Thursday, July 25, 2019

Post-Mueller Testimony Thoughts

The testimony itself that I've seen thus far was a bit less circumspect than I actually expected, so I thought Mueller would pull even more punches. I think the media and an unfortunate chunk of my own lefty friends-base thought that Mueller would tear off his suit, and start blasting the GOP into puffs of blood and smoke with his laser-eyes. Anything less than that, and well, "disappointment." IDK. Every single fu**ing time these clowns in the media and the GOoPers say "It's over and we don't have to talk about this Russia stuff anymore," it turns out that it's NOT over, and we are on to a new chapter. It's hard to see what will happen today, but when I saw that bauble-eyed bubble-head Andrea Martin affirming to balloon-face Chuck Todd that: "this was indeed an epilogue to the whole scandal" I got a feeling of gladness deep in my soul. My first thought was: "these clueless sock puppets are going to be just as wrong as usual."

Be like Adam Schiff, my friends.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Scratch-made pizza, al fresco dining, craft brews, and The Bachelorette

Last night I night I worked my typical summer-school's-out job: cooking a couple/few night shifts a week, these past two summers in a well-known Old Town pizza parlor and bar, with a large outdoor patio, which does HUUUUUGE business in the summer, here in Chicago. Located in a pretty upscale part of town, this restaurant knows its clientele, really well.

So it shouldn't be THAT surprising that on Monday nights they drum up business by showing the current episode of The Bachelorette. Groups of primarily Caucasian, upper/middle class friends meet up at the place specifically to get drunk, eat pizza and pub food, and yes. . . watch The Bachelorette, which I believe is now two hours long every week. As they watch, we in the kitchen can hear their drunk screams of approval and disapproval at Whatever The Hell is Happening on The Bachelorette as though it were a sporting event. You can totally tell, that, for these folks, going to this place to get drunk and watch The Bachelorette is A Thing. Heart-shaped pizzas are served with heart-shaped pepperoni. I am told some of the customers actually bet money on specific outcomes. I find it, for some reason, especially troubling that some of the servers are actually quite into it too.

This place does really good business on The Bachelorette, which shows on Monday, and that's fantastic from a restauranteur's perspective as this is usually the slowest night of the week.

I know we live in a decadent society, but the scene at this place for The Bachelorette night really drives it home. These people get together and arrange their social lives around going to watch a tv show that is an obviously scripted, fake-reality relationship derby that makes a pathetic mockery of the notions of love, romance, and marriage. (I hate that they call it "reality tv," as if ANYONE'S reality looked anything like The Bachelorette.) Yet these folks eat it up. And there is good money in catering to these folks, as far as the higher ups at this restaurant group are concerned. To a not-insignificant portion of our population, this counts as a meaningful way to pass time with friends and loved ones.

I struggle a little, as I am personally profiting off of it in terms of paid wages. If this place weren't going gangbusters on The Bachelorette Mondays, they might not need FOUR PEOPLE, just to work the pizza station. (The pizzas are scratch made and pretty good, so I will stand by the food.)

But still, I can't help but notice that our society is broken. It's possible we deserve whatever may be coming. Unfortunately I do think we are past due for a "correction" which will likely be very painful for many, regardless of whether they deserve it or not. I wouldn't mind if The Bachelorette went down in flames as a result.

We live in weird, interesting, but also painful and messed up times.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Musings on the Well-off Revolutionaries

I always like the part of the lefty political debate when the white person (#WhyAreWeSoEmbarrasing) who makes pretty great money in IT, working from home, explains to the working poor and "cuhluhds" that they should opt out of the political system in which their ancestors spent countless lives, limbs, jail time, and decades of sweat, grit, and determination, to win some measure of actual political power. "Nope," these Very Serious Revolutionaries explain, "throw that power away, and give up your seat at that corrupt table, because your people who sit at it are compromised sell-outs, probably including your uncle, the city councillor. It's Bernie or I'm not bothering." Those same typically white folks (#facepalm) then explain to the working poor and "cuhluhds," that the revolution is right around the corner, and "besides Trump really isn't that bad. Look at Obama. 30 million more people with health insurance ain't shit. Don't vote. Don't organize. Take to Facebook instead, every time you're on the shitter. THAT's how I made a difference. Hey, sometimes things have to get worse before they get better." No doubt these Very Serious Revolutionaries will be out leading the Revolution of the working class themselves. . . . as soon as a couple last projects from Cisco are finished up in a few weeks.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

On PC Culture

This piece emerged out of a Facebook discussion of an article by Yasha Mounk at The Atlantic, the headline of which reads:

Americans Strongly Dislike PC Culture

Youth isn’t a good proxy for support of political correctness, and race isn’t either.

Oct 10, 2018

According to the report, 25 percent of Americans are traditional or devoted conservatives, and their views are far outside the American mainstream. Some 8 percent of Americans are progressive activists, and their views are even less typical. By contrast, the two-thirds of Americans who don’t belong to either extreme constitute an “exhausted majority.” Their members “share a sense of fatigue with our polarized national conversation, a willingness to be flexible in their political viewpoints, and a lack of voice in the national conversation.”

Most members of the “exhausted majority,” and then some, dislike political correctness. Among the general population, a full 80 percent believe that “political correctness is a problem in our country.” Even young people are uncomfortable with it, including 74 percent ages 24 to 29, and 79 percent under age 24. On this particular issue, the woke are in a clear minority across all ages.

The conversation began with a suggestion that the Left's focus on so-called "political correctness" was a decisive factor in turning people off to the Democrats, and that of course in some case, defending the marginalized is "virtue signalling."

The media has been trashing the term "political correctness" since the '90's. It's far from surprising that the term isn't popular. Hey if 75% of Americans want to go back to calling Asians "chinks" and "ching chongs," am I "virtue signalling" if I suggest that perhaps that isn't such a good thing? "Oh but we didn't mean it like THAT. That's not okay," they will say. But it's still the same PC culture they supposedly hate so much. There is broad agreement that SOME terms aren't ok; the devil is in where you draw the line! Like: "'Ching chongs' for Asians, no, of course not. But now I gotta use the term Latinx? What the?"

Yet t's the same basic premises. "Try not to offend people." "Call people what they want to be called." I have to imagine 75% of Americans recognize that using "the N-word" against African Americans is problematic, yet we apparently reject "PC culture" anyway. This speaks to the nebulousness of the term "PC," and the relentless media reaction against so-called PC culture. All sorts of people claim to be "against PC," but they would never dream of calling American Indians "red****s," nor calling black folks by the N word. Yet refusing to do so would apparently follow the same thought process that leads to the Horrible Terrible "PC Culture." If, as the article claims, 88% of Native Americans have a beef with nebulous "PC-culture," I guess that is what it is. Sure, whatever. When 88% of Native Americans think that the calling natives "red****s," or using "the N-word" is fine, I guess we could talk.

It's easy to make PC-culture into the bogeyman, like really easy, when the term is as ill-defined as it is in the article, and when the media has been bashing it the way it has for so. Fucking. Long.

Personally I try to err in the side of inclusivity, and calling folks what they actually want to be called. I don't use "the N-word" to refer to the African American people I see around me, because I have come to understand that they don't like being called that by white folks. And pissing people off is never a great idea.

The term "Latinx" is newer to me, in speaking of my Hispanic neighbors, colleagues, students etc. While I tend to defer to Hispanic right off the bat, if someone indicates to me that they PREFER TO BE CALLED Latinx, then Latinx it will be. I have a couple of gender non-binary friends who now want to be called "they," even when speaking just about them in the singular form. While I don't always get it right, if they want to be called they, who am I to tell them they shouldn't? It's just not that hard.

There is bad behavior, of course, with any issue as loaded with complex connections, like "identity." Sure, I reckon we should try avoid Outrage Appropriation, trying to speak FOR some group of which I'm not a member.

But at the end of the day, I don't hold PC culture responsible for the Trump Presidency, and I don't think that "people just relaxing and being cooler about things" is a path toward electoral victory. The Right Wing and its allies are responsible for the ascendance of Mr. Trump. It is not the paltry and powerless left's fault.

And this article kinda sounds like it's making EXCUSES for the psuedo-fascists in the GOP. "I mean yeah Trumpsters are pure evil, but it's really the Democratic left's fault." I mean we've all got our foibles, but when it's "ends democracy in favor of autocratic dictatorship," as the down side to one part of the equation, and "too sensitive," on the other, I'll go with the too-sensitive side every damned day, and I'll do it proudly.

These people steal immigrant children from their parents, and tell us we can't curb fossil fuel emissions because "too late, catastrophic climate change is a done deal anyway," but somehow it's really, seriously, if you just stare hard enough at this one thing, the Left's fault for giving us Trump. All those frothing racists in MAGA hats, and fatcat bankers in Wall Street and fucking Vladimir Putin were all just "incidental" to the whole thing?

And what is the UPSHOT here? I mean sure, I'm a hetero white dude, so I can't claim to always "get it" when people around me talk about micro-aggressions. But I can hear them out, and try to be mindful about it. EXAMPLE: I have a friend who attended Lakes of Fire last year, and was angry that some people felt it was fine to just touch her hair. As a WOC, that bothered her somewhat; not enough to call the cops, not enough to sue anyone, but it bothered her; perhaps a "micro-aggression," if you will. Is the suggestion here that she should just, ya know, shut up about it?

The Democratic Left has spent my entire adult life trying to "win over" conservatives and independents and others who may be "turned off," by the PC bogeyman. Do you think that if we just muzzled all the stuff about micro-aggression, and cultural appropriation etc., that somehow the MAGA people would start voting for Bernie Sanders? That's hogwash.

We have been chasing moderates since Michael Dukakis said: "Well I am not a liberal," in 1988. Perhaps we ought to try actually standing up for marginalized groups we all go around claiming we care so much about.

One more thing. PC culture works two ways, ya know. I mean, we don't call them "spooks, liars and torturers," we call them "the Intelligence Community." We don't call them "racist rednecks," we call them "Trump voters." We don't (anymore) call them "Bible thumping holy-rollers," we call them "Christian conservatives." We sure as shit don't, and never really did, call them "honkies and crackers," we call them whites. This shit works two ways. But only the PC culture from the left side is supposedly a problem. Go figure.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

On Kavanaugh, this guy gets it . . .

Why the hell stick with Kavanaugh anyway?

I think Albert Burneko over at The Concourse gets it:

Brett Kavanaugh Is A Man The Right Can Get Behind

Albert Burneko, The Concourse

. . . Any number of grub-like Yale jurist-ghouls with diamond-edged ‘80s-dad hair and uniformly right-wing ideas about constitutional law could get confirmed to fill the Supreme Court’s vacant ninth seat, and once in that seat could be counted upon to plagiarize Anton Chigurh dialog into incumbent legal precedence for the next three decades. The earth contains no shortage of these. And so, in the aftermath of the discovery that Brett Kavanaugh, the one Donald Trump happened to nominate for the gig, quite likely attempted to rape a 15-year-old girl in the summer of 1982 (and, perhaps less important though no less relevant, almost certainly lied to the Senate about the use of stolen materials to aid George W. Bush’s judicial nominees) and has been living comfortably with this fact about himself for the ensuing 36 years, it should be easy enough to withdraw his nomination and move along to the next crypto-Nazi cottage cheese sculpture in the pipeline. He’d breeze through confirmation, whoever he was: You could pretty much count on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s terminally third-brained centrist Democrats lining up to play themselves. And that would be a success, theoretically: A new, arch-conservative Supreme Court justice, possibly even one not tainted by a credible accusation that he once tried to rape a child.

But that would not be enough. It has to be this guy. It has to be this guy now more than ever. It has to be this guy, now, because he has been accused, credibly, of attempting to rape a 15-year-old girl in 1982—moreover because people believe this should be considered a disqualifying blight on his record. The thing that must happen is that those people must be defeated. That is the whole point. What must be shown to the whole world is that this, even this, cannot stop him.

Aside from the fact that I'm not that familiar with Anton Chigurh, I couldn't have said it any better myself. For the Wrong Wing, it's about "owning the libs." The libs say we can't put a credibly-alleged rapist on the Supreme Court! Eff that! YES WE CAN! We can and we will! Virtually all of RepubliCon public policy in the time of El Drumpfo, (if such a collection of scattered, cockamamie half-notions could be considered a quote "public policy" unquote at all), essentially boils down to: if progressives (and independents these days) are mad, it is good. EVERYTHING, from Obamacare repeal, to gutting the EPA, to this nomination, can be viewed through the four-year old bully's mindset that comes to this, "If those people are upset, than we are happy." They don't actually willfully want dirtier air and water, but they DO want to make libs mad, and if you'll excuse the pun, that trumps everything. Therefore, gut the EPA.

It's mindless. It's devastatingly idiotic, and thoroughly anti-American . . . so you know, quintessentially Republican.

I would actually add here, that if they can confirm this p.o.s. BEFORE the Election, it might actually rile up enough RepubliCon rank and file to seriously mute the effect, electorally, to the point where a little Russian help credibly holds back the so-called “blue wave.” Owning the libs is probably a fairly effective cudgel for these bastards, strategically.

I mean to be certain, there is a parallel between conservative worldview, and the mindset of a rapist. Power is all that matters. Do anything to take it. The agency of those who get in the way should be violently revoked. But I don't think most cons think through things that much, at all.

The point is, the libs are mad. Therefore, it is good.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

I find things in strange places . . .

This comes from an interview with former Seattle City Council member Nick Licata, with the indispensable, Neil DeMause's fantastic website covering, in-depth, how sports teams fleece cities in direct subsidies from "everyone else" to The Very Rich, via the use of tax dollars to build stadiums.

This is the thing: I’m somewhat of a believer that we’re never going to live in nirvana, okay? There will always be challenges; there will always be things that are not right; there will always be shortcomings to people that you elect to office. But the moment you believe that it’s not worth trying, then it’s like walking away from the game, because the people left at the table playing the game are totally going to get their way, because they’re not going to look out for your interest.

So two things I keep in mind is: One, you have a choice — you have to participate in the game of politics and the game of democracy, because if you don’t someone else is going to run your life. And secondly, you should enjoy that game. It’s like sports. You got to think about it as: This is not just good for everyone and yourself, and not only does it create good, but it’s a good process to go through. That’s why I’m a strong believer in democracy and argue that we have to, if nothing else, protect the vibrancy of our democracy.

Amen sir. Amen.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

We're Overthinking Stuff . . . .

Can we please stop acting all "surprised" and saying "Well gee whiz, how come the Evangelicals support that amoral asshole sitting in the White House?" Are we JUST NOW figuring out that it has nothing to do with Christian Values? Next time I see yet another 3,000-word "think piece" about "Here's the special secret as to why the Christian Right supports someone who doesn't reflect their values," I'm gonna puke blood on my keyboard. Four words: "They lust for power." End of fucking analysis. How are people making money pretending to have "analyzed this troubling question"-? It's as simple as could be.