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Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs. Because if you're going to read a banned book, sometimes you need to go bad. Real bad.

Plus, I started it on the day this went down.

It just seemed all the more appropriate, somehow.

50 years ago today...

...this was a brand new thing.

Gene Wilder, 1933-2016

In Memoriam.

Schadenfreude: Phyllis Schlafly

I know you're not supposed to speak ill of the dead - even the ones who've given you every reason to do so - but it'd take a ridiculous degree of revisionism on my part to cast her as anything but a singularly vile individual who played the part of a politically connected small-town bigot to the hilt (more examples of which can be found here, here and here) and never, ever seemed to tire of the act.

So, no. You're not supposed to speak ill of the dead. It's just damn near impossible in this case.

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Well, f*ck you too, Clint

And this is another warning about how you should be wary of taking political advice that comes from the mouths of celebrities - even ones you admire, despite their politics.

You can read the meat of the mess via the link above, but this stretch of Mr. Eastwood's Wild Ride seems to be an object lesson in not how to articulate a thought:

ESQ: What do you think Trump is onto?

CE: What Trump is onto is he’s just saying what’s on his mind. And sometimes it’s not so good. And sometimes it’s … I mean, I can understand where he’s coming from, but I don’t always agree with it.

ESQ: So you’re not endorsing him?

CE: I haven’t endorsed anybody. I haven’t talked to Trump. I haven’t talked to anybody. You know, he’s a racist now because he’s talked about this judge. And yeah, it’s a dumb thing to say. I mean, to predicate your opinion on the fact that the guy was born to Mexican parents or something. He’s said a lot of dumb things. So have all of them. Both sides. But everybody—the press and everybody’s going, “Oh, well, that’s racist,” and they’re making a big hoodoo out of it. Just fucking get over it. It’s a sad time in history.

No offense to Clint - no, really - but the only reason why Candidate Stoathead decided to go after that judge is because that judge had both the misfortune to be involved in his Trump "University" case and because there is a very large network of Stoathead supporters who are, and will continue to be, screaming card-carrying racists. So they got to hear the dog whistle loud and clear because he's of Mexican descent. Never mind the little fact that he was born and raised in the US and is therefore this thing called an "American citizen" as a result; that's not what matters in the odd little universe populated by certain Trump supporters - Gonzalo Curiel's background is.

Then again, look at this way: Clint Eastwood is 86 years old. His complaints about Today's Youth (and consider that there's been roughly 3 intervening generations since he was born, so that's some sample size you've got, there) being overly sensitive and blah blah blah are probably not much different than what he heard from some (but not all) members of the generation that preceded his when he was a teenager in the late 40's and they'll probably be no different from the ones coming out of the mouths of some (but not all) millennials some twenty to thirty years after they've had kids. The problem is this: every generation looks down on their successors as somehow being either morally weaker or less courageous than they were, and it's all bullshit. Because that canard keeps getting repeated over and over again. Younger generations just have a different set of problems than previous ones. You can still get killed over essentially nothing if you're 25 now just as you could've bought the farm over trivial shit like your ethnic background or the color of your skin way back in 1946. What's different is that we think we know better. Or should.

As for Eastwood, well, he was a genius as an actor and director. No doubt about it. But that's as far as his genius goes. Looking for deep political insight from an actor is about as bright as asking a ballet dancer about their deep thoughts on quantum physics (or worse yet, asking another actor about what causes autism), but we spend an absurd amount of time giving a shit about their opinions due to the fact that they're! Really! FAMOUS! And being famous means that you have to have equally famous opinions, right?

Not really. And it'll be a sign of genuine societal maturity if people finally realize that fact.

Signal boost to the Washington Post editorial "Donald Trump is a unique threat to American democracy":

DONALD J. TRUMP, until now a Republican problem, this week became a challenge the nation must confront and overcome. The real estate tycoon is uniquely unqualified to serve as president, in experience and temperament. He is mounting a campaign of snarl and sneer, not substance. To the extent he has views, they are wrong in their diagnosis of America’s problems and dangerous in their proposed solutions. Mr. Trump’s politics of denigration and division could strain the bonds that have held a diverse nation together. His contempt for constitutional norms might reveal the nation’s two-century-old experiment in checks and balances to be more fragile than we knew.

Any one of these characteristics would be disqualifying; together, they make Mr. Trump a peril. We recognize that this is not the usual moment to make such a statement. In an ordinary election year, we would acknowledge the Republican nominee, move on to the Democratic convention and spend the following months, like other voters, evaluating the candidates’ performance in debates, on the stump and in position papers. This year we will follow the campaign as always, offering honest views on all the candidates. But we cannot salute the Republican nominee or pretend that we might endorse him this fall. A Trump presidency would be dangerous for the nation and the world.

Why are we so sure? Start with experience. It has been 64 years since a major party nominated anyone for president who did not have electoral experience. That experiment turned out pretty well — but Mr. Trump, to put it mildly, is no Dwight David Eisenhower. Leading the Allied campaign to liberate Europe from the Nazis required strategic and political skills of the first order, and Eisenhower — though he liked to emphasize his common touch as he faced the intellectual Democrat Adlai Stevenson — was shrewd, diligent, humble and thoughtful.

In contrast, there is nothing on Mr. Trump’s résumé to suggest he could function successfully in Washington. He was staked in the family business by a well-to-do father and has pursued a career marked by some real estate successes, some failures and repeated episodes of saving his own hide while harming people who trusted him. Given his continuing refusal to release his tax returns, breaking with a long bipartisan tradition, it is only reasonable to assume there are aspects of his record even more discreditable than what we know.

The lack of experience might be overcome if Mr. Trump saw it as a handicap worth overcoming. But he displays no curiosity, reads no books and appears to believe he needs no advice. In fact, what makes Mr. Trump so unusual is his combination of extreme neediness and unbridled arrogance. He is desperate for affirmation but contemptuous of other views. He also is contemptuous of fact.

Throughout the campaign, he has unspooled one lie after another — that Muslims in New Jersey celebrated after 9/11, that his tax-cut plan would not worsen the deficit, that he opposed the Iraq War before it started — and when confronted with contrary evidence, he simply repeats the lie. It is impossible to know whether he convinces himself of his own untruths or knows that he is wrong and does not care. It is also difficult to know which trait would be more frightening in a commander in chief.

Given his ignorance, it is perhaps not surprising that Mr. Trump offers no coherence when it comes to policy. In years past, he supported immigration reform, gun control and legal abortion; as candidate, he became a hard-line opponent of all three. Even in the course of the campaign, he has flip-flopped on issues such as whether Muslims should be banned from entering the United States and whether women who have abortions should be punished . Worse than the flip-flops is the absence of any substance in his agenda. Existing trade deals are “stupid,” but Mr. Trump does not say how they could be improved. The Islamic State must be destroyed, but the candidate offers no strategy for doing so. Eleven million undocumented immigrants must be deported, but Mr. Trump does not tell us how he would accomplish this legally or practically.

What the candidate does offer is a series of prejudices and gut feelings, most of them erroneous. Allies are taking advantage of the United States. Immigrants are committing crimes and stealing jobs. Muslims hate America. In fact, Japan and South Korea are major contributors to an alliance that has preserved a peace of enormous benefit to Americans. Immigrants commit fewer crimes than native-born Americans and take jobs that no one else will. Muslims are the primary victims of Islamist terrorism, and Muslim Americans, including thousands who have served in the military, are as patriotic as anyone else.

The Trump litany of victimization has resonated with many Americans whose economic prospects have stagnated. They deserve a serious champion, and the challenges of inequality and slow wage growth deserve a serious response. But Mr. Trump has nothing positive to offer, only scapegoats and dark conspiracy theories. He launched his campaign by accusing Mexico of sending rapists across the border, and similar hatefulness has surfaced numerous times in the year since.

In a dangerous world, Mr. Trump speaks blithely of abandoning NATO, encouraging more nations to obtain nuclear weapons and cozying up to dictators who in fact wish the United States nothing but harm. For eight years, Republicans have criticized President Obama for “apologizing” for America and for weakening alliances. Now they put forward a candidate who mimics the vilest propaganda of authoritarian adversaries about how terrible the United States is and how unfit it is to lecture others. He has made clear that he would drop allies without a second thought. The consequences to global security could be disastrous.

Most alarming is Mr. Trump’s contempt for the Constitution and the unwritten democratic norms upon which our system depends. He doesn’t know what is in the nation’s founding document. When asked by a member of Congress about Article I, which enumerates congressional powers, the candidate responded, “I am going to abide by the Constitution whether it’s number 1, number 2, number 12, number 9.” The charter has seven articles.

Worse, he doesn’t seem to care about its limitations on executive power. He has threatened that those who criticize him will suffer when he is president. He has vowed to torture suspected terrorists and bomb their innocent relatives, no matter the illegality of either act. He has vowed to constrict the independent press. He went after a judge whose rulings angered him, exacerbating his contempt for the independence of the judiciary by insisting that the judge should be disqualified because of his Mexican heritage. Mr. Trump has encouraged and celebrated violence at his rallies. The U.S. democratic system is strong and has proved resilient when it has been tested before. We have faith in it. But to elect Mr. Trump would be to knowingly subject it to threat.

Mr. Trump campaigns by insult and denigration, insinuation and wild accusation: Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy; Hillary Clinton may be guilty of murder; Mr. Obama is a traitor who wants Muslims to attack. The Republican Party has moved the lunatic fringe onto center stage, with discourse that renders impossible the kind of substantive debate upon which any civil democracy depends.

Most responsible Republican leaders know all this to be true; that is why Mr. Trump had to rely so heavily on testimonials by relatives and employees during this week’s Republican convention. With one exception (Bob Dole), the living Republican presidents and presidential nominees of the past three decades all stayed away. But most current officeholders, even those who declared Mr. Trump to be an unthinkable choice only months ago, have lost the courage to speak out.

The party’s failure of judgment leaves the nation’s future where it belongs, in the hands of voters. Many Americans do not like either candidate this year . We have criticized the presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, in the past and will do so again when warranted. But we do not believe that she (or the Libertarian and Green party candidates, for that matter) represents a threat to the Constitution. Mr. Trump is a unique and present danger.

Schadenfreude: Tim LaHaye

I try not to wish death on anyone except the most deserving. And I'm not doing it here, either. But let's face it - you could find any number of public figures far more worth mourning than this guy and his penchant for being just plain wacko on any number of issues, millions of bad Rapture fiction novels sold or not.

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Starworld by Harry Harrison.

Do us all a favor: melt that statue

Just when you thought the Jerry Sandusky serial molestation debacle couldn't get any worse, this particular legal tidbit get revealed and causes yet another round of "how low can you go?" on the issue all over again:

In 2014, a man testified that Penn State football coach Joe Paterno ignored his complaints of a sexual assault committed by assistant coach Jerry Sandusky in 1976 when the man was a 14-year-old boy, according to court documents unsealed Tuesday in a Philadelphia court.

Four other former assistant football coaches at the school also were aware of Sandusky acting inappropriately with boys before law enforcement was first notified in 1998, according to testimony contained in the documents.

The allegations suggest that Paterno may have been made aware of Sandusky’s actions far earlier than has previously been reported, and that knowledge of Sandusky’s behavior may have been far more widespread among the Penn State football staff than previously known.

The Post article points out that former Paterno assistants Greg Schiano and Tom Bradley denied the allegations, but those denials really might not matter all that much to Paterno's already hideously tarnished reputation:

The 1976 victim, identified in court records as John Doe 150, said that while he was attending a football camp at Penn State, Sandusky touched him as he showered. Sandusky’s finger penetrated the boy’s rectum, Doe said, and the boy asked to speak with Paterno about it. Doe testified that he specifically told Paterno that Sandusky had sexually assaulted him, and Paterno ignored it.

“Is it accurate that Coach Paterno quickly said to you, ‘I don’t want to hear about any of that kind of stuff, I have a football season to worry about?’ ” the man’s lawyer asked.

“Yes . . . I was shocked, disappointed, offended. I was insulted. . . . I said, is that all you’re going to do? You’re not going to do anything else?”

Paterno, the man testified, just walked away.

This isn't merely another dagger in Paterno's rep, though. It's also another reason to look askance at any collegiate sports program that puts its success ahead of keeping other athletes, students or even the general public safe from people like Sandusky or others who engage in criminal behavior and then get to walk away because of all the clichéd Big Man on Campus bullshit that's used to protect them even when caught red-handed. The only reason why Paterno and various other PSU functionaries allowed this to happen not merely for years but for decades is that they literally did not care about anything except winning. And that's nearly as disgusting as the actual crimes Sandusky committed.

I don't care how much money is thrown the way of NCAA programs by alumni, boosters or sports apparel companies these days; it won't save them from their worse enemy: namely, themselves. I'm now having trouble enjoying college football even when a program is apparently scandal-free, and I used to follow college sports a lot more closely than I do now. And if an AD or university president thinks that the general public is going to magically come forth and save their bacon when the next scandal erupts when even sports fans like me are getting completely sick of this shit, they're living in the same dream world where Paterno's supporters are apparently residing.