The Gerontocracy

Obviously, most voters don’t want an incapacitated leader to remain in office. But in a district or state in which one party will always prevail because it has an unassailable majority, voters don’t get to choose. A minority– a tiny minority– of party officials and managers ensure that the incumbent stays as long as he likes, because they benefit from his patronage and influence. Kentucky won’t vote out Mitch McConnell and California won’t vote out Diane Feinstein because their parties have solid majorities among the voters. Their parties won’t remove them because of deeply embedded patronage. They won’t remove themselves because of deeply embedded egos (when Biden said he would only run for one term, I laughed). And the Senate won’t vote for term limits on themselves for obvious reasons. The Supreme Court?

The U.S. is ruled by a gerontocracy. Not much choice about that but it would be less distasteful if these people would at least stop insisting that some kind of invisible popular will actually wants them to stay in office no matter how old.

If, in some fantastical sequence of events, Ramaswamy ends up the nominee and has a debate with Biden, I’ll tune in. It would be wonderfully weird.

I also note that neither party is in a good position to argue that their opponents are too old. Maybe they could at least stop insisting that they are going to “clean up” Washington.

Sports Oppression

The essential dynamic of most national sports teams is this: there is an administrative infrastructure of privileged coaches and managers and administrators who have the power to decide who plays and who doesn’t and why and when, and then there is the talent who actually achieves (or not) the desired results and provides the real “value” of sport: the entertainment of watching a competition.

When Canada decided to play Christine Sinclair and America decided to play Megan Rapinoe at the 2023 World Cup, it was the administrative side in action, deciding that certain players were “owed” the right to take the field in critical games even if their talents have largely faded and there were better players on the bench.  Look at the best players on the winning teams:  they are invariably young.

When Spanish players protested the ridiculous regimen coach Jorge Vilda imposed on the team during training (checking their rooms at night to see if they were there, searching bags for purchases, taking the bus instead of a plane to matches), management refused to hear them and demanded that they apologize before they could be considered for the national team.  Think about it: we do not play, we do not have the skills, we do not train, we do not diet, we do not sweat, but how dare you question our decisions of what you must do.  It’s obscene.  Bend your knee.

And then there was the kiss.   I note that most news outlets conspicuously did not broadcast the video of the horrible, shocking, terrible, disgusting, misogynistic, patriarchal buss.  I think it’s obvious why.  It was incredibly brief, and we see Jenni Hermosa embrace Rubiales as part of the transaction.  That doesn’t alter the fact that it was inappropriate and unwanted, but the context makes it less clear that this was some kind of monstrous gesture that must be punished with dismissal.

The Inevitable Double Standard!

I am not exaggerating.  But I have to stop a minute and insist here loudly that there is a monumental effect going on in which everyone must be swept up into and compelled to join the stampede and denounce the incident as a terrible act of sexual aggression.  It is not that.  It is trivial.  It is incredibly transient.  It is a stray impulse, a clumsy gesture.  It does not deserve the attention it is getting and I refuse to kowtow to the hoards on it.  And I am getting more and more disgusted by the movement behind it by the minute.

Many are calling it a “sexual assault”.  Oh, that’s smart: the next time someone hears the term “sexual assault” they will think it might refer to a kiss that lasted less than a second.   Or it could be rape.  Or forced sodomy.  Who knows?  It’s all sexual assault.

And now, it has ridiculously, absurdly, comically made the FRONT PAGE of the NEW YORK TIMES.  Yes, it has.  A fucking kiss that lasted less than one second.

Jenni Hermosa has released a statement.  I cannot confirm it but I would be willing to bet a pocketful of change that it was written by a feminist probably connected with the player’s union, and not by Hermosa.

A video has surfaced of the women’s team on the bus after the game making light of the incident, joking about it, shouting “kiss, kiss” when another man enters the bus, and looking at video of a female journalist kissing a member of the Spanish men’s team after a victory a few years ago.

There was a time when some anti-communists cited concerns about Santa Claus being a pernicious red influence on our children.  They should have stuck to Stalin.  The Santa Claus reference is remembered for ever as an exemplar of an overwrought movement that lost it’s mind getting hysterical about imagined insidious elements everywhere.  The feminists should learn from them and stick to real sexual violence.

It has become about something else.  It has become something Megan Rapinoe can seize upon as evidence of how horrible her life is because she is bullied and oppressed by the patriarchy even though by any objective standard Rapinoe lives an incredibly privileged life and even gets invited to play in a critical game when she is well past her prime (check out her performances at the 2023 World Cup: she was distinctly terrible– she couldn’t even lift corners into the box.)  To witness Rapinoe trying to leverage this incident into just how much she personally has suffered is more than obscene.

The kiss has become the Trump of the World Cup: sucking all the oxygen out of the room when it should be better spent on describing how remarkably exciting and beautiful the games were: the final games of the tournament were simply outstanding: thrilling passing, great shots, passionate defense, and compelling narratives.  You idiots– yes, I mean it– are obsessing over a trivial incident that is robbing the tournament of distinctive achievements.  You make this trivial gesture a monumental issue and then complain that it is Rubiales who distracted everyone from your glorious championship.

If the argument is that the entire regimen, the control and power exercised by the administrative parasites who plague all major sports should be deposed, the Royal Spanish Football Federation, I am enthusiastically on side.  Let’s dismantle it.  Fuck the coaches and managers: give the power to the players.  Let them elect the coaches and managers, or dismiss them, as is their wont; let’s please, please, please dump the vast array of parasitical support staff that accompany athletes to tournaments, get the best seats, stay at the best hotels, take away their medals if they smoked marijuana, and are never really kissed by anybody.

National Review’s writer Charles C. W. Cooke claimed that the women’s game is substandard.  As he recently put it, “It’s not good sports.” The final had exactly what he accused the women’s game of lacking: a fascinating clash of tactics played with speed and mesmeric flow, tense and fierce.  Atlantic

I hope activists fuck off with their hysteria about a kiss and take on the real enemy, the structure of international sports organizations, the fascistic culture of FIFA and the International Olympics Committee, the parasitical coaches who are as often as not women, and the flag-waving rabble of rabid nationalists who only care about a sport if their team wins the medals.

But they won’t.  Rubiales will resign and most of the world will breathe a sign of relief and act as if the crisis is over and the real powers of Spanish Football will remain untouched and unharmed and will all be sitting in the best box seats again at the next tournament.  You fools.  You have been gaslighted again.  And you will be again and again and again.

Incidentally, I have been unable to determine if the short video of “the kiss” that I found online is sourced from ESPN, FIFA, or what.  I don’t know if the medal ceremonies are as protected as the game itself.  Maybe it is.  Either way, one wonders how much taxpayers contribute to the costs of training, transportation, game facilities, and so on, and then, why the hell should they be denied the right to see video of the games, at least after the live broadcast?  I have not seen CBS, PBS, NBC, the New York Times, or anyone else post video of the kiss or of any part of the game.

Just how many parasites are there?

May be an image of 3 people, people playing soccer and people playing football

When the Beatles dropped by to see Elvis in the mid 1960’s, they were astonished that he had about 11 assistants living with him to take care of his every whim and need.  The Beatles at the time had 3 for all of them.

Elvis was a shallow, credulous, fat, drug-addled pop star by then.  The Beatles went on to create some of the most remarkable music of the 1960’s.

No coincidence.

Not so Swift

Taylor Swift recently posted a modest, tasteful, but firm tirade about the monsters in the investment industry who purchased her back-catalogue from  another monster, Scooter Braun.

I haven’t been able to locate much real information about this deal through Google but I am pretty sure what happened was this: Taylor Swift, early in her career, was offered a typical music industry contract that offered her fame and riches in exchange for, oh, don’t read the fine print, just sign…. here.  Thank you.  As the years went by, she, like the Beatles, and Tom Petty, and just about every other musical artist, discovered, to her astonishment, that she had signed away the rights to “her own” masters and the actual mechanical recordings of her albums.

I put “her own” in quotation marks because Swift is obviously a product of the machinery of super-stardom, the system that creates, manipulates, and manufactures celebrities who do something “act”, “sing”, shoot baskets, and then get promoted to death through social media, talk shows, magazines, and so on.  Those albums are certainly partly hers, and substantially the product of her “artistic” vision, but they are also certainly partly the product of the “star-maker machinery” (as Joni Mitchell termed it).  This is not Bob Dylan walking into the studio and the engineer pressing “record” and putting the result on vinyl.

Swift wrote three of the album’s songs alone and co-wrote the remaining eight with Rose, Robert Ellis Orrall, Brian Maher, and Angelo Petraglia.  Wiki

She was signed to Big Machine Records by Scott Borchetta and here’s where the original sin probably happened.  Here is where her contract probably specified that BMR owned the master recordings.  Here is the deal with the devil: BMR invested in Taylor Swift, bought studio time, paid expenses for engineers and back-up musicians, make-up artists, fashion designers– who knows– and, in return, took ownership of the masters.  [BMR would argue that that is only fair– look at how much they invested.  They would argue that they made Taylor Swift.  I would argue that it’s still exploitive and unfair and if they can’t live with an agreement that requires them to defer ownership of master recordings to the artist, then tough– go screw somebody else.]

Enter Scooter Braun.  He arranged the deal.  He had his entity purchase Borchetta’s entity (and Borchetta may be the more appropriate target of Swift’s fury) and thus ownership of the masters.  It’s a common deal in the industry and Swift, to be fair, does point that out.  Fair enough.  And fair enough that a young artist in the process of being signed is vulnerable to exploitation and the exploitation here is in persuading them to sign contracts that, if they are successful, benefit the agents and managers far more than the artist.

She discovered that Scooter Braun was a businessman, not an aesthete.  Braun got into the business by — I’m not making this up– organizing parties for touring musicians Eminem and Ludacris.

Taylor Swift examined his cv and decided, yes, that’s who I want managing my career.  Well, not exactly.  But Braun,  like so many of the unseemly people who work in the entertainment business, quickly grasped how to leverage himself into bigger and bigger roles within the industry.  He got Ludacris to endorse Pontiac.  Yes, the car company owned by GM.  Then he helped the Atlanta Hawks squeeze more revenue out of their fans.  And then he saw Justin Bieber on a Youtube video and he was off to the races.

The point is, Braun is a kind of the madame of an entertainment brothel and it does strike me as a little disingenuous of Taylor Swift to suddenly jump up and scream about who she is working for.

Braun, it is reported, made over $400 million by selling Swift’s catalogue to Shamrock.

In 2022, Braun met with Joe Biden in the White House to discuss the rise in hate crimes against Asians.

And this is delightful:

In 2018, Braun was honored with the Music Biz 2018 Harry Chapin Memorial Humanitarian Award for his philanthropic efforts in 2017.[67] He also received the Save the Children’s Humanitarian Award that year.  Wiki

You get the complete picture.  You’ve seen this character over and over in movies about the industry, the hustler, the glib manager, the guy who snorts cocaine with hip rich party-goers, makes the right noises about the environment and justice and Democratic politics, donates to the right causes, attends or hosts the right fund-raisers.  He’s a walking cliche.

He donated to Hilary Clinton and Kamala Harris.

He married a Canadian, Yael Cohen, founder of “Fuck Cancer”, in 2014.  Alas: divorced in 2022.

Taylor Swift is also known for her liberal politics.  It’s a bit odd to see this clash play out this way.

She is right to be outraged.  Not so right to blame it all on sexism.  Seriously?  She thinks the men in her industry don’t have this problem?  She thinks that it’s only the men who perpetuate this arrangement?  You think Tom Petty was given a pass because he was male?

Here is my response on Facebook:

I really doubt that male artists in the same predicament are not just as supportive as female artists– it doesn’t need to be made into an issue of sexism, even if that plays well with a certain segment of fandom. I also suspect that Swift signed a contract that gave control of her master recordings to these entities, something young artists find it hard to resist when a prospective glittering career is on the line. But I agree with her 100% that these deals are exploitive and unfair and I have long believed that Congress should regulate such contracts to protect young artists from signing away rights that should absolutely belong to them as artists in perpetuity. I also think a law should prohibit industry producers, arrangers, managers, recording engineers, etc., from claiming co-writing credits for songs on which their contributions were marginal at best. Bravo to Swift for standing up to the creeps.

So, yes, I generally support her, but I almost wanted to rescind my support when I realized that she– probably knowingly– decided to try to exploit the wave of feminist support by blaming institutional exploitive arrangement on men.

One last thing, Ms. Swift.   I’m glad to see you on your high horse about principles and integrity and honesty and truth and justice and all that.  May I bring up a little item you can do something about?


Perhaps someday we might hear you perform songs from your glorious catalogue in your real honest voice.

One critic says:

Though some of her loyal fans will never admit it, we all know deep in our hearts Taylor is an average singer at best. Taylor Swift is flawed, clumsy, and in many ways, uncool. She’s a flat-chested, pencil-thin, pale and awkward little girl with perpetual neurotic love drama brought on by self-esteem issues.



The First Republican Debate

Just some  off-the-cuff notes:

  1.  Vivek Ramaswamy is a shrill twerp. But he’ll do well with the young segment of the Republican base who really believe the federal government can improve education by abolishing the education department. I like the fact that he thinks his first job in government should be as president. Like Reagan, on his first day on the job he’ll ask where the “War Room” is because he watched “Dr. Strangelove” once.
  2. Pence did better than I thought he would– but it won’t help him because he torpedoed Trump on January 6 and the MAGA base will never forgive him.
  3. Haley is aiming for the general election. She was rational, thoughtful, smart, and astute. Doomed in the primaries, but, curiously, not setting herself up for VP as I thought she would.
  4. Christie fell flat because Trump, his main target, wasn’t there, and attacking Ramaswamy puts him in “shoot the messenger” territory. He didn’t charm or even amuse anybody.
  5.  Asa Hutchinson and Doug Burgum might as well pack up and go home.
  6.  DeSantis shut down Florida just like everyone else did at the start of the pandemic. Forget that, please. Those in the audience with short memories cheered his claim that he never did. He was probably the most brazen liar in the bunch. His abrasive style didn’t fool anybody: he’s also a nerd.
  7.  Republicans are counting on voters to not know– as they surely do– that the vast proportion of illegal drugs come right through the ports of entry in many of the millions of vehicles that cross every day, and not in the pockets of illegal migrants.
  8.  The idea of “defunding the police” has never had traction within the Democratic party but the Republican base loves to think it has.
  9.  It is absolutely stunning to me that Mike Pence, of all people, has abandoned a position on abortion he has always declared to be inviolate and now advocates a 15-week limit. Absolutely stunning, and that tells you how worried Republicans are about that issue in the upcoming election. His problem is that the state legislatures aren’t listening to him. It also reflects poorly on his sincerity as the most forward Christian in the group.
  10.  I keep reading that Tim Scott is supposed to be the sunshine candidate in this group. He was the one that sounded like ChatGPT mindlessly trotting out those stale Republican tropes about “weaponization of the Justice Department”, blah, blah, blah. I think he blew his one chance to make himself stand out.
  11.  Where was “woke”? Where was CRT? LGBQ issues? Nobody picked up DeSantis’ favorite whipping boys. Worried about the general election, gentlemen? Not much about Hunter Biden either.
  12.  Haley did Biden a favor with her very forthright endorsement of U.S. support for Zelensky and Ukraine.

I’m puzzled about where this is all heading. Trump’s lead is kind of insurmountable so conventional wisdom is that most of these candidates are lobbying for the now vacant VP nomination. Ramaswamy is going to be too toxic. Hutchinson and Burgum bring nothing to the table. Pence and Christie are obviously right out. Haley would seem well-positioned as long as she is careful about what she says about Trump. She’s a woman, a minority, and she has some appeal to independent voters and soft Democrats. Tim Scott is in the right position– sucking up to Trump enthusiastically– and he is more in the Pence mode which Trump might prefer to the sometimes electrifying Haley. Trump will not have anything to do with a candidate that might upstage him.

How does it all end? Ramaswamy picks up support in Iowa, as does Haley. Hutchinson and Burgum go home. Christie runs out of money. Pence and Scott hang in there for the first few primaries then drop out. DeSantis slowly, painfully, mercilessly fades out as primary voters discover that they just don’t like him very much. Then, if Trump really is as smart as his fans think he is, he makes Nikki Haley his running mate and she starts quietly laying the groundwork for a run in 2028. If Biden stays reasonably healthy and inflation continues to drop, Trump loses the election; Haley is president in 2028.

I’d lay equal money on Trump signing up Scott as his running mate. I don’t think that will play well and I doubt the two would have the slightest genuine rapport.