RESUME IGNORING IOWA UNTIL 2020

Posted in Quick Hits on February 1st, 2016 by Ed

Today was a very long and exhausting day for me so I'm fighting sleep shortly before midnight. Going to have to bullet point the caucus results.

1. The Sanders-Clinton thing…we're gonna be here a while before this gets resolved. I don't mean Iowa; I mean the nomination. Sanders isn't going to go away and the non-trivial likelihood of Clinton getting indicted at some point is a little appreciated wild card. This could easily be going on in mid-May like we did in 2008.

2. Trump underperformed his poll numbers. Shocking, I know. No ground game. No real campaign. Just a hype machine. He looks like he's already bored with this too. Half-expected him to endorse Cruz during his yawner of a concession speech.

3. Speaking of rubes and dupes, how about Ben Carson flat-out stealing tens of millions of dollars under the false pretense of using it to run for president? Christ, he's not even pretending. "I'm gonna leave Iowa mid-afternoon on caucus day and also skip New Hampshire and South Carolina, but I'm totes still running. This is a real campaign. Swearsies." Coming soon to an insufferable syndicated radio station near you. (Called it on Nov. 4, by the way. I'll feed ya, baby birds.)

4. As our friends in Britain would say, I think we can conclude with confidence that an endorsement from Sarah Palin is worth fuck-all. They speak to the exact same audience. An audience of old, hard to look at, racist idiots with the maturity level of toddlers.

5. Speaking of trainwrecks, how terrible is Jeb!? He lost to frickin' Rand Paul. He barely beat Carly Fiorina, who in turn barely edged out a rabid muskrat from Davenport. He's urging supporters (who?) to "reset" his campaign, which he also urged them to do in early December when he was floundering like the post-BBQ turd that he is. So if you're keeping track this is his second "reset." Give it up and go back to shilling for fake charter schools. It's still difficult to believe that W. was the smarter one.

6. Jim Gilmore got 11 votes. Granted he hasn't run much of a campaign, but this SOB got on national TV a couple times (at the Kids Table debates) and raised half a million bucks (OK, it pales in comparison but it's still half a million bucks) and he got eleven votes? He finished behind other, for christ's sake. Jim Gilmore, the man who lost to Other.

7. There are about 7 Republicans who need to quit immediately but probably won't: Bush, Fiorina, Christie, Huckabee, Santorum, Kasich, and Carson. They're all wasting their time. But there's no real incentive to stop spending other people's money, is there? So until the money dries up, most of them will keep flailing. (Huckabee quit Monday night)

8. It's barely February and I'm already sick to death of talking about Donald Trump. Honestly I don't think I can do it for 10 more months, although I stand by my insistence that a Trump/Palin ticket would be worth its weight in comedic gold.

TWO VIGNETTES ABOUT THINGS WE ALL HATE

Posted in Quick Hits on January 28th, 2016 by Ed

1. Before a brief appearance on local AM radio regarding the presidential primaries, the hosts told me a very interesting tidbit. This station has both Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh (syndicated, obviously, not live in studio) and loses money on both of them. Limbaugh in particular is poison to local advertisers, who specifically ask that their ads not run during his show. I asked, quite logically I thought, why the station maintains this arrangement if it actively loses money. Turns out that it is a defensive strategy, essentially, to prevent any other competing station in the broadcasting area from getting Beck or Limbaugh and using them as an anchor to establish a presence. Advertisers don't like them but they both continue to draw an audience (with an average age of about 70, they said off the cuff) and having them in syndication is more about denying that potential audience to other stations than it is about Beck/Limbaugh raking in dough. This is anecdotal; I wonder how widespread this arrangement of spite is among the many stations that carry these turds.

2. Conspiracy theory time. Is it possible that Donald Trump is actively trying to get himself out of the GOP nomination process at this point? His ego is so massive that I can't imagine how he will spin losing, if and when he does lose. The ideal scenario for him, it seems, is to get out before much if any actual voting takes place so he can claim essentially, "They didn't fire me; I quit." He seems like the willingness of his supporters to take anything he says in stride no matter how insane surprises even him. There isn't much room left in the neo-Bircher issue spectrum that he hasn't covered. Other than embracing explicit antisemitism or shouting "niggerrrrrrrr!" during a live TV appearance I don't know what else he can do to try to offend people and actually succeed at this point. This theory is probably bunk but I see him as a petulant child with a short attention span who probably got into this race solely to draw attention to himself and now faces the challenge of finding a graceful exit given that he is losing interest and previously thought it impossible that he would do as well as he is polling given how asinine his entire persona and campaign are.

MY GOD, IT'S FULL OF STARS

Posted in Quick Hits on January 20th, 2016 by Ed

Putting Sarah Palin and Donald Trump together is so beautiful I can hardly stand it. It feels like a beautiful waking dream. "Now our cause is one," said the trailer trash fascist, less than 24 hours after her son was arrested for punching his girlfriend in the face. Marcel Duchamp could not script a better shitshow than a Trump-Palin campaign would inevitably be.

It's a natural fit given that both demagogues transparently hate their army of rubes and lead what is essentially America's version of Europe's far-right nationalist movement. If it isn't fascism proper it's close enough. Why not join forces to create the most cynical, meanest performance art piece the country has ever seen, elevated to near perfection by the fact that their supporters are not in on the gag? What is the limit to the amount you would pay to watch media outlets awkwardly take them seriously? Personally, I'm ready to drain my bank accounts to see the spectacle.

As an added bonus, Trump as the GOP nominee (which, again, remains an unlikely outcome but let's dream big for a second) with Palin's tongue attached to his O-ring would not only lose and lose big but they would also take the entire Republican Party down with them. They would do what the Civil War did to the Whigs and what Brian Mulroney did to the Progressive Conservatives in Canada. That we would get to watch a moron who can't talk as the potential running mate of a man who acts like he is auditioning for the lead role in a Goebbels biopic is almost too sweet. "Icing on the cake" understates how wonderful that would be, unless the icing is made of $100 bills and 90 minute massage gift certificates.

For the first time, I am a little excited about the 2016 Election. If you invited me to a demolition derby I'd have very little interest in going. If you invited me to a demolition derby where all of the vehicles had mounted rocket launchers and were driven by drunk men with neurological deficits that left them permanently without depth perception, wild horses wouldn't be enough to keep me away.

BOOKS OF NOTE

Posted in Quick Hits on January 13th, 2016 by Ed

I haven't done this in ages – it must be years, and I'm too embarrassed and lazy to look – but here are a couple of interesting books I've gotten through lately. Non-fiction, obviously. Nobody knows what kind of fiction anybody else will like.

1. Combat-Ready Kitchen: How the U.S. Military Shapes the Way You Eat (Anastacia Marx De Salcedo). Hold on, hold on. It's not about the military. It's essentially a history of processed food, the technologies of which have been driven almost entirely by war and the needs (and funding) of armies. Granola bars, canned protein, preservatives, dehydrated food, freeze drying, chocolate bars…they all came about largely due to efforts to solve the logistical problems of feeding large numbers of men with high calorie needs in a variety of locations and climates. All of the "military" food technology transitions seamlessly to the consumer market. The Army wanted bread that wouldn't go stale for months on end and it got it; now it's virtually impossible to find bread that doesn't have a bizarrely long shelf life. The author is kind of annoying in more than a few passages, obviously too eager to mine the thesaurus (Anyone who uses the word "leitmotif" in a sentence describing granola bars is trying too hard to let us know she went to, let's say Columbia) and the anecdotes about herself and her family add little, but overall it's a great read. The chapters on the Edible Bars of Matter revolution and the technology behind extended food freshness are worth it.

2. 1946: The Making of the Modern World (Victor Sebesteyn). Having previously read his 1989, it made sense to see his take on the other of the two pivotal and defining years of the 20th Century. America is drowning in World War II content – books, movies, games, etc. – but they all end with V-J Day. Yet what happened in the immediate aftermath is the really interesting stuff, not who shot who at the Battle of Somesuch. The author was born behind the Iron Curtain and, for my tastes, fills both 1989 and 1946 with way too many "Communism is bad, kids" reminders (We get it, we've seen the highlight reels of the tomahawk dunks of free market capitalism's victory, Victor) but is a thorough and very straightforward writer. Of particular interest was the considerable attention he pays to the issue of mass rape (and, less sinister, the frenzy of consensual fornication that coincided with it) in the immediate aftermath of the fall of Japan and Germany. Few authors, and fewer male authors, bother to include that among the admittedly lengthy list of horrors of the war. Attention is also devoted to areas beyond Europe in quantity, with thorough chapters on the partition of India, the establishment of Israel, the Chinese civil war, post-war Japan, and other non-Western subjects. You'll understand a lot more about the world as it looks today by the time you finish this.

If you're looking for books, those are books.

REVOLUTIONARY

Posted in Quick Hits on January 6th, 2016 by Ed

Real update to follow shortly, but I had way too much fun with these not to share the deep cuts from the historical flag parody game.

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THE SOFT TOUCH

Posted in Quick Hits on January 4th, 2016 by Ed

We have to be careful. We can't risk upsetting them. That will radicalize them and create more problems in the future.

That's a strategy that our government applies with great consistency and success in exactly one situation: when armed white people are angry and waving guns around. College students blocking a street? Break out the pepper spray and start cracking skulls. People protesting the fact that the police keep killing them? Same. Black guy holding a gun? Shoot first, ask no questions later. Muslims…existing? Put them under 24-hour surveillance. Security threats anywhere in the world? Bomb the living hell out of them, then wonder why we can't win the Hearts and Minds.

You see this kind of thinking on display everywhere, and it underscores how much we consider this to be the right of anyone white, waving a flag, and in a cowboy hat. Don't fill the place with tear gas and send in a hundred SWAT team members to shoot anyone who even looks like they might be thinking about touching a gun five or ten times. That might upset them. "We don't want another Waco!" Really? Why not? If law enforcement is going to be indiscriminately and excessively violent in this country it should be so for everyone.

CNN published this op-ed, which may be the most CNN thing of all time, with a bold intro about how These People Are Terrorists! before explaining that we absolutely can't use the least bit of force to arrest these people. I stopped counting after three Waco references. It's a good example of how deeply ingrained this mindset is. The state doesn't have to, nor does it ever, worry about angering black people. If anything radicalizes them to violence, we'll just respond with even more force. But hillbilly white people…that calls for indefinite tiptoeing. We wouldn't want to make any martyrs! Unless they're black, in which case there's no need to worry. We'll just rationalize how it's their fault they died.

If these people weren't white they'd probably all be dead or incarcerated already, or else they'd have half the National Guard and the entirety of the state police force waiting to bring about that outcome. If the government is worried about creating more of these people, maybe they should stop letting them act as they want with no consequences. That doesn't work with dogs and toddlers; it won't work here.

2015 GIN AND TACOS ANNUAL WHEEDLE SPECTACULAR

Posted in Quick Hits on January 1st, 2016 by Ed

Reader,

I make an effort to limit this kind of request or reminder, because nobody wants to read a hundred pleas per year for the kinds of things a dude with a website is supposed to request. I appreciate your patience with the following paragraphs. I don't maintain this site for financial reward, and I hate creating the impression that you're expected to pay for the privilege. You certainly are not. Not even a little. But if you happen to feel the urge to be generous, here are some options.

1. If you haven't already, follow G&T on the ol' Facebox. There's more to it than a bunch of links to posts. It's a little heavier on humor and lighter on politics compared to this site. And I'm supposed to, like, try to boost traffic and build a base of readers and all that shit. So do it.

Gin and Tacos | Promote Your Page Too

2. Speaking of, even though traffic has increased consistently over the years the site remains and will remain free of advertisements. If you have to ask why, you must be new. In lieu of advertisements you have to put up with the following few paragraphs once per year.

You can do nothing and continue to enjoy the site for free. This is called "free riding", and it's an entirely rational behavior. I have done (for eleven years!!) and will continue to do this every day whether I make a million bucks, nothing at all, or I have to pay out of pocket for the privilege.

You can use this tip jar / donation link to contribute an amount of your choosing to defray the costs of this site. If you happen to be saddled with extra cash and feel like donating fifty bucks, I will be extremely grateful. However, if donating fifty cents is more in line with your current budget, my gratitude will be no less. If zero cents is your preferred option, that's A-OK too. Your tips and contributions are (obviously) voluntary but greatly appreciated. Either way I'm glad you're here and I appreciate you.






3. Ed finally got around to getting coffee mugs like everyone always requested. Customize your own here (Zazzle isn't shy about big discounts). There is also the not quite as popular but equally spectacular Gin and Tacos t-shirt with the lovable slogan, "Dopamine's Only Natural Predator", on the reverse. If you're so inclined, knock yourself out. I also have some bumper stickers available to your right on the "Buy Stuff" link.

For those of you who contributed money to the book project I proposed over the summer, I'll be updating everyone on that matter shortly. And trust me that this post felt as awkward to write as it must have been to read.

LA GRANDE ILLUSION

Posted in Quick Hits on December 22nd, 2015 by Ed

Many, many years ago, before even beginning the long road into academia in graduate school, I worked at a collection agency. Collection agencies pay well and I needed money after graduating from college with a mountain of credit card debt, not to mention the student loans. Collection agencies pay well because they are terrible places to work. It helped somewhat that I was in a semi-managerial position, which is to say that when the people who owned the place and were properly "in charge" were absent, which was often, I was their stand-in.

As is the case with most wealthy white male businessmen, they did not believe in paid holidays. If memory serves, Christmas was a paid holiday (Jewish employees swapped out another day in December and worked Christmas) but we always worked on the 24th and the 26th. This struck, and strikes, me as ludicrous and uniquely American. Since the principals took nearly the entire month of December off – as Job Creators this was their god-given right, of course – I was inevitably "in charge" during the holiday season. One year I spoke with the owner on the 24th and requested permission to let everyone go at noon. Nobody was working anyway. It was December 24. With Dickensian fortitude, he declined the request and insisted on keeping everyone there all day. With boldness bordering on heroism, by about 2:30 I announced that This is Ridiculous and everybody should just go home.

It was ridiculous. We go through this bizarre American charade of showing up to work and doing next to nothing because to close and to give the workforce actual time off would be, I don't know, slothful? Insufficiently Puritan? It was just ludicrous. Most of a collection agency's activity in our particular niche (hospitals) involves being on the phone with insurance companies and hospital business offices. Since those places tended not to be open (or to be as, uh, relaxed toward working as our office) during the last few weeks of December, nothing was getting done. Why we could not all just admit, "Hey, nobody's doing any work anyway, why don't we all just go home?" was beyond me. It still is.

How much work are you doing today? How much work will you be doing all week? My guesses are "not much" and "very little." Yet just to make sure you understand your place, you have to show up anyway. The boss(es) won't be in attendance, of course. They're in Vail or the Caribbean or one of the other places populated with the deserving few during this time of year. If you're in, say, retail or restaurants it makes sense for you to be at work right now, at least economically, because you're actually working. You might even be busy. But my guess is that a lot of you are sitting around an office checking Facebook every 90 seconds and having long, frequent conversations with your coworkers that serve mostly to fill time.

It's idiotic. Go home. Or at least go to the bar. Tip well.

NUMBER ONE: EVERYTHING

Posted in Quick Hits on December 18th, 2015 by Ed

I'm on my way to see The Force Awakens and I'll give you a real NPF soon, but it seems appropriate to remind anyone who enjoys the Star Wars franchise who might not be familiar with them to watch the Plinkett Reviews of the prequels on Red Letter Media. Hiding behind the often ridiculous humor of the Plinkett character is a really thorough deconstruction of exactly why those movies are so bad. Anyone can watch them and come to the conclusion, "These movies are terrible." But if you're at all interested in the process of moviemaking and script development and film criticism, there's a lot in here for you.

If the opening line of Plinkett dialogue – "Episode I: The Phantom Menace is the most disappointing thing since my son. But unlike my son, who hung himself in a gas station bathroom, the Phantom Menace is going to be here forever." – appeals to you, then it's safe to say that his humor will be an additional incentive for you to watch.

Youth, nostalgia, and love of the franchise carried me through Phantom Menace ("Well…I guess it was OK….") but to this day I have never, ever seen a worse movie that I did not go to see specifically because I expected it to be bad than Attack of the Clones. I've seen worse movies, but never one that I went into hoping it might be good. It is so very bad that the idea that there is anyone alive who enjoys watching it baffles me. Right now, about 90 minutes away from seeing the new film, Attack of the Clones is a powerful reminder of just how low the bar is for Mr. Abrams and his sequels.

FASCISM UPDATE

Posted in Quick Hits on December 7th, 2015 by Ed

Remember a couple weeks ago when I wrote that the Trump campaign is basically the modern American manifestation of fascism, and then immediately after that it got even more fascist? Such as when he proposed putting religious buildings under surveillance, tracking and monitoring Muslim US citizens, and, today, barring any Muslim from entering the U.S. (a move wildly applauded by well known white supremacists)? It wasn't exactly a brilliant or complex insight, but for some reason as soon as people began to point out the striking similarities to fascism someone in the Trump campaign decided that it was time to abandon any pretense to the contrary and go Fascism to 11.

The Huffington Post, although not exactly a formidable name in journalism these days, is right to cease immediately all coverage of his campaign. Other news organizations with an ounce of integrity should do the same. Silly time is over. This is no longer amusing. My guess is that the TV news networks can't quit him even if they want to, addicted as they are to the attention-seeking soundbites he generates daily.

Sinclair Lewis is regularly quoted for his observation that, "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a Bible." He was close. The flag is there, but in place of the Bible it's holding a gun.