A few years ago, here in Boulder, I met a guy slightly younger than me named Benji. He was from Wichita Falls, Texas, but had been in the area for six or seven years. We became acquainted under circumstances most people would consider odd, but were pretty ordinary in my world, and his, at the time. He had a winter jacket with him that he didn’t need and didn’t fit him all that well, so he gave it to me. I didn’t “need” it either, but it fit me perfectly, and it has outlasted whatever winter wear I had at the time.
The last time I saw Benji, this fall, near the King Soopers on 30th Street, he was clearly not doing well in a number predictable ways. He had lost his phone and his backpack, and had therefore been parted from pretty much everything he’d had. But he was full of his usual drawling wry humor, and had just gotten hired at a local restaurant, not for the first time. Benji had hard time keeping jobs, but not because he wasn’t a reliable worker. He was actually a relentless worker, experienced in the hospitality industry, and it was plain from the way he spoke that he had the capability to take charge of an industrial kitchen environment. But when his demons started knocking him around, they wouldn’t let up and Benji would be AWOL for long periods.
…in the same way the most recently emptied dumpster behind a crackhouse is a sterile environment. To label Ivanka or any of the other hapless individuals saddled with a complement of Donald Trump’s ramshackle DNA “intelligent” — as many pundits erroneously did during the 2016 Presidential Campaign, but none are doing now — is a category error, unless, and in some cases even if, the point of comparison is a plant or nonliving object.
With respect to taxes and the deficit, she’s not even pretending to be honest or scholarly. That’s not surprising; Fox & Friends is maybe the loopiest show on a network that is nothing more than a shit-hurling propaganda arm of the White House. And the freedom to ignore reality outright surely comes a relief to the cogitation-averse Ms. Trump; the First Daughter is a misquoter of Einstein — and quoting the man correctly is often a cardinal sign of pseudo-intellectualism — who recoils from topics more complex than a shitty handbag in the same way most people’s minds recoil at having Donald Trump’s discolored and scowling moon-face thrust into an otherwise productive sexual fantasy.
Concerning the decision Sen. Bob Corker (R-Who the Fuck Cares Anymore) made to vote for the final tax bill after it was tweaked in such a way as to assure Corker a personal windfall, Ivanka declared:
“He really believes that tax relief, coupled with the administration’s deregulatory actions, will create the growth that will start to erode and ultimately eliminate the national debt that has been accrued over the last several decades.”
It would be fun, sort of, to give Ms. Trump credit for being cagey here, and for framing everything as something Corker thinks, independent of her own views, in case later events threatened to toss her own rank bullshit back into her face. But she is clearly an idiot or else she wouldn’t even use the combination of words she used her. This is someone who doesn’t merely know the value of the national debt and what the new tax law is assured of doing to it; she obviously has no idea of the factors that increase or decrease its value. She resembles, and very well may be, a tall, Matt Groening-drawn chimpanzee with an overbite and a crude text-to-speech engine implanted in its brain.
Imagine someone telling you, “The best way to improve your fitness is to simply exercise less. If you feel like you’re carrying some extra baggage on your frame, just chillax, and all of that inactivity will stimulate your finally rested body to burn all of the calories its has accrued in past decades.”
That person would have as firm a grasp on human physiology and metabolism as Ivanka Trump has on economics, or any Trump has on anything not related to snarfing Big Macs and Diet Cokes in front of the tube all day, posing as a businesswoman when your crowning achievement in life is being an heiress to a fortune, and repeatedlyhumiliatingyourself on Twitter.
Is calling someone “Pocahontas” an ethnic slur? Assume that it’s not. Why are the people insulted that Trump is being accused of racism for his remarks in Hawaii yesterday even bothering? When you defend someone who doesn’t even hide his own fondness for racial discord against allegations of a racial slur, you only add to the barrage of reasons a lot of people you encounter probably think you’re an idiot. Alternatively, you could be deflecting, like this asshole.
Imagine someone who’s been bragging for two decades that his daddy cheats on his income taxes every year bristling at the very suggestion that his dad went through a highway tollbooth this morning without paying.
But it’s worse than this, of course, because I’ve never seen Trump sound more drunk or mentally disabled than he did during that soliloquy, and identifying anything as such is akin to saying you know for sure which Bazooka Joe comic strip is the least funny. I’ve concluded that a startling number of people, in addition to those who simply like the tumult, genuinely do not know that Trump invariably sounds like someone trying to say the words to “Yellow Submarine” backward while failing to remember all but seven of them. When they say that he sounds like an intelligent speaker, they mean it. This has me once again aching for either the immediate construction and grand opening of the U.S.A. DumberDome (inside joke, sort of) or an intense, nationwide campaign of forced sterilization (hyperbole, maybe).
I liken the current crop of Americans — everyone born since, say, the end of WWII — to several generations of mindless trust-fund kids. We act as if we worked to achieve something great, when from an objective perspective this is complete horseshit; all we’ve done is fortuitously “choose” our shared place of birth, with our forebears having done all the work to get us to where we are.
Make no mistake, I feel incredibly lucky to have been born here and to live here. With almost no exceptions, I feel physically comfortable and safe every moment of every day, have never wanted for food or shelter even in lean times, and have never been under the direct threat of harm from the government or any other organized entity.
At the same time, we’re basically like the one kid in the privileged family who, instead of using his station and what he was given to propel himself further forward, still manages to act like a leering moron most of the time. Yeah, he’s got a degree from a good school and makes good money and has a circle of friends, but most people who meet him recognize that he’s a bumbling, spiteful frat-boy with a silver spoon hanging out of his ass and becoming more tarnished by the day.
There is nothing inherently wonderful, wise, or progressive about Americans as a whole. No country similar to the U.S. socioeconomically has a sizable fraction of people eager to embrace incredibly stupid concepts and practices. You won’t find any prosperous nations besides this one where an astonishing percentage of the population believes in, among various other forms of obvious horseshit, biblical creationism. I’m not sure how we rate versus other countries in the areas of anti-vaccination loons, anti-ESCR, and related solecisms, but I’m guessing we’re not far in front of the puttering sag wagon in those races either. Continue reading “Americans: security unearned, greatness imagined”
Things I could have easily believed about the year 2017 twenty-five years ago, when I graduated from college:
People would be using computers to videoconference in real time
The notion of “writing letters” would be a quaint memory for most
Most entertainment (music, movies) would not be stored on the physical media of the day, but retained digitally in remote places or on tiny devices
Things I could have believed with only minor difficulty:
The Red Sox would win three or more World Series
I would run a marathon at 5:30 pace
I would settle in Colorado
Things I would not have believed under any circumstances:
The U.S. President would be both deranged, stupid, and proudly immoral
A lot of people would be happy that the POTUS was deranged, stupid, and proudly immoral
That POTUS would be Donald Trump
Anyone who thinks I dislike Trump because he’s a Republican is mistaken. I do hate congressional Republicans uniformly and a good many Dems as well, and figure that almost anyone who runs for high office has some kind of obvious flaw inviting a massive and crippling punch to the middle of the face.
According to another depressing poll from the Pew Research Center, churches and banks earn more trust from Americans than colleges and the media. Not surprisingly, Republicans and right-leaning people are more openly hostile toward reality and more eager to embrace horseshit and ruinous influences than others.
Donald Trump walks into a hotel room. Vladimir Putin is standing at the foot of the bed with his pants around his ankles, clasping his rigid phallus, which Trump enviously notes is nearly four inches long. Ivanka lies naked on the bed, arms and legs akimbo, a pool of yuck betwixt her meticulously groomed thighs, and even more vacant look than usual on her kewpie-doll features.
“Did you just fuck my daughter?” Trump asks incredulously (and again, with no small amount of envy).
“Of course not,” declares Putin, nonchalantly tucking his rapidly deflating meat-whistle into his goofy pants. “We were just discussing policy.”
“Great!” booms Trump, his familiar ugly rictus of a “smile” quickly polluting his features. “We’re done here — but would you consider naming some good folks to my new U.S. Anti-Extramarital Affairs Council? Send me your best.”
Donald Trump remains a bloated old shitbag who looks so openly irate and stressed and confused while performing the most basic of tasks, like signing his own name, that it’s impossible to not feel a modicum of pity at the sight of him in addition to the frustration and despair any decent or sane person has to experience when confronted with the fact that we Americans live in a country that elected such a worthless human being president, and therefore live in a country with numerous people whose major function as citizens is taking up space unnecessarily until they blessedly expire and rot into forgotten irrelevance, as Trump himself will do one day erelong.
Psychological projection is a potent force, and smart people are at least as susceptible to its wiles as anyone else — maybe more so. Even continually and accurately pointing out examples of projection in other people won’t immunize you; only cold, uncomfortable reality can break its spell.
If you’ve been telling yourself, in spite of what mounds of polling data and other metrics of public opinion reveal every day, that “no one” or “hardly anyone” really thinks that a wall along the Mexican border is not only worth the expense but sure to be effective, you are wrong. If you tell yourself that “no one who’s paying any attention” really thinks that Trump plans to repeal the ACA and immediately replace it with a better plan, you are wrong. And it’s not just complete backwoods tunnel-vision ninnies who believe such things, although it’s safe to say virtually all such people believe them. I have spent some time in less urbanized, less economically flourishing parts of the state recently, and it has been an eye-opening, even jarring experience in terms of the dearth of cognition that occurs in an abundance of people between hearing something on the news and ejecting it from the primary hole in their faces. Continue reading “In case you’ve never been to Goat Scrotum, U.S.A.”
A lot of us are familiar with sort of belligerent online ranters who aren’t afraid to “speak their minds,” “stir the pot,” “put it out there,” and so on — as long as they can control the conversation, that is. On their blogs and social-media profiles, these people grow comfortable talking either into a void or to a (typically small) cadre of equally mindless followers. It is usually evident that their toxic views and flights of ideas are fueled by some combination of glaring intelligence deficits or legitimate mental illness. Their output is blatantly dishonest, repetitive, self-contradictory, and in violation of countless rules of grammar and style.
I’ve mentioned before that I have more than a few friends who voted for our ever-more-embattled C-i-C, and that they not only don’t take umbrage at the stuff I write about various pertinent goings-on, but also chuckle at a lot of it.
But not everyone has such accommodating people in their online lives. If you have friends or “friends” who disagree with your politics or religious beliefs in a manner you find toxic, don’t worry, you don’t need to take action — soon enough, they will.
It’s interesting to imagine what will happen when President Trump first achieves what he honestly believes to be a genuine political victory, and what even some objective observers might view as one. (Insert old metaphor about stopped clocks and twice-a-day correctness.)
Trump will be eager to take full credit for whatever this turns out to be — say, a surge in employment in a given sector or the capturing of an Islamic terrorist on U.S. soil. This is nothing new, since he regularly assigns himself credit for things he had nothing to do with or aren’t even going well, bullshit that the media has been happy to call him on.
Trump is used to being disparaged and mocked in the press, but I suspect that there is a part of him that thinks that he can turn this around by perpetrating some grand or merely grandiose act of presidential shazam. When this doesn’t materialize — and as I think we can all agree, it won’t, as the media is going to keep taunting and baiting him and exploiting his personality disorders for a whole array of good reasons — I think he will be deeply disturbed.
In other words, Trump can take the potshots he’s getting now — not with any amount of grace or equanimity, but without literally collapsing or doing something so egregiously fucked up that some authority greater than him has to intervene. But I don’t think he’ll be able handle the continued jeers and taunts and insults and criticism when he truly believes he’s being a good president and no one seems to notice or care. Because if there is one thing a narcissist despises more than his poor qualities being maligned, it’s his supposedly good ones being ignored.
I see this sort of thing and continue to think, “How the hell is it that so many people can rally behind anyone, let alone a U.S. president, who both rages away at phantom enemies (and legitimate criticism) like this and is functionally illiterate to boot?”
Then I recall the output of the most vocal Trump fans I’ve crossed online paths with recently, and remind myself of the obvious: People who like Trump unconditionally aren’t disregarding the fact that he thinks and writes like a preteen with severe lead poisoning; they actually don’t even notice this. If anything, they probably assume that Trump is turning out Shakespeare-caliber prose and thundering away perfectly on-point every time he ejaculates this sort of unintelligible, raving nonsense. They can no more appreciate how his words look to normal people than I can follow the logic of someone doing tensor calculus in his head or merely speaking Russian.
Building on an observation I made yesterday: When people who are clearly mentally unbalanced are at least coherent enough to form political opinions, in any contest they observe between a candidate who goes about things comparatively quietly and one whose chief strategy is inexhaustible high-volume raving about Stuff That Needs Fixing, they invariably go for the shrieking demagogue. Continue reading “Mental disarray and personal politics, part II”
I continue to be intrigued by people who self-identify as conservative in spite of having been supported by some combination of the government and other people’s charity for literally their entire lives. I ponder the underlying psychology and then conclude there’s actually nothing unusual about this seeming contradiction: If you can’t or won’t make your own way in life to an even marginal extent, it eases your internal conflict to symbolically align yourself with those who can and do.
I’m trying to come up with the liberal answer to this kind of person. Maybe a closet racist or closeted gay person who wishes to shed such biases because it’s “right” and who therefore superficially adopts anti-bigotry political stances?
Until today I hadn’t looked at Granite Grok in several months. With a Clinton presidency all but assured and the Dems’ taking back the Senate more likely than not, I figured that the loons who keep that Internet turd bobbing along in the sewer pipes of cyberspace had become even more irrational and incoherent than usual. Then I remembered that their achieving this is as about as feasible a prospect as exceeding infinity; maxed out is maxed out. But I was nevertheless far from disappointed.
Yesterday, TIME’s online edition ran a column jointly created by three fellows who purported to have a new answer to combating Islamic fundamentalism. They invoked the annoying term “New Atheist” a lot, and while they acknowledged that the stridency of some of the highly visible contemporary atheists has its place in productive discourse, in their view it would be preferable to approach would-be jihadists in a gentler, more diplomatic way.
I was immediately skeptical of this for reasons I will get to even though they are probably obvious to many of you, but I kept reading to see what this novel and apparently magical strategy appealing to jihadists’ kinder sides would consist of.
I have been a beneficiary of the Affordable Care Act since the first open enrollment in January 2014. As a freelancer of long standing, I hadn’t had health insurance in almost ten years. When I filled out the online application at the Colorado Connect site (a technical Hindenburg, then and now) and told them I was essentially a self-employed business owner who expected to earn X that year, I was surprised to get a card in the mail just a few days later that includes a very decent plan. They asked for no verification of any of the info I’d supplied them, and have renewed my coverage twice now with no help from me.
So, I have no personal complaints. But I am sanguine enough to acknowledge that this says nothing about the experience of other people, and I am close with a few of them who have less than glowing things to say about the bureaucracy managing the ACA show here in Colorado. Moreover, the healthcare system in this country remains a nightmare for many. And while it makes no sense to blame President Obama personally or declare the program an on-balance failure — clearly, some people will thrive under the system at the expense of others, and I don’t think anyone in the know suggested this wouldn’t be the case — it is very easy to do this, because a large segment of the population is sufficiently bitter and blinkered to draw a direct line of causality between America having black Democratic president and their persistent case of anal warts.
I’ve just described the perfect storm for right-wing bloggers are pseudo-journalists, many of whom seem to prefer writing dishonestly to experiencing orgasms, to embark on a prolonged and gleeful misinformation spree. You’ve got angry right-wingers, lots of polls about health insurance, plausible debate over the overall effectiveness of the ACA in doing what it was intended to do (there are far more articles echoing this and this than stories offering opposing ideas in major media outlets, but we all know what the Yosemite Sam Brigade has to say about the mainstream media). That adds up to carte blanche for conservative “reporters” to throw meat scraps at the starving low-information piranhas just looking for one more reason to bitch about socialism, liberals, and (in the right company) blacks. Never mind that the meat is actually Tofurky or some such vegan impostor; stoking the fury of the pig-ignorant masses is critical. If you can do this by attaching a whole ton of deceitful shit to a central kernel of truth or even faint legitimacy, you’ve done your job and your site’s hit count will rise.
The greatest thing about unintentional irony is that its power to amuse is immune to the sands of time.
We live, of course, in an era in which every slack-minded crusader with Internet access seems to think that his frantic and delusional ideas about politics, religion and life in general merit a personal blog. This has boosted the number of people publicly expressing thoughts that are not only profoundly stupid but also magnificently oblivious to levels no observer could have predicted even twenty years ago. Nevertheless, every new addition to the canon of “Look at the pile of chocolate it looks like I stepped in! Why does it stink?” is just as entertaining as the ones preceding it. If nothing else, these actors are largely insulated from uncomfortable emotions such as shame and embarrassment, because they lack the intellectual candlepower to see how badly off the mark their shots invariably fall.