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January 15, 2016

ted cruz is a real piece of shit

At the risk of repeating myself every four years, the GOP debate last night was a truly astonishing display of willful ignorance, cynical and naked divisiveness and a complete disregard for how government works. And either you watched it (or are reading about it this morning) and the litany of complaints is one shared by us and nothing new to you, or you've had a bellyful of this noxious pap and are swearing it off at least until the general. So let's let the professionals do the point-by-point rebuttals in the interest of economy.

But! Two things.

First of all, of course I'm predisposed to not be easily charmed by the men and women who have the necessary beliefs at their heart to run for president on the Republican ticket, but holy smokes is Ted Cruz one unlikable dude. That oily smugness permeates every thing he does and you can tell that in his head he is smirking at his own perceived brilliance, even though four out of five sentences out of his mouth are cynical gotchas that only work in Model U.N. (or college debate team, natch). That he can dog-whistle New York City while his (one would assume long-suffering) wife is a lifer at The Banks just shows you how dumb every person not Ted Cruz is, and his version of foreign policy is clearly the idea of a man who thinks that the best way to appeal to voters is to cosplay a Tom Clancy novel. And he looks like someone wearing a Ted Cruz mask.

Shorter version: Ted Cruz is a real piece of shit.

But more materially, and speaking of which, the more that time passes and the older (and hopefully wiser) I get, the more and more convinced I am that the primary issue affecting the Republican Party influence over Congress, and this nomination race we are withstanding currently, is stupidity. For all the talk of antipathy towards non-GOP voters, of apprehension of the new and of a righteous me-firstism that the Republican base exhibits, they really are just not that bright. And as a result they are so easily manipulated into all sorts of misdeeds, electoral and otherwise. The fact that any demographic cannot ID Donald Trump as a glaring Exhibit A in the DSM 5 for Narcissistic Personality Disorder after about three minutes does not speak well of the smartness of this demo, whether emotional intelligence or book-learnin'. Take also for example one of the more indelible themes from the most recent debate (one specifically hit, in characteristically not-answering-the-question fashion, by Cruz), the visuals of American sailors in Iranian custody. I'm sure it's an outrage and all, but, guys, the sailors — and this was known at the time of these sentiments — were nothing but freaking lost, and the Iranian military gave them food and cots and promptly returned them, and the vessels and the equipment. I mean, if you're the kind of sap that views the world through Axis of Evil lenses, then maybe there's some outrage here, but for fuck's sake, come on.

And I have seen progressive thinkers wringing hands that to call dumb voters dumb only angers them further, and that there are two sides and try listening to the other, etc. Well, I'm all for listening, except when the two sides are dumb and not dumb. In that case, listening is silly. And the more that you dance around the fact, you become no better than oily Ted Cruz, trying to figure out how best to get one over on the rubes.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:13 AM

January 11, 2016

david bowie and the scolds

The mourning for David Bowie is of course taking place in public. It is 2016, and even though 2016 is not preventing anyone from mourning David Bowie in private, away from social media, if you are at all connected to social media (privileged enough to be so?) you will have noticed that there is a lot of public signifiers of grief for David Bowie — a shared Youtube video, a gif of Bowie style over the years, a screenshot of a memorable quote, like the one about the OED.

These moments range from the sharing of a private moment from a friend of Bowie's, such as his final email to Brian Eno, to a quick RIP or a "thoughts and prayers." From the monumental to the banal, from the wrenching to the inane.

The first scolds that came were the predictable ones. Given that there was a high volume of feelings shared, there were those that were skeptical of the seemliness of the whole venture and questioned in some case the authenticity of the feelings shared. These specific scolds were a bit on the basic side, and it is noted that if one's quiet enjoyment is spoiled by the ceaseless rending of garments, then maybe just stay off the social media for a little bit, but then again it is a free country and one is allowed to agitate in favor of one's favored version of this free country, as long as one is prepared to encounter the reciprocal thoughts aimed back at the original opinion.

And the back-atcha was not long behind.

The next wave of scolds were those scolding the sentiment that any display of grief should be criticized. Don't Be Scolding, the original scolds are told. The phrase "grief-shaming" is copiously used, defending the right of the person in 2016 to exist free and clear from any implied judgment of the person's actions, behaviors and thoughts, and confirming that mean people continue to suck. In fact, scolding is generally a useless and negative thing to do, scolded the scold-leery.

Of course not everyone is involved in this Gnip-Gnop of scold-shaming. Many in fact are quietly mourning to themselves, or talking about other topics like the Packers game last night, or El Chapo's taste in shirts. But they don't stick out as much, because they are not using spoken thoughts that could possibly be enjoyed just by thinking to tell others that maybe their spoken thoughts could be enjoyed just by thinking.

And the touchy part of this venture is the resulting brief non-social media piece that purports to ruminate on these events and make some over-arching sense of the whole thing. Sometimes these pieces are as prescriptive as all the precipitating scolds: No scolding! Only scold in a certain way! And others — and these guys are the worst! — are some iteration of a Pox on Both Your Houses! Everyone is guilty of exactly the behavior they are scolding! Please God make it stop.

Well, if there was ever a person that never had a problem finding a compelling new iteration, it was David Bowie.

Posted by mrbrent at 2:00 PM