Category: Rubes and grifters

Talking Bout My…

I ran across an innocuous-yet-aggravating-anyway argument on the Twitter machine this week.1Say not so! In this instance, a member of one so-called GenerationTM took offense at someone from another GenTM who claimed that theirs was indeed the best of all possible GTMs – because look at all the wondrous innovations theirs could claim – while the other GTMs were a bunch of wankers due to their inclination to war, racism, laziness, lousy taste in music/film/etc., and other particulars. The exchange was lively, generally pointless, and, as these things do, escalated into name calling of all sorts. read more


Wave the Bloody Shirt

It’s not hard to find examples of politicians exploiting tragedy for cheap emotional gain. But it’s hard to imagine a more cynical episode than the stunt trump pulled last night during his congressional address.

On January 28, just a week into the trump reign, our Commander in Chief green lighted a military raid in Yemen. By most accounts, the president* took a cavalier attitude toward approving the mission. He could not be bothered to attend to the mission in the Situation Room, preferring to stay in the residence and tweet about trivialities. Leadership.

During the raid, CPO William Owen died, and six other SEALs were injured. An estimated 29 civilians died in the raid, including children. A $75M Osprey helicopter was disabled; airstrikes were called in to destroy the aircraft to keep it from falling into enemy hands. No strategic intelligence was attained, no strategic hard target or combatant captured or killed. It was a clusterfuck from start to finish.

This woman, Carryn Owens, lost her husband. Her grief is beyond my imagination.

I’m confident in saying that it is also beyond the president’s * imagination. Or interest, really, in anything other than its value as a show biz gambit that allowed him to bask in one minute and forty-four seconds of standing ovation tribute, tribute that may have been intended for Mrs Owens and her late husband, but which he treated as his due. He even made her stand up a second time, this woman consumed in mourning and public grief, reduced to a prop in a sick game to let this sick man believe himself to be a popular leader.

Watch the tape. She wants to go away and hide. Now look at trump: the sick bastard is beaming, smiling, waving thumbs up as though he had just had a protester dragged out of one of his rallies. The world is just a reality show set to him. He could care fuck. all. about human feelings, about suffering, about yearning. Give him an applause line and everything is fine.

Trump quoted the Bible. Trump said “Ryan” was looking down from heaven, and “he is very  happy because I think he just broke a record” for the ovation. Huzzah.

Now, take a look at the Joint Chiefs of Staff during this revolting spectacle.

Ever since the botched mission, trump has swung between claiming everything went great to blaming the failure on Obama. And then a few days ago, he tried to hang it around the necks of the military.

“This was something that was, you know, just — they wanted to do,” Trump said. “ And they came to see me and they explained what they wanted to do, the generals, who are very respected.”

“And they lost Ryan,” Trump continued. read more

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Night


Soon, it will all be over. Hard to believe, but true.

The end.



The end of the arguments, the pitched battles on Facebook and in the comments section of your favorite newspaper, the unbridled anger, the long friendships dashed, families split asunder. The embarrassed glances as your neighbor plants another sign for that person, that idiot fraud who is going to destroy democracy as we know it, that tool of the special interests whose only interest is in undermining your freedom, your very way of life.

But enough about the race for Leon County Property Appraiser1Which is, in fact, a nearly perfect microcosm of the entire U.S. political circus.. There seems to be some kind of reality show contest underway to see who gets to live in the Big House That Slaves Built. And it all comes down to November 8. Come November 9, we will either wake up to a bright tomorrow or to the certainty that our polis will soon descend into a scorched earth hellscape upon which once-promising seed will find no purchase.

Here’s my humble prediction: no matter who wins, the entirety of our electorate will find themselves in one or the other of these mindsets. The rosy scenario, alas, is possible only if MY preferred candidate wins. Otherwise, all is lost. Naturally.

Tuesday will mark the twelfth consecutive Presidential election that I have followed, dating back to 1972, with an almost clinically-diagnosable degree of obsession. In that time, I have watched every major election return – all the way into the late West Coast returns – and every national party convention. Gavel to gavel. Coast to coast. If recognizing a problem is the first step toward beating it, I’m good.

My name is Rob, and I am a political junkie.

(Faithful followers of the blog [all three of you] have wondered why Your Narrator, of all people, has not written more about the election this year. Short answer: what could I possibly say that hasn’t been said at least 7 times already? Also, too: I’ve had a hard time making any sense of it. It beggars belief, really.)

Anyway, November 8 is a pretty Biden big deal. It is a critical hinge-point in one of the greatest sagas ever told, a day of epic convergences and salient plot development.

I am speaking, of course, about David Foster Wallace’s gargantuan Infinite Jest.2Available at a fine local bookseller near you! In lieu of rehashing the obvious and over-determined plot points and characters of the Clinton-Trump pas de deux, what say we resist my electoral OCD and spend a little time on an addiction in front of which Your Narrator finds himself compelled to pay attention to every tiny fucking detail no matter how inconsequential in the larger scheme it may actually be. Just like this fucking election.

Pages 321-342 of IJ describe the last, epic contest in the game of Eschaton. This is DFW at his comic peak, his closest brush with the fiery arc of Pynchon flaring rockets. Eschaton is a game invented at Enfield Tennis Academy in which youngsters with tennis rackets play out a nuclear holocaust scenario by lobbing “tennis balls so bald and dead”, each representing a 5-megaton explosive, on a quartet of tennis courts marked off to represent a world map. Various items of clothing – shorts, shirts, socks, jockstraps – demarcate military installations, civilian population concentrations, transportation assets, &c. Each kid represents a different world power3Or non-power; Canada in particular takes a heaping share of disregard., and battle is waged according to strict decision trees derived from game theory, international relations studies, and the ability of said kids to accurately lob a tennis ball onto or into a nation-state and its clothing-represented assets.

It was Sunday, November 8, that this last and final Eschaton contest of all time, a game that had heretofore been a staid and measured contest of skill and strategy, descended into Lord of the Flies-esque blood-letting, a free-for-all melee in which propriety and acceptance of civilizing norms are discarded in favor of a winner-take-all-damn-the-torpedos orgy of anything-goes savagery in which anger and vengeance seem to be more important than arriving at mutually beneficial outcomes.

Sort of like this fucking election campaign. Damn. Can’t get away.

And it happened on November 8. The Day of Eschaton.4To be clear, it was a Sunday, not a Tuesday, this November 8 in the Year of the Depends Adult Undergarment was. YDAU is likely equivalent to our own 2009. Noting that the main action of this novel of a dystopian future is now several years in the old rear-view is as jarring as growing up with, and living past, the years of action described in 1984 and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Time’s arrow is relentless in its poking of Your Narrator’s hind bits.

November 8 is also, in the IJ mythos, Interdependence Day, a celebratory occasion that marks the declaration by President Johnny Gentle of the forced union of the US, Mexico, and Canada. Johnny Gentle, a germ-o-phobic lounge crooner cum television star – a man described as having a “pathological inability to deal proactively with any sort of real or imagined rejection” – has defied the odds by winning the Presidency on the platform of, basically, ‘everything is filthy and awful and I’m the only one who can clean it up’. That he has never been bothered by two or more ideas occupying his mind at the same time, or that he has disturbing and obvious sociopathic and authoritarian tendencies, is of no apparent concern to a largely imbecilic American electorate which is anxious to have someone place a firm hand on the wheel.

Forget building a yoooge wall. Johnny Gentle forced Canada to accept a “gift” of a massive swath of land comprising most of Northern New England and New York, a land that will be used as a toxic dump for America’s trash and radioactive waste. The land is quickly rendered uninhabitable for humans, though rumor abounds that giant feral rodents, perhaps descendant of liberated pet hamsters, roam the wilds feasting on garbage hurled by massive catapults from the south.

Also, too: Johnny Gentle dismantles NATO, ostensibly because they won’t carry their own weight, defense-spending wise.

Also, too, also: the mysterious Joelle Van Dyne – aka radio cult personality Madame Psychosis (which we are intended to hear as ‘metempsychosis‘); formerly-aka the Prettiest Girl of All Time (PGOAT), subsequently a victim of a hideous acid-hurled-in-the-face deformity episode, and currently a member of the Union of the Hideously and Improbably Deformed (UHID) – is admitted into Ennet House Drug and Alcohol Recovery House on November 8, YDAU.

Of note: JVD is also the featured performer in The Entertainment, a video cartridge that is so compellingly mesmerizing and entertaining that anyone who starts watching it will sit transfixed, through episodes of hunger and thirst and bladder/colonic evacuations, until actual death occurs.

Something like this fucking election campaign.

As Pierce noted in a recent post: “Are We Not Entertained?”, both camps have pulled out all the stops to capture our eyeballs, from HRC’s parade of celebrities we love to watch – like the celebrities currently occupying that Big House That Slaves Built on Pennsylvania Avenue, no to mention A-listers like Bey, Katy, Bruce, &c. – to Trump’s parade of Chachi and Ted Nugent and uh, mm, uh…… OK, granted, Trump can’t call down the star-power the way Hils can, but it doesn’t matter…he himself is The Entertainment ne plus ultra of this campaign. He is the can’t-stop-looking train wreck that everybody watches just to see what happens next. Some of us are horrified, some of our neighbors thrilled, at the “authenticity” of his antics. Either way, the folks with the teevee cameras know that if they point at him, a goodly number of us will gawk, perhaps not through embarrassing episodes of defecatory/excretory mishap, but certainly in great enough numbers to keep the camera pointers focused on what we have deemed most important this year.

“So,” you ask Your Rambling Narrator, “the fuck what? I can’t stand this stuff and I never watch/listen to any of this crap.” Indeed. And why should you?

(You just know I’m gonna tell you why. But not yet.)

I recently re-read some Joan Didion essays about the 1988 conventions and election – a moment of relative civility in the recurring preznential drama – and I found myself wondering5Heads up! We’re back to IJ again. what was the real-life equivalent of the instant that snivel-nosed Evan Ingersoll snapped to the in-built contradictions of Eschaton’s niceties and agreed upon “apparatus of the game”, which realization led him to drill a frozen rope, line driven tennis ball into the base of Ann Kittenplan’s skull – she representing what we would all recognize as Putin-land – which action shattered the “civility” of old-line Eschaton strategy and unleashed the hellish fury of a full-bore Eschatological melee that culminated with Otis P Lord ending up with an old-school CRT computer monitor fitted tightly over his skull, glass screen side first – pondering how/when/why the norms of “civilized” political battle fell into glass-slivered pieces, looking for the exact moment when our own so-called real political culture turned the corner into the lunacy that has us contemplating the actual-if-slight possibility that a spray-tanned reality show host might actually assume the office of the Presidency. Our own Johnny Gentle.

Your Narrator is compelled to consider one of i2b’s guiding principles: Reagan Ruined Everything. Perhaps St Ronald was the metaphorical tennis ball to Kittenplan’s skull?

Consider Ronnie’s abject demonization of the word “liberal” and the various schemes and machinations of the Reagan campaign, their dickying the Iran hostage crisis and stealing debate books and barely concealed racist appeals. Is this it? Here, after all, was a man careening headlong into dementia, a dim bulb in the chandelier ascending to the presidency, a B-movie contract hack with name recognition largely derived from his silver screen history. Saint Ronnie indeed left a trail of carnage and terrible policies in his wake. But no, Reagan had at least been a Governor, as had many Presidents before him, and despite his anti-towering intellect and retrograde policy inclinations, he was a legitimate choice for President.

I glance back at Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail and I find myself amazed that History’s Yard Waste himself looks almost good in comparison. But no, this was not the moment.

We can think about Willie Horton or Al Gore inventing the internet while he wrote Love Story, or the Great Clenis Hunt of the 1990s, or or or….and sure, all these things are contributors to our current debaclish condition, grim harbinger of the degradation to come. But not quite the nadir.

In the end, I think the line drive tennis ball to the nape of our political neck6Block that metaphor! comes down to the moment Mavericky John McCain, with the help of his fawning media monkeys, convinced America that a barely-literate nobody from a tiny village of Alaskan meth heads was a legitimate choice to sit second in line to the presidency.

And really and come on, that was the moment where the “apparatus of the game” got thrown against the rocks and our descent into Gentle Trumpery was ordained. Not that it wouldn’t have happened anyway, eventually, that somebody would see the weakness inherent in the politico/media co-dependency and knife that soft-underbelly with almost Stradivarian skill. But that moment when a reasonably sentient Presidential nominee selected a barely sentient snowbilly in 4-inch Louboutins to stand as second-in-line to the Presidency, when the media broke its own back bending to deal “even handedly” with a person who justly deserved all the mockery we could muster – that was the moment of insemination, the moment the Trump monster was made possible. Because once we treated her as though she were in the least qualified, all bets were off for any future carny act that wanted to play the media like small-town marks in front of a cartload of snake oil.

Compare the amount of coverage of Palin v Obama in 2008. Compare the amount of coverage of Trump v everybody else this past year. The media gazed upon Palin/Trump as do the victims of The Entertainment – they are willing to endure anything because the freak show is so damned compelling. And while we may not be down with soiling ourselves, it’s pretty clear that we will swallow pretty much anything.

Along comes Trump. The shattered apparatus of the game was no match for a guy who couples razor-sharp media instincts with the morality of a Kimodo dragon. When Johnny Gentle emerged:

the Dems and G.O.P.s stood on either side watching dumbly, like doubles partners who each think the other’s surely got it, the two established mainstream parties split open along tired philosophical lines in a dark time when all landfills got full and all grapes were raisins and sometimes in some places the falling rain clunked instead of splatted, and also, recall, a post-Soviet and -Jihad era when — somehow even worse — there was no real Foreign Menace of any real unified potency to hate and fear, and the U.S. sort of turned on itself and its own philosophical fatigue and hideous redolent wastes with a spasm of panicked rage that in retrospect seems possible only in a time of geopolitical supremacy and consequent silence, the loss of any external Menace to hate and fear. read more


Yes or No, But….

How do you solve a problem like The Donald?

From my perspective, the answer is simple: turn out the vote and beat that sociopathic charlatan like a tin drum. Send him scurrying back into the fever swamp that spawned him. Be gone, beast.

But for my Republican friends (stop laughing) and relatives, it is a little trickier. Talking to these folks – in a respectful and civil way (why are you laughing? Stop!) – presents an opportunity for us to find a little common ground

Some of them – call them the #EverTrump crowd – see Big Orange as the answer to their prayers, a knight in Cheetos-colored armor. For them, it’s simple. And I got nothing except to say, “Nice weather we’re having.” Common ground enough.

Then there are the folks Josh Marshall tagged as the “Yes, but…” brigade, people who realize Mister Spray Tan is a disaster on legs, but are going to vote for him anyway. Folks like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, who daily have to spin like tops to distance themselves from Trump’s latest nonsense, but still, their support remains unwavering. Rubio. Priebus. McCain. The list goes on. Profiles in triangulating cowardice, they want it both ways: principled opposition to the scourge of Gold Star moms everywhere, but a clean heart about withholding their vote for the only living, non-orange person who might actually become President, the Hildebeast. These are the folks who calculate that party over country is a winning bet. For them, I got nothing beyond a suggestion to check out the latest escapades of Mallard Fillmore. And this: history will not be kind to you. Nice weather, by the way.

Then there are those who know el Trumpo is a know-nothing martinet and a fool, but a lifetime of GOP voting leaves them constitutionally incapable of pulling the lever for the pant-suited she-demon. The “No, but…” brigade. JEB!? I’m looking at you. If you’re in this gaggle, stay with me, because I want you to find your way to the fourth possible path, the one less traveled by.

Here is where I praise Republicans who realize that a Trump presidency would inflict incalculable damage on our Nation, who cannot imagine having to explain to their descendants how they could have supported – even indirectly – the election of a vulgar grifter. People who know that they are going to take fire from other Republicans, know they’ll hear cries of “Traitor!” People who know they are sacrificing future opportunities in the party they have called home for a lifetime. The #NoButs brigade.

We can also call them Patriots.

I recently struck up a friendship with a long-time member of the conservative GOP establishment. (STOP laughing!) Last time we spoke, X was firmly in the “No, but…’ camp, unable to see how she could overcome a lifetime of Clinton-aversion. But today I discover that she has very publicly and definitively joined the #NoButs brigade, proclaiming that if the race is close, she will vote for Hillary Clinton.

I cannot tell you how much I admire her courage. She could have kept quiet and nobody would have known. Except her. And this was a big splash, a very public conversion driven by conscience and rational analysis.
This is what decency looks like. I hope this opens the floodgates.

And I hope those trying to have it both ways realize that, as my Uncle Herschel used to say, “Roll in pig mud, boy, and you get stink on ya.”

I’m not asking that every Republican become a Democrat or vote a straight Dem ticket. I am asking – no, pleading, really – that the people who identify as reasonable Republicans cut the charade of “Yes/No, but…” and take a simple stand. Proclaim your support for Hillary Clinton as the next President of the United States. #NoButs

You can vote straight GOP down the ticket from there. You can pledge to do everything you can to ensure that she is a one-term President. As a member of the loyal opposition, you can commit to struggling against any of her policies that strike you as wrong.

What you cannot do – if you want to honestly see yourself as a principled conservative and Patriot – is to sit this out, to let your silence serve as tacit approval of a tiny-fingered, Cheetos-tinted lunatic assuming the power of the Presidency.

Just join the ranks of the sane and repeat after my new pal, who proclaimed, “This is a time when country has to take priority over political parties. Donald Trump cannot be elected president.”
Now that’s some common ground we should be able to agree on.

(Out of respect for her reputation, I won’t quote my pal by name.
She’s getting grief enough without being pegged as a friend of mine.)

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