MOMENT OF CLARITY

Posted in Quick Hits on July 20th, 2017 by Ed

Guys. I'm trying my best to be serious and not take the easy path to making fun of how stupid the person in charge of the country is at the moment. But. You guys. I have to ask a question without sarcasm, without subtext, without winking and nudging. Read this, and then tell me…



…does the President of the United States know what health insurance is? Like. It sounds like he is describing one of two things here: 1) nothing, because this is basically word salad or 2) whole life insurance, which might (for a very young, healthy person) have something extremely low like a $12/year premium. Nothing else in the world of insurance is even in the ballpark of what he's talking about. The trip insurance on Priceline costs more than $12.

If we do as we are encouraged by our upbringing and attempt to treat our elected officials and their ideas respectfully, reading these words leads to the conclusion that the President of the United States does not actually know what health insurance is. That is one of the most depressing thoughts I've had to absorb in a year of seriously depressing thoughts from the world of politics.

LAST CHANCE AT TERRIBLE

Posted in Quick Hits on July 16th, 2017 by Ed

Remember the "Everything is Terrible All the Time" t-shirts? If memory serves, I had 400 printed. There are three remaining, all in Unisex/Men's Small. When those three are gone these shirts are officially No More. If you're a man or woman on the slight side, have at 'em.

SUBMITTING TO PEER PRESSURE

Posted in Quick Hits on July 14th, 2017 by Ed

After holding out for about a decade, I gave up and joined Twitter this week. Here I am on the Twitters. Follow me on the Twitters. Am I doing this right?

Also, the "None of this is OK" t-shirts have shipped, and I have a scattered half dozen still available (men's and women's XXL included). Submit to peer pressure and buy one. Be one of the lucky remaining few.

NOTES ON A DICTATOR

Posted in Quick Hits on June 29th, 2017 by Ed

In 1961, Esquire asked Saul Bellow to comment on Nikita Khrushchev's antics during his second visit to the United States. The Russian's first trip in 1959 was a source of merriment for everyone involved, a two-week carnival with Nikita K as its grinning, mugging star. His second visit was limited to New York City and was spent mostly in the headquarters of the UN, highlighted by K's infamous shoe-banging incident. Bellow wrote of the chaotic man in control of a massive nuclear arsenal with global reach (original article behind paywall):

Masked in smiles and peasant charm, or exploding in anger, the Russian premier releases his inner feelings and if we are not shaken by them it is because we are not in close touch with reality.

That seems relevant today for some reason.

THE JEFFERSONS, BUT SUPER WHITE

Posted in Quick Hits on June 27th, 2017 by Ed

Movin' on up (Moooovin' on Up!)
To the East Side

For the first time I received money in exchange for writing a thing and I put my real name on it. Check out this thing on Rolling Stone about paying less attention to Trump and more to state legislative elections in 2018, since state capitols are the source of the real nightmare legislation in recent years.

More exciting (for me anyway) developments are a-brewin'. Stick around.

PROGRAMMING NOTE, 6/2017

Posted in Quick Hits on June 25th, 2017 by Ed

I've noticed the post frequency trailing off a bit, but for once I have a half-decent excuse. Without getting into any premature details, I've been doing a great deal of writing lately. Sometimes after a full day spent writing, the last thing one feels motivated to do in the evening leisure hours is more writing. Plus, the quality of writing one produces at the tail end of a long session often is quite poor, like the 9th inning pitches of a guy who has already thrown eight innings on a hot day.

The situation has been noted, and the management is working to improve it. Please remain patient. There is a payoff.

PRETEND WE HAVE A JUSTICE DEPARTMENT

Posted in Quick Hits on June 19th, 2017 by Ed

One silver lining to the increased attention given to police using lethal force is that some of the creepier aspects of the cop subculture are being exposed to the public. Turns out, perhaps unsurprisingly, that a lot of contractors who market themselves to police departments under the guise of "training" are absolute lunatics.

The officer recently found not guilty of manslaughter in the Philando Castile shooting, for example, attended a training session for something called "Bulletproof Warrior," an odd name for a program aimed at police officers who are neither bulletproof nor "warriors." The gist of the program is that every suspect is waiting to kill you, it will happen in the blink of an eye, and the Bulletproof Warrior must silence that nagging voice in his head that says not to kill people. Kill or be killed, so you better hurry up and shoot the suspect before he shoots you.

I mean, what could go wrong.

Also take a look at this guy named Dave Grossmann (who was featured in the 2016 documentary Do Not Resist) who promises trainees that they will have the best sex of their lives on the day they finally kill someone.

For all of the "Not all cops are bad!" talk that takes place, where are the people in the police departments that use this sort of "training" who should be standing up and saying, "Hold on, this is completely insane"? Maybe they exist and get silenced. Or maybe they don't exist. What would be nice is if we had a real Justice Department that did the job of overseeing law enforcement in this country, one that would use every tool at its disposal to take Federal control over any police department whose leadership looks at what these "trainers" have to offer and decides that this is how street cops should be interacting with the public. It would be nice not to have to tiptoe around reality whenever the topic is law enforcement; a real political leader would say unequivocally, "Anyone who thinks the problem with law enforcement in this country is that police do not shoot enough people is not fit to have a badge and a gun, period."

It would be nice. Too bad we can't have anything nice.

NONE OF THIS IS OK

Posted in Quick Hits on June 13th, 2017 by Ed

Not cool with the slow rise of fascism? Don't think it's normal to have a white supremacist blogger on the National Security Council? Then it's time to let everyone know where you stand.

What: The all-new Gin and Tacos "None of this is OK" shirt. Canvas brand, screenprinted (no print on demand BS) front and back, Navy Blue, women's v-neck and men's/unisex crew neck available. Canvas sizing guides for unisex and women's v-neck shirts.

When: This is a pre-order for shirts I will have in my hands in three to four weeks. That means they will likely ship to you the week of July 4. If I can get them earlier, so will you. I appreciate your patience. I am not an Amazon warehouse. I am a dude in an apartment with some mailing labels and envelopes.

Cost: $20 for either style (unisex or women's). PayPal only please.

Shipping: $4 is added to each US order for shipping + packaging. For international orders, I'm sorry to say shipping is $10. While I am not looking to become a titan of commerce here, I do have to avoid selling these at a loss and Int'l shipping costs $12-15 from the US.

Ordering: Please use the correct order button, Domestic or International. Anything outside of the U.S., even Canada, must use the International button.


Domestic Orders (USA)





International Orders




Don't be left out!

DADA

Posted in Quick Hits on June 12th, 2017 by Ed

Rankings and superlatives are endlessly subjective. What does "best" or "most important" mean? Bear that in mind when I describe Barbet Schroeder's Idi Amin Dada: Autoportrait (1974) is the best documentary ever made. Is it the most enjoyable? The most technically accomplished? The funniest? The most informative? No. But it's the Best.

If this seems like a random thing to bring up, I'm doing it at this moment because the Trump cabinet meeting on Monday looked like a scene taken directly from that movie. In fact there is an extended scene of a cabinet meeting and many other settings in which subordinates are forced to praise him effusively, even comically. I saw video of the Monday meeting and read the quotes the various secretaries were forced to offer up and the similarities were more than a little eerie.

As difficult as it is to believe, the depiction of an illiterate, violent, charismatic, psychotic dictator in his own words (the film has about 50 words of narration total, and the director lets his subject speak for himself) feels topical here in the United States in 2017. Now, let's not go overboard. Our current president doesn't murder and torture his enemies by the hundreds, if only (primarily?) because he couldn't get away with it. But within the framework of institutions that constrain him – something conspicuously lacking in 1970s Uganda – it's essentially the same person. If Amin can't read and Trump can but refuses to, what's the practical difference?

The idea of a nation being run by a large, violent child who requires constant ass-kissing and obsequious praise to teeter back toward something approaching sanity and away from another temper tantrum is not new. Nor will the consequences of it in the United States be as brutal and severe as they are and have been in many countries around the world. But if you've been waiting for a Smoking Gun to prove that our president has the classic narcissistic Third World Strongman personality, you can rest your case now. A person who is not severely maladjusted is embarrassed by fawning praise by obviously insincere lackeys. Trump apparently can't function without it.

On the plus side, we all know what happened to Amin.

A MINOR DETAIL

Posted in Quick Hits on June 6th, 2017 by Ed

The Washington Post ran its twice-annual "Poor people in rural areas are all getting signed up as disabled" piece last week, this time featuring some of the most conveniently – almost comically – unsympathetic characters yet. They're poor! They're dumb! The only multisyllable words they use are trendy medical diagnoses! They're divorced a half-dozen times! Look at how many kids they have! Yeah, we get it.

The tiny detail that is wholly omitted from this story, which does describe a real trend and cites the statistics to prove it, is that the rapid surge in disability recipients is largely due to concerted efforts by states to shift people from their own social safety net to the Federal government. Things like unemployment insurance, housing subsidies, etc. are the financial responsibility of the states. Beginning in 2008-09 when state budgets across the country lurched into crisis mode, strategic governors and state legislators saw easy pickings in encouraging state social services agencies to push people toward SSI, disability, and other programs for which the tab is picked up by the Federal government. This saves states millions at a time when saving millions is of particular importance politically and practically.

You'd think that would be worth mentioning. You'd think an honest journalist would drop that in the piece somewhere, or that an editor doing due diligence would add it after the fact. Instead, the emphasis seems to have been on making sure that there were enough pictures of fat stupid poor people.