lie in wait for Donald Trump -- again, of all people -- to become chief executive and team up to purge the "deep state" of the power-mad sex cult that's really been running things all these years. This is an internet prank that got out of hand, thanks to timely assistance from Russian troll farms along the way.

Let's say, just for the sake of argument, that there is a "deep state" of criminality that includes Bill 'n' Hitlery, Obummer, and the usual gang of Demoncrats Jebus Don't Like, and they've been getting away for years with all these heinous crimes. Let's just postulate that that particular element is empirically true.

Why, then, doesn't Trump simply have his lapdog attorney general, a man whose sole operational principle is doing whatever master commands, investigate those people? Why does Trump need to wait around for John Fitzgerald Kennedy Junior, who has been hiding out in Pittsburgh for twenty years, to see the magical sigil in the sky that the seventh seal has been broken and the time is now?

Bill Barr has made it quite clear that he is ready, willing, and able to do whatever is asked of him, real or not, factual or baseless. They could initiate a complete bullshit investigation of Hillary or Obama or Biden or whoever, just to waste time and get media attention. Why haven't they done so? Whatever happened to Lock Her Up? I mean, seriously, if you got something on her, put your money where your fuckin' mouth is and prosecute her already.

Of course they have no answers, because they're not really looking for them. It's really a weird combination of two intrinsically American phenomena -- cults and porn. Obviously, many countries have one or both of those things, but nobody does those things like Americans.

The doomsday cult convinces its followers that the end is coming on such-and-such a date in the near future. When that date inevitably comes and goes without Armageddon, the cult leader simply moves the date back. A few followers realize they've been taken and peel off, and a few more join up to take their place, and the cycle repeats until the bozos finally die of terminal stupidity.

Porn, in its worst instances, can warp the minds of its frequent users. There are countless studies that have shown that excessive porn use leads viewers -- especially young men -- to have extremely problematic views about women in particular and sex in general. To put it more crudely, some of these dupes get into a routine of spanking it to their favorite jam, and after a while start reflexively thinking that every new woman they encounter really wants to jump their bones, but just doesn't want to admit it. Their brains have been rewired to think uncritically that something non-existent is not only possible, not only likely, but definitely true. They don't know the difference between fantasy and reality anymore -- or they simply prefer the former to the latter.

In both instances, the level of certainty is such that they can't merely be talked out of their tree with [pfft] "logic." That's just something that people who are in on it want you to believe, to divert you from the truth.

There's always been a certain percentage of people who are willing dupes for this kind of nonsense, who have lost at the business of life in one way or another, or who are outwardly successful but have no real inner life, and so cling to these idiotic ideas in order to feel part of something, to possess coveted knowledge available only to a select few. It's a self-reinforcing dynamic, and it's always been around, just because the law of averages stipulates that X% of people are fucking morons.

What's changed, of course, is that in the past decade, social media has served as a handy organizer and propagator for this garbage. Reality teevee has dulled people's critical thinking skills even more than porn, and across a much wider volume of viewers. And you have the worst of both worlds in charge -- a visibly stupid reality-teevee huckster who literally rose to prominence by pushing a harebrained conspiracy theory for five years.

There are a lot of things killing off this nation at an alarmingly fast pace, all of them predicated on a critical mass of people being dumb and angry. But within that is this even more disturbing phenomenon of chumps who, rather than observe what's going on right in front of them, prefer to concoct a ridiculous fairy tale that doesn't even make sense on its own bizarre terms.

Perhaps the most ironic part of all that is that Trump probably never "believed" the birther conspiracy he pushed all those years in the first place. Clearly he doesn't have beliefs as such, beyond how awesome he is, and how every woman wants to ride his thirty-five-inch cock, and pay him for the privilege. Again, you can see the "porn pattern" of empty wish fulfillment in the face of reality.

But he knew that just enough people out there did believe the birther stuff, enough that he could plant the seed, grow the crop, and reap the harvest. And he's made things so much worse since, people are tired and broke and angry and somehow bored all at the same time, wanting it to be over but not sure what they want in its place, since there is no "normal" to "return" to. They've gone from binge-watch to hate-watch, and now they want to the show to be over, but they're still uncertain of what to switch over to.

It would not be surprising if the coming decade is shaped in great part by competing conspiracy narratives, with varying political stances and elements of truth twisted to conform to those narratives. The more bizarre ones will be aimed at more religious types, since the personality traits align for wanting to believe in unverifiable fables that affirm one's preconceptions.

But they'll be everywhere across the board. Given the success they've had helping QAnon along, it wouldn't be at all surprising if the Russians decided to keep sandbagging Democratic prospects by discouraging lefties with some random bullshit about Biden or Harris or whoever.

The main goal is not even to get people to believe a specific thing, so much as to get them into a permanent state of never knowing who or what to believe. If your real goal is simply to enable the vast network of transnational money laundering to keep chugging along, all you really need is permanent destabilization. You don't have to actually defeat or conquer anyone.

It's been known to happen. I read about it on the internets somewhere.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Uncle Tim's Cabin

You know, it's sad and annoying that a black Democrat would shill for Trump, but you know, Vernon Jones has been a known shithead for quite some time, a true DINO. Clean your fucking barn out once in a while, people, or accept the fact that you're going to get "surprises" like this from time to time.

But really, if that's the best they can pull over to the dork side, some state lege asshole who appears to be feathering his nest for a post-house run on K Street, that's pretty small potatoes, until Jeff Van Camp gets up there Thursday. Now it's up to Vern's constituents to run his ass out of office, and then depending on who wins, up to the party leaders whether he ever holds a job in the arena again.

If the Dems win, Jones should spend the rest of his days asking if we want fries with that; if Kim Don Un steals one out, it's even odds whether Big Daddy will even remember Vern's name when he needs something. Favors and loyalty only run one way in this swamp, son.

As for real Republicons like Tim Scott and Ben Carson, who knows what the hell their deal is? They're not entirely wrong that the Democrats have frequently taken blacks for granted as a voting bloc, but, you know, if you can't see the contrast between enthusiastic skull-busters and half-hearted incrementalism, I don't know what to say. Neither is good, but one is far worse.

And guys like Scott and Carson can bullshit themselves all they want about how they're in a party that let them succeed on their own merits rather than the color of their skin, but if they don't realize that the GOP has its own "we gotta get one of those too" protocols, it's because they've chosen not to see it.

Monday, August 24, 2020

She Seems Fun

You think Gavin Newsom ever looks back on when he was hitched to this goofy broad and thinks, Jesus, I dodged a fuckin' bullet?

Back in those days, it was our Sunday morning ritual to pick up a nice thick copy of the SF Chronicle, and spend the entire morning reading through it, sipping coffee, trading sections. I recall one time when they ran a puff piece on Guilfoyle in their society pages (which are always off-putting in principle anyway), and it's been too long for me to put it into specific detail, but I do distinctly recall coming away from the article thinking I really don't like her.

There was something weird and overly calculated and "ambitious" -- not in the gritty Working Girl way, but in the ugly Sunset Boulevard or Showgirls way -- that really gave me a bad vibe about her. Newsom was mayor at the time, of course, and has had higher ambitions from the start, but manages to carry himself without being a leg-humping, social-climbing asshole.

So it's no surprise at all to see how Kim Guilfoyle has turned out -- smug, obnoxious, annoying, coked out of her skull like her douchebag boyfriend. Together they always look like they're about to shoot some weird stepmom-fetish porn, then go to a restaurant and abuse the waitstaff, nurse a couple of drinks while the shit wears off.

As far as the conventions themselves go, I watched a few bits from the Democratic convention, and while I don't plan to hate-watch the Republicon convention, I will read some hate-recaps here and there.

So after the opening night of the GOP festivities, I'll say that the one main difference I would have assumed beforehand is true in spades so far, and will no doubt worsen:  the Democratic convention was designed to enthuse the base, and encourage moderates and independents to come to sanity, while the Republicons will do nothing other than beat the one drum they have and simply badger the shitheads that comprise their base to show up.

These are awful, profoundly indecent people, appealing only to like-minded souls, telling them that it's worth all the death and destruction so far, and to come, if only to keep those people in their rightful places. That's all they've got anymore, and they're happy to use a big mouth and a fat set of jugs to make the pitch to the pot-bellied, fist-shaking codgers who still jerk off to this shit.

Useful Idiots

So this guy gets some level of street cred in the political media for being a "serious" "conservative" or whatever, and so these silly attempts at analysis get attention as substitutes for serious thought. Trump's incessant antics and nonsense provide a lot of rhetorical cover for these guys, so they can dance around the obvious truth -- he's the logical culmination of all their efforts for the last forty years at least.

The idea that now they suddenly don't "stand" for their supposed long-preserved "values" is just industrial-grade bullshit. The only problem they pretend to have with Trump is that he's an asshole. But even that's a lie -- they love that he's an asshole. They get everything they want and they get to blame Fuckface if he loses, and double-down on the process if he manages to cheat and steal a win.

It's the perfect racket for an organization that stopped being functional two generations ago. To be fair, I suppose you have to be of a certain minimum age, and never read any books about times you're too young to recall directly, in order to know just how ridiculous this all is.

Republicons made a deal with the devil back in the 1960s, preferring to use angry crackers and their bullshit grievances, and steep them in a potent brew of god-bothering jabber, in order to gull the working-class rubes into voting to make billionaires wealthier. It's a working formula, so it's hard to blame them for continuing with it.

What's changed in the past decade is how much eight years of a black president enraged them, and how social media showed them that there were enough like-minded assholes out there that they could say the quiet parts loud. So Trump spent five years rounding up the dipshits with his birther conspiracies, and #MoscowMitch and #LeningradLindsey took notes, pretended to be offended.

Again, their feigned horror at his boorish manners is tempered by their glee at how he gives them everything they want, provides them plenty of distractions so they can quietly push through unqualified judges to lifetime appointments, and the instant validation they get from the millions of douchebags who are completely down with all of it.

Democrats and liberals need to stop reading articles like this and believing it, because it peddles a seductive lie that establishment Dem pols want very much to believe -- if we can just get rid of Trump, we can get back to normal. Maybe they're just holding their fire until they see how the election shakes out for them, but anyone who genuinely believes that "getting back to normal" is even a remote possibility needs to do themselves and their constituents a favor and retire as soon as they can.

There is no going back, and not just because of the way Trump has burned through the "norms" and "rules" and useless performative fripperies they have all wasted time with all those years, but because the country is in truly dire straits, and getting worse by the month. It will take years of triage to undo not just Trump's destruction, but even the destruction wrought by the Cheney regime is still being undone. You think we're done paying for the fucking war?

Many Dems and libs want to tell themselves that the "fever" that has overtaken their opponents and their constituencies is the result of the permanent pernicious influences of Fox News and AM hate radio. Implicit in that is that these folks have been tricked or brainwashed, and that is a dangerous category error. Yes, they're being lied to, but that's not because they don't know the facts, it's because facts are irrelevant to them. Facts are not part of their decision-making process.

This is a very difficult thing for Democratic policy-makers and strategists to understand, because they are hard-wired to try to "reach out" to these people, somehow never learning their lesson, always managing to trick themselves into thinking that it's easier to poach a couple percent from an increasingly polarized bloc that despises them, than to convince ten percent of the much larger pool of non-voters that there's something worth showing up for.

As the Trump base continues its slide toward lunatic cultism, it is important to recall a truism:  it is impossible to deal with irrational people using rationality. By definition they do not function or react with it. It's a waste of time. You're not going to deprogram them with ten weeks of thirty-second ad blasts, and you sure as hell aren't going to move them with [rolls eyes] your fuckin' binders of facts.

All this tedious theorizing from behavioral psychologists about tribal heuristics and cognitive biases and all that shit? Have you considered the possibility that maybe a lot of them are just indecent people, that you can attribute it to conditioning or temperament or social pressure or some combination thereof, but in the end, they're not going to listen to your appeals to rationality and so it doesn't matter?

They believe they're in a war for survival, and their elected representatives speak and act accordingly. They wield power. They don't fuck around. If the best-case scenario occurs, and Biden wins and the Dems flip the Senate, they need to act with a real sense of urgency, and do everything they can to crush the opposing party into a state of utter irrelevance.

And frankly, I don't see that they have that understanding among the leaders of the party. Again, they think Trump is an aberration, when he is the culmination. It's a vital difference that, if they fail to note and act upon, will bite them in the ass in 2024.

Meanwhile the nation's largest state is on fire throughout, hurricane season is kicking off with two storms converging on the Gulf Coast, the #TrumpPlague is still running wild, tallying up a 9/11-sized body count (that we know of) twice every week, tens of millions out of work, millions about to get evicted, economic depression looming, and only the handful of people who own the stock market are doing well.

And Tim Alberta's Republicon Party is fine with all of it. Does he really think Trump had to tell McConnell to sit on the hundreds of bills the House has passed over the last eighteen months, that Mitch had to be arm-twisted into withholding COVID relief that had been passed back in May? Fuck no, it's the same shit he pulled all through Obama's tenure as imperial custodian. And all his fellow senators stand by while Trump commits an impeachable act every week, sells out the country, shrugs his shoulders while a thousand Americans die every day.

Trump is just what an old-time street-crime team would call the "stall," the seemingly random guy that walks up to the mark and asks for directions while the partner comes up behind and picks the mark's pocket, or thumps him on the head with a sap.

The problem here is not that Tim Alberta's party suddenly became something he no longer recognizes; the problem is that Alberta knows full well that his party is openly, actively, gleefully destroying this nation, because all they really ever stood for was power and money. They see an opportunity to have it all, and they're giving it their best shot. They're a bunch of fucking traitors, and Alberta knows it.

There's no "coming back" from the things they've done just this calendar year, the monstrous things they've stood by and silently supported. Two hundred thousand Americans dead in about one hundred fifty days, and they couldn't care less. The economy is a shambles and it's a de facto banana republic, and they could stop it but refuse to. They have no shame.

They betrayed their country, and simply count on the fact that there are just enough awful people out there to keep them in business. They might be right about that, as it turns out. Maybe in time, a party of actual conservatives can be formed from the ashes of the current group of Russian dupes and flat-out turncoats. But it's disingenuous to pretend that this just started when Orange Foolius blundered into the room, especially as long as shitbags like Newt Gingrich and Ken Starr still draw breath.

The Harder They Come, The Bigger They Falwell

I don't think anyone is surprised or even gives a shit that the Falwells are swingers. It ain't my thing, but I get that among some consenting adults, it is a thing. More power to them. Judging them on the mores and merits of "conventional" sexual expression is a waste of time.

As Hank Kingsley memorably put it many years ago, sex is not dirty, it's a caring act between two or more consenting adults. (Although it should be noted that Giancarlo Granda was only twenty years old when the affair started, the Falwells twenty-five to thirty years older and in an economically advantageous role, so make of that what you will. Probably nothing sinister to it, but for people who observe various power dynamics, there's one.)

However, judging Jerry Falwell Junior on the inherent hypocrisies of his lifelong monetized grift is encouraged. I do hope all the saps who attended "Liberty" "University" and their parents can appreciate what cannot have been a small investment for them. The entire point of keeping these homeschooled naifs sequestered from the evils of modern society as long as possible is precisely to avoid the sort of worldly shenanigans the Falwells enjoyed with their pool boy.

But these Nelson Muntz "haw haw" moments are frequent and fleeting, and all too human. The only thing that makes this at all interesting is this sneaking suspicion that there's a lot more to the story, and it involves money and/or sex. Junior's recent forced resignation from his legacy cash cow is somebody trying to get out in front of something bigger.

The kid is likely blackmailing them over something, and it's more than just Junior spanking his hapless monkey while the kid went to town on Mrs. Junior. It either rhymes with "money laundering" and/or "tax fraud," and/or Junior was more than just a passive observer.

Pro-tip:  If you're a high-profile couple in a very exclusive cultural niche that might take issue with your private life, it might not be a great idea to get involved in business deals with your bull. Similar to the principles of separation of church and state, or religion and science, but in this case, ah, two somewhat more volatile elements that should not have been mixed.

Regardless, there is a momentary chuckle in seeing one of these smugly judgmental assholes get hoist on their own petard. Not as hilarious as Franklin Graham's fetish for leather-clad garden gnomes, but close. These are not your neighbors minding their own business -- these are professional pecksniffs, minding everyone's business and getting paid well (tax-free) for it, and exerting political influence over other people's lives. So they deserve to get dragged through the damned mud for this.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

West of Oxygen

I'm not worried that Kanye's stupid stunt "campaign" is going to siphon a significant number of votes from Biden -- if it does, we're done anyway, we just don't know it -- but this sounds a hell of a lot like election fraud:
West may face particular issues in Virginia, where seven of the thirteen electors that West submitted told Intelligencer they were either unaware that they signed up to cast electoral votes on his behalf, or that they had signed notarized paperwork connected to the rapper’s presidential bid at all.
 Maybe in some states it's legal to misrepresent the entity for which you are soliciting votes. I doubt it, and if there are, I doubt Virginia is one of them. But maybe. This country's voting system is clearly not much better than any random Central Asian despotate where the lifetime Supreme Leader renames the months of the year after the members of his family. And the voting strictures of many states are clearly just fallbacks to enable criminals to disenfranchise those people.

(See Kemp, Brian, as the foremost current example of a place where people know they can never win fair and square, so they cheat every fucking time. And why shouldn't they? It's not like anyone stops them. Compare with the case of Crystal Mason, the lady in Texas who's doing five years in prison for voting improperly. Different rules for different people. Same as it ever was.)

I would think most adults who have ever owned property or gotten a home loan or been the executor of a will have dealt with notaries before. The idea that an official document can be "pre-notarized," as implied by the blockquote above, runs counter to the whole point of notarizing in the first place. It is a verification process, by its very definition. It is slow, painstaking, meticulous. The entire point of the notary is that an officially vetted and licensed individual is establishing a contractual understanding between the parties, that each entity knows precisely what they are agreeing to.

So if this "paperwork" was indeed "notarized" and half the signees are still indicating that they were lied to about what they were signing, then at the very least the notary should have their license revoked. But this is also fraud. It can't possibly be legal to misrepresent a petition drive for political office. Doesn't matter if it's an infraction with a modest fine, make him show up to court and explain himself and pay the fucking fine.

This is a point I make periodically, and it seems like a nitpicky thing, but I assure you it is not:  too often we let annoying people get away with being annoying, simply because it's too much trouble and bother to slap them down the first time around, even when they do something illegal. Jacob Wohl accused Robert Mueller of sexual harassment, and implied he was a rapist. Nothing was done about it. A false accusation of a violent crime against a gov't official, and it's not prosecuted? Fortunately Wohl and his butt-buddy Jack Posobiec learned their lesson, and never caused any more mischief again, right?

Same with Kanye here. He's openly colluding with Kushner to fuck up the electoral process, while Trump is also openly trying to fuck up the electoral process. All the states where West has filed petitions to get on the ballot, some literally with "Mickey Mouse" signatures, the AGs of those states need to take this seriously and file fraud charges against him. This is not a joke, this is open subversion of an already compromised democratic process.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy lied before Congress yesterday. Last I checked, that's a crime. Will it be dealt with as such and prosecuted? Again, every state AG should be joining in that fight to make it clear to DeJoy that even if Trump pardons him from any federal crimes, the state crimes will stand, and he will answer for them. Otherwise, why wouldn't he continue to operate with impunity? It would be a dereliction of duty to not charge him by the first part of next week, period. No excuses, no "the senate won't convict." Either lying to Congress is a crime, or it isn't. It really is that simple.

Letting it go just emboldens them to come back with something worse, defying you to do something about it. Perhaps you've noticed who's currently lawn-darting the country, and the tortuous process by which he oozed into office. Thanks, librul media! Thanks, everyone who thought he'd grow into the office! Thanks, every elected representative who said he'd learned his lesson! Your grandchildren will piss on your graves when they learn how you all just stood by, waiting for someone else to take care of the problem.

And again, anyone who's still giving any money or attention to Kanye or his wife or her family, they're part of the fucking problem. Shame on them. It should be our civic duty to bankrupt this ludicrous piece of shit. The first thing Biden should do -- assuming we're allowed to vote and he's allowed to win -- is have the IRS spelunk his tax records. I promise you that fucker's a tax cheat. He handles his money just like everything else in his life -- half-assed and narcissistic.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Conversion Funnel

When you get out of high school and start experiencing the real world -- jobs, vehicles, girlfriends, responsibilities, ambitions, ideas about who you are and who you want to be -- you start formulating concepts that help you orient to the world as it is. In my second semester as a college freshman back in 1986, I took a Marketing 101 class. Within a week, I had cynically boiled down the principles of marketing to this:  getting people to spend money they don't really have on things they don't really want.

Feel free to take that as the angry pretension of a Holden Caulfield type, decrying the inauthenticity of the corrupt world he has been thrust into, but it's not wrong. As we grow up, we consciously or subconsciously modify these little maxims, adding and refining with the experiential knowledge we pick up along the way. Or we develop corollaries to them.

So another way to look at marketing is this:  convincing people either to try a product they do not use, or to keep using a product they have been using. That takes the sneering moralism out of the original, and enables us to focus on the practical nature of marketing. What are the features and benefits of the product? Why is it better than the product I am currently using, or have always used? I don't use this product at all, why should I start, and why should I use your brand?

Now, let's apply that two-pronged corollary [giggity] to the current political marketing schema of the Republicon party. Name a single thing any of them -- not just Trump himself, but any leading member of the party -- has said or done that would convince someone who voted Democratic in 2016 to jump over. You can't because they haven't. They've doubled -- tripled -- down on the lies and cheap shots and shitty rhetoric. They refuse to stop fucking that chicken.

That is a practical calculation on their part. Even if they were inclined to "reach out," they would lose the cult that keeps them there. And there is literally nothing they could do or say to change my mind at this point, and I suspect that is the median point for most people who did not vote for these scumbags in the first place.

So now the second part of the corollary:  keep using the product they have been using. White suburban women were the hidden demographic that helped Trump draw the proverbial inside straight last go-round. The midterms showed that they hemorrhaged that demographic, and the bleeding hasn't stopped.

What are they doing to win those women back? Not a goddamned thing. In fact, with Biden's selection of Kamala Harris as a running mate, the party's great idea is simply to point out that Mitt Romney's dipshit niece is the party chair. Big fucking deal. The only thing people like Ronna Romney McDaniel and Nikki Haley prove is that women can be just as awful and cynical as men.

And the cult base, not to be outdone in the all-important "humor" and pwning libturds departments, have already responded with "Joe and the Ho" tee-shirts, and a bumper sticker that shows the "A" in Harris" inverted, like a pair of spread legs, with the pulled-off panties as the crossbar in the letter.

Say what you will, they've got the market cornered on klass, y'all.

I can imagine what a woman, especially a professional woman but really any working woman, thinks when she sees that shit. Many of them already have to deal routinely with the snickering assumptions that they traded their way up the food chain with sex, and to have it dumped in their laps in such terms cannot be, let's say, a very convincing pitch to bring them back.

If anything, it's just a reminder to them of what they really did trade back in 2016, when they voted for a pig who literally bragged about his habit of sexual assault. Yeah, they told themselves it was just "locker room talk," but they know better. They know it wasn't bullshit, because they've dealt with assholes like that their entire lives, in school, at work, at home.

It is presumed that women generally vote on "safety and security" issues more than men. Since Trump has always talked a fake-tough-guy lawn-order game, that was part of the trade-off they bought into in 2016. Now all they have to do is look around -- they are neither safe nor secure. They get the kids ready for school, they go out and do all the shopping, they deal with the baroque clusterfuck that passes for a health-care insurance system, they frequently pay the bills. They know exactly what time it is now, and who ran the clock on them last time around.

It's very odd, not just from the usual political standpoint, but from the marketing standpoint, showing pictures from American cities aflame with violence all summer, declaring it to be "Joe Biden's America." Well, no, asshole, it's Trump's America, happening right now, and the women know it as well as anyone else.

For every cult Qaren or whatever female shithead gets dredged up for the latest viral video, you can bet that there are ten or twenty other women who are looking around them, and wondering how the hell they're going to get their families through the end of the year. Some of them fell for Trump's bullshit, and they know they got stung.

Back in 2016, the knock on Hillary getting the votes of men was that she reminded them of their ex-wives, or their divorce lawyers. The converse is true of women and Trump -- he reminds them of their first husbands, the bullshit artist who ended up banging their best friend and cleaning out their joint bank account. People make mistakes; the point is to learn from them. They gave him a shot, and now they know.

The Democrats have made the Terminator pitch:  Come with me if you want to live. The Republicons, because this really is all just a big fucking game to them, are content to stick with their tried-and-true Ike Turner pitch:  Bitch, why you make me do that?

We're about to see what kind of nation we really are, once and for all.

Vanish Armada

The ongoing national shitcom took a turn for the hilarious yesterday with the arrest and indictment of Meth Uncle Stevie B, along with several other shitheads, in a transparent money laundering scheme. I know, we're all shocked. The indictment is a pretty quick read, and I suggest you take a few minutes and peruse it.

Back in the Trump "University" lawsuit days, I opined (correctly) that the sort of schmuck who was willing to hand over their life savings to a cheesy huckster like Donald Trump deserved to lose their money anyway. They would have otherwise given it to a televangelist, or blown it on a sack of magic beans, or valuable moon acreage, some dopey shit like that.

That's not to say that Trump didn't also deserve to get sued, but I continue to live by the sacred adage that it is morally wrong to allow suckers to keep their money. That may not sit well with some folks, but that's really the way it is; whether we "like" it or not is orthogonal to that universal truth.

Anyway, take that principle and multiply it by several orders of magnitude with this "We Build the Wall" bullshit. Fuck every one of these people, right in their goddamned neck wattles. They deserve to get fleeced out of every dime they have. If they had actually worked hard to earn their money, they'd have more fucking respect for it.

So there's that. Every single person involved in this obvious scam deserves the worst. I reserve a smidgen of sympathy for figurehead Brian Kolfage, because he really did sacrifice his body for this nation. But by the context of his emails quoted in the indictment, he was at best a willing accomplice.

And he's going to pay, whether or not he does any time. The indictment specifically lists the boat Kolfage used in the stupid Dear Leader river "parade" in Tampa earlier this year, which (along with Kris Fucking Kobach being the scam's legal advisor) is so perfectly on-brand for this crowd it makes your teeth hurt. The only way it could have been better is if Kolfage had named the boat Stugots.

Speaking of The Sopranos, fellow indictee Andrew Badolato appears to be straight out of the Matty Bevilacqua mold -- pump-and-dump scammer who ratted out his associates to keep out of Club Fed, and eventually gravitated to Bannon, who barely bothers to conceal the late-night-infomercial aesthetic that underpins every one of his Wile E. Coyote scams. Overthrow the Pope? Check. Buy a medieval Italian castle, in order to establish some goofball Opus Dei warrior-monk training academy? Check. Say what you will, Steve-O's ambitions have come a long way since his bathtub crank days.

And now this money-laundering thing, which is guaranteed to unravel on at least a couple of high-level people. The thing is, a couple miles of wall did get built, and some of the money did move to the construction company -- you know, the North Dakota construction company that somehow won a billion-dollar contract to build a fucking wall across Texas. Did not realize that Texas had run out of construction companies.

Oddly, only about half of the $50M can be tracked so far. I'd probably check Fat Donnie's super PACs first, but that's me. I promise you that every single one of these schemes that gets uncovered, he and his shitbag family are wetting their beaks. And even if any of the money has been declared in those legendary tax returns, it's all in shell corps that will then have to be unraveled. They'll probably never get to the bottom of it all. Remember when Mossack Fonseca was a thing? Oh yeah, we had all those thieving high rollers dead to rights. Good times.

A fitting solution for all of this would be to throw the perpetrators in jail, recoup costs and heavy fines, and then use the money to tear down the wall and get the refugee families out of the for-profit rape camps these evil motherfuckers threw them into so long ago. But I'll be surprised if anyone actually goes to jail. Every day is Fitzmas in this country -- big crimes, big promises, very little outcome.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Yes Please

Get a load of this fuckin' maroon:

So, I don't know who gets to break the bad news to the Commander o' Books, but even in a severe economic contraction, the People's Republic still accounts for almost fifteen percent of US GDP (last page of PDF in the link).

One in eight Americans live here in Cali, and we all get to sit back and watch, year after blessed year, as our tax dollars get siphoned away to keep the lights on in the parasite taker states, out there in Real 'murka.

Meanwhile, every year in the Golden State becomes more and more precarious, as more people keep coming in and our crumbling infrastructure gives way, in the face of climate change. Heat waves, wildfires, and rolling power outages all summer, followed by torrential rains and flash floods in the winter, and clean-up in the spring.

I wonder if some of that money we never get back from those fat cats in DC, our tax dollars that they use to keep the countless versions of Opioid Flats barely afloat, could be used here to shore up our own issues? I sure wouldn't mind finding out, and then Doctor Prepper there could take up the slack by showing the yokels how to build a smokehouse for curing roadkill, and filtering urine for drinking water. You know? Maybe if we weren't forced to prop up most of the south and midwest, we godless hedonistic sybarites might be able to keep our lights on and our heads above the rising water.

I've always had a bit of a grudging fascination with prepper culture, seriously. Perhaps it's the romanticized notion of living that rugged, contemplative, Grizzly-Adams-meets-Thoreau lifestyle of self-reliance that appeals to the Stoic gene. To be in the world but not of it, to watch the corrupt "civilized" world burn itself down while remaining safely out of the radius of effects is something that obviously appeals to people across a wide political and philosophical spectrum.

It's interesting, though, to note just how quickly all that went right out the window when the plague hit. These guys spend their whole lives supposedly training and preparing for that dystopian SHTF moment that fuels their lifestyle, and within weeks, boy, they were out in full force wailing about haircuts.

Where the hell do these people think all the toys they take for granted came from? The internet where they trade their dopey conspiracy theories and stupid ideas, the Twitter app where they heckle and jeer, the computers that they use to write and market their prepper books? That shit wasn't invented and developed out in Cooter's Huntin' Lodge, friendo, between rounds of moonshinin' and cousin-fuckin'. That was all college-edumacated elite types out here in the wild west.

I mean, is this guy kidding or what? I couldn't put a number on it with any precision, but I personally know more than a few native Californians who would be fine with breaking away. I sure as hell wouldn't mind. I resent being forced to support people who do nothing but talk shit about my state and the people in it. I would prefer if they just took their fucking welfare check, said "thank you," and went on about their goddamned way. But they won't. They never shut the hell up.

We grow every kind of crop here. We make every kind of product here. We're the fifth- or sixth-largest economy on the fuckin' planet, hoss. You need us, not the other way around. Don't kid yourself.

You want to pay off the national debt, start by demanding reparations from the Republicon Party and their billionaire tax cuts. Check the pockets on Grampa Walnuts' suit, and his family of grifters and ghouls. The fucking balls on these chumps, I swear to Christ.

They couldn't care less about the debt or deficit or any of it, until the Democrats control the gubmint, then they're all about the fiscal prudence. The sooner we just write these idiots off, omit them entirely from all serious policy discussions, and leave them to their masturbatory Red Dawn fantasies, the better off we'll all be -- even them.

Friday, August 14, 2020

The Little Engine That Wouldn't

I like Ted Lieu, I really do. (And yes, I am aware that that sounds like a Dr. Seuss couplet.) But he does not seem to take seriously the ramifications of his own words. Trump has made it clear that he will do whatever it takes to cheat and steal -- if not to win outright, then to get it close enough to drag into court, and/or to fuck it all up enough to delegitimize the results. (Unless, of course, he "wins," in which case it was the best election ever, tremendously huge and very, very honest, the most honest election process in the history of the country.)

What if the open burning of the USPS is just the beginning of this delegitimization process? What if he finds a way to allow certain mail-in ballots, but not the "wrong" ones? What if he finds ways to burn walk-in voters as well? There are numerous ways to do that, and you can bet he and his team of scumbags will do all of them.

And they won't even try to hide the effort. Why should they? Rep. Lieu and the "leaders" of his party have made it clear that they don't want to dirty their hands in this fight. They want you and me -- because we have nothing better to do, and it's not like it's our fucking job -- to vote in a corrupt process, and then if that turns out to be a dead parrot, then to get out in the street and protest.

Yeah. People have been protesting shit all across the country, all summer long. Tell me one tangible thing that has resulted from all that, all those moms getting gassed, all those veterans getting truncheoned, all those journalists getting blinded. How's that been working out? A couple cops got arrested, big fucking deal. What changed as a result of all that? Anything? Bueller?

The General Accountability Office has found that Chad Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli, the "acting" head and deputy respectively of the Department of Homeland Security, are in their positions illegally. That is, it is a violation of the law for them to be in their positions -- and again, these are the individuals calling the literal shots at the protests -- any longer, without being officially vetted and confirmed. Pursuant to that law, Congress can resolve to oust these individuals, to halt payment on their salaries, to call them into chambers and formally question them.

Imagine that -- illegally placed government officials putting unmarked thugs on the streets to beat up nonviolent protesters. It's happening. It's been happening. Ho-hum.

Maybe someone should enforce the law.

The current postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, is a Republicon contributor and lackey who has at least $60 million invested in direct private-entity competitors to the United States Postal Service. His conflicts of interest and operational bad faith are wide out in the open. As a civil officer, he can be impeached. He can be called into House chambers and questioned, under threat of subpoena and arrest if need be.

Maybe someone should use the powers afforded to them. If there is a crisis, if the situation is urgent, then perhaps it is time to act with a sense of urgency. I mean, are you just waiting around to see if Dear Leader decides mid-October that the elections need to be postponed outright? If so, what do you propose to do about that, Congressman, since it would be your own powers being openly usurped?

I am sick and tired of hearing from these people all the things they can't do, when they haven't even gotten around to trying all the things they can do, that they must do. What was the so-called Blue Wave for, if not for this, to stand and fight against open banana-republic activities?

Impeach Trump again and again. Impeach Barr. Impeach DeJoy. Stop giving in before even joining the fight. Stop telling all of the peons that it is they who must be prepared to fight. You can call hearings, you can subpoena testimony, you can file emergency injunctions in district and federal courts. You can impeach. You can arrest people who refuse to cooperate. You still have many tools at your disposal, but prefer to generate excuses as to why those tools are inconvenient or not timely enough. Stop punting on first down. Quit whining for a royal flush, and play the hand you're dealt.

When these sorts of operational issues are raised, many liberals will reflexively give you the evergreen "Democrats in disarray" response, a nod to the corporate media tropes that suffuse our bumbling twilight empire.

Let's be clear about this:  The Democrats are arrayed exactly as they intend to be.

This is a hell of a marketing pitch, you have to admit -- please vote for me, even though I am utterly powerless to do anything beyond my comfort zone. Have you tried every single tool at your disposal, every single shred of power that you do possess? No? Well, come back when you have. Otherwise, seriously, what the hell are you doing that I can't already do on my own?

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Such a Nasty Woman

So Biden's veep pick is Kamala Harris, and it's not just a selection I can "live with," but I actually like her a great deal. Since I knew it wouldn't be Liz Warren, I was hoping for either Harris or Tammy Duckworth, and largely for the same reasons -- most importantly, they don't suffer fools gladly and they don't take any shit.

Those are vital qualities to have if this country is going to extricate itself from its self-inflicted mess. We got stuck with this miserable clown because no one in his own party had the balls to call him out early on, and tell him to sit down and shut the fuck up. Then the corporate mediots "couldn't figure out how to cover him," because they still do not understand (or maybe it's me that doesn't understand) what their job entails.

Then of course the Democrats were consistently shocked and appalled as he shredded their sacred norms and decorum, reducing the whole thing to kayfabe spectacle, a cheesy pro-wrestling exhibition where the stunts and the blood are real, only the narrative is fake.

For someone who seems to fancy himself a raging heterosexual, Trump is really only heterosexual in the most technical sense -- he likes people to know that he bangs attractive women, because he understands that as a point of "esteem" among the types of people whose respect he covets. But he clearly doesn't like women, unless they work for him or fawn over him. He probably doesn't even like sex (shudder) all that much, since good sex involves satisfying someone else's needs as well as your own.

Every woman who's ever voluntarily had sex (ugh, sorry) with this sweaty gastropod has done so only because of his money. And he knows it. Without his money, he'd never get laid, even back in the day. He doesn't know how to talk to women, beyond basic "how you like my new building" self-aggrandizing. He doesn't listen to anyone, certainly not some hoor.

The master dealmaker really doesn't know how to deal with women at all, unless they're the sort that are willing to work for a fucking pig like him. This puts him at a disadvantage with someone like Harris, whose presidential run was not exactly a smooth ride, but she is a fast learner, a sharp debater, and an experienced prosecutor who knows how to seek and exploit opponents' weaknesses.

And since this dumpster fire of an administration is nothing but weaknesses, she'll actually have to show some restraint. Pick a few choice wounds and really make them sting and sing for the crowd until they can sing it back:

  • Are you better off now than you were four years ago?
  • How's that record stock market working out for the working class?
  • Well, he did say he would run the country like one of his businesses.

Harris will be good in that role, and she'll genuinely enjoy it because even though she's ambitious, she also seems to have an actual sense of justice. It will be good training for what, even if they win in a landslide, will be a difficult, ugly slog against the worst fucking humans infesting the planet.

I'm not just talking about Trump and Pence and their minion Moscow Mitch. I'm talking Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, Hannity, Rupert Murdoch -- people who sold out their country long ago, and now are just molesting the corpse and cashing the checks. They'll be out in full force against everything Biden tries to do to fix the damage these thieves and monsters have done.

And it has to be a real landslide, a straight-up Reagan-Mondale ass-kicking. "Close" will not cut it. They have to take the Senate back as well, and they have to be prepared to go big and bold right away, and tell the critics -- including the ankle-biting "moderate" shitheads on the Sunday follies shows -- to go to hell. They have to have a marketing team to designate key people to hit the necessary media nodes and sell the plan with consistency and urgency.

As much of a downer as I have been in here lately, I still think it's possible. There's a sense of fatigue in some areas of the fan club; the cult will always be there, but there are some who really wanted to try something different, or just had been poisoned against Hillary for too long to ever vote for her.

And after four years of American carnage, they're tired. They've been stuck at home for six months, and this prattling dunce hasn't done a goddamned thing to make any of it better, he just shoveled more money to the few who needed it the least. These folks were fine with him telling libruls to go fuck themselves, but now he's effectively told them to go fuck themselves. The show has gotten old.

So it won't be easy, but despite the cheating and stealing and various modes of voter suppression, it is doable. And it is still worth doing.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Slope of Enlightenment

It would be difficult to put a number on just how many collective hours and column inches have been dedicated to assessing the various and sundry cognitive failings of one Jenius Q. Dealmaker, Fuckface in Charge, and Caudillo of Bedminster, First of His Name.

Clinical diagnoses abound:  the narcissistic personality disorder; oppositional defiance disorder; sociopathy; psychopathy; and on and on. And of course the ever-popular Dunning-Kruger effect, where stupid people are unaware of just how stupid they really are.

Certainly all of those ugly pathologies and more explain the smooth, diseased wad of oatmeal between his ears. But the armchair diagnoses give short shrift to the more immediate pathology at hand:

You, America. Fuck you.

Well, maybe not you personally, maybe not me personally. But take a week or several and make a partial list of all the fucked-up things El Caudillo has done and said over the past five years, and then remind yourself that once again, over forty percent of your fellow 'murkins are fine with it. They want more of it. They want you to have more of it.

Do they sound like the sort of people who can be reasoned with, who can be "met" in some proverbial "middle"? What is the middle on, say, Russia paying bounties to Islamic terrorists for American scalps? What would be the middle on defunding Social Security and Medicare? What is this middle people speak of, as applied to gassing suburban moms and kicking unarmed teenagers in the face, blinding journalists, extrajudicial domestic renditioning for civil disobedience?

That's just a few random items from the past six weeks or so. You know? A full reckoning would be damn near impossible.

The "middle" of a hog-shit lagoon still stinks of filth and disease. The "middle" of hell is still pretty fucking warm. Meeting Jeffrey Dahmer "in the middle" still results in someone ending up in the cooking pot.

Maybe I'm not being clear about this.

Every elected politician, no matter how "good" or "terrible," no matter how "smart" or "stupid," is a reasonably accurate reflection of their constituency. This is a truism that gets ignored all too often, especially by "moderate" or "conservative" Democratic politicians, who are forever trying to convince themselves, each other, and their donors, that "tacking right" on this or that petty social issue is better and more effective than, say, coming down unequivocally for something approaching economic justice for the rabble.

The reason Moscow Mitch and Leningrad Lindsey keep winning, even as they gleefully cut their constituents' throats and sell them down the river at every opportunity, is not because they're great guys doing a great job. It's because there are enough assholes who would rather undermine themselves and their families and communities, watching the exercise of raw power, than risk the chance of giving even one dollar to someone who they deemed undeserving. They would rather spend the rest of their lives wallowing in a pit of impotent bitterness and rage, than come to their senses and admit -- even just to themselves -- that they got rooked by a cheap, obvious con.

So El Caudillo's various cognitive pathologies and biases are also theirs, most acutely the aforementioned Dunning-Kruger effect. In an era where information is free and everywhere, if you are reasonably literate, then being an ignorant dupe is a choice.

You choose to watch the white-power rage-monkeys on Fox News, instead of reading an article -- or god forbid, a fucking book. You choose to forward the nonsense your idiot Facebook uncle sends you, without fact-checking a lick of it. You choose to chortle and snicker at His Travesty's increasingly desperate tweaks of an increasingly useless White House journamalists' pool, knowing that he's full of shit, knowing that you would never buy so much as a canned ham from this grotesque charlatan, much less a car or a house or health insurance coverage.

It's not just that "he's a dumb guy's idea of a smart guy," or "a poor person's idea of a rich person." His fans have that exact same vision of themselves. They decided long ago that they were much smarter than the average bear, so much so that they could decide for themselves what was "real" and what wasn't, who was telling the "truth" and who wasn't. They decided that the only person they could believe was a guy who's been telling provable lies his entire life, defying everyone to call him a fucking liar.

And now that we're chugging into a full-blown economic depression, a quarter-million dead by the end of the year, forty million already out of work, people waiting in line and online for basic goods, they're now distracting each other with some harebrained conspiracy theory about how everyone in Hollyweird is a SEX PREEVERT YOU GUYS WON'T YOU LISTEN?!

In their bizarro universe, celebrities such as Chris Cornell and Anthony Bourdain were "suicided" because they were on the verge of revealing this hidden truth. In that universe the Democrats, partly to protect their fellow child molesters but also just because they're assholes, have rigged this whole "plandemic," which will magically end on November 4th when Joseph "Satan" Biden is installed as the new antichrist. [cue Omen music]

It doesn't matter to them that there is far more photo and video evidence of Dear Leader palling around with Jeffrey Epstein (who was suicided) and Ghislaine Maxwell, or that Epstein literally lived next door to the rat-infested CoronaLago estate for years. They would rather believe that a pizza place that has no basement was running a child-trafficking ring out of its basement.

It takes a peculiar magnitude of cognitive bias to believe that on the one hand, the Dummycrats are too weak and impotent to electorally beat an obnoxious moron, while being simultaneously so omnipotent that they have forced the entire corporate media system and every other world leader to bend to their plandemic hoax. These idiots make 9/11 truthers look like the model of sanity and empirical probity.

They manage to get by in their little bubble, aided by an endless parade of self-loathing journos and politicians who cater to their "real 'murkin" pretensions. They're just as naked as their emperor has always been, long before he got into politics, and they're about to find out that there is an empirical reality, that this is not a simulation, that whether or not their monster manages to cheat and steal its way back in, a hard rain is gonna fall, and they better learn to swim.

Saturday, August 08, 2020

Sign of the Times

Good morning sunshine, the earth says hello! Today's fresh outrage is that the nation's bumbling, stumbling excuse for a flagship newspaper "accidentally" tweeted yet another stupid, empirically false fact-shaped item, in a sad attempt to flog one of their sad slop-ed columns. It's a recursion of stupid mendacity and narrative confusion that makes Inception look as straightforward as Night of the Living Dead.

(Which, when you think about it, is perhaps as good an explanatory cinematic combination as you can find, for this country in this year of our dark satanic lord.)

The question we should be asking is not, "why does the Times suck," or "why does the Times persist in doing ham-fisted shit like this," or "why does the Times continue to employ demonstrably useless -- no, destructive -- writers in its stable of opinion-mongering horse meat?"

No, the question we should be asking is, why does anyone continue to throw good money after bad to such a worthless, objectively harmful rag?

Friday, August 07, 2020

The Courage of Your Convictions

Christ, he's such a fucking pussy:
“It was a disappointing meeting,” declared top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer, saying the White House had rejected an offer by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to curb Democratic demands by about $1 trillion. He urged the White House to “negotiate with Democrats and meet us in the middle. Don’t say it’s your way or no way.”
To be somewhat fair to Schumer, he did at one point in his full press meet assert the fact that the House had passed the HEROES Act back in May. But that should have been all Schumer had to say, other than maybe ending with "....if only Moscow Mitch gave half as much of a fuck about the working people of his state or the country, as he does about shoveling unqualified dipshits into lifetime sinecures in the federal judiciary, and handing pallets of money to fuckers who already have more than they could spend in twenty lifetimes." What the fuck is this "meet us in the middle" shit?

This is yet another of those "what would it take" rhetorical questions that we all ask ourselves now. What would it take for a Trump cultist to change their mind and see the light of basic empirical reality? What would it take for leading Republican politicians to put country before party and stand up to the pig? What would it take for leading Democratic politicians to stop with the stupid pretense that we're all on the same team and want the same things for the country and can work together?

The answer to all of those questions should be clear by now, and of course it is the same answer for all of them:  Nothing. There is no conceivable event or situation that will cause any of these groups of people to find the moral courage to do what they know is right. None of them stand for anything except raw power and/or money.

Schumer and Pelosi should be in front of every camera repeating over and over how these fuckers didn't have any second thoughts about shoveling trillions of dollars to the hotel and cruise line industries -- even though those are dead or crippled for the foreseeable future, so the money just went to the execs anyway, and the cruise lines are American in name only anyway, since they register the ships in Liberia or Panama, and are mostly staffed with non-Americans. They should be telling the truth and shaming the devils, not this mewling, puling gosh, why won't they play nice bullshit.

You know why working-class dumbasses keep voting Republicon, above all else, even though they know they're being ripped off? Because they fight. Even when the fight itself is futile and stupid.

Because when Obama was in charge, and the Democrats ran Congress, and Moscow Mitch didn't get his way on something, he went straight to the cameras and railed about the fuckery, and he disciplined his party minions to go forth and do likewise. They are never not on message, and their message is fuck you.

And while they're in power, the appended message is make me. It's a nihilist death cult from top to bottom, and it's long past time to recognize it as such. Again, Chuckles, us peons on the street can go out and get a big bag of nothing on our own. You should at least be able to convey in a convincing manner that the animals you are up against are not your fucking friends, nor are they the friends of any American who is not in the coveted "net worth" club. For fuck's sake, at this late point, 160k people dead and 40M out of work in about four months, it should not be that difficult to put across that simple, toxic dynamic.

That thumb-shaped dickweed openly killing the Post Office met with Schumer and Pelosi yesterday. Today he scrambled the top execs of the USPS just to fuck it up even more. So that must have been a super-effective meeting yesterday. Can't wait to hear their big plan to preserve electoral integrity, or just to get the exterminator in to fumigate the White House and make the cockroaches leave even if we are allowed to vote and there's a landslide.

We all hear and say a lot about how the Republicon party needs to be ended completely, how they have utterly abdicated their role and face a generational landslide blowout blah-blah-blah. And that is true enough -- IF THE ELECTION ACTUALLY HAPPENS. And day by day, that prospect is being whittled away, right out in the open. And nobody is doing a goddamned thing about it.

So an equally real existential dilemma is staring the Democratic Party square in the eye -- when they're not looking at the ground, slump-shouldered, hat-in-hand, hoping for another crumb from the table. If they don't win this in an indisputable blowout, they're doubly screwed, because their own base will abandon them, since they can't get anything done anyway, and the Republicons will absolutely go medieval on their asses.

Hoping for some Fitzmas, deus ex machina, miracle whatever bullshit ain't gonna cut it. They're gonna close all the physical precincts, and refuse to deliver the mail-in ballots. They are openly stealing the election, point blank.

What are they doing about it? And they want my vote, and my donation? For what? A fucking means-tested 401(k) carve-out or property tax deduction or some dickless bullshit like that? Two-year interest deferment on loans for minority-owned small businesses? [rolls eyes, makes jerkoff motion]

This is not some standard mediot "Dems in disarray" guff. The problem is that the Democrats appear to be arrayed exactly as they intend to be. Fortune favors the bold, and time is short, and their colleagues are actually their mortal enemies, and they really should have noticed that about [checks watch] ten or twelve years ago.

One way or another, the problem will be resolved in less than ninety days.

Thursday, August 06, 2020

Useful Idiot

Let's thump the deceased equine one last time for good measure -- if you're buying his music, or his clothes, or any of the other cheap, shitty garbage marketed by Kanye or his hobbit wife or her horrid grubby family, you're part of the fucking problem.

No doubt every country has this to some level, but this country seems to have a special knack for making household names out of utter mediocrities, of taking complete shitheads and turning them into millionaires or presidents, just by getting morons to repeat their names and take sides on their inanities.

Like I've said before, West is to "music" what Trump is to "politics" -- an elevated fraud, a shameless charlatan who's never had the benefit of an honest appraisal or conversation. Despite my usual nods to metal and hard rock, I actually do listen to a lot of modern electronic music as well, and there's tons of unknown players on YouTube that are a hundred times as talented as West has ever thought of. Which is fine -- if people want to waste their money and time listening to sonic garbage and following the exploits of a garbage human being, that's their prerogative.

But now he's meddling, because he has incurable daddy issues, and his current daddy figure "blessed" him with millions of dollars, between tax breaks and PPP loans to his "fashion" line. He's been paid off, and now he's lending a hand in return.

Yeah, Joe Taxpayer, you're putting your hard-earned tax dollars into Kanye West's buttless chaps and plain white tee-shirts, or whatever the fuck he wears and sells. You like apples?

It's interesting that over the past year or so there are these "rumors" floated about West's supposed mental instability. Ordinarily one would express sympathy, but frankly, even if he really is clinically bipolar, I couldn't care less. It's not his main problem anyway -- his main problem is that he's a spoiled asshole, and his dipshit fan club won't stop enabling his vainglorious nonsense. Welp, enjoy the consequences, folks, because you've certainly asked for them. He's not being "tricked," he knows that the hell he's doing.

It's unlikely that West's stunt candidacy will have any tangible effect on the election outcome, assuming we're even allowed to have an election, and that it isn't rendered pointless by Trump's open cheating, stealing, and meddling. But that's not the point -- the point is that given the circumstances and the stakes, he has the potential to be enough of a distraction to affect things.

And West just doesn't care. It's all a big game to him, just like it was to Trump. Every article covering him is one that could have covered Biden, a flawed but serious person who might actually save some lives, just by not being completely incompetent and morally empty. There are serious people who understand the serious challenges ahead, and have real ideas about how to get things done. Forty million people out of work, millions about to get evicted, plague blowing through the country and about to barrel through the public school system, here's ol' Fuckface Junior yanking his dick in Forbes magazine again. Fuck them and fuck him.

Seriously, what a king-sized piece of shit he is. Somebody needs to break it to him that Jesus thinks he's a ludicrous asshole who needs to take his filthy money and just fuck off forever. By the time his kids get old enough to realize what a useless scumbag he really is, he'll be bribing the hell out them just to stay in the room with him.

One of the longest-running themes I've maintained over the years in here is my firm, serious belief that reality teevee is a cancer, pure and simple. All you need to do is look at the sweaty, jabbering muppet encased behind the concentric security barriers recently erected around the people's house, and take that as proof.

Reality teevee is useless and corrosive, and its operational dynamic has been to deliberately stoke the worst out of people, for the empty amusement of bored strangers. It's for people who would otherwise be binging on porn and Faces of Death, but don't have the guts. But it's the same ethos as those types of "entertainment" -- the arch contrivances of porn combined with the nervous frisson of the snuff film. And it's permeated the fabric of this country, turned otherwise sensible people into slack-jawed idiots, and spawned a new generation of "influencers" who don't actually do anything but function as walking billboards for the followers of their mini-cults.

I mean, we all know Idiocracy was a documentary, but people have forgotten that They Live was also a documentary. Put the fuckin' sunglasses on.

Come to think of it, Kanye West is exactly the chief executive this hollowed-out husk richly deserves. Bottoms up, America.