Thursday, December 6, 2018

In which the Guardian's Johnathan Wilson Wins 2018 Simile of the Year

One of the small joys of the Premier League season, so far, has been the delicious schadenfreude of watching the Shakespearean Tragedy of Mourinho at Manchester United play itself out. 

Barring a miraculous return to form, Mourinho is certainly out at the end of this season.  But he is not going quietly, he is raging against the dying of the light, persevering in playing a particular brand of negative football week in and week out.  His players aren't happy, the fans are not happy, and I doubt he is happy either, as United find themselves in eighth place with a goal differential of one. 

I watched the lastest twist in the story on Wednesday night, when Man U hosted Arsenal.  It ended in a slightly disappointing 2-2 draw (disappointing, at least, if you were waiting for Mourinho to finally get sacked.  If he had lost 5-0 or something, he probably would have...).  It was a chippy game, and all the goals were....well, kind of crap, in that none of them probably should have happened.

But it was compelling enough, and I was eager this morning to read some additional analysis from the Guardian sport's desk.  I was reading Johnathan Wilson's take on the game when I came across this: 

A 2-2 draw against a team who are now 20 games unbeaten is no disgrace, of course, not even when that team are Arsenal, who haven’t won in the league at Old Trafford since 2006, who on Wednesday night still seemed to be drained by the emotional frenzy of Sunday’s north London derby, who lost players every four or five minutes to injury and who at times regarded the ball in their box with all the decisiveness of a group of nervous Victorian maidens spying a butterfly on their first jaunt out with a raffish lepidopterist.     

To which I said:  What the fuck?  I mean, I am known for conjuring some crazy shit out of nowhere, some of my work emails are epic; but what Wilson wrote is just really, really, out there.  Where in the world did that come from?  What was going through his mind when he came up with that one? 

I was not entirely sure what lepidopterist was.  Turns out it is someone who collects and studies butterflies or moths.   

So it was with raffish.  Rakish is a word I am familiar with, but raffish was a bit beyond me.  It turns out that they are almost the same thing, as Google saith, it is means some one who is "unconventional and slightly disreputable, especially in an attractive manner".  Rakish is a synonym of raffish, bohemian, unconventional.  It looks as though use of the word hit its peak around 1950, which might explain why it was so unfamiliar to me. 

So yes, that is one for the refrigerator door.  But the beauty of it is that it really is a perfect simile, because it describes the Arsenal defense on Wednesday night so well.  I mean....I want to try to improve on it somehow, to try and to explain it deeper.  But I can't.  It's perfect.  Absolutely perfect.  Well written and a perfect description.  It just about took my breath away. 

So, I am happy and honored to award Johnathan Wilson, of The Guardian, the 2018 Nicholas Marickovich Simile of the Year Award.   I extend to him my warmest congratulations, like a fan fiction devotee giving their favorite author a pair of mittens that they knitted themselves with Merino wool in the coffee shop, out of love. 

I know, I know.  But I have never won the Nicholas Marickovich Simile of the Year Award.  Johnathan Wilson has.  So again, well done Johnathan! 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

In Which Brett Kavanaugh Gives Beer Drinkers a Bad Name

Well America, that was a tough, emotional day.

I did not watch the hearing, but caught up with it through the day by reading the Guardian's minute by minute coverage.  I find if you can't watch something, be it the Chelsea v. Liverpool match or a politically motivated witch hunt, I find its minute by minute coverage second to none.  And yes, I read all the coverage, both of Blasey's testimony and Kavanaugh's.

"BEER!  NOW!" - the Hon. Brett Kavanaugh
First, I will say this:  I believe Dr. Ford.  I feel her account to be very credible, and I know too many victims of assault to just openly dismiss a credible accusation.  We will never truly know what happened - Christine Blasey Ford knows the truth and and the "Honorable" Brett Kavanaugh knows the truth.  The rest of us will never really, truly know, and I doubt you'd ever get a charge to stick in court so far after the fact.

That leaves us in murky territory.  If Kavanaugh had been accused of pulling the Great Clockmand Diamond Heist, but never was found guilty in a court of law, he’d still be innocent and would be eligible for the Court, at least in my eyes.  You might even respect him a bit for having the audacity to pull something like that off.  But with assault it’s different, because the victims rarely get their day in court, rarely come forward for a number of reasons, and even if they do are often not believed.  While Kavanaugh may have forcefully denounced Blasey Ford’s accusations as a political charade, much to the delight of Trump who seems to equate anger and fight with credibility, I find it difficult to trust him.  Senator Mike Lee extended his "most profound sympathies" to Kavanaugh, but I find mine are much more solidly with the accuser unless her claims can be credibly disproved.

I would think the way forward would be to pause the nomination and investigate the claims against him.  I, for one, would certainly like to be assured that we are not about to send someone with a history of assault to the Supreme Court where he will make rulings for decades to come.  Further, if this is all a sham, if it's all an elaborate Left Wing Conspiracy to keep Kavanaugh off the court, I would kind of like to know, because that would be a horrible thing indeed.  An FBI investigation is the only way to get to the bottom of any of that, to get as close to the truth as we can. 

And yes, of course there is a political aspect to this.  I would not be surprised if the Democracts did leak the letter at the last minute to try and stall the process; they are justly angry over what happened with the Merrit Garland nomination and want to stick it to the Republicans as they try to consolidate power in the Courts.  I can't blame them for that.  But I don't think that automatically makes Ford's claims null and void.  Far from it.  It means that they must be handled with greater urgency, nothing more.

And they must be handled with respect.  Try as they might, the angry Republican men of the Judiciary Committee have not done that.  When Kavanaugh came out swinging, they smelled blood, got whipped into a frenzy, and had no problem extending their support to Kavanaugh, denouncing the whole process, and effectively dismissing the accusations.  Yet they cowardly refused to say anything, really, to Dr. Ford during her testimony.  I understand the political calculation in all of that, that it would look bad for these men to be questioning Ford on such sensitive matters.  But what you saw was cowardice writ large, plain and simple.  In their efforts to be respectful, they ended up dehumanizing her by treating her differently and acting through an intermediary. 

Likely, the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote to confirm him on party lines, and then it goes to the full Senate.  Based on today's performance, even if he IS actually innocent, I do not want this angry, condescending, blowhard to get onto the Court.  I didn't want him anyway, of course, as his politics and mine are, shall we say, "not aligned".  But I was willing to shrug it off, say "those are the breaks", and try to get on with my life as best I can.

 But now? 

All I can do is open a whiskey (no beer for me tonight, thank you), drink to the good health of Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan, and Sotomayor, and wonder what in the world we have become. 

Some of the Republicans said this was worse than the Anita Hill hearings, and they are right; it shows how little things have changed and how much further we, as a nation, have left to get when it comes to understanding rape, assault, and harassment.


Thursday, August 23, 2018

I’m not a Political Scientist or Anything...But I think Donald Trump may be in Trouble Here.

Uh oh.
So finally, finally, Trump has been implicated, under oath, of breaking the law.  Cohen has stated in no uncertain terms that he was directed, by "The Candidate", to violate campaign finance law and pay hush money to a playboy model and a porn star with the purposes of influencing the election.

And it's all, I find, rather anti-climatic for me.

It just feels disappointing in a way, doesn't it?  We are 1 year, 215 days, 5 hours, and maybe 30 minutes or so into this shambolic administration (at least, according to -- and I shit you not --  Almost the entire time there has been so much smoke that says collusion and conspiracy, and if it's true, if he actually did it, wouldn't it kind of be amazing? Not by any means good, and not as impressive as eating a whole wheel of cheese, maybe, but still...diabolical.  And in 20 years we'd be like "wow, he really did pull it off, didn't he?  He was terrible, you may as well have elected my cat president, if my cat was a TV-watching diet coke guzzling womanizer who's mind was stuck in the mid 1980's. But all the same he and his little team of waspish cronies pulled it off and nearly brought us to our knees". 

I mean, here's Trump, the man who must win at all costs, selling his soul to the Devil (or maybe rather refinancing the mortgage on it for the third time) to emerge trumpumphrant in an election.  And here are the Russians, who are so ingenious in their own sort of brutal way, butt fumbling into solid gold - a chance to finally bring the west crumbling to its foundation by engineering the election of a Reality TV Star.  The two parties meet, shake hands, get the measure of each other, and hatch a cockamamie scheme to steal the 2016 election that even the A Team would be proud of: intricate, precise, meticulously engineered, with a chance maybe to blow something up; and in the middle of it all is Trump, playing the buffoon populist to the crowd so no one can see him for the suave political operator he actually is, deftly pulling levers behind the scenes with an unlit cigar clenched between his teeth.

But no.  Instead, Trump's reckoning may finally come down simply trying to cover up some sordid extramarital affairs.  It's an old, old, stupid story of pasty, doughy, entitled rich men.  And it's not at all surprising either.  Of course Trump cheated on his wife, of course he cavorted with McDoughal and Clifford Ltd.  He's Donald Trump! Did you expect anything less???  And when those two women saw their chance to cash in (and, please, I think we should give them their money; if I was offered $130,000 dollars just to eat dinner with the man I would think twice about it, and that price is going way, way up if even one stitch of clothing comes off...) they took it, and Trump did what he always does and tried to buy their silence.

And in the normal world of Donald Trump this is perfectly legal, and he's probably done it plenty of times.  But in the world of Donald Trump the candidate it is not, as the rules preclude this kind of thing.  He has been implicated in breaking the law, and then in trying to cover it up he has been possibly obstructing justice.

Will Trump be impeached?  I am not so sure.  Yes, it is the only way, at this point, to hold him accountable for his actions, and by all means he should be.  But impeachment is a political act, and while the House of Representatives may have the votes to kick off the Articles of Impeachment, I am not sure 2/3 of the Senate will actually vote to remove the man while he remains so popular among Republicans.  Of course that assumes that Trump, in a fit of anger, doesn't do anything really stupid, like fire the AG or DAG, or pardon Manafort, or try to shut down the Mueller investigation or start burning books or something like that.

Still, the walls are closing in.  This is not, I believe, the only crime Trump has ever committed, and it certainly shows that he has no ethic at all outside of his own self promotion.  It may be time to make a deal with the master of all deal makers.

So I'm happy to report that I am working out a plan that might get Trump out of a jam and the nation out of a real mess, so that we can all come together to start putting out the dumpster fire that has engulfed our Once Happy Republic.

Because if Trump can be the president (It's still kind of hard to believe we did that, guys) then I can be a political scientist/expert negotiator/savior of the country.