Selling Out For No Reason Whatsoever

There's a weird but good line from Se7en (1995) when Detective Somerset asks Detective Mills:

"I wonder what exactly was the point of the conversation you were about to get into?"

I thought of that line when I saw Taoiseach Leo Varadkar publicly tell a story to Donald Trump in order to flatter the criminal, biot president of the United States.

Just what was he thinking? Are Fine Gael ministers this bloody daft?

Selling out is one thing, but selling out for absolutely nothing, to a U.S. president who is universally loathed, is mind boggling.

Fine Gael need to be voted out of power. Just what will it take to motivate the Irish to vote differently at the polls?

Bad News Ahead

There are five big, bleak elections happening in the world this spring, and the all look bad.

As Churchill said, democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms. The problem, to put it succinctly, is that it requires an informed and engaged electorate. Americans are politically lazy, ill-informed, resentful, fearful, and often bigoted. Now obviously that isn't true for millions of our fellow citizens, but it pretty well describes the folks who've put Trump in the White House, and gave that collection of clowns and rascals known collectively as the contemporary Republican Party full control over the Congress and most state governments. It's extraordinarily hard to feel bad for people who insist on giving power to a party that despises it's own supporters. And the problems are not confined to the U.S. The idea the Italians are seriously contemplating reinstalling Silvio Berlusconi as head of their government should make civilized people weep. Basta!

Republicans Are Cowards

He's not up for re-election for another 56 months. But Marco Rubio's Senate career virtually ended this week.

Rubio's cowardice was on full display on February 21, one week after the Majory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre. What would you expect from the man who said it was "Florida's turn" for a gun massacre hours after the Pulse nightclub massacre less than 2 years ago? The problem for him and the rest of the NRA darlings is that there's no longer any place to hide on the issue of guns. All the ideologically approved slogans have outlived their shelf lives. Guns don't kill people. To stop a bad man with a gun you need a good man with a gun. Mass shootings are proof that the issue is one of mental illness, not the easy availability of combat weapons. "Gun-free zones" attract gun rampages. And these deaths are the price we pay for freedom. Every one of the shibboleths you hear when these tragedies unfold are finally being seen as the empty, hypocritical expressions of a profit-addicted gun lobby. Their time might be up. Throw the creeps out!

A Perfect Circle Came Back At The Perfect Time

Fourteen years. That's how long it has been since we've had an album from A Perfect Circle, the supergroup fronted by Tool's James Mayned Keenan. 

In 1999, Tool had released one EP and two studio albums for the decade, and there were strong indications that there wouldn't be new Tool material while the band was tied-up in record company contracts. So a side project from one of the greatest lead vocalists in rock was more than welcome. And while the lyrics in APC songs are not as complex or as profoundly pretentious as Tool songs, thunderous musicianship and atypical time signatures are still employed. Take their latest track, Talk Talk. It's an incredibly well-timed song about the uselessness of "thoughts and prayers," and has references to Christ that Keenan has done before. But what makes the song good is its use of the 3/4 time signature. Guitarist Billy Howerdel and company made the song ready for recording when they switched the tempo from 4/4 to 3/4.   

I thought this band was dead. I had forgotten that one of the greatest guitarists of the 1990s, James Iha, had joined A Perfect Circle in 2003. The 90s was a decade full of virtuoso guitarists, and I had simply assumed that the band would never record original songs with Iha. But then, in December 2017, this dark song dropped. A Perfect Circle had returned with dark tracks for these very dark times. I love The Doomed because, well, we are doomed. 

Keenan is having one of the busiest years of his life. The new APC album comes in April. He and his Tool bandmates are almost ready to record their fifth album (and first in twelve years). And he might be recording new tracks with his other side project, Puscifer, now. 

He's Not Listening

"I think the two fundamental issues were that Donald Trump doesn't read anything. Let me accent that — anything. Nothing. If you're working for the president of the United States, that's an odd position because how do you get information to him? That's already a major hurdle. But then there's the second hurdle — that not only does he not read; he doesn't listen. So it becomes from Day One, the crisis of the presidency: You can't tell him anything." - Michael Wolff

It's Still A Masculinity Crisis

Professor Sut Jhally wrote about it 18 years ago.

He spoke about it 8 years ago (above).

I wrote about it 11 years ago.

We got possibly the biggest reminder of it in world history last fall.

The world has a serious masculinity crisis. And in the US, that crisis is directly linked to its gun violence epidemic

Laura KIssel raised the topic again this week. And the comments prove two things. First, they strengthen her argument. And second, they prove we will never even try to address this crisis. Not even try. 

The gun violence epidemic in the United States is both a public health and a cultural crisis. Since I last raised this topic in 2007, the number of firearms in the US surpassed the number of living citizens. 100 million new guns. This is our crisis now and until the end of this broken republic. 

Trump Is Obese

Donald Trump is the same height and weight as Albert Pujols. Riiiight. Why does the White House lie like this? It's just absurd. The White House lies about everything, important or trivial. Trump is obese, and everyone knows it. His diet is hideously bad. He must have good genes and the constitution of a bull, because given what he eats and his lack of exercise, he ought to be an invalid.

Oh, and off-topic, where did the leftover inauguration day cash go? That's still missing

Here's Joe Scarborough with an appropriate rant about Trump's physical health summary.