Sunday, August 26, 2012

Naked Capitalism

Hello friends, readers, lovers: This week I'll be doing the daily link round-ups over at Naked Capitalism, so if you come across any interesting news items, commentary, cute animal pictures or whatnot, feel free to leave a note in the comments or send me a tweet or a carrier pigeon or whatever.

Thanks. And stay safe out there.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

How I could just bite a man

A few months back, my dog bit an old gringo in Granada, a colonial city in Nicaragua popular with old gringos, many of whom one can't help but think are here largely because there's no extradition treaty with the United States. I don't want to spin this: it was bad thing. My dog, the cuddly bastard, was a very bad dog. A very bad dog.


The thing is, my dog is maybe 20 pounds soaking wet -- and given a choice in the matter, he'd never be soaking wet because, while he puts on a tough act, large bodies of water frighten the little guy. Though he has a big dog's bark, he does not have the bite to actually back it up. Like a canine Victor Davis Hanson, but with less metaphorical blood on his paws.

So while, again, my dog biting an old man can't be spun as an okay thing to do, in my opinion a bite from a little Lhasa Apso that doesn't so much as leave a mark didn't warrant the response it received: the old gringo screaming "you fucking asshole" at me over and over in the middle of a crowded cafe. A curt "watch your fucking dog, man"? Yeah sure, that's fine. I get it. Let the steam out and let's move on.

Now, as a person who sometimes struggles with embracing deescalation tactics when I'm personally involved in a conflict -- follow me on Twitter! -- I probably didn't handle the situation as well as I should have. Already having a strong bias against all the old creepy white men in Nicaragua whose legions I am destined to someday join, I decided quoting the breed profile back to the man would be a fun thing to do: "He probably bit you because he's a very good judge of character," I said. "He could probably tell you're a shitty person." I believe I also made an ageist comment regarding hips and the relative chance of my breaking mine compared to him breaking his.

Was I right to say that? No, of course not. Did it feel right saying it? Of course it did.

And that brings me to something that, thanks to the mental clarity provided by Flor de Caña, hit me last night like a bag full of Lhasa Apsos: this guy is my new neighbor in San Juan del Sur -- "new" as in I've been living right next to him for the past month now. This perhaps explains why I have not been able to get so much as an "hola" from him. As I told my dog after I got home from the bar, equipped with an ephiphany and a buzz: at dawn we finish this.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Our Road Warrior world

Victor Davis Hanson protects his peaches.
Conservative author and big-time war-enthusiast-from-afar Victor Davis Hanson, like a lot of pasty, self-styled masculine archetypes of a certain age, is preparing for the end of the world -- and he wants you to know about, for how else would everyone know how much of an alpha male he is in our fallen age of metrosexuality and womyn's rights.

Spurred in part by a passer-by trying to get all up on his fruit ("[He tried to] steal the peaches from my trees; he honestly thought not only that he could, but that he almost was obligated to."), Hanson has come to believe that society is collapsing around him. The blame for this, for the "ubiquity of tattooed, skin-pierced tribal people with shaved heads and strange clothes," says Hanson, of course lies with the obvious, most influential segments of society: poor people and immigrants, and especially poor immigrants. But let's also not forget the "whiny, pampered, influential elite on the coast," Handson reminds us -- and you know the type, the self-parodying sort that rather than Man Up take to the Internet to complain about some meanie picking their Prunus persicas.

This terrifying new reality that Hanson describes, one where people think they can just go around enjoying the earth's blessings willy-nilly without so much as a hint of respect for some old white asshole's claim to monopoly privilege, requires preparation -- a new code by which to live. Have you seen The Walking Dead? Think that, but instead of zombies there's Obamacare. And our leader is a contributor to the National Review:
I find myself insidiously adopting the Road Warrior survival code. Without any systematic design, I notice that in the last two years I have put a hand pump on my grandfather’s abandoned well in the yard and can pump fresh water without electricity. I put in an outdoor kitchen, tied into a 300-gallon propane tank, that can fuel a year of cooking. I am getting more dogs (all vaccinated and caged); for the first time in my life I inventoried all my ancestors’ guns in all the closets and found shotguns, deer rifles, .22s etc.

I have an extra used pickup I chose not to sell always gassed in the garage. For all sorts of scrapes and minor injuries, sprains, simple finger fractures, etc., I self-treat — anything to avoid going into the local emergency room (reader, you will too, when Obamacare kicks in). And the more I talk to neighbors, the more I notice that those who stayed around are sort of ready for our Road Warrior world.
As a white dude, let me be the first to say: fucking white people.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Texas justice

Ex-teacher gets 5-year prison term for student sex:
A former North Texas high school teacher was convicted Friday and sentenced to five years in prison for having sex with five 18-year-old students at her home.
Three former students who testified Thursday said that they did not consider themselves victims and did not want to see their former English teacher prosecuted. The three were football and track athletes.
Arlington police Detective Jason Houston testified that charges were filed because ‘‘18 or not, it’s a crime’’ for a teacher to have sex with her students.
Ex-cop who molested underage teen gets prison:
A former San Antonio Park Police officer was sentenced to four years in prison Thursday, nearly five years after he was accused of molesting a teen and giving her a sexually transmitted disease.
The victim, now 21, said she was repeatedly molested by [Officer] Rodriguez for two years starting when she was 14. She tested positive for the same strain of genital herpes that Rodriguez has, according to court documents.
If you're a cop and you sexually assault a kid in Texas, you will serve less time behind bars than if you are a woman who has consensual sex with adults; you're better off having a badge and a rape conviction than a vagina and consent. In summary: America.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A picture's worth a thousand votes

Barack Obama, far right, permits a commoner to touch His hair.
This is a real thing:
There is a now iconic picture of Obama and a young boy in the Oval Office. The president of the United States is bowing, bent at the waist so the young boy can touch his hair, so the young boy can feel that he and the president have something in common. When I first saw the photograph I knew I had finally voted for someone who would affirm my faith, who would live up to the audacity of promising hope.

Sometimes, all hope requires is one moment and that moment, that photograph of the president and a young boy is what I most needed to believe my hope in Obama was well placed, to believe that while the president is just one man, the presidency is so much more when held in the hands and heart of the right man.
That's from "90 Days, 90 Reasons," a website that aims to rekindle the magic of 2008 by reminding voters that Barack Obama is the cool dad you always wish you had; a man who is better than us, yeah, but benevolent and loving enough to make us believe we are almost one and the same. Like an American Jesus.

Seeking to connect to the average voter by way of mostly rich and usually white men, the site also provides a platform for the lead singer of Death Cab for Cutie to declare, as a privileged hipster who believe me sucks in concert is wont to do, that "Marriage equality is undoubtedly the most important civil rights issue of our generation." The most important; like, more important than every other civil rights issue. That's what he's saying.

It's almost as if all those hundreds of thousands of poor brown people locked up in cages for non-violent drug offenses don't even exist -- because in the day-to-day lives of most liberal Democrats, and indeed most Americans, they don't. Out of sight, out of mind, like all the other poor and oppressed people you won't find chiming in on the Internet about the greatness of Our President.

Update: The most insufferable case for re-electing Barack Obama you will read all day, courtesy McSweeney's. Spoiler alert: Ralph Nader makes an appearance, as do naive, "disappointed" progressives who are just angry because "Obama hasn’t addressed their particular pet issue."

Monday, August 13, 2012

Telling You What to Do (1st edition)

Dear Chuck,

I met a girl who works at the State Department, studied under Marty Lederman at Georgetown, and is big into control play. Should I go for it, just to take out my frustrations, sexual and otherwise?


DC Deviant

DC Deviant,

First things first: Don't call me Chuck. Second: Googling “Marty Lederman” is way more work than I'm willing to undertake for an advice column.

As for the important stuff, it's clear you need to stop thinking so much about your god damn self and open your eyes to the world around you. For fuck's sake. What's important here is not you taking out your frustrations (sexual or "otherwise"; cute), but her taking out hers.

Ninety percent of U.S. foreign policy, probably, is just pathetic, power-mad people in Washington working out their deep-seated sexual issues by treating the world like one big, poorly maintained fuck doll. By letting her literally do to you what she would otherwise metaphorically be doing to some poor nation on the other side of the globe – and yes, this may involve novel-to-you goings-on with your butt – you could by being a slave to one ultimately be a hung-but-unsung hero to millions.

I say go for it. Lives are at stake.

Know any guaranteed successful pick up lines? 

-- BroadSnark


I sure do. These always seem to do the trick for me:
– You're reasonably attractive. I'm reasonably attractive. Let's say you and I head back and have a reasonably enjoyable time at my perfectly adequate studio apartment.
– You must be Palestine and I must be Israel because I'd really just like to occupy your territories right now. Fuck what the world says.
– I'm a virgin.
– We are anatomically constructed in such a way that as rational, intelligent beings I believe we should consider engaging in a physical, potentially romantic act that would bring at least modest amounts of pleasure to all parties. Hey.
– I can see in your eyes that you believe any uprising against the capitalist state must be led by the working class, acting through a class-conscious revolutionary vanguard party.
– Here, let's get that gag on you now.
Other tips:
– Be famous. It doesn't matter what you're famous for, but rest assured someone out there will fuck you because of it. Be Twitter famous if you have to.
– Be rich. Studies have shown that having a trust fund enlarges primary and secondary sexual characteristics in men and women, respectively. I'm saying it makes your tits and/or cock bigger.
– Start a blog, but that's just plain common sense.

Need help? Submit your questions to davischarles 84 (AT) gmail (dot) com. And just so you know, the working title of this column is to be pronounced like so.

Preying on the prayerful

The attack came early. Like any coward, the killer wasn't interested in a fair fight, and chances are he didn't even know whom he was killing. Having stalked his prey for reasons that even now aren't entirely clear, he struck when his victims were most vulnerable: as they prayed in their house of worship. Within minutes, a once-peaceful place became a war zone, blood-smeared floors littered with the lifeless bodies of worshipers. And for what?

Read the rest at Al Jazeera.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Paul Ryan was right

While I was at the beach enjoying my last few days here in Nicaragua before heading back to the center of All That Is Wrong With America (Media Division), I guess -- at least judging by all the liberal-sense-of-superiority fellating coverage -- that Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan became president of the world or something? By the law of the blogosphere, then, that means I am duly bound to share some sort of anecdote about the man. So.

Back when I was trying to be a respectable reporter in Washington -- up there with blacking out in Tijuana as one of my top five terrible life decisions -- I used to cover Ryan's doings on Capitol HIll as a freelance correspondent for Wisconsin public radio. One-on-one, he was unremarkable; just another white dude doing his damnedest to leave a world for his offspring more shitty than the one he was born into. But I'll give him this: after the Democrats took over Congress in 2006 on the back of promises -- oh, the promises -- to end the war in Iraq, Ryan was a fuck-of-a-lot more honest about the political reality than any "anti-war" progressive in Congress, Dennis Kucinich excepted.

At a hearing I attended in October 2007, Ryan -- who was arguing in favor of more war spending; that is, he's an asshole -- noted that despite all the lofty promises from the likes of Nancy Pelosi, a certain unjust, immoral war continued to be consistently funded to the tune of whatever the hell George W. Bush demanded that month. As Ryan put it:
"[Since Democrats took over Congress] we’ve heard comparisons about how much we are spending on the war as opposed to children's health insurance or education programs or what have you. But nothing has really changed. The president continues to send his war funding requests to the Hill and, in the end, he continues to get what he asks for.”
This comment came around the time that my suspicion the Democratic Party was nothing more than a marketing scam designed to put a liberal veneer on the corporate state became an article of well-supported faith. While I never had any doubt that the party was terrible, its leaders cynically exploiting the hopes and fears of their base just as much as the GOP, I had thought that maybe -- ya never know -- that they would choose to withhold funding for the war in Iraq if only for cynical, political purposes, the only reason anything is ever done in Washington. I even voted for one of the bastards under that assumption.

And then reality happened and I saw firsthand how the Democrats passed bill after bill funding a war they claimed to oppose with but weak, base-placating provisions attached meekly requesting that the president maybe get around to outlining a plan for withdrawal, which Bush of course threatened to veto. And then I witnessed Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin go on television and say straight up that, well, if the president vetoes our weak-ass request for a plan for withdrawal, then why of course we'll pass a no-strings-attached bill funding the war. We don't want to play politics with the lives of our brave men and women in uniform, after all, so we'll support them the only way we know how: by spending billions of dollars more to send them off to kill and be killed in an unjust war of aggressession.


At the time, I remember thinking: Wow -- I mean, gosh -- I'm only a half-decent poker player and even I know you're not supposed to show your cards before the turn. These are professional politicians! They should be better at bullshitting; it's what they do. And then it occurred me: The Democrats weren't playing cards with the Bush administration, they were playing with the dupes who voted for them.

Sorry, got off message there. Where was I again? Oh yeah: Paul Ryan is arguably the worst man to have ever walked the Earth, a Randian racist who'd rather curb stomp your grandma than provide her affordable access to medical care. And the role of vice president is really important!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Yes, but what about Mitt Romney?

I guess my biggest problem with liberal pundits these days is their single-minded, almost religious focus on the issues that matter -- to the exclusion of almost everything else. Wherever you turn, it's always systemic injustice this or bipartisan embrace of extrajudicial murder that.

It's like, I get that the United States has placed more than 2.3 million human beings in rape cages thanks largely to a Democrat and Republican-approved racist war on the poor that takes the guise of fighting narcotics, but do we really have to dwell on it so much? Yeah, innocent people are being murdered every day as part of a war on terror that no one outside of the Washington, DC, suburbs thinks is doing anything but manufacturing even more terror, but what, for instance, does Mitt Romney's lunch order tell us about who may be his pick for a running mate? And do we even have any good jokes ready to go based on that selection? (If it's a dude, I suggest digs about same-sex couples are in order.)

And I haven't heard from Sarah Palin in a few weeks. Has any writer for The American Prospect even bothered to check her Twitter feed lately? It's time those of us on the left got our priorities straight.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Telling You What to Do

I would like to start an advice column because, while I have no idea what I'm doing with my own life, I quite like telling other people what to do with theirs.

From sex to relationships to moral dilemmas to sex, go ahead and email your questions to me at: davischarles84 (AT) gmail (dot) com. Your requests for anonymity will be respected, but that's probably about all that will be.

Still kicking

Last time I took an extended break from the Internet, the only clue I left as to my whereabouts was a cryptic reference to the disappearance of Ambrose Bierce that could reasonably have been, and indeed was, interpreted as a suicide note. So, just to be clear: I have only killed my Twitter account. I'll be back, maybe in a week, maybe in a month, but for the time being it's too much of a distraction as I deal with trying to move my life from Nicaragua to Los Angeles. And while I've met a lot of beautiful souls on the Great Social Media Satan, all it takes is one disagreeable person in my "mentions" tab to sour me on life and so -- since I don't have any sage to burn -- I think signing off is the best way to get rid of all that negative energy.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Don't try this at home, kids

Barack Obama speaking on the act of terrorism in Wisconsin:
At this difficult time, the people of Oak Creek must know that the American people have them in our thoughts and prayers, and our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who were killed and wounded. My Administration will provide whatever support is necessary to the officials who are responding to this tragic shooting and moving forward with an investigation. As we mourn this loss which took place at a house of worship, we are reminded how much our country has been enriched by Sikhs, who are a part of our broader American family.
Barack Obama, three months earlier, committing an act of state terrorism:
A U.S. drone strike hit a village mosque in northwest Pakistan Thursday morning, killing at least 10 people, a Pakistani official and witnesses told NBC News.
Local tribesmen said ten bodies were pulled from the debris and that efforts were underway to retrieve others, NBC News reported.
"The drone fired two missiles and hit the village mosque where a number of people were offering Fajr (morning) prayer," local tribal elder Roashan Din told NBC News.
The message here: Whether or not massacring people in a house of worship as part of a self-styled "war on terror" is morally right or wrong depends on geography.

Update: And, of course, Romney:
“Ann and I extend our thoughts and prayers to the victims of today’s shooting in Wisconsin. This was a senseless act of violence and a tragedy that should never befall any house of worship."